A guide to a typical holiday budget in Phuket

By Dave Rudd

A beachside apartment is affordable in Phuket

Phuket is fast becoming a world class holiday destination, with its superb beaches, sublime weather, friendly locals, and relatively cheap prices for hotels, food and travel. Despite the devastation wrought by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, Phuket has bounced right back and is, ironically, looking better than ever.

You can spend as little or as much as you like in Phuket, and it largely depends on where you stay and what time of year you visit as to budget requirements. Although Phuket is cheap when compared with similar sunny holiday destinations in the world, prices for accommodation and eating out have risen at a higher rate than most of Thailand. This can be attributed to the big hotel chains moving in and attracting higher-budget tourists as well as foreigners opening up their own resorts and restaurants.

The majority of Phuket’s resorts and beaches are on the west (Andaman) coast of the island and this is where the bulk of the facilities and expense is. Everything from the finest of five-star luxury beachside resorts to simple rooms in back-street guesthouses are available. You will find that many of the larger hotel chains and resorts will offer their rooms out at a dollar value, which is of course beneficial when the baht is strong.

Prices range from 400 or 500 baht per night in the latter right up to 20,000 baht or more for a suite in the former. Figure on somewhere in the 2,000- to 3,000-baht range for a decent three- four-star hotel along the main beaches of Patong, Kamala, and Kata. This standard of hotel will usually have a swimming pool or two, breakfast included, satellite TV, minibar, and all the trimmings.

Discounts are generally not available in the high season – November to April – and you may even struggle to pick up a bargain in the shoulder season months, unless you plan on staying for many nights. With that said, discounts are generally given when booking online at any time of the year, where all taxes and surcharges are included.

The best deal in Phuket is eating out, where a three-course meal at a quality seafood restaurant can be had for well under 1,000 baht. In fact, this price would also include a reasonable amount of alcohol. You can of course go native with a bowl of noodles at a hawker for 20 baht, or a plate of fried rice for a little more. McDonald’s and Burger King charge around 100 baht for their all-encompassing meals, while a bottle of beer will generally range from 50 baht up to 120 baht in the clubs and restaurants.

Eat at the water front for $10 per couple

A typical day out at the beach won’t break the bank either. Rental for a lounger and umbrella is around 200 baht a day, a bottle of beer around 60 baht, can of soda 20 baht and 30 minutes on a jet-ski 800 baht. The snorkelling and scuba diving in Phuket is very good and a diving course can be had for around 8,000 baht, while daytrips range from 2,000 to 4,000 baht.

There are also many quality attractions away from the usual beach and party scene on the island, such as elephant riding, the aquarium at Kamala and the zoo in Chalong. These are all relatively expensive in Phuket compare with elsewhere in Thailand, and prices are almost always higher for foreigners, but you will still be amazed at the value for money.

Phuket is also a great shopping destination, with many up and coming shopping malls and designer shops springing up in Patong and Kata. Be careful when shopping at the Indian clothing stores on Soi Bangla, Patong, to ensure the silk is pure Thai and not Chinese or some other synthetic fabric. You should always bargain hard at the markets with a smile on your face, aiming for at least 30 per cent off the asking price.

In conclusion, figure on spending anything from 500 baht per day, not including accommodation, up to as high as you can go for a day’s holidaying in Phuket. If you can budget for 1,000 to 2,000 per day you will have a great time on the island.

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