Typical budget in Phuket

Choose the right Phuket beach for your budget

By Dave Rudd

Phuket is about the most expensive destination in Thailand, with its first class hotels and moneyed holidaymakers, yet it is much cheaper than in the West and can be done on a budget if you keep your head.

A typical budget in Phuket would depend on your preference for dining out at the best restaurants, drinking until the wee hours, travelling in comfort, and staying at the nicest resorts or whether you are content with taking it easy, eating like a local and staying in ordinary hotels.

For those on holiday, you could spend as much as a US$1,000 per day or as little as US$20 if you rough it. A mid-range budget would be around the 3,000 to 4,000 baht mark (around US$100) if you dine out, party, shop and ride in tuk-tuk regularly. Expats can live well in Phuket for around 40,000 baht per month, staying in a nice place in a decent area and eating out and partying a few times a week.

The following is a breakdown on the various elements of a typical budget in Phuket:

Phuket accommodation budget
Phuket has every type of accommodation, from cheap and nasty backstreet hotels for 300 baht a night, right up to the swankiest of cliff top resorts overlooking the Andaman Sea that charge at a dollar rate to suck up currency fluctuations. Other tourist areas in Thailand also have this large discrepancy between budget and top-end hotels although Phuket tends to be on the expensive side.

Typical hotel budget:

          Budget – around 500 baht per night
          Mid-range – 1,000 to around 2,500 baht per night
          Quality – 3,000 and up per night

Eating out in Phuket
As with hotels in Phuket, eating ranges from street noodle hawkers, where you can scoff for as little as 20 baht, up to elaborate seafood and hotel restaurants with all the frills. Eating is the big saver over anything else in Thailand, however, and this is one area where it is easy to figure a budget.

You can find a decent standard Thai restaurant in Phuket and have a nice meal with drink for less than 100 baht. Western food in Phuket restaurants is always more expensive than local dishes, with standard European dishes going for upwards of 200 or 300 baht. Expect to spend around 1,000 baht per head in a well turned out restaurant with star chefs and service charges.

Typical eating budget:

Plenty of opportunity to splurge in Phuket

          Budget – 70 to 150 baht per meal
          Mid-range – 150 to 300 baht per meal
          Quality – 300 baht and up per meal

For on restaurants in Phuket.

Partying in Phuket
Alcohol is relatively expensive in Thailand when compared with eating and accommodation although is cheap compared with the West. If you stick to local beers and don’t overindulge every night and continually buy bar girls drinks, you could easily get by on a few hundred baht.

As soon as you start drinking imported bottled beers, or pints of draught Guinness, your expenditure will immediately double or treble. Spirits and wines are similarly priced at around 120 to 150 baht a glass/shot. Patong is the most expensive party area in Phuket, where prices are way higher in the touristy areas. If you are into the girlie bar scene, you will inevitably end up paying more for any extras.

Cost of travel in Phuket
Getting about by public transport in Phuket can be a nightmare to those who are used to Thailand and typical budgets as the prices asked in the touristy areas are generally extortionate.

For example, the little tuk-tuk that ply the streets in most Thai towns and cities, charging around 100 baht for a ride in a typical town, will invariably charge 100 baht to go a few hundred metres at Phuket’s beaches, and God forbid if you want to go from Patong to Phuket Town as you will be paying anywhere upwards of 300 or 400 baht.

You could of course use the red songthaew (two seats) pickups, but these are slow and stop for passengers as and when. If you don’t mind the waiting, however, the same trip from Patong to Phuket Town goes down to 30 baht. Air-conditioned taxis are about the best bet, with fares of around 500 baht from the airport to the main beaches - always ask for the meter to be used.

Short journeys on motorbike (motosai) taxis are around 30 baht, or up to 150 baht to the beach. You can hire a scooter from anywhere from 150 baht per day for a 100cc Honda Wave to about 250 baht for the latest auto scooter, and around 1,000 baht for a super bike.

Phuket shopping
There are cheap open-air markets galore in Phuket and shopping can be a great saver if you know what you’re doing. Just be aware that if any brand name item seems overly cheap, it will invariably be a copy. If you are after the real McCoy, stick to the upmarket department stores, like Central or Jungceylon.

Drinking in neon-lit Patong bars gets expensive

Cheap t-shirts and jeans can be had for less than 100 baht and 300 baht respectively - times by three for good tack in quality stores. Locally made Acer laptops can be had for around 20,000 and come with good spec and service options. Macs are expensive, inline with the rest of the world. For more on shopping in Phuket.

Phuket health budget
Medical care in Phuket is one of its big selling points and you can be treated for any number of illnesses, or have plastic surgery for a fraction of the price of Western countries like the UK and the USA.

Simple medical checkups in the best hospitals in Phuket range from a couple of thousand baht and you could have a heart bypass for around 130,000 baht. Medical insurance is also reasonably priced, ranging from around 10,000 baht a year (depending on age and state of health), including outpatient cover.

Internet and phones
You can check your email for around 20 baht an hour in a typical gaming internet café in town; around double at the beaches. Hotel internet services are always more expensive. More and more cafés and hotels in Phuket offer free wireless internet, however, while prices for broadband for long-termers start from around 600 baht per month for a 512K connection with high contention ratio.

You can pick up a second-hand mobile phone in Phuket for about 1,000 or 2,000 baht. SIM cards are generally the best deal and you can pick up a pay-as-you-go one for 200 baht with talk time at about 1 baht per minute. AIS generally have the best coverage and packages in Thailand, while DTAC is cheaper.

Phuket property
For longer term accommodation in Phuket, a one-room apartment/condo style place near the beach would be around the 15,000 mark for a mid-range place – less in Phuket Town and on the west of the island – while houses are generally better value. You could easily get a furnished house out of the main areas for less than 10,000 baht a month.

If you are looking to buy in Phuket, you could pick up a small studio apartment for around 1 million baht although that wouldn’t get you a fine sea view unless you know an inside source and go for the quiet side of the island. A nice condo with a couple of rooms near the beach would be anywhere upwards of 5 million baht.

Houses go from around 1 million baht in the cheaper parts of Phuket Town for a shop house style place, to 3 million and up in a gated and guarded estate (moo baan), to however many millions you would like to spend on a nice plot of land overlooking a top beach. Land in Phuket is on par with Bangkok in price. For more on property in Phuket.

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