Most travellers to Phuket fly straight in, blow their load and then fly straight out. Yet for those that happen upon Phuket via the portal to Thailand; Bangkok, they are in for a shock. Read on to find out the costs in Phuket, and the best beach in Patong.
Grab is the taxi app of choice in the kingdom, and those that scoot around Bangkok will be well aware of just how much value for money the prices are, factor about 100 Baht for every 20 minutes or so. I mention taxis because this is the first thing that you will be knocked by the second you roll out of whatever it was you arrived on the island of Phuket on. 800 Baht is standard from the airport to pretty much anywhere. Hops from place to place on Phuket, often as little as 10km will cost minimum 400 baht (£10). Local public buses only seem to run from Phuket town but again, charge hefty fees upwards of 150 baht for jumps here and there.
If you are leaving Phuket on land, then you can get pummelled in any of the tour centres, or head straight to Bus Terminal 2 in Phuket town where a bus to Krabi and beyond costs from 153 Baht, which is pretty much the best value you will get on the island.
Food is expensive, happy hours are definitely not happy, and tat is overpriced. However, if you arrive in Phuket in the off season, which just happens to be Europes on season, then you will grab some decent bargains with accommodation starting at 500 Baht upwards for a fairly decent room in Patong.
Costs: (100 Baht = approx £2.50)
Taxi from town to town = 400+
Bus from the airport = 200 each or 800+
McDonald’s = 250
Sub of the day = 120
Beer at a random bar = 90+
Pizza = 260
Thai meal in a restaurant = 300+
Thai meal at street food = 100+
I get these prices still look cheap by western standards, but by Thai standards they are largely inflated.
The main places for backpackers and budget travellers to stay is Patong, Karon and Kata. In that order. Russians tend to congregate in Karon, clueless first timers in Kata, and everyone else in Patong. During summer the beaches of Karon and Kata are deadly, but Patong beach is the best of the three in terms of a surprise undercurrent you didn’t expect, or want.
Patong beach is home to Bangla walking street, bars, pubs, restaurants, tours, acrobats, street food, a McDonald’s on every street corner, live sex shows and everything in between. A hedonists paradise, there is no where else quite like Patong anywhere else in the country, not in cost, or experience. But Patong does not have the idyllic beach you might be looking for to nurse off a hangover.
Patong’s best beach
Paradise beach a few km up the road purports to be ‘paradise’, so off we went walking there. Every now and again a free shuttle passes us, which turns out was not actually a free shuttle at all. And when we finally got to Paradise beach we found it wasn’t paradise at all, a snide, dirty, overrun little slither of sand charging 200 Baht per person. If you walk back up the steep slope from paradise beach about 100m, then cut down the jungle style overgrowth, you will find what I would call paradise beach. A tiny piece of unoccupied sand, crystal clear water, and a random rope swing. The beach doesn’t have a name, so I have named it chill beach. Simply because, even though we found a snake there, it was pure chill from the heat and hassle of Patong.
All said, Patong is one of those places you have to visit, it is like few places you can imagine, and one of those places you can grab a beer, and walk around living, loving and enjoying life. Along with every other person there.