How to do Phuket on a budget

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White sands, crystal clear water, stunning sunset views, an amazing dining scene and an even better night life — Phuket has a lot going for it. But, like any other exotic destination in Southeast Asia, a day in this popular Thai island paradise can come at a price (it’s often referred to as the country’s most expensive province). However, just because you don’t have the extra funds to splurge on a beachfront villa with an infinity pool, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy all that Phuket has to offer. There are numerous ways to enjoy its tropical luxury without breaking the bank. Search for flights on, and then read on to find out how to do Phuket on a budget once you’re there.

Find flights to Phuket

Eat like the locals

chee.hong, Phuket Day 2, via Flickr CC BY 2.0

From the Silk Restaurant and Bar on Kamala Beach to the Siam Supper Club on Amphoe Thalang, Phuket is home to some of the world’s must-try restaurants. Choose to have one meal where you splurge, and the rest of the time save money by dining on the island’s plentiful tasty and cheap eats. In fact, all you have to do is walk around Phuket Town to find many of the street food stalls, beloved by the locals, that sell affordable Thai, Chinese and even Malay food. Recently, Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Thai Foundation have also made it easier for tourists to find nearby street food fares by launching a mobile app called Street Food Phuket, so there is no reason for you not to seek them out.

Travel by songthaew or by motorbike

Taxis are not so cheap in Phuket. Neither are the tuk-tuks. So, if you’re doing Phuket on a budget and really want to save on your transportation expenses, we suggest traveling around the island using songthaew or “red cars.” Translated as “two rows” in English, these public utility vehicles are very similar to jeepneys in the Philippines, except they’re smaller in size. A trip is typically priced at 25-40 baht depending on the distance you’re traveling. Another affordable option is to drive a motorbike on the island, which you can rent for as low as 150 baht per day or 1200 baht per week.

Shop the weekend markets

Walter Lim, Chaofa Variety Weekend Market, via Flickr CC BY 2.0

If you’re looking for cheap deals on clothes, accessories, souvenirs, electronics, local crafts and even food, make time to visit Phuket’s many weekend markets. The most popular one is the Naka Night Market, located around Central Festival in Phuket Town. (It’s also known as the “Phuket Chatuchak” in reference to the large Chatuchak Market in Bangkok.) You can spend hours eating, drinking, haggling and shopping.

Stay in a hostel or Airbnb

Phuket is known for its luxurious villas — some located on cliffs facing the Andaman Sea. But, there are many well-appointed accommodations on the island you can book on a budget. Some of the best include Kata Country House, Ai Phuket Hostel, and Balcony Hostel Patong. Meanwhile, if you’re traveling with a group, another option is to book a room or an entire flat on Airbnb, where you’ll find decent accommodations at incredibly reasonable prices (and with access to a kitchen, you can save money on food by cooking some meals).

Discover free things to do in Phuket

Max Pfandl, Viewpoint Phuket, via Flickr CC BY 2.0

Sure, Phuket is knows as Thailand’s priciest island, but it’s also home to a lot of cheap and free offerings for people on a budget.

Hike up the viewpoints for breathtaking views of the island and the sunset (happening for free every night!). Some of the best viewpoints for an amazing photo opportunity include Karon Beach Viewpont, Windmill Viewpoint, Black Rock and Radar Hill. If you have a car, you can also drive to Samet Nangshe Viewpoint. Located two hours from Patong Beach (but worth the trip), the location offers stunning views of rock formations of Phang Nga Bay. Sightseeing is also affordable in Phuket. Most of the temples and shrines are free of charge. And then, of course, there’s always the beach…

Book tours in town

If you plan to book guided tours or island-hopping trips, book them in Phuket. Prices on the island can be cheaper than booking online before your arrival. Because there are many tour operators in Phuket and they are often competing with other companies offering the same packages, you’ll sometimes even be able to negotiate the price if you’re lucky. If you do want to check out some options before you arrive, some of the most reliable tour operators include Phuket SRC Travel, JC Tour, and Phuket Tours Company.

Ready to go? Start your flight and hotel search on and share your own budget travel tips in the comments.

How to do Phuket on a budget was last modified: June 27th, 2019 by L. Bautista
Author: L. Bautista (46 posts)

A self-confessed breakfast-skipper, who likes to spend her time exploring new places and cultures.