Phuket proudly takes the crown for being Thailand’s largest island at an impressive 543km² and also one of Thailand’s most popular tourist destinations.
This is for good reason. Phuket has a large international airport (HKT) and is connected to the mainland by the Sarasin Bridge, making accessibility a breeze. Conveniently, this airport hosts many flight connections, often at similar prices to flights to Bangkok.
Besides the easy accessibility, Phuket also serves as the ideal gateway to Southern Thailand and the islands of Krabi, Koh Lanta and Koh Phi Phi.
The large island is packed full of sun-kissed beaches, stunning viewpoints and amazing adventure opportunities. Not to mention the crazy nightlife that Phuket is famous for, bringing every party-reveler’s dreams to life!
Is Phuket too touristy?
As a result, Phuket’s potential as an ideal tourist destination hasn’t gone unnoticed by travel agencies. This has meant that it can often feel very busy and touristy.
You will still find a great number of things to do and sights to explore, but just bear in mind you will have to share this beauty with many other tourists.
If you’re looking for peace and seclusion, one of the other Thai islands in the Andaman sea such as Koh Lanta may be a better fit!
Phuket is made up of 3 districts that are then further divided into 103 villages, making it quite overwhelming when it comes to deciding where to stay.
Not to mention the 40 plus beaches that it has to offer.
To make it easier for you to decide where to stay, we have simplified the process by highlighting the three main areas to stay.
After reading our guide, you’ll hopefully have a better idea of the most popular areas to stay, but there’s still plenty of other places to explore.
Location #1: Phuket Town – the centre for history and culture
Situated on the south east coast of Phuket, there is much to admire in this quaint old town.
As the capital of Phuket Province, the area boasts stunning Sino-portugeuse architecture that makes you believe you’ve been transported to Europe.
You could easily spend a week in Phuket Town, and still be finding new discoveries everyday, thanks to the abundant number of amenities on offer – temples, markets, boutiques, cafes and restaurants. Take your pick!
However if you’re a real party animal, Phuket town can be rather quiet on weekday nights. It also doesn’t have a beach, so you’ll have to travel to one of the beaches nearby.
Nevertheless, we think it is well worth making this sacrifice if you’re hunting for an authentic Thai ambience. That’s exactly what you’ll find!
Location #2: Patong – party, party, party
If you’ve heard anything about Phuket, you’ve probably heard of the out-of-this-world nightlife that lines Bangla Road in Patong.
This party hub is bombarded with neon signs, blaring music and hordes of people! It’s pretty much impossible not to find something that fits your taste.
Most backpackers tend to call Patong home during their stay due to a large number of hotels, budget guesthouses and small resorts. You’ll be spoilt for choice really but prepare to fall asleep to the sound of some heavy base.
Unlike Phuket Town, Patong is located along the beach. It’s almost the perfect place to recover from your hangover, if you ignore the noise of the songthaews passing promoting the local boxing matches or the jet skies bouncing over the water!
Location #3: Kata – a laid back vibe where you can learn to surf
Although Thailand doesn’t have a reputation as a surfer’s paradise, you can end up having a great surfing session at Kata beach. Phuket’s surfing season runs from June until September.
Just a 20-30 minute drive South from Patong, you’ll find a number of surf and diving schools lining Kata beach, of which Phuket Surfing is the most popular one.
Even if you don’t fancy surfing, you can just relax in one of the trendy beach bars. Technically most beach bars don’t sit directly on the beach though. The Club Med resort occupies a large part of the beachfront, so you’ll have to wander slightly further to the second road to find more budget friendly bars and restaurants.
Alternatively, a cluster of modest-looking beach restaurants can be found at the far end of the beach, perfect for those who love eating their dinner whilst dipping their toes in the sand.
After, enjoy the relaxed nightlife it has to offer before retiring to your pick of accommodation, of which Kata offers a good variety.
How to get around in Phuket
One of the most comfortable ways of getting around is by taxi.
Metered taxis are becoming more common in Phuket, but the best way to guarantee getting one is using Grab, Asia’s version of Uber. It’s literally a life saver!
And of course it’s Thailand so wherever you are, you’ll probably be able to find a whizzy tuk-tuk or samlor, but unlike the rest of Thailand they’re slightly different in Phuket.
They have 4 wheels instead of 3! This isn’t the only difference, a lot of the tuk-tuks in Patong have been pimped-out to the max. They’re hard to miss with their pumping music and disco lights.
No matter which tuk-tuk, they will come at a higher price than you’ll be used to. They tend to be the most expensive form of transport in Phuket as the drivers don’t like to haggle. Expect to pay around 200 baht for a short trip around Patong!
Pro tip: make sure to agree on a price before getting in and be aware some drivers like to take you to shops where they get commission. Just say no!
Local buses or song-taews, painted bright blue for recognition, may be a better option for slightly longer journeys.
These buses run regularly between 7am and 6pm. To give you an idea of prices, the 30 minute journey from Phuket Town to Patong costs around 15-20 baht.
Like a normal bus there are a few fixed stops but you can pretty much hop on and off almost anywhere by flagging one down or ringing the buzzer onboard.
Coming from Phuket airport? There is an airport bus that can take you all the way to Phuket Town for about 100 baht. Alternatively there are also shuttle buses going to both Phuket Town and Patong. See our Phuket airport guide for more details.
If you want to be completely independent, we recommend hiring a motorbike for around 250 baht/day. Of course, it’s important to have some driving experience and an international driver’s license.
Just 200m from Patong Beach and the famous Patong Walking Street, this hostel is a great location if you’re looking for a social and fun atmosphere. The rooftop pool and lounge area are great for meeting others and there are a bar and restaurant onsite. The dorm bunks are extremely comfortable and offer curtains for your privacy. Newer hostel with modern furnishings.
Located near Old Phuket Town, this hostel boasts a fitness facility, garden, terrace and lounge area onsite. Just steps away from bars, restaurants, and countless sights, this hostel is exactly where you want to be. Staff are extremely helpful and will assist in booking tours or travel arrangements. Breakfast can be added to your stay for just $3 per day.
This hostel is set in central Phuket Town within walking distance of numerous bars, restaurants, and sights. It is vibrant and colorful making for an enjoyable atmosphere and they offer a lovely shared terrace for relaxing or socializing. The staff will welcome you like family and you will feel right at home here.
The perfect location set in Phuket Town, just 700m from Old Phuket Town, this hostel is within walking distance to all bars, restaurants and numerous sights. The outdoor pool set in the garden and shared lounge area is the perfect place to unwind and cool down. Private rooms offer great views of the city.