7 Things you need to know when visiting Phuket

By 22:14

I had so much fun writing my last 7 Things post. My mind easily filled the post with 7 things and more that you should know when visiting Istanbul. And my thoughts wouldn’t stop there. So I started thinking about another city I visited while on holiday with my girlfriends: Phuket. Phuket is one of the cheapest destinations right now so if you haven’t been, you really should consider it as your next holiday destination. Here are 7 things I think you need to know when visiting Phuket.

Photo credit: http://www.tripadvisor.co.za/Tourism-g293920-Phuket-Vacations.html

1. The best time to visit Phuket is from December to March when it's allegedly cooler
I went in January and I melted! Literally. I know humid and hot temperatures, but as a tourist wanting to explore, be prepared to be a ball of sweat after just a 10 minute walk outside.  

2. Bargain for everything 
Phuket is a shopper’s paradise. The clothes and souvenirs are cheap and you can bargain to bring down the price making your money stretch further than you thought it could. Not only can you bargain at the markets but you can bargain just about anywhere. Unless they are in great demand (i.e. in the wee hours of the morning in Patong), you can bargain for a pretty sweet deal with cabs too. 

3. Don't book local tours in your own country
With the rand giving you so much value for money in Thailand, Phuket is a popular destination being punted by travel agencies in South Africa. They also offer to arrange local tours like day trips to Phi Phi and James Bond islands. And if you don’t take them up on that offer, Groupon also offers them at “discounted” rates. My advice: don’t take them – rather book them in Thailand. Someone will speak to you about those tours as soon as you arrive at your hotel – don’t book with them either. Everyone seems to be in the tourism industry in Phuket and on every street corner, you will find someone selling these local tours. And yet again, you can bargain. We eventually bought 3 full day tours for the original price of 1.

4. It's a pretty safe city
Many of Phuket’s citizens live in poverty – it’s hard to see this as a tourist frequenting the glamourous tourist joints and gorgeous islands but most of the locals have never even left their hometown to see the natural beauty that the whole world marvels at. Despite this, Phuket is pretty safe as the Buddhist locals believe in karma. But, the city is also filled with tourists so still keep an eye on your belongings cos those are the people that might actually jack your stuff.

A photo posted by Ferrer (@siimon_f) on

5. Temple etiquette
Whilst you might want to spend all your time snorkelling, swimming and sun bathing, Phuket boasts stunning temples (wats) that will draw you to them. It’s not only the big wats that are amazing, but on every street corner or major building there are little temples to provide the deeply religious Thai population with a place to pray and give their offerings. Whether you go to the wats for some peace and serenity during meditation, to learn more about the religion and culture, or just to marvel at the architecture, adhere to the temple etiquette: make sure you’re covered up – no bare legs, shoulders and midriff, leave your shoes outside, and be quiet - most of the wats are working temples with locals praying so try not to disturb them.

6. Toilets
It’s so easy to take everyday things like toilets for granted. In the tourist joints, at least the toilets have been upgraded from the low-pan to the seated variety. However, the toilets aren’t great at flushing away toilet paper. The toilets usually have a bin next to it which is meant for your toilet paper so you don’t clog the pipes – there’s even a sign asking you not to throw your toilet paper into the pan. But Westerners don’t like this unclean habit so most of the public toilets are clogged – like the row of toilets at Phi Phi island. My advice is to hold it but even our hotel toilets would get clogged from time to time.

7. Experience the nightlife
I don’t know many places that offer such a varied experience as Phuket does. When the sun sets, make sure you hit the streets of Bangla Road. Where else can you order a drink at one bar and walk with your drink to the next bar that happens to play music you prefer, dance the night away (sometimes on a pole) in shorts and slops, and make conversation with friendly ladies of the night. And if that’s not enough, pretty soon you might get invited to a ping pong show.

A photo posted by Carly Emmerton (@__carly___xo) on

If you’ve been to Phuket, I’d love to know if you relate to my list or whether you’d add something else you think is worth knowing. 

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