Phuket, Thailand is one of the country’s most visited destinations, and has been popular for expat living for many years. And there are many great reasons why Phuket is so attractive to visitors and long-term residents alike. But there are a few downsides as well. Let’s take a look at the good and the bad features of Phuket.
(Go to this link if you would prefer to watch a video with the same information: Phuket Thailand Video)
🙂 Kata and Karon Beaches
So of course the beaches are going to be on our list. This is the main reason why people come to Phuket, right? These two beaches are both right next to each other on the eastern side of the island. The waves aren’t too big or too small, just the right size for us. Something else we like about these two beaches (especially Karon Beach) are the big trees that provide shade. Overall, we think Kata and Karon beaches are the two best beaches in Phuket, mainly because the water is so clear.
🙂 The Weekend Markets
Let’s start with the Naka Weekend Market on Saturday and Sunday nights. They sell clothes, jewelry, and purses, but why bother with all that stuff when there is food to be eaten? The food portions tend to be small but also inexpensive, so you can get a little bit of everything instead of one big meal. (Well, not everything, there are just too many choices). The Naka Market would be a good one to choose if it’s raining because it is covered.
The other big weekend market is creatively named The Phuket Weekend Market. This market is only on Sunday nights and is located right in the heart of Phuket’s old town area. Again, we think the irresistible food is the main reason to come here. You won’t leave hungry.
🙂 The Songthaews
So, what’s a songthaew you might be asking? It’s the main form of transportation in Phuket if you don’t have a car or scooter. The songthaew system consists of trucks that go between the major points in Phuket. Just hop into the back of the truck when you see the songthaew you want to take. At some point during the journey the driver will collect the fee (usually around 40 bhat or just over US$1, but prices have been going up).
☹️ Public Transportation
Public transportation (other than the songthaews) is quite limited. There are a few bus routes but the schedules are infrequent. Ride sharing such as Grab is available but not perticulary cheap. We think Phuket could do with a better overall public transport.
🙂 The Cost Of Living
If you are considering purchasing property in Phuket, the first thing you should know is that foreigners are limited to buying a condo unit. You can’t directly buy land or houses. If we were purchasing a condo here, we think we would need to spend something in the low to mid US$100,000 range to find something that would fit our lifestyle. You might be able to find something cheaper, or you may need to spend more for you to be comfortable. If renting on a one year lease we think something in the US$500-$600 range would be comfortable for us, plus a little more for utilities (especially air conditioning). And for slow traveling and renting for one month on airbnb, we’re looking at something in the US$800-$1000 range depending on the season and location. Food prices are very reasobable. You can get a full meal of street food for a dollar or two. Overall, we think we could live in Phuket in the US$1200- $1400 US dollar range per month for the two of us, that’s based on our personal lifestyle. That is for renting a small and modest apartment, avoiding touristy restaurants, and using songthaews instead of taxis.
🙂 The Pad Thai Shop
Just about a 15 minute walk from Karon Beach is where you can find the Pad Thai Shop, and it’s well worth the walk. This place is authentic, you are going to get the real deal here when it comes to Thai food. And of course when at the Pad Thai Shop, what else are you going to order other than pad Thai, right? The price for one plate of Pad Thai along with a delicious bowl of soup is 60 bhat, or about US$1.65. This restaurant is a mix of local Thai people and foreigners, and this meal was definitely one of the best during our time in Phuket.
☹️ The Airport
The airport itself is actually quite nice, and getting through immigration was a breeze. But our experience at the taxi stand outside the airport was total chaos. They were trying to group people together who were going to the same location. They would tell us to wait off to the side and then would seem to forget about us. And the price kept changing depending on how quickly we wanted to go. We ended up paying 375 bhat each, which is about US$10. But some of the other people in the minivan taxi told us they paid a few thousand bhat. Unfortunately the airport buses weren’t running when we arrived at the airport late at night.
🙂 The Big Buddha
We almost didn’t visit the Big Buddha because the public transportation options to get here are hard to find. But we met some friends that had access to a car, and that was so fortunate because this is indeed an impressive site. The statue itself is spectacular. But equally spectacular are the views that you get from here because the Big Buddha is located at one of the highest points on this part of the island.
🙂 King Rama 9 Park
This large and beautiful park is located in the Phuket Town area and has several lakes and walking paths. If you’re here in Phuket just for a short holiday it might not be worth your time to come here. But if you are living here in Phuket, we think it’s a great place to come to spend some time outdoors.
🙂 O Aew
O aew is a delicious shaved ice dessert that originates right here in Phuket. And what makes it different from typical shaved ice is that it contains black jello made from the o aew plant. The flavor is impossible to describe other than delicious. We got ours at the Lock Tien food court, right in the heart of Phuket Town.
☹️ Patong Beach
The beach itself here at Patong, we thought, was actually quite nice. It’s a very long beach so it’s a great place to walk. There is a lot of activity here and it was fun to watch all the action and the water sports. But the area around the beach wasn’t really suited for us because it is very touristy. There are a lot of bars, noise, and chaos. But, if you like the party atmosphere, come to Patong Beach, you will love it here.
So there you have it! We think Phuket, Thailand is truely an amazing place to visit or live. And although we did come across a few downsides, we think the overall quality of life in Phuket is fantastic.
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