10 Jun Explore Phuket on a budget: A 5-day itinerary
Feeling the need to fuel your wanderlust spirit but you can’t decide where to travel to?
Well, Phuket should definitely be on your list!
Glistening turquoise-blue seas, soft white sands beneath your toes, and sea breeze gliding through your hair… can you imagine that? Phuket has it all, and it is the perfect getaway destination.
If you’re a university student like me who is living off an RM6.50 part-time job and occasional weekly allowance from my parents, here are some great tips for you on how to travel Phuket on a budget!
Where to stay in Phuket?
Personally, I chose to stay in Patong and Kathu District because these 2 places offered the cheapest accommodations. However, there are also other areas that you can choose to stay in such as Phuket Town, Karon, Kata and Rawai.
If you love partying, and relaxing by the beach, Patong is the place to be. Patong is a west-coast resort town where you’ll find a large number of budget guesthouses for as cheap as RM40 per night.
The hotel that we stayed in was Gemma Patong, and I highly recommend booking your stay at this hotel! Not only is this hotel budget friendly (RM40/night). And the rooms are also spacious and spotless.
This hotel is a 5 minutes stroll from Patong Beach and Bangla road where the street is famous for its lively nightlife.
If you’re travelling with a bunch of friends, you should definitely ditch hotels and rent an Airbnb as it would be much cheaper.
Kathu District has many cheap apartment units on Airbnb, where you can rent a 2-bedroom apartment unit for as cheap as RM70. And if you register Airbnb account with this link to get RM120 off your first booking.
Kathu District located in the centre of Phuket, which makes it easy to get around with the local buses. It is about 10 minutes drive from Phuket town, and 15 minutes from Patong.
Tips on transportation
Getting around Phuket can be rather expensive if you hail a cab or ride the tuk-tuk. A trip from Phuket town to Patong Beach would cost around 700baht (RM91) for a mere 30-minute journey, heck no!
The cheapest option would be to rent a motorbike for as low as 200baht (RM26) for the whole day. As long as you have a valid driver’s license and the skills to ride a motorbike
What if you can’t ride a motorbike? You walk with your own two feet. Just kidding.
Phuket Local Beach Bus
Fortunately, there are local buses that connect you from beaches such as Patong, Kata, and Rawai to Phuket old town. And the costs only 30baht (RM3.90) per person each way. Make sure to use your GPS to locate the stop you need to get off at.
The Songthaew stops at Central Festival in Phuket Town as well as Jungceylon mall and Big C in Patong.
You can also refer to this bus schedule to plan your trip:
Things to do (5-days itinerary)
Day 1: Explore Phuket Town
Head on to Phuket town to explore the amazing culture of Phuket as this town is home to many beautiful historic features and designs.There are many things to see and do here with its wide selection of boutique shops, restaurants and night markets.
Take a stroll down Thalang Road. Here you will find plenty of hipster cafes, fabric shops, souvenir stores and many more. With brightly coloured buildings and vibrant street art, every corner of this street is instagram worthy.
Later on, take short break and admire a panoramic view of Phuket town from the top of Khao Rang hill. You can get here through Soi Wachira street located next to Vachira Hospital.
If you’re in Phuket town on a weekend, don’t forget to stop by the night markets where you will find many cheap and funky souvenirs as well as exotic street food that will leave you begging for more!
Right in Thalang road, this beautiful old street turns into a lively night market on sunday evenings from 4pm to 9pm. Known as Lard Yai by the locals, Phuket Walking Street is an indy concept with various stores selling traditional Thai food, cheap clothing and unique handicrafts.
Another great market to visit in Phuket town is Phuket Weekend Market, locally known as Naka Market. It is located along Chao Fa West Road, not far from Central Festival.
Beside that, this market also is the largest night market in the island selling everything you can imagine from clothes, electronic devices and toy. There is also a huge food scene featuring local Thai street food and exotic food like deep fried insects.
Day 2 & 3: Island Hopping
Phuket is surrounded by many beautiful islands that you don’t want to miss while you’re in Phuket. You can book fully-planned trips on that are filled with fun activities on Klook such as snorkelling and canoeing and even lunch buffets that you can enjoy. And if it’s your first time on Klook, register with this link to get RM15 off any activities.
James Bond Island & Phang Nga Bay Tour
Sail to Phang Nga Bay and witness the stunning backdrop of limestone towers jutting out from turquoise seas and explore the famous “James Bond island” that was featured in the James Bond movie ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’.
James Bond Island
After sightseeing and swimming in a lagoon at Panak Island, you’ll get to enjoy a lunch buffet spread of local Thai dishes on the boat.
Moreover, you also can take a slow and romantic canoe ride through a mystical mangrove forest on Hong island after your meal. Towards the end of the trip, you also get to snorkel and relax on the beach of Lawa island.
Phi Phi and Khai Islands Day Tour
Phi Phi islands is a legendary tropical island with infectious island vibes. Soak in the beauty of Phi Phi Ley and Maya Bay, and take a dip in the clear emerald water before you explore Viking cave and monkey beach.
At monkey beach, make sure to take good care of your belongings because the cheeky monkeys are all out to steal them from you!
After enjoying a Thai buffet lunch at Phi Phi Don restaurant, chill by the beach at Khai Nok island before heading back.
Day 4: Have a chillax day in Patong
You can also stop by Jungceylon Shopping Mall, diagonally across Bangla road where there are 200 over stores selling branded clothes, cosmetics, perfumes, shoes and even electronics.
Start your morning with a grilled cheese sandwich from 7 eleven and take a stroll around Patong where there are plenty of boutique stores, tattoo parlors, barber shops, and food stalls.
In the evening, catch the sunset at Patong beach while sipping on fresh coconut and listening to the calming sound of the waves as you relax on your beach chair.
For dinner, head over to Malin Plaza, located at the southern end of Patong beach to feast on a wide variety of food. They serve everything from local Thai food – pad thai and tomyum to sushi, nutella crepes, fresh fruits and 90baht (RM11) cocktails.
This market is similar to the ones in Phuket Town where you will get great deals for beachwear, t-shirts, bags, and souvenirs as well.
At night, hit up the bars for a few drinks at Bangla Road where the street comes to life as soon as the sun sets. For the real cheapskates, instead of hitting the bars, entertain yourselves with street performances that you can watch for free on the street. And if you fancy them please tip them!
Day 5: Catch some waves in Kata and Karon
On your way to the beach, stop by Wat Karon, a beautiful temple with two dragons embracing the Buddhist temple.
If you’re renting a motorbike, drive up to Kata and Karon where you will find several gorgeous beaches that are less crowded. However, if you aren’t renting a bike, you can take the local beach bus to Kata.
After snapping some pictures at the temple, head over to Kata Noi Beach, a picturesque sandy bay with incredibly clear blue waters and white sand. It is the perfect spot to lounge as it is far away from the usual crowd tourists in Kata Beach. There are also several restaurants and cafes nearby where you can stop to get a quick lunch.
Karon Beach is another ideal beach to visit, it is the third-longest beach of Phuket island and it is wide enough for beachgoers to never feel crowded.
Spent all the time you need here relaxing as you listen to the calming sound of the waves, playing a game of volleyball or sunbathing to get that summer glow.
Later in the afternoon, make your way up to Karon View point to marvel at the endless blue horizons. This viewpoint looks out directly to the Andaman Sea and you will be able to take in views of Karon beaches, Kata Yai and Kata Noi.
End your day with a mesmerising sunset at Promthep Cape, this is one of the island’s most photographed locations. This place is swarmed with tourists, so to get the best position to watch the sunset, be here as early as 5:30pm.
There is also a lighthouse museum where you can discover some interesting maritime artefacts. And enjoy the spectacular view from the top.