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10 budget-friendly things to do in Phuket

Admittedly the least budget-friendly of the cities I lived in Thailand, Phuket is still pretty budget-friendly. There are plenty of beaches to explore in Phuket (which are free of course), and there’s also the accessibility of visiting nearby islands in the Andaman sea. And no Phuket visit is complete without a stroll through the colorful Old Town.

Phuket is not as small as it appears and the main expense when it comes to exploring Phuket is transportation. Unless you feel comfortable driving a motorbike or scooter (which I didn’t), getting from one side of the island to the other will cost you around 300 THB [$9USD] each way. Not a whole lot, but it can add up, especially if you’re a solo traveler like myself.

Below I include a few of my favorite budget-friendly things to do in and around Phuket.

10 budget-friendly things to do in Phuket

1. Go beach hopping on the west side (free + transportation cost)

Other than the cost of transportation to get there, unless you are already staying on the west side of Phuket, exploring the beaches of Phuket is definitely a budget-friendly thing to do. Each beach has its own charm and vibe. Whether it’s because of the nearby restaurants and bars, or how secluded and empty they are. Here are a few I visited or wanted to visit based on others’ recommendations.

Beaches visited:

📍Patong Beach

Patong beach

📍Karon Beach

Karon Beach

📍Kata Beach

Kata Beach

Beaches recommended by other travelers:

📍Freedom Beach

📍Yanui Beach

📍Kata Noi Beach

📍Mai Khao Beach (by the airport)

📍Kamala Beach

2. Take a trip to the Big Buddha statue (free + transportation cost)

Big Buddha

The Big Buddha is a large white Buddha statue sitting atop a mountain hill. You can spot the Buddha statue from anywhere in the southern part of Phuket and it’s definitely worth a visit. To visit the Big Buddha statue is completely free and you get a spectacular view of Phuket and nearby beaches. You can rent a motorbike to get to it, grab a taxi, or book a guided tour. 

Big Buddha

3. Take a boat tour to Phi Phi islands (around $60 USD per person)

Phi Phi Island tours

One of the most memorable things I did in Phuket was booking boat tours to nearby islands. Most tours will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel or Airbnb early in the morning, drive you to their pier, take you on a boat tour to 3 – 5 islands, and even offer free buffet-style lunch. Tours start around 9 am and end around 5-6 pm. If you choose the Phi Phi islands tours they take you to:

🏝 Koh Phi Phi Lee – where you can find Maya Bay (made famous by the movie The Beach with Leo DiCaprio), Viking Cave, and the stunning Pi Leh Bay

Maya Bay
Maya Bay Beach
Viking Cave
Viking Cave
Pi Leh Bay
Pi Leh Bay

🏝 Koh Phi Phi Don – where you can visit Monkey Bay and snorkel near Shark Point (I didn’t actually see any sharks and it’s a popular snorkeling area so it’s pretty safe)

Monkey Bay
Monkey Bay
Shark Point
Snorkeling at Shark Point

🏝 Khai Nai Island – a small island with the coolest vibe (in my opinion) and delicious Mai Tai drinks

Khai Nai Island
Khai Nai Island

There are plenty of companies that offer these types of tours, all around the same price. I booked mine with Seastar Andaman. The best way to book these is through a local tour-booking establishment, since they offer 40% off the full price, communicate with the tour on your behalf to confirm your booking, and you can pay the whole thing through them. They even take credit cards.

4. Take a boat tour to Phang Nga Bay islands (around $60 USD per person)

Phang Nga Bay Islands

Another memorable boat tour I took was to the Phang Nga Bay islands. And I booked it with JP Andaman Tours. Just like with the Phi Phi islands tour, they offered hotel pickup, free lunch, and an island hopping tour. On this tour, we went to:

🏝 Phanak Island – where you can go inside a cave and come out of a secret clearing

Phanak Island

🏝 Hong Island – for some canoeing with amazing scenery

Hong Island

🏝 Ko Tapu – better known as James Bond Island because The Man With The Golden Gun movie was filmed there

James Bond Island

🏝 Koh Panyee – for some delicious food in a floating Muslim village

Koh Panyee thai food

🏝 Kai Naka Island – to relax at the beach or even go jet skiing

Kai Naka Island

5. Stroll through Phuket’s Old Town (free + food/shopping cost)

Phuket Old Town

The Old Town is such a picturesque and colorful area that you must add to your Phuket itinerary. It consists of 2 blocks of colorful buildings with lots of local shops and restaurants. There are plenty of areas to take instagrammable pictures, eat local and international food, buy beachy clothes and accessories, and support the local economy.

Phuket Old Town

One of my favorite spots was a Harry Potter-themed pub that had THE most delicious smoked salmon croissant sandwich and themed teas and cocktails. And if you’re a digital nomad, it’s a great place to work from. 

Hog's Head Pub
Hog’s Head Pub in Phuket Old Town

6. Enjoy the Sunday Walking Market and Indy night market (free + food/shopping cost)

The Sunday walking market is located in Phuket’s Old Town, every Sunday, stretching the Thalang Road starting around 5 pm, where you can enjoy local food vendors, souvenirs and clothing shops, and even live music. 

Indy night market

Another not as popular night market is the Indy night market behind the Limelight mall. It takes place every Wednesday to Friday, from 4 – 10:30 pm. This market is way smaller than the Sunday walking market but it still has plenty of food vendors, souvenir vendors, live music, and a more local vibe. If you’re looking to save money on food, I recommend having dinner at this market. The most I spent was 200THB total [$6 USD] buying different plates and drinks.

Other cool budget-friendly things to do that I didn’t get a chance to do are:

7. Visit temples in Phuket

8. Go to the Upside Down House Museum 

9. Visit an elephant jungle sanctuary

10. Go zip lining in the jungle

I hope this blog post is super useful for planning your Phuket visit and helps you save money while enjoy this beautiful city.

Learn more about visiting Thailand with these related blog posts.

Heads up: As a way to earn passive income, this post may contain affiliate links. This means that if you buy something through one of those links, I might get a commission at NO extra cost to you. I appreciate your support! 💕

Phuket Sunday Night Market

July 19, 2022

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