If you’re looking for budget accommodation options without sacrificing location, head toward Patong Beach, but don’t get too close. Right along the shore, you’ll mainly find resorts and high prices. A bit further away, though, you can book budget accommodation within a walk or short taxi ride to the sand.
Lupta Hostel is a great pick if you’re looking for a backpacker scene near Patong. It’s even surprisingly close to the beach. With clean, simple rooms and a modern communal area, this hostel is a great option if you’re on a budget. There’s also a well-stocked, shared kitchen if you want to save even more money by eating in. We found an online booking deal for Lupta at THB490 per night in an 8-bed, mixed dorm with air conditioning. (138 taweewong Rd.)
A similar option is Kool Backpacker Hostel, which also offers clean accommodation, although not quite as modern as Lupta. The dorms and common areas are simple and slightly sparse, but the price is great, given the location. You’ll be just 10 minutes walking to Patong Beach, and Kool offers free wifi throughout the building. Come here to meet likeminded travelers, and enjoy Patong’s party scene, if that’s what you’re after. (31 Bangla Rd)
Other budget accommodation options are scattered throughout Phuket. For quieter rooms, we suggest checking out Phuket Town. Often overlooked due to its lack of immediate tourist beach access, this part of the island has local flair, cheap food, and budget accommodations on offer.
Sleep Sheep Phuket Hostel has both private and dorm rooms at reasonable prices. Accommodations are basic, bright, and cheap. Double rooms with en suite, private bathrooms run THB660 per night, which is excellent value. The rooms have free wifi, TV, and air conditioning to top it off. You won’t be close to Phuket’s major beaches, but you will have access via tuk-tuks and taxis. For a quieter, more local experience, this hostel ticks all the boxes. (243 Talang Rd.)
Also in Phuket Town, Ai Phuket Hostel draws in tons of budget minded backpackers all year long. Prices are even cheaper here, at THB350 for a double room with shared bathroom. The furnishings and decorations aren’t much to talk about, but convenient amenities make up for that. Air conditioning, free wifi, and cable TV make evenings enjoyable, and the cheap price is undeniably alluring. If you’re willing to make the hike out to one of Phuket’s nearby beaches, Ai Phuket Hostel will make a wonderfully convenient base. (88 Yaowarat Road)
Mid-range hotel options are even more common throughout Phuket’s beach areas. Our favourite location to look for flashpacker-type hotels is near Kata and Karon Beaches. Staying here will give you the luxury of a large, beautiful stretch of beach, but without all the hype that surrounds Patong.
Cool Breeze Bungalows are just a stone’s throw from the beach and offer surprisingly affordable prices for their location. The downfall is the difficult walk up the hill to get there, but we don’t see that as a deal breaker. Cool Breeze is clean and sufficient, but it’s also rather dated. Of course, being so close to the beach, you probably won’t be spending much time indoors anyways.
Rooms come with basics like mini fridges and TVs. There’s also a restaurant close by, which is a convenient perk. In the high season, basic rooms with private bathrooms cost THB900. Add THB400 per night if you want air conditioning, which we highly recommend.
Another Kata Beach option is Fin Hostel. Unlike some of the cheaper hostels on the island, this one is a bit more upscale, at least in their private room offerings. Even the dorm rooms are fresh and clean, though. Common areas and a downstairs coffee shop make this hostel even more appealing. Come here and book a private room, complete with an en suite bathroom, private terrace, TV, air conditioning, and wifi. Stay to enjoy the community atmosphere and several minute’s walk to the beach. Private rooms cost THB2500.
It’s tough to escape luxury when you’re in Phuket. Not because you can’t get away from it, but because it’s so enticing, you might find it hard to resist. If you’re one of those travellers who can’t help but go all out from time to time, this island is the perfect place to do just that.
Right next to Bang Tao Beach is Banyan Tree Phuket. The chic architecture is hard to miss, and the interior is made to match. This resort offers a perfect location, combined with excellent dining options and a full service spa. Instead of hotel rooms, you’ll be staying in villas, all with easy pool access. We can’t say enough good things about Banyan Tree. The price is steep, but the conveniences, services, and amenities all provide an extremely comfortable and enjoyable stay. THB12860 includes breakfast. (33, 33/27 Moo 4, Srisoonthorn Road)
A cheaper, albeit still luxurious, option is Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort. For the price, we might even prefer this hotel to Banyan Tree. Le Meridien has its own private beach in Karon, which makes finding a spot in the sand quick and easy. The sheer size of this resort will leave you in awe. While we don’t always think bigger is better, when it comes to Le Meridien, you’ll have access to huge swimming pools, 10 restaurant and bar options, and some excellent entertainment. This is the kind of resort you don’t have to leave if you don’t want to; they offer everything you could need for a relaxing stay away from it all. A double room with upscale amenities costs about THB4280. (29 Soi Karon Nui)
Phuket station guide
Phuket Bus Terminal 2 - Bus
Phuket’s recently constructed Bus Station 2 BKS Terminal is the long-distance arrivals hub for buses to and from Bangkok and other major Thai cities and provinces. Located four kilometres to the north of Phuket’s town centre and port, the complex is large and modern, linking with transportation by tuk-tuk, metered taxi, motorcycle taxi, songthaew or local bus to the island’s beaches and resorts.
The most reliable and safest bus service to and from Phuket to Bangkok is the public BKS line, connecting the capital’s Southern Bus Terminal (Sai Tai) and Morchit bus station with the southern resorts. The journey takes 12 hours at a cost of around 1089 Thai baht. VIP buses serving the route are modern, air-conditioned and comfortable, and stop along the way for refreshments. During the high season, pre-booking is essential and best done online, although it’s occasionally possible to just turn up and purchase a ticket.
The route to and from Bangkok is also served by a number of private bus companies, although it’s usual to transfer to a minibus at Surat Thani. Transportation around Phuket island is mainly by tuk-tuk or songthaew, available at the bus station or from the town centre’s Ranong Road market area. Trips to nearby beaches and resorts should cost no more than around 15 to 40 baht, depending on distance, and local services continue until late in the evening.
Phuket’s modern bus terminal holds snack vendors and a 7/11 store offering all the usual travellers’ needs. Minibuses regularly leave for Krabi and Koh Lanta, and a taxi stand with listed prices for popular destinations is located near the departures hall. There are no local train services on the island or in Phuket Province, although the Bangkok/Singapore train can be taken as far as Surat Thani’s Phun Phin station for the five-hour local bus connection to Phuket.
Thalang - Bus
Thalang is a district in the north of Phuket known for being home to Phuket International Airport. Route 402 runs through the district all the way on to Phuket Town in the southeast of the island. Buses, minivans and taxis are all readily available at the airport, but it is worth noting that taxis on the island are particularly expensive compared to elsewhere in Thailand.
The airport bus stops at Thalang City Hall at hourly intervals throughout the day. This bus also stops at the Phuket Bus Terminal, from which connections are available to Bangkok’s Southern bus terminal and other provinces across the south.