20 Things You Need to Know Before Traveling to Phuket

Phuket has always been imagined as an island with long pristine beaches under perfect blue skies that’s like paradise on Earth. While it’s indeed looks heavenly viewed from your luxury villa, there’s that reality we all have to embrace.

Think twice before buying anything

Most products offered by street hawkers may seem cheap but is actually five times more than original price of said product in malls or other places. So unless there is an urgent need or there’s not much time left to wander around, skip it for now. Or you can try your negotiation skills.

Know your travel tours company

First-timers should read people’s reviews of company tours, mostly found online. That’s because there have been cases where people joining group tours experienced various forms of fraud: several detours to shops that waste your time, charging extra on rides that were not stated at the beginning of the tour and more. With proper research, you can go to reputable companies or go on adventure on your own.

Island safaris are not what you think

Elephant trekking may seem like a great adventure but elephants and trainers do have their own good days and bad days. Photos are protected by so called company policy but are really just an excuse to charge more money from tourists. More importantly, by going to such attraction you are implicitly tolerating the way handlers manage poor animals. So for animal lovers, they might end up hating the experience more than enjoying it.

Lower your expectations of Patong, Phuket

The place is one of the most expensive places because of the high-value tourists’ currency. People go here for the nightlife and erotic activities. It gets crowded by late afternoon, beers are expensive, and loud noise from bars compete against each other. If this is within your expectation, it’s very convenient to go there. But if you want to experience culture, it is better to visit Chiang Mai.

Phuket, Thailand. Photo credit: www.mydestination.com
Phuket, Thailand. Photo credit: www.mydestination.com

Be careful when you use your credit card

If you are using your credit cards, they convert the amount into your home currency straight away, at the hotel’s prevailing exchange rate (which can be 10% higher than bank’s rate) and on top of that, will charge you another 3% service fee.  Ask and confirm the price beforehand, in public vehicles and transportation, restaurants and even accommodations just to be sure.

Moulin Rouge Gentlemen’s Club

The prices here are sky high, beers costs 250 to 350 baht a bottle, ladies drinks at 380 baht per glass and they expect you to give a 100 baht tip minimum. Private shows cost 2,000 baht.

Premier Property and Leisure scam

Watch out and avoid marketing promotions, people with scratch cards that always gives a ‘prize’ in exchange for a 60 minute promotion for a tour company. This is a variant of “Timeshare” wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Jet Ski damage scam

Jet ski owners to ask you to pay for certain damages to the jet ski when you return it either that you have made or that were previously there. Check over your jet ski before taking it out and note any damages to it.

ATM withdrawals come with a 150 baht fee

It is not entirely sure if these is the case with all ATMs but just be aware of it and make the largest withdrawals you possibly can. But a $5 fee to quickly and easily access your money while overseas is not too bad. It just depends on how badly you need cash at the moment you make your withdrawals.

Migraines

If you’ve never travelled long distance in a plane before and you are prone to migraines, just beware that you may encounter a rather horrible one. Get migraine meds from your doctor. I am told it may have something to do with the cabin pressure in the plane.

Some spas have dishonest masseuse

Wwe hope you get an honest masseuse or do not fall asleep during the massage. Or have a massage at open massage centers. If your intention is to get a restful, relaxing massage from a long flight or a draining day trip, massage parlors with good ratings include 5 Star Massage & Beauty Salon (225 Rat U Thit 200 Pee Road), Vayo Massage & Beauty Salon (100/14-15 Soi Post Office Thaweewong Rd) and Puluang Thai Massage (13 Soi Rat-U-Thit 200 Pee, Soi 1 Rat-U-Thit 200 Pee Rd).

Sex while having a Thai massage

You practically spend most of time refusing her offers and for sure you do not get out relaxed. When the girl asks you to get naked, tell her you want to keep your underwear on and try to make it clear that you only want a Thai massage.

Touts at Phuket City bus stand

Touts offering to organize a tour of the old town and shopping areas for virtually nothing wants to earn commissions by taking you shopping that you can do yourself.

Taxi Rip Off

Beware of the “Friendly” Taxi booth at the hotels. Find Taxis and transportation outside the hotels. On short rides, try to get taxis with Taxo-meter. A 10min trip costs about 70 Baht whilst the tuk-tuks ask for minimum of 200Baht.

Travel agents at the Bus Station-Phuket Town

Don’t use them. They wanted 800B each to go to Chumphon (Bus costs 390B each). Keep walking and you will see the ticket counters for the bus station.

Seafood restaurants

The price of seafood restaurants here is very steep. The same amount you pay here could feed 2 families of 10 in Bangkok or Hatyai. Check the menus before you even sit down.

Security

Do not leave your valuables anywhere they are accessible even while you are in the apartment/suite. The staff could take some of your valuables even with you in the same room.

Booking

Avoid booking immediately by Internet or from tourist desks, instead talk to most travel desks and compare prices and packages. You’ll be surprised that some of the offline deals are actually cheaper than those advertised on the Internet.

Boat trips

Check weather report before booking, most travel tours by boat are non-refundable.

James Bond Island

James Bond Island is just a rock and a tourist attraction. Too many people come here — notably large group of Chinese tourists — and prices are high but not as beautiful as many who haven’t been there would think. But it should not stop you from witnessing where The Man with the Golden Gun was actually shot.

Conclusion

Phuket has been a byword for exotic beaches in Thailand for a long time. This creates an impression in one’s mind from the beautiful photos shown online and in magazines. Try to lower your expectations especially if you’re into the low-budget travel plan. More importantly, make sure you manage to get away from the fangs of scammers who prey on unsuspecting visitors, making them think that what they’re doing is a cultural thing and is widely practiced in Thailand.

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