The archipelago of islands that populate the Andaman Sea are picturesque. They’re featured in movies like The Beach and James Bond, as well in the Instagram feeds of travel bloggers. Phuket is Thailand’s largest island, and provides easy access to other islands in the Andaman Sea.
My first impressions of Phuket left me incredibly overwhelmed. Although I wasn’t staying in the main tourist area, it was clear that I just booked myself one week on a party island.
After going on a couple of island tours, and taking boat trips all around the Andaman Sea, I can confidently say that everything about this trip was worth it. I loved exploring the other islands compared to Phuket itself. Although these islands are clearly designed to cater to tourists, they’re not only gorgeous but filled with charm.
If you’re new here: my travel style is slow-traveling backpacker mixed with a gal willing to pay a little extra for certain amenities.
I didn’t island hop in true backpacker fashion. While I travel, I also work, so I set my home base as FIN Hostel + Coworking in Kata. At Kata, I booked day tours that included hotel pickup and dropoff.
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Getting to Phuket
Most popular options of getting to Phuket include:
- Taking a bus from Bangkok to Phuket (there’s a road that connects Phuket Island with the mainland),
- Flying into Phuket Airport
- Reaching Phuket by boat.
Flight from Chiang Mai to Phuket: $142 (I paid more to fly directly on a weekend instead of stopping in Bangkok overnight)
Per TripAdvisor, I expected to hire a taxi from the airport for around 600-800 baht. But, there are also shared minivans at the exit. To Kata, the cost was 200 baht per person (approx. $6.20 USD).
Phuket operates on tourism, so the minivan stops at a tour company on the way to your destination. To be honest, I wish I haggled with the company on the spot but I was afraid that the 1,400 baht Phi Phi Islands tour they offered me was also too good to be true. In Kata, I couldn’t find the same price.
Phi Phi Islands Tour
- Maya Bay
- Loh Samah Bay Phi Phi Leh Cove
- Viking Cave
- Phi Phi Don Island (monkey beach, snorkeling)
- Lunch @ Phi Phi Don
- Koh Kai Island – this is a very small island where you actually have to pay to relax in the shade. Set aside 100-500 baht per person (it’s 250 baht for a cocktail) so you can relax with a mai tai.
Cost: 1,500 baht
Travel Tip: Pay between 1,000 – 1,500 for a tour of Phi Phi Islands. Whatever price you are quoted, haggle.
“James Bond” Islands Tour
Cost: 1,400 baht
- Naka Island (swimming)
- Khao Phing Kan aka James Bond Island
- Panyee Island (lunch)
- Hong Island + Panak Island (canoeing)
Working from Phuket, Thailand
FIN Hostel & Coworking (Kata)
You can book a private “capsule/pod” bed that has shelves and a privacy curtain. Initially, I booked 3 nights here on Booking.com. I really enjoyed my stay here and actually extended it for an additional four nights! These are offered in single beds for an individual, and double beds for couples.
Making Your Reservation
At the time of writing this, prices on Booking.com were cheaper than booking directly at the hotel! Click here to see current Booking.com prices.
For a single bed, I paid 450 baht per night (about $14/night). This is really expensive for a hostel, but coworking spaces in Phuket charge about 250 baht per day, so everything evens out.
Note: I did travel during “high season” so while this hostel wasn’t fully booked, the prices may be lower during low season!
For the price, I wish that breakfast or coffee was included. It’s not! There’s a 7-11 around the corner where you can get coffee for under 20 baht, or a shop across the street that offers coffee for 60 baht.
Also, the coworking area is very small. When I visited, the coworking space was one big community table, and three individual desks. Most people visit Phuket to surf and party. So working got lonely but I connected with others at the picnic tables outside the hostel and at bars.
For me, the benefits outweighed the cons – obviously, since I extended my stay here.
- Close to a 711 (ATM, coffee, toiletries, cheap coffee, quick snacks)
- Pretty reliable WiFi
- Comfortable capsule beds
- Great location – short walk to Kata beach, short walk to Karon, and in walking distance to a ton of restaurants, bars, and street vendors.
Note: If you do decide to stay here, as always I recommend traveling with a backpack! Elevators are few and far between in Thailand hostels, and backpacks are MUCH easier to carry through the streets and up staircases. The Osprey Fairview 55 is perfect for working female travelers. The main bag is 40L and opens up like a suitcase. The other 15L is a separate detachable backpack. YUP – you get 2 in 1. The 15L backpack is perfect to bring around on day trips!
Other Coworking Spaces in Phuket
- Garage Society – Patong
- HATCH Coworking Space – Phuket Town
- Coffee Tribe – Rawai (this is more of a coffee shop than a coworking space)
Where to Stay in Phuket
- Phuket City
Protip: If you decide to book on-site, ask to test the hotel’s Internet before you finalize booking. Pull up Speedtest to quickly test a hotel’s Internet speed.
Total Cost of 1 Week in Phuket
A lot of you have been asking how much it is to travel here! Luckily I track my spending by day.
*The conversion from baht to USD is approximate.
Direct Flight from Chiang Mai to Phuket (one-way): 4,573 baht ($142.71) *This is really expensive for a regional flight. I could have (and should have) saved money by either flying into Phuket the next day or taking a bus from Bangkok to Phuket.
Accommodation + Coworking for 7 nights: 3,150 baht ($98)
Activities (2 tours): 2,900 baht ($90)
Tips: 300 baht ($9.57)
Food for 7 days: 1,160 baht ($37.03)
Alcohol: 360 baht ($11.55) *I only drank a couple times here.
Massage: 0 baht. In Kata, the going rate for a back, neck + shoulder massage is 400 baht ($12.75).
Other (amenities like shampoo/conditioner, shopping): 740 baht ($23.66)
Transportation to/from Airport: 600 baht ($19.14)
Other Transportation: 40 baht ($1.24)
Total for 1-Week Island Hopping from Phuket: 13,823 baht ($432.90 USD)
I’m a little appalled at myself for spending so much in just one week! But over 30% of my cost included just getting to Phuket, which can be reduced if you plan ahead. Another 20-25% was the cost of my (comfortable + clean) accommodation.
Enjoy digital nomad life from Phuket
Phuket traditionally caters to backpacking partiers, but it’s possible to find a coworking space to zone in and get work done. If you do visit Phuket, I highly recommend venturing out to explore other Thai islands.
Zone in on your work at one of the coworking spaces, and treat yourself to a drink or massage after. After all the saying goes work hard, play harder, right?
- Cost of Living for Digital Nomads: 1 Month in Chiang Mai, Thailand
- Digital Nomad Travel Packing List for 2018
- 10 Lifesaving Tips on How to Travel on a Low Budget
Although Phuket wasn’t my favorite island, it was the experience of visiting other Thai islands that made my trip so memorable.
My favorite part of the discussion happens in the comments! So, let me know which Thailand islands are your favorite + why. I know I only visited the most visited Thai islands, sooo you guys have to give me the inside scoop on which island I should visit next.