The internet is full of negative stories about Phuket; they say its full of people trying to rip you off, others trying to scam you, the beaches are dirty, over priced restaurants, bars and accommodation. Many travellers that we met in Thailand also advised us to avoid going there, telling us it just wasn’t worth the trip and that we would be disappointed. I was really shocked by what they were saying. I first visited Phuket back in 2002 and thought it was a beautiful place, could it have really changed that much? Would we hate Phuket too?
Why Does Everyone Hate Phuket?
All of the nice accommodation is overpriced
I suppose this can depend on your personal interpretation of ‘overpriced’ – using a booking agent like Agoda we were able to find a range of budget to moderate accommodation in Kata, even in high season. We settled on a family suite at the Beach Boutique House Hotel, where we paid around £50/$75US a night for four of us including breakfast. We could have easily gotten a room at half that price if we had stayed in Phuket town, but we wanted to be close to the beach and have access to a pool.
The beaches are dirty and the sellers hassle you too much
We visited 2 beaches in Phuket, Mai Khao and Kata. Both were very clean and we had a brilliant family day out on both occasions. If you choose to go to a popular tourist beach like Kata, then you expect to be visited frequently by the local sellers offering you a variety of wares. Don’t let it spoil your day though, they are just trying to make a living and a simple ‘no thank you’ and a smile soon sees them off. We didn’t experience any problems at all. Head north to Mai Khao and you will have the beach all to yourselves with no hassle at all. Read this post from dufflebagspouse for more info on the beautiful beaches in Phuket.
Sex tourism has taken over, its not suitable for kids
Sex tourism is big business in Thailand, there is no escaping that fact, but it is possible to experience Phuket (or any of the other big tourist towns and cities) without encountering it at all. We spent almost a week in Phuket with our kids without them being exposed to its seedier side, you just have to choose where you visit. We made the decision to avoid Patong and stick with family friendly areas like Karon, Kata and Mai Khao.
There is nothing to do for families
There are loads of family friendly tours and activities that you can take if you get bored of the beach and pool. We had a great budget friendly afternoon out at the Dino Park and we took part in many family activities during our stay in Mai Khao.
Eating out is too expensive
Ok, so its not as cheap as eating out in Kanchanburi or Chiang Mai, but Phuket is a major international tourist destination, you will always pay more in a tourist destination! However, in no way can it be said that Phuket is too expensive, not by western standards anyway.
Along the road that runs behind Kata Beach there are scores of restaurants offering out tasty eats at good prices. We recommend having your main meal at lunchtime when there are much better deals to be had and then picking up a snack from the street hawkers for a light supper in the evening (banana pancakes never fail to make me happy). We never spent more than £15/$22US (for 2 adults and 2 kids) for a main meal with one drink each in Phuket.
We liked Phuket, I wouldn’t say that we loved it but we certainly didn’t hate Phuket. Like any destination in Thailand, its what you make of your experience when you are there. If you stick to the main tourist areas you will probably leave feeling slightly disenchanted by your experience, but if you get off the main drag, eat where the locals eats and seek beaches further afield we think you will have a good time.
What do you think, have you been to Phuket? Did you love it or hate it?
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