Before I flew, I kept thinking all sorts of odds and how it is possible for a (very) broke student like myself to travel to Phuket for 4 days and still have money to eat my meals and pay for my daily expenses in Singapore prior to and after the trip. So, I decided that I want to spend less than SGD400, and I kept to it. I didn’t want to limit the amount of fun I had, but thankfully my friends were YOLO enough to spend money without thinking. And TA-DA, here’s a short recount of how we spent our money in Phuket, solely based on my own budget!
I think it helped that we didn’t travel when it was the school holidays, although technically we were on OUR school holiday, but it was different because it didn’t involve mobs of children and their families. So… that way, we saved a little bit on air tickets, and also did not encounter insane crowds.
4 of us, all friends, travelled together. During the trip, we pooled our money in for the combined expenses such as meals and tour fees. We did not have many other things to buy, so most of our money were just put together for shared purposes 🙂 But for the benefit of ease, I will be calculating what I’ve spent alone, after dividing the amount by 4. One small tip is that everything is Phuket is bargain-able! We literally bargained our way through everything, otherwise I would have exceeded my budget BIG TIME.
Amount I spent before the trip: SGD79 (Jetstar airplane ticket, including credit card taxes & surcharge) + SGD30 (Accommodation from Airbnb) = SGD109
TOTAL BUDGET: SGD109 (above) + SGD370 to spend (I changed SGD400 worth though, excluding plane tickets and accommodation)
Exchange rate was approximately: SGD1 = 23.7 baht, but let’s just say that SGD1 = 24 baht. So in total, my spending budget was SGD370 = 8880 baht.
We did a very brief itinerary for the trip because all of us did not have time to do detailed planning, although we did research the places that we wanted to go to.
On our first day, we reached the Phuket International Airport at about 9:05am (there is a -1h difference in timing between Thailand and Singapore), and took a cab, which cost us 800 baht, and reached our Airbnb at about 10am. We weren’t allowed to check in yet, so we deposited our bags at our Airbnb and explored the area. We found a place for lunch, but it started raining, so we decided to go for a foot massage, run by the same person who owns the eatery, that cost us 200 baht per person.
The massage sucked, mainly because it was from a random place and my whole body felt dirty and oily afterwards. But we only did what we had to do to kill time before the rain stopped, and then we headed to a shopping mall about 20 minutes’ walk away from our Airbnb – Jungceylon Shopping Center. It was rather similar to Singapore’s shopping malls, just that their supermarket is definitely more affordable. So we bought about 1000 baht worth of groceries, snacks and necessities such as soap and shampoo. Do take note, we had to buy all these things because we did not check in our bags and was not able to carry more than 100ml bottles of liquids in our bags.
We then took a walk back to our Airbnb and rested there for awhile before going out to look for tours that we could engage to Phi Phi Island and other islands that Phuket/Krabi is known for, such as Maya Bay. Instead of getting a tour, since it was all too expensive, we rented a car (Honda Civic) for 3600 baht and spent about 2800 baht on full tank petrol. Then, we drove out to have dinner at a great and cheap Mookata place, Khon Kaen Buffet BBQ, which was only about a 6 minutes drive away from our Airbnb. It cost us only 279 baht per person for unlimited servings, just as long as we order drinks, which they charge additionally. It isn’t too expensive though, we spent about 50 baht on a 1.5l bottle of water and another 40-50 baht on an orange juice, which was rather reasonable.
After we filled our VERY satisfied bellies, we headed into a nearby 7-11 and grabbed masks for our faces, and alcohol as well as mixers for the night. Over here, we spent about 1200 baht as well.
Of course, we realise that we’re spending money a little too quickly, and immediately thought of ways to salvage the situation. We decided that we should stay the night in our Airbnb, and rest up for the next day. Since we did not manage to book the tour, we wanted to do it early the next day, as the Internet informed us that a ferry to Phi Phi Islands leaves the pier at about 8.30am, and our Airbnb was about 45 minutes’ drive to the pier.
It was still quite early and all of us got a little bit restless so we headed out anyway to explore a little bit of Bangla Street, which was about 3 minutes’ drive away from our Airbnb. We were slightly surprised, albeit excited, to find out that this entire street was crowded with nightlife entertainment 😉 Of course, we had already heard things about this place and decided that we wanted to explore Illuzion. It’s known to be 48th out of the world’s top 100 clubs, and it promises free entry with unlimited drinks for just 800 baht per person!! What’s not attractive about this place at this point? We decided that we will each save 800 baht for the last night, but we had to wake up really early the next morning, so we went back to rest for the night.
At this point, we have already spent a lot of money, but it is the end of a day, so let’s do some accounting:
For 1 pax: (approximation)
200 baht (transport from airport to Airbnb) + 200 baht (lunch) + 200 baht (massage) + 250 baht (groceries = 1000/4) + 900 baht (car rental = 3600/4) + 700 baht (petrol = 2800/4) + 302 baht (mookata with drinks = 1206/4) + 250 baht (7/11 = 1000/4)
So in total, 3002 baht per person just on the first day. [SGD125]
We woke up at about 7.30am the next day, packed some of our things for beach day. Got into our cars and left to our first stop, Rassada Pier, where we enquired about the prices to travel with a tour group to the various islands around Phuket, such as Phi Phi Island and Maya Bay. TIP: always try to bargain the prices of the tour. Our tour was initially supposed to be 3200 baht for adults, and 2200 baht for children, but we managed to lower the prices to 1800 baht. At this point, it was rather satisfying as it was almost half the original price (until we found out later that there are other similar tours which offered us 1500 baht, but oh well). We did not have enough money on us, since I was only carrying about 4500 baht (pooled money), so we paid a deposit of 4000 baht, and left so that we can come back the next day to make it for the 9am ferry.
Beach-hopping was not disappointing at all. We drove through quite a few beaches, and took pretty amazing photos. Best part of this? We spent only 800-900 baht on food! We didn’t even blink an eye when we wanted to get a snack from a roadside stall, but then again it only cost us 150 baht. We ended our day by watching a breathtaking sunset at Karon Viewpoint, which did not disappoint AT ALL.
Second best part of the day – we got a seafood dinner treat that was about 1500 baht from our friend! He decided that he brought too much money, and since the rest of us we worrying about not having enough money to spend, he decided to be a very kind soul.
After our hearty dinner we decided to go back and had some drinks while playing games, which turned out to be more fun than I expected. Learnt how to play bridge, which required poker cards – definitely something new. We finished more than three-quarters of the Chivas bottle before we finally called it a day and went to sleep.
Second day: 1800 baht (tour package) + 250 baht (lunch) + 30 baht (snack) = 2080 baht
Total: 3002 baht (first day) + 2080 baht (second day) = 5082 baht by the end of the second day [SGD211.75]
A short 5-6h sleep later, all of us woke up and prepared to head to the pier for our island-hopping day!! The islands’ views were phenomenal, and as much as I love sightseeing and observing nature, I got slightly bored when we were at our first island, prolly because we were given too much time to spend alone. We did not pay the extravagant amount of money to go jet-skiing, and neither did we go snorkelling because there really wasn’t much to see, since there were boundaries marked out, and it was probably spanned only about 20 metres or so. We sat and chilled by the beach with some fruit shakes, but they weren’t that good or worth the money at all, if you ask me.
Our tour package included a lunch buffet at one of the islands. Although it wasn’t anything deluxe or extravagant, I would say it was pretty worth the view and money! (Especially because we didn’t have to fork out anymore)
At Phi Phi Island, we were given the opportunity to snorkel! I didn’t go down into the water because I was on my period, but I wasn’t too sad because I’ve already done this before. So I watched my friends from the boat, and hoped they had loads of fun while I was on the boat, stuck with family members yelling at each other to watch their safety.
The next highlight was visiting the Monkey Beach, where monkeys were so brazen they raided bags if they saw any, and even humans while they were taking photos. Funny story, one of the monkeys (quite obviously the alpha one), boarded our speedboat as we were alighting and raided our trash can! Our captain tried fighting it off, but it just took a seat and started drinking our bottle of soft drink. Eventually, our captain had to lure the monkey out of the boat by offering one of our pineapples – he jumped into the sea and tada, that did it. The monkey also jumped off the boat in an attempt to eat the pineapple. We mainly stood in the sea area where there were less monkeys, and tried to protect my drawstring bag from getting raided (because seriously, a monkey jumped onto another man’s bag without warning, and it was almost impossible to swing it off). Then we snapped a photo together and took off :’-)
As we visited Maya Bay, the skies started getting a lot darker and the winds started getting stronger, so our captain cut short our trip there and made it a 20 minute one. We barely made it back to the boat before it started raining rather heavily! An advice: don’t act strong and sit at the front deck because you’ll never make it out alive and unfrozen. We almost did that, keyword almost. By the time we got onto the mainland, which took about an hour’s ride, we changed and got into our car and headed for an early dinner. We order quite little, but somehow, it was the best meal that we ate in Phuket. While eating, we saw a double rainbow too! How beautiful can life get?
Went back to our Airbnb, showered and headed out to Bangla Street for the night!!! The best part about Phuket’s clubs was that there is no need to dress up AT ALL. Even slippers and shorts are allowed. Say no more, because girl got really drunk after at least 7 drinks and I didn’t even know what happened during our last hour in the club :”) IT WAS FUN NONETHELESS, and I would definitely recommend going there for the experience. One thing though, the music wasn’t fantastic but I guess this depends on the DJ as well.
We drove back to our Airbnb. In our defense, our friend was not that drunk and the maximum speed we could go on Phuket road was like 30km/h, PLUS we drove as carefully as we could, so that was okay to us at the very least. I immediately fell asleep, not realising that in Nate’s words from Gossip Girl, I smelt like the floor of a brewery, literally. Somehow, I woke up the earliest the next day and upon smelling my hair, I got right out of bed to shower, and let me tell you, I have never felt so refreshed.
Third day: 300 baht (fruit shakes) + 150 baht (dinner) + 800 baht (Illuzion) = 1100 baht
Total: 5082 baht + 1100 baht = 6182 baht [~SGD258]
We woke up about the time we needed to check out, so we packed up real quick and checked out, using our car as temporary shelter. We went for a Thai massage at Sweet Lemongrass Massage after some rather deluxe lunch, considering we tried to scrimp on meals for the past few days. As much as I disliked people touching any parts of my body excessively, the Thai massage relaxed some of my muscles to a slight extent. We took about 1.5 hours for the massage, and by the time it was done, it was also about time to return our car. By this time, we only use about half the tank of fuel that we had pumped on the first day despite having travelled almost the entire Phuket. So if you are thinking of renting a car, my advice is that only pump half the tank, and then if it’s not enough, go pump it again.
When we went to return our car, we realised that the agency who rented us the car had closed their shop for the evening to have their meal, so after we called them, we took the car out to Patong Beach and dinner. Funny how we stayed so near Patong Beach but throughout the 4 days we did not visit it until the very last day. We had a subpar dinner nearby, which cost us another about 1000-1200 baht, before returning the car and headed to the airport for our flight at 10pm.
Fourth day: 600 baht (lunch) + 590 baht (havaianas slippers) + 50 baht (mango) + 250 baht (massage) + 300 baht (dinner) + 225 baht (transport to airport) = 2015 baht
Total: 6182 baht + 2015 baht = 8197 baht
Aaaand that was the end of our 4d3n trip. I would like to think that we did pretty well with our time management because we did everything that we wanted to do, but I cannot say the same about our wealth management because the fact is that we did underestimate the amount of money that we spent. Mainly because we initially wanted to parasail, jetski, and do other water sports, but did not account for that in our budget. I guess our trip turned out to be chill instead, which wasn’t that bad of a transition!
TOTAL EXPENDITURE: ~ 8500 baht (including all the snacks, drinks and random little bits (like sunglasses) that I forgot to include/forgot how much it cost)
We were rather sad it ended so quickly, because before we really got into the mood to relax, we were already packing our bags. However, I would not suggest staying in Phuket for more than 4-5 days because it really gets boring, especially if you are used to the hustle and bustle of the city.
‘Til next time!