Going to Phuket? What to Know Before You Go

When planning a trip to beautiful Thailand, choosing which sites you’ll visit while there is just the start – in addition to brushing up a bit on the language, you’ll need to know a little about the culture too.

To make your stay in Phuket completely enjoyable, take a few moments to go over everything you need to know to get around and interact with the locals as courteously as possible.

Tipping

Tipping service men and women is customary in Phuket, and these people may be relying on it for income – remember that one Baht is about three cents (in USD); money can go a lot further in Thailand.

Expect to tip the following:

  • Hotel maids: Leave a tip at the end of your stay if you appreciate the service – it’s not expected, but a tip of around 200 Baht for the stay is equal to their entire day’s wage (only a little over six dollars) and will be greatly appreciated.

  • Bellhops: Give bellhops 20 Baht whenever they carry your bags or show you to your room.

  • Sit-down restaurants: Anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of the total bill.

  • Fast food or restaurants that don’t have at-table service: Nothing, but rounding up to the next even number and letting them keep the change is often very appreciated.

    However, if that amounts to only one Baht, avoid tipping or tip another five Baht. Tipping only one Baht anywhere in Thailand is akin to saying you weren’t happy with the service.

  • Taxi cabs: Depends on whether or not the taxi driver negotiates a flat fee from the start. If they do negotiate a flat fee, they’re including a tip, so you need not pay extra. If the taxi runs on a metre, a 20 to 50 Baht tip is customary, particularly if the service is good.

  • Tuk tuk: If you take a rickshaw, you don’t have to tip, particularly if the experience is unpleasant. If the driver is nice, a 20 to 50 Baht tip can show your appreciation.

  • Drinks: Tip bartenders and servers 30 Baht per drink.

  • Tour guides: If a professional tour guide spends an entire day with you all over the city, a 300 to 500 Baht tip is customary (and in that case, don’t worry about tipping drivers, as the tour guide will likely do so).

Internet Access

Wifi is very common throughout Thailand, and if you happen to end up in a hotel without wifi, there is probably a cafe around the corner that offers it for free. But expect slower speed than you’re used to.

There are internet cafes here and there where you’ll find stationary computers – these tend to be pretty costly.

Some guesthouses also tend to offer wifi for free, but charge a hefty sum to use their computers, so bring a laptop or tablet on your trip!

General Etiquette

There are a few customs you will need to respect in Thailand, or you will get many strange glances your way..!

  • Never use your foot to point to something or someone.

  • Never touch a person’s head.

  • Refrain from displays of public anger.

  • Refrain from public displays of affection with your significant other beyond holding hands.

  • Take off your shoes when entering someone’s home or a temple.

  • Don’t wear tank tops, tight pants or short skirts into a temple; don’t go shirtless, either…

  • Stand for the national anthem before a movie plays in the cinema.

When in doubt, be patient and polite. If you follow these tipping guidelines and general etiquette tips, your vacation will go more smoothly and you’ll have a great time, leaving you with memories for many years to come.

About the Author: Praepilai Vaughn is a contributing writer, travel agent and native Thai. She blogs about her travel experiences and great travel deals on her company website.

8 Responses to Going to Phuket? What to Know Before You Go

  1. Worldfamilytravellers December 3, 2012 at 7:15 pm #

    Great tips. We’ve been to Phuket a few times, but never have been to a cinema…not sure how many English speaking films are there. Did you happen to see any?

    • Golf December 5, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

      There are a lot of English speaking film, but if its a Thai movie there are always English Subtitle in film

      ps. When you watch a movie in Thai cinema you will have to stand up to show respect to Thai King in a few min.

  2. Christina December 4, 2012 at 10:41 pm #

    Great list of tips, covering the 3 most important categories! And especially tipping guidelines by category!

  3. Peter Lee December 7, 2012 at 7:26 am #

    Phuket is a beautiful place with lovely white sand, delicious food, beautiful scenery and a peaceful, laid-back vibe, Phuket is quite simply a paradise. The tips you mentioned in the article are very useful to make our holidays a memorable one.

  4. Lyndsay/ Discount Travel Blogger December 12, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

    Great tips! I’m actually planning a get away to Phuket for New Year’s Holiday, would be a great help.

  5. Varun | Travel Mirchee January 3, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

    Wow!! you made the best highlights for phuket tips, so short and so good. each line was written very well.

  6. Lindsay January 15, 2013 at 6:12 pm #

    I didn’t know you need to take off your shoes. That’s very interesting. I’d hate to offend someone when I’m in Phuket, so thanks.

  7. docgelo January 19, 2013 at 4:05 pm #

    these tips are so true and definitely helpful!

    i just came from a recent trip to thailand, chiang mai to be exact and all you’ve shared here are just so applicable to anyone traveling to any parts of thailand.
    wish i could bring my family to phuket too one day as it’s very accessible to our current base here in penang via hat yai.