Are you thinking of taking your next holiday to Thailand? Maybe you’ve been wondering why Phuket is so popular. If you want to discover what makes it such a famous holiday destination, you’re in the right spot!

Phuket is Thailand’s biggest island that it actually seems more like an extension of the mainland. Even so, it still has everything you could want when you picture a tropical holiday. The paradise island is a picture-perfect utopia.

But what else makes Phuket so popular? Is it somewhere you should be taking your next holiday and what about the bad stuff?

In this post, we’ll talk about why Phuket is so popular and why it isn’t, all so you can work out if it’s the right place for you!

Why Is Phuket So Popular?

Phuket is known across the world as a popular holiday destination, but why? It’s actually quite an easy question to answer. I bet you’ve all seen pictures of the island featuring white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and a very happy individual bearing a cocktail of some sort.

The beautiful shorelines around Phuket

The beautiful shorelines around Phuket

This is exactly what Phuket is. It’s a sunny paradise, an idyllic escape, a place of dreams and a place which is still amazingly very affordable for tourists; the second reason why it’s so popular and what makes it an attractive holiday spot! 

In truth, there are many reasons why Phuket is so popular, the latest was an ingenious idea to put it back on the map after a devastating couple of years.  

In 2022 the country opened up a unique scheme, known as the Sandbox Scheme, which encouraged tourists to visit Thailand while being confined to the island; promoting travel and quickly re-establishing Phuket as Thailand’s most popular tourist destination!

In truth, we contributed to this number (which reached over 2.5 million) as Phuket was where we chose to enter Thailand after we’d spent a budget-friendly 5-days in Singapore. Unbeknown to us, we actually caught covid in Singapore!

What Happened You Ask?

Nothing too noteworthy but it did mean we had to change our plan. The plan was to stay the 7 days before travelling around the country. However, after testing positive on our second test and an additional 10 days of quarantine, we ended up staying in Phuket longer. 

The result was more time to explore the island which turned into a blessing. Phuket is a breathtaking island which caters to both nature lovers and party people. The landscape is stunning, the sun is always shining, the water warm and the food delicious. 

There’s not much not to like about Phuket, but to make sure you don’t visit with unrealistic expectations we’re going to provide 5 reasons why Phuket isn’t so popular as well as 11 reasons why it is!

11 Reasons Why Phuket Is So Loved

Firstly, let’s dive into more detail about the reasons why Phuket is so loved. I’ve mentioned some above but there are more. Keep reading to find out all the reasons Phuket is so popular, and why it isn’t!

1. The Sunshine

Aerial view of Phuket with its many beaches

Aerial view of Phuket with its many beaches

The main thing which draws the crowds to Phuket is the weather. The sunshine, to be precise, is always warm and welcoming. Thailand has a year-round tropical climate which means it’s sunny, all the time. 

If you’re a sun worshipper and looking for that sunkissed holiday glow, you’ll love Phuket! 

2. The Beaches

Follow up those sunny days with incredible beaches and you’ll feel like you’re in heaven. As it goes, Phuket is full of beaches; it’s an island after all! Some are busier while others are secluded but whichever beach you choose they are famous for its pristine waters, white sand and stunning scenery.

3. The Culture

We love Thai culture! It’s one of the country’s biggest draws and attracts many tourists who, like us, appreciate the rich culture. You’ll find Thai heritage and Buddhism deeply ingrained in their society. Phuket is most famous for a 45-meter marble-covered Buddha statue, known as Phuket Big Buddha. 

There are many temples, both new and ancient, which can be explored while visiting Phuket. You’ll find plenty of museums and even tours offering day excursions to local villages where you can spend the day learning about traditional practices.

4. The Hospitality

Did you know that Thailand is known as the land of smiles? Thai people are known for their warm and welcoming hospitality. Visiting A foreign country with such a different culture can sometimes feel overwhelming, but in Thailand, the locals are so friendly that it can make you feel welcome and at home.

This is another reason why Thailand is so popular, because who wants to go somewhere and not feel welcome? From experience, I can tell you it’s not nice!

5. The Landscape

It’s just like what you’ll see on a postcard, I kid you not, Phuket has an amazing landscape! There are mountains and forests to rice paddies and waterfalls. 

The most famous is the Karst landforms which you’ll find dotted along the coast and are popular for visiting during day excursions while island hopping around the tropical beaches, these make for magnificent photos. 

Phuket"s Karst Limestone Tower

Phuket”s Karst Limestone Tower

If you’re a lover of nature and wildlife you’ll love exploring the natural beauty of Phuket, and even Thailand!

6. The Islands

Even though Phuket is an island, it does feel more like part of the mainland only because it’s pretty big. However, if you want to visit smaller islands, where you can walk from one side to the other there are plenty just off Phuket’s coast. 

The most popular islands to visit are Phi Phi Island, Banana Island and the ‘James Bond Islands’, expect more stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters and vibrant marine life.

That said, our all-time favourite island in Thailand is the small island of Koh Mook. You can reach it from Phuket although you’ll need to change boats at Koh Lanta. Plan 3 nights at least!

7. The Affordability

Thailand is known for its affordable prices, making it a popular destination for budget-conscious travellers. The affordability of food, accommodation and transport makes a holiday to Phuket that much more appealing.

That said, it can also get expensive! If you’re choosing a luxurious holiday, eating out at top-end restaurants and taking daily excursions the price of your holiday is going to spike. However, compared to the same holiday in the Caribbean, it will be much cheaper!

8. The Accommodation

Phuket offers a huge selection of accommodations from budget hotels to luxury resorts. It’s got something for everyone, to suit everyone’s travel style. What’s even better is that even the top-rated hotels can still be affordable. 

Overall, you’ll get much more for your money in Phuket than say in New York or London. The fact you can stay in some accommodations which might have otherwise been a dream is another reason why Phuket is so popular.

We stayed in Phuket Town which can be slightly more affordable than staying by the beaches. If you don’t mind travelling to the beach on the local bus and are looking for an affordable and cultural location in Phuket, then Phuket Town has some of the best hotels!

9. The Cuisine

I’ve briefly mentioned how affordable the food is but it’s also delicious. Thai cuisine is one of our favourites and is world-renowned for its bold flavours, fresh ingredients and unique combinations making it a major draw for foodies. 

In Phuket, you will notice loads of markets and food street stalls. Don’t shy away from trying that food at these, not only are they delicious but also extremely affordable! 

One of our favourite local food markets was in Phuket Town. We would walk past it every morning and evening and always grab something whether we knew what it was or not, 9/10 times it was very tasty! 

10. The Markets

The large markets in Phuket are not only great for food lovers but also great for anyone looking for anything! They are full of stalls selling a wide variety of products such as fresh produce, souvenirs to clothing and electronics.

You’ll find knock-off designer brands and food stalls and they are the go-to place for gift buying. For yourself or others, you’ll find everything at the markets in Phuket!

We visited the Weekend Market just outside the old town which sells a huge selection of products and Thai delicacies. It’s where we tried deep-fried insects, just because when you’re in Thailand this is what you do right? Toasted up with seasoning and kaffir lime leaves, they weren’t that bad but still not that great…

11. The Night Life

If you love a night-time tipple and dancing until the sun comes up, Phuket is for you. It’s world-known as being a party island and there are areas which live up to this reputation – Patong. 

You’ll find a vibrant nightlife scene with bustling night markets, music blaring from speakers along the roadside and countless bars and clubs to explore. 

That said, you can still experience a quieter, calmer Phuket away from the nighttime escalades if you choose. Just stay away from Patong! 

This is why Phuket attracts such a variety of tourists; it’s great for party-goers but is also perfect for families, nature enthusiasts and those seeking a relaxed holiday.

5 Reasons Why Phuket Isnt Loved So Much

So now you know all the reasons why Phuket is so popular what about the reasons for not visiting?

1. Higher Prices

I know I said how affordable Phuket is for most tourists, but when compared to the rest of Thailand it’s actually more expensive. Thailand is an affordable country overall but because Phuket is such a popular holiday destination within Thailand the prices are hiked up, particularly in terms of accommodation and food.

If you’re looking for a truly budget-friendly holiday experience, Phuket might not be the right place for you. Due to this reason, many people choose to skip Phuket, and instead head to other areas within the country.

2. Touristy Atmosphere

Another reason Phuket isn’t so popular is that some people find it to be too touristy. Many of the attractions and activities are geared towards tourists rather than offering an authentic cultural experience. Especially if you’re staying along the beaches it’s possible to miss out on the culture.

We stayed in Phuket Town and loved the mix of cultures in the old town. For us, it made our experience in Phuket more authentic. We visited temples, and museums and walked around the old town’s streets immersing ourselves in the lovely Sino-Portugese architecture. 

3. Environmental Issues

With increased tourism comes the issue of environmental degradation. Phuket has experienced its fair share of environmental issues, such as pollution and overdevelopment, which can be a turn-off for some visitors.

4. Overcrowding

Overcrowding at Maya Bay near Phuket

Overcrowding at Maya Bay near Phuket

Linked to the environmental impacts above the issue of overcrowding can be a problem. Phuket can be very crowded, especially during peak season, which can detract from the overall experience.

It’s difficult to escape the crowds in places such as Phuket but you can choose to stay at less populated beaches and visit during the quieter periods. But, if you’re someone who prefers a more quiet and tranquil holiday you’re more likely to not enjoy visiting Phuket.

5. Party Scene

Bangla Road, Phuket

Bangla Road, Phuket

While the nightlife in Phuket might be popular with some of you, the rest of you may find the party scene to be too loud, raucous, and overwhelming. It’s famous for a reason and it’s not to everyone’s taste!

However, you can choose to stay away from the party scene. Jack and I enjoyed a more peaceful escape in Phuket as we aren’t big drinkers and although we enjoyed a few nights out it was never the main focus of our time in Phuket. 

Why Is Phuket So Popular For Tourists?

Overall, we enjoyed our time in Phuket. As tourists, we felt that it catered to all our needs and was a good place to start our travel through Thailand. Immersing yourself in a new culture can be overwhelming to begin with and if it’s your first time overseas, Phuket makes for a great spot to visit.

It’s got a good mix of west meets east and since it’s been a tourist hot spot for decades the tourism infrastructure is well-established. This means that travelling to Phuket and taking excursions and tours is very simple helping to make your holiday experience easy and hassle-free.

In terms of natural beauty, cuisine and cultural attractions Phuket has it all and although it might not be the ideal destination for some travellers you’ll find it hard to not find something you enjoy in Phuket. 

With all this in mind and alongside the stunning beaches and the tropical atmosphere, affordability and kindness of the local Thai community Phuket has become a very popular tourist destination in Southeast Asia.

When Did Phuket Become So Popular?

Interestingly, Phuket’s emergence as a popular tourist destination can be traced back as far as the latter half of the 20th century. In the 1960s and 70s, backpackers began flocking to the island to enjoy the natural beauty and hospitality that Phuket is now so popular for. 

As tourism grew, hotels and resorts began to open, and in the early ’70s, an international airport was built, making Phuket much more accessible to tourists.

Phuket’s popularity was increased even more by its appearance in several Hollywood films, including “The Man with the Golden Gun” and “The Beach,” which helped to attract even more visitors. 

These days, Phuket has become a resort destination and has a reputation for being safe and hospitable, making it a popular destination for families and solo travellers alike.

Why Are There So Many Westerners In Phuket?

This is a good question! Well, we would say that there are many Westerners in Phuket for several reasons. Firstly, Phuket is a well-known tourist destination that offers beautiful beaches, warm weather, and a wide range of activities that appeal to Western travellers. It is paradise after all! 

The island also has many amenities and conveniences that cater to Western tastes, including restaurants serving international cuisine and Western-style hotels and resorts. Due to this, there is a large expat community, providing a sense of familiarity and a home away from home. 

Another reason is because of the island’s location, it makes for a popular stopover for travellers wanting to explore the rest of Southeast Asia.

On top of that, the cost of living in Phuket is relatively low compared to Western countries, making it an attractive destination for long-term stays. Many Westerners come to Phuket to retire and work remotely and so you’ll find that there are many Westerners in Phuket.

Conclusion: Why Is Phuket So Popular?

Phuket is so popular for many reasons but the main ones come down to affordability, landscape and friendliness of the locals. With such a combination, it’s no wonder Phuket is a much-loved holiday destination.

Hopefully, you have found this article useful in helping you determine if Phuket is somewhere you would like to visit. If it’s you’re first time heading to Asia it’s an excellent place to start your travels. 

If it’s not, it’s still somewhere which can be enjoyed by all types of travellers. Since you can find incredible deals, it’s a great place to visit for a relaxing holiday in the sun too.

A trip to Singapore is one of the best vacations you can ever take because there are plenty of things to see and do in this relatively small country. Whether you’re looking for adrenaline-pumping activities, luxuriant green spaces to relax and meditate in, or classic and modern architectural gems, you’re guaranteed to have your fill in the Lion City. Another great thing about taking a Singapore holiday is the option to make a side trip to Malaysia and enjoy its many popular attractions.LEGOLAND

If you’re planning a visit to the Lion City and are contemplating an excursion to Malaysia on the side, it pays to know the best ways to get from Changi Airport to the city centre and the Malaysian border. This short guide will fill you in on the various transportation modes and will provide helpful travel information to direct you towards the ideal options suited to your situation.

Different Ways to Get to the City from the Singapore Changi Airport

Unless you have family or friends living in Singapore who will be kind enough to pick you up upon your arrival at the airport, you will need to rely on public transportation to reach the city centre. While that might be a cause for concern if you’re visiting other countries in the region, you’ll find that taking any one of the various transit options is likely the best way to get around in Singapore, thanks to the Lion City’s efficient, clean, and affordable public transport system.

Once you’ve landed in Changi Airport and have finished exploring the complex—including the Jewel, the renowned Changi Airport shopping mall and lifestyle hub—you have several options to get to the city from the airport. Aside from renting a car, which can be pricey, there are more affordable ways to reach most hotels in the downtown area:

City Shuttle

Changi Airport has a City Shuttle that brings passengers from the airport to selected downtown areas. You can book a ride in advance online or approach, upon your arrival, any one of the friendly customer service officers at the Ground Transport Concierges (GTC) located at each terminal to make a reservation.

The City Shuttle departs every hour from 7:00 am to 11:00 pm. A shuttle ticket costs SGD 10 per adult or SGD 7 per child below 12 years of age, whether you book electronically or at the airport. This mode of transport is budget-friendly and practically hassle-free, and it will bring you to your destination in about 30 to 50 minutes.

Public Bus

If you’re looking for the cheapest transport option, your best bet is to take the public buses stationed in the basement level of Terminals 1, 2, and 3. With less than SGD 3, you can ride comfortably from Changi Airport to the city centre. You just need to find out which bus numbers stop near your hotel by visiting the Transit Link website. The only downside of taking public buses is the extended travel time (around 1.5 hours), as they usually make several stops along the way.


You can also take the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) to get to the city centre. Just head to the basement of Terminal 2 to find the Changi Airport MRT Station (CG2) going to Tanah Merah MRT Station (EW4). From EW4, you need to transfer to the East-West Line to Tuas Link MRT Station (EW33) to get to your destination.

Another option is to take the train from CG2 to Expo MRT Station (CG1/DT35), then transfer to the Downtown Line going to Bukit Panjang MRT Station (BP6/DT1). While taking the train is fast and inexpensive (less than SGD 3), changing MRT lines can be potentially challenging for first-timers or those who didn’t do their research. As such, make sure to do your homework if you want to use the MRT.


For maximum convenience and extra-comfortable travel, you can take a cab at any one of the taxi stands located in the arrival areas of Terminals 1, 2, 3, and 4 to get to the city centre. The drive takes around half an hour and will cost you between SGD 20 and SGD 40.

Travelling from Singapore to Malaysia

If you’re planning to take a side trip to Malaysia from Singapore Changi Airport, consider booking a coach service online via Transtar Cross Border Services by Transtar Travel, which is the service recommended by the Changi Airport website. One-way fare from Changi Airport to Johor Bahru CIQ is SGD 11 per adult or SGD 5.50 per child. From there, you can take a bus or taxi, or book a ride via e-hailing apps like MyCar, EZCab, or Grab to get to other areas within the Johor Bahru District.

Hiring a private taxi or car service is another convenient and hassle-free option, but it can be a bit pricey.

The journey to the border takes approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on traffic conditions. Take note that crossing the Johor-Singapore Causeway can take additional time and is not yet accounted for in this estimate. The taxi fare, on the other hand, can range from SGD 40 to SGD 80, depending on the type of service, the time of day, and the road tolls required.

Alternatively, you can also take the MRT from Changi Airport to Woodlands Station and transfer to the Shuttle Tebrau line to Johor Bahru. The journey takes approximately 2 to 3 hours, depending on waiting time and the border crossing process.

Hopefully, the abovementioned information can help you better plan for your upcoming trip. Weigh your options and make sure to consider your budget, time, and convenience as you decide on the best mode of transport that will get you from Changi Airport to the city centre and to the Malaysian border.

It’s time to dust off your backpack and think about where to go next. If you’re on a budget, you may be wondering about the cheapest backpacking destinations in the world. The thing is, especially if you’ve been aching to get back out there, ‘budget travel’ can be a bit of an oxymoron. People go traveling to see something new, and once you’re on the road, the last thing you want to do is restrict yourself.

The way to travel on a budget without feeling too limited is to go backpacking destinations where food, accommodation, and transport are cheap. This will allow you to stretch your budget and splurge on the occasional special activity to get the most out of your trip. The good news is, after you figure out a cheap way to get to your destination, it is possible to travel around some of the most beautiful destinations on earth for less than $20 a day. Believe it or not, it can sometimes be cheaper to be on the road than to stay at home considering your normal rent and daily expenses! 

So without further ado, here is our updated list of the cheapest backpacking destinations for 2023.

Bulgaria – The best Eastern European country for budget travel

Even though Bulgaria is the cheapest backpacking country to visit in Eastern Europe, it has an abundance of gorgeous landscapes that rival its neighbors. During our 5 days in Bulgaria were able to see Alpine mountains, forested countryside, sandy beaches on the Black Sea, plus beautiful cities like Sofia and Veliko Tărnovo.

The Rila Monastery near Sofia in Bulgaria, one of the cheapest backpacking countries in the world

The Rila Monastery near Sofia, Bulgaria

Because we were traveling in the off-season, we were able to splurge on the occasional high-end luxury accommodation for less than $100 a night. Of course, you can always find cheaper hostels in Bulgaria. Food and drink are also super affordable, with the average price of a beer being about a dollar.

Learn more: Backpacking in Bulgaria


India is one of those countries where budget travel is almost entirely dependent on your willingness to haggle. If you strike the right tone, India can be one of the cheapest backpacking destinations in the world.

When booking guesthouses, you’ll most certainly get a better price by booking directly with the guest house versus booking online through an agency. Transportation-wise, it is super cheap to get around in India. In the big cities, we recommend using Uber it’s actually much cheaper than the prices you’ll be quoted for a tuk-tuk ride. For intercity travel, trains cost between $8 – $30, and you can even find flights within that price range!

Learn more: Backpacking in India

Portugal – The cheapest backpacking destination in Western Europe

Portugal is a great option in Western Europe for travelers on a budget. You’ll be able to experience the vibrant European culture as well as world-famous food and wine at a fraction of the cost of what you’d pay in France or Spain. 

Learn more: Backpacking in Portugal


Cambodia has so much to offer, and you can travel there for about $20 a day. Private rooms in a nice guesthouse will cost you about $10, and tuk-tuk rides are a savvy way to get around. Our guest house helped us arrange a private tuk-tuk driver to help us visit the many temples of Angkor Wat for just $12!  You can even get a 30-day SIM card with 1.5 GB of data for $2.

Ta Prohm Temple in the Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Cambodia, one of the cheapest backpacking countries

Ta Prohm Temple in the Angkor Wat Temple Complex

Learn more: Backpacking in Cambodia


With medieval fortresses, majestic mountains, and friendly locals, the country of Georgia should be much higher on the list of top backpacking destinations. And with delicious meals starting at $3, and $1 local buses, it’s one of the best countries for budget travel. You don’t have to withhold on the cultural activities here, since most entrance tickets cost around $2.

The Caucasus Mountains in Georgia

The Caucasus Mountains in Georgia

Learn more: Backpacking in Georgia


In the Czechia, the old trope ‘beer is cheaper than water’ is actually true. While Czechia boasts much of the same beauty as its neighbors like Germany and Austria, it’s possible to travel here at a fraction of the cost.

Learn more: Backpacking in Czechia

Bolivia – the cheapest backpacking country in South America

Bolivia is one of the cheapest backpacking destinations in the world and is very popular with adventurers. Here, it is possible to get a 3-course meal for less than $2. Accommodation in a hostel dorm room costs between $8-$12 a night, and local and long-distance buses are a cheap way to get around. Even the most famous backpacker destination in Bolivia, the Uyuni Salt Flats, won’t break the bank, costing around $200 for 3 days, which is relatively cheap for this bucket-list destination!

Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia

Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia

Learn more: Backpacking in Bolivia


Trekking in Nepal doesn’t have to cost as much as you might imagine. Other than the Everest Base Camp Trek (an exorbitant expense), there are plenty of beautiful Himalayan treks where it is possible to go by yourself. The Short Annapurna Circuit, for example, is well-marked with guesthouses along the path for about $5 a night, so you won’t have to carry tons of gear. (If you want to go all the way to Annapurna Base Camp, you’ll need to go with a guide). Food and drink in Nepal are also very affordable, with meals costing between $2-$3.

Learn more: Backpacking in Nepal

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is certainly one of those countries where you can travel on a budget or live in the lap of luxury for relatively affordable prices. Their infamous train system (a bucket-list item in itself) is the cheapest way to get around the country. Or, you could hire a private taxi to travel between cities with a few other people from your hostel. Keep a special travel budget set aside for entrance fees to nature reserves and UNESCO Heritage sites!

Learn more: Backpacking in Sri Lanka


Colombia is one of our favorite backpacking destinations because of the friendly locals, diverse landscapes, and of course, affordability. You could easily backpack in Colombia for a month with just $1000 in your bank account. By taking long-distance buses, staying in hostel dorm rooms, and cooking your own food in the hostel kitchens, you can visit destinations like Medellín, Cartagena, and Salento on a budget.

The Cocora Valley near Salento, Colombia

The Cocora Valley near Salento, Colombia

Learn more: Backpacking in Colombia

Honorable Mention


This country certainly doesn’t scream ‘budget travel’ but it’s the cheapest destination in Scandinavia. If visiting this part of the world has been a dream of yours, we can definitely recommend Denmark in comparison with its more expensive Scandinavian neighbors Norway, Sweden, or Finland.

Nyhavn Canal in Copenhagen, Denmark, one of the cheapest backpacking countries in Scandinavia

Nyhavn Canal in Copenhagen, Denmark

Learn more: Backpacking in Denmark