I lived in Phuket for 4 months and I liked it. Even though Phuket has a bad reputation among backpackers, it still is a beautiful place and that’s what I care about. Other people’s lives don’t bother me that much.
Your experience in Phuket can also be very different depending on the place you choose to stay. Living in Patong is not the same as living in Bang Tao…
Where to stay?
I stayed 4 months in Patong and I don’t regret it. But, my experience of living in Phuket might have been very different from what it was back in time because I was there during the Covid pandemic. In fact, I arrived in Phuket on a sandbox program in October 2021, and from the day I landed till the day I departed, I saw huge differences. If in October the place was dead empty, with no night markets, most part of the business closed and a very empty Bangla street, when I left, the total opposite was already happening. I can’t tell if I enjoyed my stay in Phuket because it was so quiet during Covid, because I have never been to Phuket before, so I have no way to compare it to normal times when people used to complain about how crowded the place was. I can only talk about my experience that’s why I mention very clearly that it was during Covid times.
Staying in Patong at that time was pretty chilled. I didn’t feel like the place was too chaotic and full and I enjoyed my stay there.
I was staying about 10 min walk away from Patong beach in a hotel room with a balcony and a rooftop swimming pool for 4000 baht (excluding water and electric bills that wouldn’t exceed the 500bh). I also needed to pay 100bh every time I wanted someone to clean my room.
I had everything I could need around me, 7/eleven, a place to fill drinking water, laundry services, a resto with 35bh daily meals, a bus that was connecting Patong to Phuket town, or even the bus that connects all beaches on the west coast and also the airport. I can not complain about the place at all.
Besides being the busiest area in Phuket, Patong is a good location because it has some nearby beaches that I visited on foot. Within 1 h walk, you can reach several different beaches in the area, which was pretty cool because I was walking everywhere to explore around. Another thing that I liked very much about Patong is the fact that being at the beach during nighttime is safe and easy as the beach is pretty lit up and there are food sources nearby so I would buy something and enjoy dinner at the beach with the crabs running around.
The beach is beautiful and the surrounding hills too. By the end of my stay, the beach was very different from what I encountered when I arrived. There were beach umbrellas everywhere, many paragliding boats, and more people harassing me to sell stuff, but it was still ok. At some point, they knew I was there for a while and stopped bothering me. It actually took them a while to realize I was around haha, I think it took too long in fact.
But, the election place for digital nomads is Nai Harn beach. That’s where the major part of the digital nomad community is. Nai Harn is a beautiful beach itself, but I can’t talk about all the rest.
As far as Patong, there are some nice coffee shops to work in, but I was mainly staying in my room as Patong is not such a cheap place, and working in a coffee shop every day wouldn’t be sustainable.
I also learned that a lot of foreigners live in Bang Tao which is more expensive than Patong and Nai Harn. It is kind of the place where richer people would stay in big villas with friends.
How to find a place in Phuket?
Many people opt for Airbnb, or even Agoda where you can find some monthly deals. I have booked a month’s stay before going to Phuket, but I think the best is actually to walk the streets and discover some places that advertise monthly prices outside. So after my 1st month, I moved to a place that I found by walking on the streets of Patong. I was staying about 25 min walk away from Bangla street.
From October to December, it was very rainy, raining almost daily. But the good thing is that when it rains, it doesn’t last for very long. Also, it was kinda predictable because the major part of the days, it would rain at about the same time daily. And the clouds make it very clear when the rain is approaching.
Another thing you should have in mind is that Phuket is the most expensive place in Thailand. Also, meeting people shouldn’t be a problem. There are a lot of foreigners over there. As for Patong being the best place to meet fellow digital nomads, I would think that wouldn’t be a good bet. Most people you’ll see in Patong are old folks, and retirees, and you will also see many hookers… So, to meet interesting people that will become friends to hang around for a while, I wouldn’t say Patong is the place. On the other hand, Patong is the place to meet backpackers. Patong is undoubtedly the party spot. Nightlife in Bangla road, Khao San Road of Phuket, is crazy, and being alone is very unlikely, especially if you are a male. I saw guys being harassed all the time and for the 1st time, I saw them suffering a bit of what is like to be a girl sometimes.
How to move around Phuket?
To move around most part of foreigners rent a motorbike, but be aware that without an international driving license, you can be fined if stopped by the police. I was mainly walking or using the local bus, or even Grab or Bolt (Bolt is cheaper) to move around. But you also have moto-taxis. Have in mind that prices in Phuket are higher than all the rest of Thailand, so I barely used the apps as I found them expensive for the usual Thai prices. People were calling me crazy for walking long distances, but the streets were kinda empty and I enjoyed every walk I have done as it was kinda chilled. And within 1-hour walk, I could visit several different beaches.
To ride a motorbike the streets are good but sometimes dangerous because of the hilly terrain.
Phuket is beautiful and has many attractions nearby to visit. I honestly think it is a good place to live. Your experience will really depend on the location you choose.