Should I visit Phuket now?
Yes, you’ll be in for a few surprises and, despite a few showers of rain this time of the year, it’s generally cooler than most of the year and there are some great bargains around. We’d say, in many cases, Phuket has never looked better and getting around is a lot easier.
All the major shopping zones around the island are mostly open, excluding Central and Jungceylon in Patong which are getting ready to re-open in the next few months. But you’ll find most of the best markets are still open on their selected days and evenings, including the highly popular Weekend (Naka) Market, Lard Yai street market (in Thalang Road on Sunday afternoon and evening) and the (almost) nightly Chillva Market in Samkong.
Central Festival and Central Floresta are fully reopened and open from 10am – 9pm every day, all the big Lotus’s and Big C are open, and there’s a brand new Robinson Lifestyle Centre which has just opened up adjacent to the Heroine’s Monument on Thepkasattri Road.
Anything that serves the local community has been back open for more than a year. Bottomline, you will still have plenty of great opportunities for shopping around the island.
Whilst there aren’t the enormous crowds from the past at this time, you’ll be glad to see Phuket’s vibrant nightlife back in full gear and open until at least 2am (some a bit later… cough!). Bangla Road has never looked cleaner and there are some new bars opened up along with many of your favourites.
Rawai has become a new zone worth checking out for nightlife, evolving beyond its location at Phuket’s southern end for great food.
Phuket Town, too, has also seen the arrival of some new nightspots, very popular with locals and the in-the-know expat crowd.
Whilst some of the outlying areas in tourist zones are still a bit quiet, you’ll be happily surprised that Phuket’s nightlife is as good as ever.
You can now resume tours to just about all your favourite islands and hotspots, although Maya Bay is now going through a short annual closure. Because of the monsoon, your tour organisers are being more selective on some days due to the weather but, because of the lower numbers of tourists, in many cases you’ll end up with an entire beach to yourself and enjoying Thailand’s famous southern islands in a more pristine condition than in the past.
Whilst there are some airfares creeping up in price, your accommodation prices will likely be lower than in the past. In many cases, especially at this time of the year, some of Phuket’s best hotels are doing great deals. You will certainly be able to upgrade your room or get a beach view for an excellent price at the moment. Whilst there are still many smaller hotels and guest-houses still closed, the ones that are open will be delighted to see you and welcome you back to Phuket.
Domestic airfares out of Phuket International Airport are still very reasonable and you can still find cheap fares and a large number of available flights to Bangkok, Chiang Mai and other population centres around Thailand every day.
Things like food and services, like massages and spas, are still the same prices as in the past.
Most of the big international theatre shows are still closed but Phuket Fantasea has reopened with their show on Wednesday and Saturdays, and Simon Cabaret in Patong has also reopened with its daily shows. But Siam Niramit, Aphrodite and Simon Star are still closed at this time.
Cinemas are open everyday in Phuket Town, Central Festival and the new Robinson Lifestyle Centre in Thalang.
OK, you will get a few showers at this time of the year and some occasional torrential downpours BUT there’s also plenty of sunshine, sometime for days on end. Just plan your days accordingly and take an umbrella. Most of the locals prefer this time of the year with the sea-breeze keeping things cool. For a guide to Phuket’s monsoon season, read THIS.