Phuket Packing List

Phuket packing guide

Phuket and the surrounding islands are full of beautiful beaches and tropical adventures! Between sea-canoeing, swimming in resort pools, walking the beach, visiting popular islands, and walking the night markets, there is tons to do and lots to pack. Fingers crossed sunshine will be the only thing in your trip’s forecast, but during monsoon season (May – November), it rains like crazy on the coast, so you will want to ensure you are prepared no matter what!

Snorkeling outside of Maya Bay in the Phi Phi islands, Thailand

With all of that said, below are my recommendations for making the most out of your Phuket packing space:

Chaco Dorra Sandals  | NeatPack Foldable Backpack | Forever 21 Floppy Sun Hat | Cheap sunglasses bought in the night markets so if they go for a swim, its OK | a poncho & umbrella | Everything But Water Sundress | Everything But Water Bikini | Flowy Romper | Universal Bastex Dry Bag Wterproof Phone Case

Clothing:

  • Tank top: Light, breathable tanks that do not reveal too much but keep you cool. Make sure they can match with lots of prints so, if you buy clothes in Thailand, you can mix and match!
  • Shorts: That will not chafe and are comfortable / easy on / off when wet.
  • Easy on / off romper: Perfect to wear to the beach or resort pool as a cover up.
  • Athletic capri leggings and top for excursions: Focus on light, breathable, sweat-wicking, and easy to clean clothes for your zip-line or adventurous tours.
  • Formal wear: Flowy dresses or nice skirt / top combo. Remember, Thailand is a very conservative country so try not to reveal too much.
  • Bathing suit (2): Bring a strapless one for your lazy days on the beach or at the pool so you won’t get crazy tan lines. Bring a second one that ties around the neck and wont fall off while you are snorkeling or going on excursions with more movement.
  • Poncho or rain jacket: to keep dry. Bring with you at all times! You never know when the sky will open up and the rain will come.

A floating fishing village outside of Phuket, Thaliand

Accessories:

  • Water bottle
  • Camera (if not your phone)
  • Umbrella: For both sun and rain protection
  • Hat and sunglasses: A MUST
  • Day bag: Pack-able backpack for your sunscreen, poncho, water and snacks, towels, and anything else you may need.
  • Sun screen: Make sure you apply often!
  • Waterproof phone carrying case: This will save your phone when you are on bumpy jet boats, in rain, and are surrounded by water.
  • Hand sanitizer

Shoes:

  • Comfortable walking sandals that can get wet and keep your feet secure from slipping around
  • Sandals for walking beach
  • Sneakers for adventure tours

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Phuket – Day 4

NO! This cannot be the last day in Thailand! Fortunately, our flight was not until 8 PM, so we had until about 6 PM in the hotel to relax and soak up the sun which was out in all of its glory. No monsoons today!

We had a delightful breakfast, grabbed some beach towels, and hit the sand at 9 AM. There were very few people on this beach, much unlike the tour beaches on our two previous days, and we had a great time walking about a mile down the beach exploring the sand.

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We found bunches of hermit crabs, jelly fish, minnows, and cool shells along our walk. It was so peaceful. The sun was very strong so we got a nice tan as well and the water temperature was perfect! The current was quite strong so we didn’t venture out too far but we did have some great body boarding waves.

 

After a few hours, we decided to grab a drink at a place right outside of our hotel. Drinks in our hotel were 300 BHT ($10ish USD) and drinks outside of the hotel were 150 BTH so it was worth doing. We sat down facing the water tanks that held the freshly caught lobster and crabs. There were two huge crabs the size of bicycle tires in a small tank that were just caught that day and they kept boxing each other for room in the tank! It was super entertaining to watch, especially with a yummy margarita in-hand.

After our drinks, we went and hit the pool at the hotel for some fresh water. We ended up at the hotel bar, which made some of the best margaritas I’ve had in a while, and played Jenga at the bar until we needed some lunch.

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We walked back (probably not in the straightest of lines) to the restaurant where we had our first drink and had a very good lunch! The outside restaurants proved over and over that their food was just as good as those in our hotels. I had a curry with yellow noodles and Ryan had a super spicy Panag curry – gosh it was good! It had a coconut introduction to the palate, a savory middle, and a kick of spice at the end which was promptly soothed by the coconut in the next bite. So good!

We were filled to the brim and decided to walk off lunch by strolling to a massage place about half a mile up the road. $10 for an hour-long massage? Yes, please! Talk about a relaxing day.

After the massage, we went back to the room and hung out / packed our bags for our 4 PM check out. We rolled our bags to the reception area and chatted with the front desk people about our flight status. We were supposed to get into Bangkok at 10:35 PM and had about 2 hours to hop through check-in, security, customs, and then onto our flight from BKK to Tokyo. The front desk told us we would be cutting it close and that they usually recommended arriving 3 hours prior to an international flight at BKK. At this point, I was getting pretty freaked out that we wouldn’t make our connection and I tried to see if we could hop on an earlier flight. We couldn’t change our Thai Smile flight and would have to buy completely new tickets at the airport. At that point it was about 5 PM. We decided to go to the airport early, talk to the information desk about different flight options, and see if we could get on an earlier flight if needed.

We talked to 3 different people in the airport and 2 of the 3 said we were fine; the 1 holdout was due to a language barrier. It was an extra $100 per-person to buy an earlier flight, so we decided to risk it and wait until our origional flight. After double checking the tickets, it turns out our flight was at 9 PM, not 8, so we had a 2 hour wait until check-in and another 1.5 hours until boarding – uggghh that was not fun.

Once we finally boarded, the flight from Phuket to Bangkok was easy and the 2hours went by quickly. We were getting really nervous about timing but landed 10 minutes early, calming our nerves slightly. Instead of taxiing to a gate, the pilot parked the plane far away from the terminals so we had to take a bus to the gate. That took a while and we were trying not to panic. We eventually got off the bus and walked, just a pace shy of running, to the 4th floor check-in desk for ANA.

With a huff and puff trying to catch our breath, we gave our passports to the check-in lady and told her we were on the 12:30 AM flight. She started to type on her computer and a confused look crossed her face. She asked to see our itinerary and I showed her. She pointed to the page, where it clearly said our flight was at 6:50 AM, not 12:30 AM, meaning we had 4 hours until check-in. Oh no! I thought I had booked the 12:30 AM flight but had booked the later and, for some reason, 12:30 stuck in my head. I was so bummed and Ryan was not happy with me. How could I have done that?! Fortunately, Ryan had my back and rallied for me. We found the information booth and he asked about sleeping pods/ in-airport hotels. While the hotel would be $131 for both of us, there was a Boxhotel in the airport where we could rent one-person rooms with a bed for 4 hours at $30 a pop per-person. The Boxhotel was cute and clean so it was an easy choice to stay. Each room has an alarm set to go off 15 minutes prior to the end time of your stay, so I slept pretty soundly until that woke me up at 3:30 AM.

A bit rested, Ryan and I walked back to the check-in counter. We had about 5 minutes before it opened for our flight, so we people watched until then. There was a huge group of people with luggage carts carrying 50 inch flat screen TVs, computer monitors, and tons of other gadgets. It was weird to see such lines of bulk purchased goods like that in an airport. I have no idea how they got all of that back without any of it breaking.

Anyway, the check-in process was relatively painless, there was no one in the security line (literally it was just us) and the passport stamp area only took about 30 minutes before we were in the international terminal. It is huge and has every shop / duty free item you could ever dream of buying. Ryan had gotten a sandwich for dinner at the Phuket airport and I had 200 BHT left to get something, so we stopped at a place and I had just enough cash to get one last dish of pad thai before leaving Thailand. Very satisfying if you ask me. We wandered through the shops for a bit to kill time and then went to the gate. To give you an idea of how bit the airport was, I had walked 1.35 miles on my pedometer from the Boxhotel to the gate! Crazy huh!

The waiting area was spacious and clean and our time there went quickly. We hopped onto our flight ready for much-needed sleep. The flight to Tokyo was painless and the 11-hour transition from Tokyo back to Houston was just as easy. We watched movies and Ryan declared that he was on a “noodle strike” after eating so many during our trip. We landed in Houston early, met Ryan’s family to pick up our dog, and then embarked on a 4 hour drive to Dallas. Before we knew it, our wonderful Thailand adventure had come to an end. What a trip!

Phuket – Day 3

Phuket – Day 3

Another early morning for our next day in Phuket. Even though we had to get up at 6:45 AM, we managed to get a solid 10 hours of sleep – much needed after all of the long days on this trip so far!

We had another amazing buffet breakfast and were picked up outside of The Slate hotel right at 8 AM. We ended up going to the exact same marina as the day before for our James Bond Island tour, but it took half the time since traffic was nonexistent. Not only that, but the sun was peeking out of the clouds and it didn’t look like we were going to have rain – Woohoo! Or so we thought…

We checked in, grabbed some snorkeling fins and coffee, and were introduced to our very loud and super energetic guide, Latte. All of our guides have had very generic English “thing” names that they tell tourists, like Latte, Kiwi, Coco, or Miss Boy (the later two were very flamboyantly feminine men), to make it easier for their tourist groups to remember. Bold, but effective, strategy!

We went down to the same dock as the day prior and hopped on another speed boat of the same variety. Since it has the best view and makes for the most fun experience, we sat in the front of the boat for the 40-minute ride to our first stop – Maya Bay. About 15 minutes into the ride, we looked behind us and saw huge black storm clouds pouring rain down onto the land we just left. The wind was heading our direction, so we were literally outracing the storm. The monsoon storms were no joke and made a sunny afternoon look like it was midnight. The storms had huge drops of whipping rain and winds that would blow you over. Needless to say, we were cheering our captain to go speedy-fast and were bouncing up and down during the bumpy ride in the front of the boat.

Heading into Maya Bay of the Phi Phi islands in Thailand

We finally made it to Maya Bay where there must have been 50 other boats and hordes of people. The actual swimming area was way too small and the boats and tourists took up every inch of space – and we were there in the off-season! Again, I would rather have gone to a less famous and less crowded place, but we enjoyed it anyways.


We got off the boat, took maybe 2 pictures, and then the rain hit. We ran under the cliffs for shelter and it actually worked pretty well. The wind picked up the sand hit our exposed skin like little bee stings. With everyone off the beach to find shelter, we were actually able to see its beauty without all of the people!

The rain lasted about 15 minutes and then, one by one, the rays of sunlight came back.

We had about 5 minutes to enjoy the scenery before getting herded back onto the boat so we could continue our tour.

We cruised around the island to a cove with teal blue water and tons of snorkelers, and then rounded the outside of the island to a beach with monkeys on it. The monkeys were used to being fed by the boat’s passengers, so about 6 of them came out to say hello in hopes of a treat. The laws recently changed at the Phi Phi Island State Park, so we could no longer feed them. Despite knowing that, this one awful tourist threw a little plastic covered lollie at one of the monkeys. The monkey picked it up, bit it, and then spit the hard-candy out. We were appalled at that guy for 1) giving a monkey something plastic and hard that it could easily choke on, especially when we were specifically told not to feed them anything and 2) for littering! I couldn’t look at him without disdain for the rest of the trip.

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Anyways, after that we motored for another 5 minutes to an area where we could snorkel. Unfortunately, the reefs that had once lived there had died off, so it was more rocky than anything. On the bright side, the water temperature was perfect and there were some pretty fish so Ryan and I had fun swimming around exploring the area.

The next stop was for lunch on yet another island. We climbed ashore and walked to the buffet of rice, stir fried veggies, dry chicken, and spaghetti with marinara sauce. The best thing was the pasta, so we filled up on that and chatted with a really interesting newlywed couple. The husband was from Germany, the wife from China, and they both had interesting stories and perspectives about how they met and about US politics. I swear, everyone from around the world has opinions about US politics and they are not afraid to share. Always an interesting conversation topic!

After that, it was back on board the ship, off to another island for more snorkeling, and then to our last stop, Khai Nai beach. Both places were filled with other boats, tourists, and places to shop.

 

The last beach didn’t have snorkeling, so we just walked around the beach for a bit, took some pictures with our tour guide Latte, and then we spotted the cats… well, more like older kittens. They were super cute and we watched them pounce around. One cat started to dig in the sand which was endearing, but then he pooped in the hole in the middle of all of the tourists, sniffed his droppings, and then covered the hole back up with sand. We found it hilarious and I exclaimed that “at least the cat was polite enough to cover the mess up”. Our laughter faded when we saw 3 other cats do the same thing, all along the beach where tourists were building sandcastles, laying out, and walking along the beach. We were struck with the realization that this island was literally the largest litter box we had ever seen and that, judging by the sheer number of cats roaming around, there were hidden treasures everywhere on the beach – YUCK! Ryan was beyond amused with this and I couldn’t help but laugh. With this knowledge, we hurried to the water-side and opted to sit on some rocks to people watch until it was time to go.

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We were so lucky that the rain held off after the brief downpour in Maya Bay. It stayed nice out, with just a few sprinkles, all the way up until our ride back to the marina. We had initially sat up front, but the waves were so high that we were getting bounced 2-feet into the air each time we hit a big wave, so we moved inside. As we maneuvered to our seats, I slipped and ended up gashing my foot on a pair of goggles someone left out. Everyone saw me fall and everyone saw me get hurt. I shouted out to see where the first aid kit was, but no one budged to help or ask me if I was ok outside of Ryan which was I found a bit strange. It wasn’t until one of the crew noticed that I some antiseptic and a Band-Aid. I am definitely one of the “how can I help” types, so I was a little surprised by how different the rest of the passengers reacted in that regard.

After I got my foot fixed up, I donned my handy-dandy rain jacket as it started to downpour once again. We were back at the marina within 15 minutes and it didn’t take us long to find our transport back to The Slate hotel.

I can’t begin to describe enough how good it felt to shower the salt water off and to change into dry clothes after being damp all day long! We got fixed-up and headed down to the beach road outside of our hotel property to find another beach-side restaurant for dinner. It ended up being quite a nice night and all of the vendors were on the streets, the restaurants and shops were open, and the personality of the whole area changed from the rainy-day before.

We found this cute little place with tables on the beach to eat at. I had an amazing panag chicken curry and Ryan had sweet and sour pork. The view and the sound of the waves combined with the perfectly cool breeze was heavenly and made us tired. An Australian Shepard walked up to our table and cuddled up on the ground next to us for some extra-cute company during our meal. Ryan gave the dog a piece of pork and then tried to give the dog a pet on the head. He definitely made us homesick for our puppy back in Texas!

The dog wanted to stay by the beach, so we said goodbye before heading back to our hotel. When we got to the staircase up to our room, we heard mewing and a young cat walked right up to us! He wanted attention so, in a germaphobe / didn’t want worms type of way, I stroked his back with my flip-flop. He was so cute and affectionate! We started walking up the stairs to our room and he followed us – uh oh… In an attempt to beat him to our room without him entering, we picked up the pace, and he fell behind us just enough for us to make a break into the door. I felt so bad leaving him out there meowing morosely but we did not need a cat in our nice clean room. Of course, Ryan was guilt tripping me afterwards (“you’re leaving him out there all by himself? What it he is cold and lonely?”) so I had to throw an empty water bottle at him to stop so I could get some piece of mind and sleep.

Phuket – Day 2

Phuket – Day 2

6:45 AM wake up for our sea-canoe adventure! While there was a hint of sunshine in the morning, the monsoons were not shy and we needed our rain jackets and umbrellas just to get to breakfast. The Slate‘s Tin Mine restaurant had, hands down, the fluffiest, light as a cloud pancakes I’ve ever eaten! The bacon was nice and crispy too and, I have to say, the breakfasts at So Sofitel and The Slate in Phuket have been the best I’ve experienced.

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After we had our fill at the buffet, we grabbed beach towels and hopped on our transport to the Royal Marina for our sea-canoe adventure! The drive was about 45-minutes and our driver was a traffic pro, maneuvering quickly through the crowded roads. We pulled up to this beautiful marina with luxury, magazine worthy condo’s and lots of speed boats. We had tea and coffee during our short wait before we were quickly ushered to our boat. There were about 30 people on our speed boat to James Bond Island but it was still pretty roomy. Speeding through the islands led to some amazing views…

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About 30 minutes later, we pulled up to an island to join the 6 other speed boats already docked. Even with all of the people and boats, the islands were beautiful. We climbed up and drown a rocky path to get to the main event, the James Bond Island view.

The beach facing James Bond was packed with people, but I have to admit, the oblong shaped island sticking out of the water was pretty cool.

The beach used for viewing James Bond was jammed packed with tourist shops and tourists walking around. They really try to get you coming and going on these pit stops – unfortunate since it ruins the experience a bit. If you do not like crowds and want more a of a serene experience, I would suggest finding private tours to other islands – James Bond was cool but I would opt for a less crowded experience next time.

After about 40 minutes on the island, we were transferred over to a floating fishing village. All 2,000 inhabitants live on buildings that hover over the water on concrete stilts. In theory, it was a neat place, but the experience was again tainted by tourism. We pulled up and there were large pavilions with the capacity to host hundreds of people for at lunch buffets. We thought we were eating with locals and seeing something organic to the area, but it was not so. After a less-than-average lunch of coconut fried chicken, noodles, and rice, we walked through the village corridors to the boat pick-up area and it started to downpour!

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Everyone was getting totally soaked and there was no end in sight to the torrential rain coming down. Ryan and I put on the rain jacket and poncho we had packed, and the guides gave ponchos to everyone else . It was actually pretty fun to run through the small alleyways, dodging the waterfalls coming down from the drainpipes. We hurried to our speedboat and climbed aboard, hoping the rain would subside before we at our next stop for sea-canoeing.

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Fortunately for us, the rain dissipated as soon as we go to the canoeing area! We docked next to a larger pontoon boat that stored the canoes. Each group of two people were put into a boat with a paddler, so Ryan and I hopped on a canoe together and were taken for a lovely ride through a lagoon area with caves all along the bottom of the giant rock mountains.

Our canoe guide took us into caves and, at certain points, the stalactites were so low we had to lay down in the boat as not to hit our heads on the rocks! Talk about a tight squeeze! We paddled into some beautiful cavernous areas with tons of greenery and open skylight tops. It was such an amazing experience and it made me nostalgic for the sea-kayaking we did in Alaska.

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The guide also pointed out various stalactites and stalagmites that looked like different animals and figures. It started to sprinkling again and our guide kept us close to the rocky over-hangs to keep us dry. Overall, we were out on the water for about 45 minutes trying to take in the beauty of the area.

We were filed back onto the pontoon for some fruit and beverages and then back onboard our boat to head to a beach for sand and sun. Yet again, the weather had different plans and, after about 15 minutes the sky turned black and it was pouring. We went under an awning for shelter and watched the wind play wave-bumper cars with 4 of the speed boats closely parked next to each other. The boats were tossing and turning in the waves and you could hear them crashing into one another. We definitely bonded with our fellow boat mates with all of the craziness of the weather throughout the day and laughed as we ran through the rain to hop back onto our boat once the waves calmed down.

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We looked like wet dogs getting off of the boat back onto the dock, in our jeep back to the hotel, and from the hotel lobby to our door. Boy did it feel good to get dry! I am so glad we packed our waterproof gear – it really came in handy. I also had a waterproof carrying case for my phone which saved its life multiple times throughout the trip from mud, rain, and other catastrophes. I highly recommend packing one just in case your adventures take a damp turn.

After washing up at the hotel, we decided to take a stroll along the beach and find some street food. There were tons of places outside of the hotel that were 1/3 of the price of the hotel restaurants, and we set off to find a restaurant that the bar tenders at our hotel told us all of the locals loved. After browsing through local shops, getting desert snacks at a convenience store, and walking to the end of the main street, we stumbled across our restaurant destination. For under $10 USD, we had some delicious pad thai, fried large noodles with pork, mango shakes, all with a waterfront view! Not too bad if you ask me.

We did a little more walking after dinner and then, exhausted from the day, we went to bed…. at 8:30 PM.

Phuket – Day 1

6:45 AM wake up to get ready to fly to Phuket! We had a yummy breakfast of jasmine tea, banana waffles, and eggs Benedict and then hopped into our taxi for the airport. The airports in Thailand are super-efficient and, after a 15 minute ride to the airport, we were at the terminal waiting area in under 10 minutes. I journaled the majority of the 2 hour plane ride to Phuket. It was an easy flight and went pretty quickly, especially since the plane was only 50% full so we had room to spread out.

The Phuket airport was small. We were off the plane and looking for a cab in 10 minutes. We got to the first taxi station and they wanted 500 BHT for the 15 minutes drive to The Slate hotel – way too high considering we paid 350 for the 40 minute drive from our hotel to BKK in Bangkok! We decided to try the next taxi stand outside and the guy the approached us first wanted 850 BHT to get to the hotel – no way! We told him the woman inside wanted 300 and started to walk away, so he caved and said 300 was OK. Geesh!

The roads in Thailand are quite deceiving. Both the Rachamankha Hotel in Chiang Mai and The Slate hotel in Phuket were down very sketchy roads, but once inside, an Eden awaited! The Slate hotel was gorgeous and we were greeted with cold towels and tea while we checked in. So refreshing in such humidity! Our check-in hostess took us through the grounds in a golf cart, showing us the beach areas, the various pools, restaurants, and gardens on the way to our room.

We finally made it to our building – the grounds were quite massive and maze-like. Our hostess led us to the second floor and opened the door to an amazing suite! We even had a day-bed and a huge tub on the balcony overlooking a garden and one of the pools. So beautiful!

We decided to walk around the grounds and get some lunch. We went to the Dirty Monstera restaurant at the resort for a celebratory drink, sandwich, and ahi tuna flatbread. It was so light and delicious which was much-needed with all of the heavy pad thai we had been eating.

After lunch, we walked down to the beach. It was so windy we were almost swept away (not exaggerating – it was intense!). There were markets all along the beach road but they were closed due to the strong winds and rain. Instead of staying at the beach, we went to the hotel pool across from our room. We were the only ones there due to the rain, so we swam up to the covered pool bar for a drink and some Connect Four. I totally owned Ryan at Connect Four and so we started talking with the two bar tenders instead. We ended up chatting with them and drinking for about two hours until the bar closed and we went back to the room.

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The sky decided to open up and for a complete downpour. Stuck in our room, we drew the bath on our covered patio and relaxed in the water with the rain. So luxurious, especially with the sound of the monsoon rain.  It poured for hours and, eventually, we had to call down to the lobby for an extra umbrella so we could walk the grounds to the lobby area for dinner. Even with the extra cover, we got totally soaked on the 5 minute, uncovered walk over to the Tin Mine restaurant. The restaurant was outside under a large pavilion and was candle lit. It was very romantic with the rain in the back ground. We had a lovely dinner of samosa appetizers, and a duck with mushrooms entrée. Yumm! After dinner, we braved the rain back to the hotel and got a very early night.