Phuket is full of wonderful places to see and explore. Despite being a very touristy destination, your money can go a long way here if you know where to spend it and how to avoid scams. Unfortunately, Phuket is also home to a number of tourist traps that you should avoid.
Tuk Tuks. It’s hard to resist the allure of a tuk tuk. For many visitors, hoping into a tuk tuk is part of the charm of exploring Phuket. However, many drivers overcharge tourists, especially at night, when you don’t have many other transportation options. If you have your heart set on taking a tuk tuk, negotiate a price before you get on.
Cabarets. There are several cabarets in Phuket and all offer ladyboys shows. Simon Cabaret is the most famous and the biggest. Reviews of Simon Cabaret are mixed, with some people loving the show and others feeling it’s overrated. If you choose to attend a show, beware of extra charges. Drinks and food are very expensive, but there are also high fees charged to take photos with the performers. In many cases, these fees are not revealed until after you’ve taken a photo, so ask before you shoot.
Elephant Rides. Elephants can be found all over Phuket. Some live in natural parks, still wild and free. Others (the majority) are used as attractions, often to perform tricks or to provide rides through the jungle or rivers. If you want to truly appreciate the beauty of Thailand’s elephants, head to Khao Sok National Park. The park is home to some of the last wild elephants in Thailand, which live in the uncut rainforest. Don’t succumb to the temptation of a ride –Although some domesticated elephants are well-treated, many are not and have to endure long hours of work, poor treatment and being chained for most of the day.
A good way to stay clear of tourist traps in Phuket is to ask lots of questions before you book anything. If you’re having trouble communicating, book through your hotel. Don’t fall prey to the common scam of “oh, you misunderstood, I said more money.” If language is a problem, put it in writing and sign it, so it’s clear how much you’re supposed to pay and what you’re getting for it. Refuse “extra stops” when booking a trip or taking a tuk tuk. This usually means you’ll be drop off at a store or an off-road attraction (such as a snake farm), where you’ll be charged extra fees or pressured into buying something.