I was very skeptical about coming to Phuket as a digital nomad. Yes, all the bad stuff you heard about Phuket is true. But I ended up having an awesome time, because I picked the perfect spot. It might not be for everyone, but it inspired me to write this short guide.
- 1 Phuket has a split personality
- 2 The hell they call Patong
- 3 Karon and Kata beach
- 4 I found the perfect spot in Phuket: Ya Nui, Rawai
- 5 Cool things about Rawai and why I picked this spot
- 6 Where to stay in Rawai
- 7 How to get around
- 8 Places to work from and coworking in Phuket
- 9 Internet
- 10 Where to eat in Rawai
- 11 Things to do in Rawai when you’re not working
- 12 So is Rawai, Phuket a good choice for digital nomads?
Phuket has a split personality
Phuket is a bigass island made up of several different areas and towns that each have their own vibe. So it’s impossible to describe Phuket as a whole. There’s overcrowded beaches and places that are completely infested with Russian and Chinese tourists. And there’s some hidden gems that are great for digital nomads. Let’s start with the bad stuff first.
The hell they call Patong
If there’s one place you want to avoid in Phuket it’s Patong. During the day it looks like a post apocalyptic, Las Vegas back alley. There’s Chinese and Russian tourists everywhere. Even the restaurant menus are in Russian and Chinese.
Patong restaurants and markets are heavily overpriced. And everyone is trying to sell you something. Sometimes quite aggressively.
At night Patong turns into a cesspool filled with prostitutes, ping pong shows, overpriced liquor and even more Russian and Chinese tourists. You should go see it just to get a nice perspective on life and travelling in general.
Karon and Kata beach
As you go down the west coast towards the south you pass the beach towns of Karon and Kata. These are a little more quiet than Patong and a little less infested with Russians and Chinese, but still very touristy and overpriced.
I found the perfect spot in Phuket: Ya Nui, Rawai
Before I came to Phuket I did some research, so I knew about these horrible places. And if it wasn’t for the fact that I was meeting up with some people, I probably would have stayed away. So I did a search on AirBnb for anything in Phuket except the west coast hell holes.
That’s when I found a really cool listing in Ya Nui which is part of Rawai village. Located at the southern tip of the island.
Cool things about Rawai and why I picked this spot
- Much more quiet and a lot less touristy
- Great options for fitness
- Beautiful beaches within walking distance
- Cost of living is a lot cheaper than the rest of Phuket
- Locals are more friendly
- Great restaurants
Where to stay in Rawai
Like I said I found a really nice place on AirBnb. I had a one bedroom apartment in a resort called Ya Nui 2. It had a pool, reasonable WiFi, daily cleaning + fresh towels and a shaded porch with ceiling fan.
Total cost for 1 month: $450
What’s not to love?
Head over to AirBnb and do a search for Ya-Nui Apartment listed by Peter.
Other resources for renting a house or apartment in Rawai:
How to get around
To get around in Rawai you need a scooter or motorbike. Period. Unless you want to spend a fortune on taxis or Grabs. The taxi maffia is strong in Phuket and prices for Grab are just as high.
There are songthaew but they will only take you up and down to Phuket Town. So if you want to do some exploring and enjoy the freedom of personal transportation, you should definitely get a motorbike.
I rented a 125cc Honda Click from a shop in front of the place where I was staying. I paid $4.50 a day which is around 140 Baht.
Total cost for one month: $135
The girl at the shop was very professional and the bike was in perfect condition.
I had one flat tire during the month and cost of inner tube replacement was 200 Baht, which is around $6.
Places to work from and coworking in Phuket
Rawai doesn’t have a coworking space yet. The closest would be Coco Working Space. It’s about a 15 minute drive from Rawai and located in the “Fitness Street” where all the big Muay Thai gyms are.
Hatch would be the most popular coworking space in Phuket. It’s in Phuket Town and to be honest it would not be worth the commuting time from Rawai. The road to Phuket Town gets very busy and congested. If you want to work at Hatch, you should stay in Phuket Town.
If you want to work from a coffeeshop in Rawai I can highly recommend Coffee Tribe. Great people, delicious coffee and fast internet.
I don’t go to coworking spaces myself, because I’m much more productive when I work alone. The WiFi in my apartment was reasonable, but when I’m in Thailand I have a TrueMove sim with 4G as a backup. I never had any issues with them. Great coverage, good speed.
Where to eat in Rawai
The first day after I checked in I found a street food stall just on the road to Rawai Beach. Nice place to pick up breakfast or lunch for 40 Baht. As for dinner I had a couple of restaurants that I kept in rotation:
- Archee (Thai and western, run by a lovely family)
- Kate’s Restaurant (closest to my apartment, great and cheap Thai food)
- Da Puccio (gooood pizza, real Italian food)
- Flip Side (amazing burgers and sandwiches, expensive but couldn’t stay away!)
If you’re into healthy and/or vegan food be sure to check out Greze Greek. Their homemade yogurt and toppings are exceptional. Only breakfast and lunch though.
Things to do in Rawai when you’re not working
Rawai has a couple of beautiful beaches. Ya Nui Beach was just a 5 minute walk from my apartment. Small, local and a great view. You can rent a kayak for 100 Baht and explore the small island off the coast.
Go over the steep hill and you’re on Nai Harn Beach. One of the best beaches in Phuket if you ask me. Not crowded at all. Nice surf spot and overall just good vibes.
On the other side there’s Rawai Beach. Not really for swimming but more of a hangout spot. The many restaurants and bars give it a boulevard feel.
So is Rawai, Phuket a good choice for digital nomads?
For me, yes absolutely. But I got very lucky with my apartment. If you come to Phuket I would suggest staying Rawai or maybe Phuket Town if you take the whole coworking thing seriously.
Are there better places for digital nomads to stay in Thailand? Sure. But if you want to check out Phuket, or maybe use it as a stepping stone to visit other islands, then please… forget about Patong and the other west coast beaches. Rawai is where it’s at.
I would love to here your questions and comments.