I visit Phuket for three weeks in June 2009 and had a wonderful time.
In terms of food, look for the Red Onion Restaurant in Karon Beach (approx 4 km South of Patong) It is REALLY worth it!! A very decent local meal cost under Bt 300 with soda drinks. When I visit there in June 2009 and it was still very cheap compared to any place else. The only places that are expensive (especially restaurants)are places that cater specifically for Americans that refuse to leave their comfort zone.
Rent a Motor scooter and do not use the Taxis OR Tuk-Tuks unless very necessary (they are expensive!!) Towns are very close to each other and scooter hire should be no more that Bt 300 per day. Haggle! The longer you rent the scooter, the cheaper the rate per day. It is fun, you see a lot more and it helps you to cool down. A serious tip though: Wear the helmet. All the locals ride scooters without helmets and the authorities are in the process of enforcing a campaign to make the wearing of helmets compulsory. The police now target tourists and a Bt 300-500 spot fine is issued. I was caught not wearing my helmet. They also confiscate your driver's license till proof of payment at the police station (usually only a block away) is produced.
Worthwhile excursions are the day trips to Phi Phi island (from the movie The Beach and the James Bond Island). A good place to start looking for prices is in Karon Beach. There is a travel kiosk in front of the market. Ask for "Eddie" to give you the best deal. It is usually half the price advertised in the brochures.
Respect Thai Culture
When we read our hotel directory, it was stated that guests should keep their shirts on at all times (I guess that implies topless sunbathing is a huge no-no)... The Thais are very traditional, very modest, so visitors should always remember that.
When you visit certain places, you must remove your footwear (for eg. temples) ..... Me and hubby went to "Cha Cha Restaurant" (see my food tip) and we had to remove our shoes as we step inside. It wasn't just a restaurant, it's also home to the owners...so, do respect the Thai culture and don't wear your shoes in people's home!
A Banaba Boat can be hired at Patong Beach for THB300.
It is one of the cheapest and safest water sport on the beach. You will just need to sit on the banana boat and it will be attached to a jet ski and you will be dragged along. So if you find the rest of the water sport to expensive or too dangerous, why not give the banana boat a try?
Suits for men and women
You will find world class tailors everywhere in Phuket especially Patong. I've never seen such a concentration of tailor shops anywhere else in the world, even Bangkok. In the off peak season such as April and May you can get a well cut suit for just above US$100. The workmanship and cutting is as good as any other but the price is fantastic. Just remember to bargain. Better still, bring along a trusted critic who has an eye for quality material and workmanship (like my wife's). You will need her to view the suit from all angles to ensure that it's well done. Bargain on the understanding that you will come back for more when the tailor proves his worth. I ended up with 2 suits inclusive of 2 shirts for just US$ 220. My wife is not too happy about the rear end of the upper arms but given my 'unproportioned' figure I figured this is about the best I can have.
Many tailors provide free pickups from the airport and hotel, just ask your concierge for a referral. I just picked mine randomly anyway along Patong; where else?
Phuket is the Bomb
nothing in the world can prepare you for Phuket (Patong Beach). All the main streets have bars, clubs, etc and there is EYE CANDY EVERYWHERE.
Soi Eric, Tiger, Rock a hard, even Star, Tai Pan, etc are good places to party.
However, all the fun stops at 2am. Whatever you feel like - they just want your money.