As the most popular island destination in Thailand, Phuket has numerous options for traveling to the island and getting around once you arrive. Both domestic and international airlines service Phuket Airport with direct flights from numerous destinations in Thailand and around Asia. Once on the island, the size of Phuket makes a rental car arguably the best option, though there are various modes of transportation if you do not wish to drive.
There is no direct train service to Phuket. Travelers arriving by train must get off at Phun Phin Railway Station in Surat Thani Province and continue by regular bus to Phuket. For more information, call the State Railway of Thailand, 1690, 0 2223 7010, or 0 2223 7020 or visit www.railway.co.th.
From Bangkok, take Highway No.4 (Petchakasem Road) through Petchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon, Surat Thani and Phang Nga Provinces, then cross the Thep Krasattri Bridge or Sarasin Bridge to Phuket Island. The total distance is 862 kilometers and the travel time is approximately 12 hours.
Air-conditioned and non air-conditioned busses leave Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal for Phuket several times daily. Trips by air-conditioned bus, which normally leave in the evening, take about 13 hours. Call 0 2434 7192, 0 2435 1199 or visit www.transport.co.th for more information.
There are also regular bus services (VIP, air-conditioned, and non-air-conditioned) between Phuket and neighboring provinces such as Krabi, Phang Nga, Chumphon, Koh Samui (bus/boat), Nakhon Si Thammarat, Ranong, Surat Thani, Satun, Hat Yai, Takua-Pa, and Trang. Departures are from the Phuket Bus Terminal off Phang Nga Road. For more up-to-date schedules and fares, call Phuket Air-conditioned Bus Station, tel. 0 7621 1977.
Flying to Phuket is arguably the easiest way to get to the island. Most domestic airlines operate several flights daily between Phuket and Bangkok, Samui, and Chiang Mai. Some domestic airlines operate flights from Phuket to Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, and Hat Yai.
There are also numerous international airlines that fly directly to Phuket from various cities around Asia, including Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Penang, Singapore, and Sydney.
Transportation to and from the airport
Phuket International Airport is located approximately 30 kilometers north of Phuket Town. Taxis between Phuket Town and the airport cost approximately 400 baht, but the fares to the beaches range between 500 and 600 baht. Minivans charge approximately 80 baht /person to town, but 120 baht/person to Patong, Kata, and Karon Beaches. Phuket Limousine (tel. 076 248596), located approximately 1 kilometer west of the city, operates hourly shuttles to the airport from 6.30 a.m. to 7.30 p.m.
By taxi or minibus
There are also shared taxi and van services between Phuket and other nearby provinces. Fares for either are generally around double the fare of an ordinary bus. The stations for both taxis and minivans are also on Phang Nga Road.
There is fairly regular boat service between Phuket and nearby islands including Koh Yao and Koh Phi Phi. During the high season (October-May), travelers may also travel by boat between Phuket and Koh Lanta. Ferries to and from Phuket and Krabi (Ao Nang/Railey Beach/Krabi Town) operate throughout the year. Various ports on Phuket provide services to these other islands and beaches with fares ranging between 300 and 500 baht. The trip may take 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on weather conditions. Some ferries service multiple locations and travelers are provided color coded stickers to avoid confustion.
Getting Around Phuket
Car Rental Service:
There are numerous car rental services on Phuket. Cars or jeeps can be rented at the airport, in Phuket Town, and at most of the more popular beaches. Be aware that only Commercial First Class Insurance provides full coverage on rental cars (as opposed to limited personal or third party only insurance). Most international car rental agencies will offer this insurance (some only for those with a valid international driver’s license) while local companies may or may not. You may wish to request a copy of their insurance policy and ensure that it states "For Commercial Use". Regardless, inspect rental vehicles prior to rental and drive with caution, particularly as traffic in Thailand can be quite confusing, especially the habit of Thai motorcycles drivers to drive on the wrong side of the road.
For around 150 to 300 baht per day you can hire your own 100-150cc motorbike, which will typically require you to leave your passport as a deposit. Be sure to inspect bikes prior to rental and drive with extreme caution as rental motorbikes are not normally insured and accidents are frequent. Helmets are required by Thai law. Motorcycles can be rented from rental agencies located on Rasada Road or from different operators at various beaches.
It costs approximately 20 baht / person / trip to travel via motorbike taxi around Phuket Town.
Songtaew and Tuk-Tuk:
Songtaews are operated along Ranong Road in Phuket Town to various destinations including most beaches. The cost ranges from 20 baht to 25 baht / person / trip. Normally the service is provided from 7.00 a.m. until 5.00 p.m.
Tuk-Tuks can be chartered for travel between the beaches and Phuket Town or between different beaches; however, rates are negotiable and will cost at least 200 baht to Patong Beach, 230 baht to Karon and Kata Beaches and 300 baht to Nai Han and Kamala Beaches. Within Phuket Town, Tuk-Tuks should cost 20 baht for short distances.
Visitors can call 076 232157-8 to get a metered taxi that will take them anywhere on Phuket. The metered fare will include a 20 baht surcharge.
Boat to islands nearby Phuket:
Boats to nearby islands can be found at the following ports:
An old local port, it is from here that long-tail boats depart for nearby islands such as Koh He, Koh Racha Yai, Koh Mai Thon, Koh Lon, etc. The chartered price depends on the distance.
The largest port of Phuket servicing all kinds of boats, including cruisers of tour companies that organize package tours to other islands.
Located near Phanwa Cape, this port is only for cruisers and container ships.
Boat Lagoon Port (Ao Sapam):
This port is for traveling boats of tour companies.