Luxury resorts, 5* hotels, beautiful beaches and a raging nightlife; all populated by beautiful, happy smiling people. For tourists Phuket only has one flaw: its transport system. Your guide book may tell you can take a bus from the bus station from one end of the island to the other, but the reality is the bus station is invariably a 20 minute drive away. In the end you do what so many first-timers to Phuket end up doing: taking a tuk-tuk. Keep on doing that and you will end up spending the equivalent of 30 – 50 pounds on transport a day. Follow this advice and you are more likely to spend 5 – 10 pounds at the most.
International and National Services
If you are flying to Phuket from outside Asia you will fly first to Bangkok and then from there to Phuket International Airport. This could soon change. Due to an influx of tourists the authorities are planning major developments to the airport, including a international passenger terminal. They have yet to start building though.
Connecting Transportation from Phuket International Airport
If you want to travel to your hotel in luxury you can order a limousine at one of the counters you will see as soon as you leave the baggage claim area. At 400 -700 baht they are reasonably priced. You will find taxis at the taxi rank outside the arrivals terminal. Only take a taxi from the stand, and make sure it is a meter taxi. It should cost around 250-400 baht. Between 08:00 and 18:00 on weekdays you can take a government bus service to Phuket Town. You can check specifics at the information desk in the departure hall.
There are two bus terminals, both in Phuket Town. For national destinations you will need to take a bus from Phuket Bus Terminal on Tepanusom Road. For local buses you will need to go to the station on Phang Nga Road. You may find yourself using the local buses more than in other Thai cities as it takes at least 10 minutes to drive between each resort.
– It is best to buy it directly from the bus station. You can buy them from a tour operator, but they will charge commission.
One of the main attractions of going to Phuket is that you can use at a base to travel to smaller, more beautiful islands such as James Bond Island, Phi Phi, and Raleigh. Phuket’s ferry terminal is close to Phuket Town. As an example ferries to Phi Phi leave twice a day (9am and 2.30pm) and cost 480 baht. You can tickets can buy ticket in advance from local travel agents in town.
– Be aware of scammers: Island hopping is big business in Phuket.
Public transport is consigned to buses and songtaews. The buses are irregular but the songtaews (the small red trucks), maybe the most user friendly transport in Thailand, are everywhere. You can wave one down from the side of the road and they usually cost from 30 to 50 baht.
For short trips you can catch one of those colorful tuk-tuks you see all around town shooting off in clouds of black smoke. It should cost from around 100 baht for a short trip, but always arrange the fare with the driver before you get in.
A cheaper, some would say more dangerous, alternative to a tuk-tuk is a motorcycle taxi. It costs from around 40 baht for a short trip, but like the tuk-tuk you should negotiate the price before hand. You can identify motorcycle taxi drivers by their brightly colored vests.
Phuket is not the the easiest city to travel around. If you have the money your best option is to hire a car from around 1500 baht a day from an international company such as Budget. You must be 21 or over and own a valid driving license.
Those younger than 21 can rent a scooter from around 200 baht a day. It is the quickest and the cheapest way to get around be yourself, but you should be aware that, though the roads themselves are fine, Phuket has some very steep hills and sharp turns.