The Phuket International Airport is the second busiest airport of Thailand after the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok. There are two terminals in the airport; Terminal 1 is used for international flights while Terminal 2 is used for domestic flights. The airport is well-connected to Bangkok with daily flights. There are also direct flights to India, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and Germany, among other countries. Some of the airlines with frequent routes between India and Phuket are Thai Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Jet Airways.
Buses to other regions of Thailand including Bangkok, Krabi, Phang Na and Surat Thani operate at the BKS terminal located just off Thanon Phang Nga in Phuket Town. Buses from the Southern Bus Terminal of Bangkok to Phuket are the most reliable and convenient way of travelling between the two cities and take up to 13 hours to reach Phuket. Both air-conditioned as well as non-air-conditioned buses are available at different prices.
Although there are no direct trains to Phuket, one can travel on trains going from Bangkok to Singapore and get off at Phun Phin railway station. Phuket is another 5 hours by bus from Phun Phin, which is located in the Surat Thani Province of Thailand.
SONGTHAEW Songthaews are the most common mode of transport in Phuket. They are basically pick-up trucks with two wooden benches for seating on either side of van. Songthaews travel on almost all routes particularly from Phuket Town to the beaches. But they don’t go from one beach to another. They don’t have any fixed stops, and pick and drop passengers as requested. One can catch Songthaews from the local bus terminal at Ranong Road in Phuket Town. These ply from 7 am until 6:00 p.m. and fares range from 25 THB to 40 THB depending on the distance travelled.
TUK-TUK Tuk-tuks are small minivans usually coloured in red or sometimes in yellow. They don’t have meters so you must make sure you negotiate on a price before getting on it or you could end up paying a lot more than you should be.
TAXI Metered yellow and red taxis are a cheap and dependable mode of transport in Phuket but there are very few of them so you might not be able to find one easily. They are safer and more comfortable than tuk-tuks but you may need to bargain during peak tourist season. You can ask your hotel for the number of a metered taxi.
MOTORCYCLE Motorcycles are easily available on rent in the Patong area of Phuket. These rentals are quite reasonable and fares vary depending on the type of vehicle. For instance, a 100cc Honda scooter can be hired for 150 THB to 200 THB per day. Don’t forget to negotiate for discounts and do wear a helmet to avoid being fined 500 THB. Also, it’s advised to carefully examine the bike before hiring it so that you don’t get charged for pre-existing damage. You can also take a ride on motorbike taxis known as motosai. While these are one of the cheapest modes of transport, they aren’t the most comfortable.
BOAT If you want to go island hopping, you can take a longtail boat from one island to another. While you can haggle for a good price, the cost should be about 500 THB per hour or 1,800 THB for a day. They’re not usually equipped with lifejackets so be careful if you’re with children or non-swimmers.
CAR RENTAL/CAR HIRE OPTIONS While Bangkok is well connected by the underground MRT and SkyTrain BTS systems, Phuket is lacking in effective public transportation. Renting a car with a driver is an economical way to travel in Thailand. Most car rental services provide a driver who doubles up as a guide, which is extremely helpful when exploring the sights. SixT, Avis, Andaman Car Rental Company and Thai Rent A Car are some of the more popular car rental companies in Phuket.
SELF-DRIVE Thailand follows left-hand drive and although the roads are generally in good conditions, the standard of driving can be chaotic. Traffic is similar to that on Indian roads as is the disregard for following road rules. To rent a self-drive car, you’ll need to put down a security deposit and also present a valid driver’s license from your home country. Another option available is renting private motorcycles and scooters from shops around Phuket. Locals are more than willing and since there’s no fixed price, bargaining is key. Most shopfronts have signs advertising car or motorcycle rentals so they’re easy to spot.