Phuket: Local Travel Info
A Beautiful Bankgkok On Sea
Internal flights and major international airports
Phuket International Airport is located in the north of the island. There are many scheduled flights and chartered flights from domestics and other countries in Asia, Australia, Europe and North America landing in Phuket. Domestic flights are easily booked and generally cheap. These flights include destinations such as Koh Samui, Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
Getting to and from the airport
There are a few modes of transport from the airport. Taxis are always present, easy and quite cheap. Songthaews (passenger pick-up vehicles) are very common and they are the cheapest mode of transportation from town to town. There are also conventional bus services and motorbike taxis. The traditional Tuk-tuks have been replaced by small vans, mostly red or some are yellow. There is no rail-line to Phuket, but the trains do run to nearby Surat Thani.
Songthaews are the cheapest mode of transportation from town to town but you do have to share with other tourists and locals. Bartering may occur if you think the driver wants to charge you too much and this can happen when they see fresh faced tourists arrive. Taxis are also a very good way to get to your destination quickly but they are more expensive than in Bangkok. Buses are cheap and motorbikes can be very cheap but dangerous, especially if you have heavy bags. Tuk-tuks can also be a cheap way to get from the airport to your hotel if you get a good deal.
Car Hire Phuket
Renting a car or jeep in Phuket is a great way to get around the island and enjoy the scenery. Most of the island is accessible with a 2-wheeled drive vehicle. Cars and jeeps can be rented in Phuket at numerous locations around the island. Car Hire Rates in Phuket begin at 700 baht per day with unlimited mileage. You pay for the gasoline. Most major hotels in Phuket are serviced by Hertz and Avis car rental companies.
The airport is the most expensive place to rent a car and private owners of jeeps parked along beach roads in Patong and Karen Beach are not that cheap. Make sure you read the fine print and are fully insured. Remember that you are liable for all damages to the vehicle.
For cheap rental cars in Phuket, view our Phuket Car Hire Links. We search the net to provide all Ok Alpha readers with the best deals on car hire all over Thailand.
Drivers licenses requirements?
A valid international driver's license or a state license from one's own country is all that is required.
All international driving rules apply in Phuket. Vehicles are driven on the left hand side. Speed limits vary depending on the location but be aware as fines will be handed out if the limits are broken.
There is a daytime bus service (songthaew) to most parts of the island. Songthaew means two rows which is how the bus is laid out. All buses run on a loop route between a beach location like Patong and back to the songthaew stop on Ranong Road in Phuket Town.
The bus fare between Patong and Phuket Town is 15 Baht, and the travel time is about thirty minutes. Buses do not run from beach to beach as the tuk-tuk drivers would go out of business.
Songthaew's are cheaper and generally a safer ride than tuk-tuks. There are also fewer hassles from drivers who are more likely to be sane and more sober, than most tuk-tuks drivers. Only downside is that most bus drivers only speak Thai so communication is very limited and often confusing.
Air-conditioned taxis are not so common in Phuket as they are quite expensive compared to Bangkok and compared to other modes of transport such as tuk-tuks. The new look tuk-tuks have taken over from the traditional tuk-tuks you see in Bangkok. The new look doesn't go with a new attitude. The drivers fiercely fight any attempt to make them use meters and generally tuk-tuk drivers are the main source of displeasure for tourists. Tuk-tuks in Phuket are a woefully inadequate, unruly, unsafe, and overpriced transportation service. However in popular spots like Patong, there are number of hard-working, honest and reasonable tuk-tuk drivers.
The standard rate for a ride from one point in Patong to another is 20 Baht, from Patong to Phuket is 150 Baht, from Patong to Karen Beach is 100 Baht, and from Patong to the airport (a forty five minute ride) is 450 Baht. Use this as a guide as any many tuk-tuks drivers will try to charge much more. The polite way to stop a songthaew or tuk-tuk on the street is to hold your arm out in front of you, palm down and make a up and down motion.
Amongst the beautiful beaches, the old town, various shopping areas and old villages there are a good number of cycling routes. There are many organized cycling tours but you may also explore the island by yourself. Bicycles are easily rented at one of many bike shops around the island or you could book from your hotel. Prices vary on the type of bike and the length of the rental, a typical day out riding a standard bike will cost between 300baht and 800baht.
The ever-present longtail boat is found wherever there is water in southern Thailand. The older versions of these seagoing crafts have been modified with the motor mounted on the back. The longtails are used to provide a number of marine services. A voyage in a longtail boat may not have you whizzing across the ocean at high speeds but they provide an interesting experience and a great way to take short sightseeing trips. Longtail boats are unfortunately not very safe. There is a complete lack of safety equipment such as lifejackets. If you are travelling with children or non-swimmers, longtail boats are not advisable. Rental prices average 400 baht per hour for short trips and up to 1000 baht for a whole day.
With a huge variety of cheap travel solutions such as tuk-tuks, songtheaws, motorbike taxis and longboats, it makes hitchhiking in Phuket is not common at all. If you decide to give it a try, note that the wave is preferred to the thumbs-up and remember to be aware of the people who might want to pick you up.