Phuket, the gem in the Thai crown. It is the largest island in the country and one of the most touristic places as well. It is located in Southern Thailand, in the west coast of the Andaman Sea.
The island is divided to four regions; however getting around is considerably easy. Many transportation ways are available in Phuket, yet do not expect to find low prices as they are considered one of the most expensive in the entire country.
Phuket is relatively large so you will need to take some form of transportation to get around from one town to another; yet the main towns and resorts’ areas have everything close enough to walk from one place to the other.
Keep in mind that in some places, all the options are limited to Tuk-Tuk and taxis while in others the options are wider; having a comfy budget will totally help you to decide the method you want to use.
Some tourists from the west side of the world can consider the prices affordable yet locals and travelers from the region are aware that they are higher in comparison with neighbor islands and cities.
Here in PhuketFerry, we care about you and our main goal is to help you to solve all your concerns so you can have the best trip of your life without any trouble. Here, we will explain to you all the available transportation options to get around in Phuket easily and efficiently.
First thing you need to solve is how to get to the island; luckily, the access to Phuket is absolutely easy. The island counts with an international airport which receives both national and international flights every day. On the other hand, trains and buses are convenient options given the fact that the island is connected with the mainland by a pair of road bridges.
In addition, maritime transportation is incredibly suitable to get in Phuket; ferry and fast boats services depart from different piers to the island and vice versa. Prices and time of travel make this manner a very convenient one.
The first movement is very important, it will strongly affect the impression you get from Phuket, and having a bad experience will lead to a bad impression, which is something we definitely don’t want. Moreover, different options of transportation are available to take you from your arrival point to your resort or hotel.
In case you choose to fly to Phuket, there is an airport transfer service available to take you to your destination. By doing this, you will save time as you can book the service before arriving to Phuket, even the hotel staff can arrange it for you.
However, traditional taxis and public transportation are there too, it will all depend on your budget and the time you are willing to spend to get to your hotel. In case you want a little bit of independency, car and bike rentals are dotted all over the island.
Renting a car is always an excellent option when you are looking for independency and comfort. Car rentals are spotted all over the island, including arrival and departure points like bus terminal, piers, and the airport.
There are two options you can choose between when renting a car: a car with a driver or a car to drive yourself. The first one gives you extra comfort given the fact that you will not have to worry about how to get to any place or deal with the chaotic traffic on the island.
Moreover, it normally comes with a higher price too because the driver has to be with you all the time which means you will have to pay for his meals and accommodation; price should be discussed before arranging the deal to avoid misunderstandings.
On the other hand, you can always pick to only rent the car and drive it yourself, it will give you freedom to travel around the island at your rhythm and a privacy sense as you don’t need to be with an unknown person all the time. In addition, the price is lower in comparison with renting a car with driver.
In order to rent a car, an international driver license and personal documents like ID and passport will be required. Be conscious when looking for a place to rent the car, look after reputable cars companies where you can be sure the car you are getting has all the necessary permissions and is in optimal conditions.
Nevertheless, if you decided to drive the car you need to be extremely careful. Roads in Phuket are mostly hilly and vision can get really difficult; also, traffic in the island is just horrible. Locals rarely respect the signs and you will need to be very defensive when driving.
Accident rates are extremely high, and visitors frequently get injured in car accidents due to the bad driving habits. Keep in mind that in the island, cars are driven on the left side of the road; if you are not used to drive in this direction, we strongly advice not to have your first time in Phuket.
At night, you need to double your defensive driving, as alcohol and driving get along really bad; maybe you are responsible to not drink, but some others will do it and definitely you don’t want to end up in the emergency room.
Taxis are not too common on the island, you can find some companies that offer the service in the main towns and around the airport and piers, yet, that is pretty much all you can find in Phuket.
However, the existing taxis in Phuket work like any taxi in any city of the world, you can call one from the lobby of your hotel or pick one right on the street. They go through the main streets of each town beeping around so tourists can notice them.
Taxis are a cheaper option in comparison to renting a car and they offer almost the same level of freedom to go anywhere. However, taxis cannot avoid traffic, and even if they could, they will not do it as they work with the taxi meter and to them; more time means more money.
Like in every place in the world, some companies are more trustable than others, try asking for reviews from the hotel staff or locals and give them a try; always ask the driver to put the taxi meter on, some of them will argue that the taxi meter is broken so they can put higher prices or take longer distances instead.
In case the meter is really not working, set the price before moving, be aware that bargaining in here is totally fair so you don’t have to be embarrassed for asking for some discount. Regular prices are set on 50 baht for the first 2 km and 7 baht for every extra km.
Cars with air conditioning system are rarely seen on the island, they are called limousine and you can ask for some of them in very specific point such as the airport and hotels.
To sum up, if you are staying in a zone where taxis usually work and you are not in a rush to get somewhere, there are very acute and safe options, almost any budget can afford a taxi ride without problems.
Motorbikes in Phuket are considered by some as the most wonderful way of transport to move around the island due to the fact that meters or traffic does not affect it; however, this way of transportation is extremely dangerous due to several facts.
Bikes are the most environmental friendly when speaking about motorized vehicles, yet they represent the biggest amount of traffic accidents and travelers injuries in the island.
Bike rentals are dotted all over the island and they offer different type of bikes: from basic 50cc Hondas to big bikes for those who are seeking adventure and some adrenaline rush. Moreover, you must be aware that insurance is not included in the total price of the rent; yet if you are considering using a bike as your way of transportation while staying in Phuket, you should not do it without having an insurance.
International insurances can be purchased time before arriving to the island, or you can simply get that done once you’re in Phuket; you need to have an international driver license that includes bike permission and, once again we strongly advice not to do your first try driving in here.
Bike accidents are sadly so common here, both locals and foreigners do not respect the traffic signs and commit infractions everywhere, this leads to an impressive amount of accidents which tourists get seriously injured. Hospitals on the island will treat you really well; yet we are sure you prefer not having this uncomfortable situations in your journey.
In case you have decided to rent a bike in Phuket, look for a rental that rents bikes in good condition, check the tires and every important part before agreeing on the price, and do not leave the place without a helmet.
In addition, when the rainy season comes, bike riding may not be the best option as you definitely do not want to be on slippery roads under a strong rain. Nevertheless, you can actually use bikes without being the one who drives it; in Phuket there is a service called Motorbike Taxis, a local driver that takes you anywhere, especially short distances, by a set amount of money.
They wear red or green shirts so you can recognize them easily, often located in the most important corners of every town, they are available almost 24/7. By using this service, you can get through traffic rapidly and with a really good price.
Wherever you go, you are going to hear both good and bad opinions about Tuk-Tuks. In the very first beginning of this trend, there were no more than a bike with an adapted cabin to carry 2-3 passengers, they have 3 wheels and rapidly became an iconic part of the island, especially in Patong area.
However, they have changed; nowadays they are similar to red minivans that you can find almost everywhere. They are very useful for short distances rides, however, they are particularly small so you do not want to spend 30 minutes inside one of them.
Tuk-Tuks have a bad reputation because of their drivers, locals are used to call them The Thai Mafia, as they can be really rude with tourists just to get from them as much money as possible. Some of them actually affirm that the main reason why classic taxis are not seen in Patong is because of the Tuk-Tuk mafia.
In some cases, Tuk-Tuk drivers will offer to take you to certain stores, just because they have partnerships with the owners and gain commissions for every tourist they take there; if you are not interested, just gently let them know.
When talking about prices, they used to be cheap, yet it is not like that anymore. In the main areas like Patong and Phuket town a short distance trip can cost up to 100 baht when they should not cost more than 40 baht; and for long distance trips like from Patong to Phuket town, they can ask you for more than 400 baht, which is kind of insulting.
What we cannot discuss is the fact that these particular vehicles are an important part of the Thai culture, and using them at least once should be part of your journey’s memories. Also, we have to admit that not all the drivers are rude and mean, some of them still have the kindness of the Thai people.
Public transportation also work on the island; yet, you will rarely find full size buses like the ones you see in every other place. In Phuket, the public transportation is mostly pick-up trucks that were adapted to carry people in the back side, they are known as Songthaew, and they mainly work connecting Phuket Town with beach towns nearby.
Right in the center of Phuket town, there is the bus terminal where the buses depart and arrive from different places all over the island. The price of this type of transportation is one of the most important reasons to use it, the fare is set between 25-40 baht which is really cheap.
In general, this service is safe and calm; yet it will require more time from you, as the buses do not leave the bus station until they have all the seats occupied, and they cannot escape from chaotic traffic as bikes do.
Some tips we can give you about taking buses in Phuket is, ask locals about which route you need to get to a certain destination; pay right when you get into the bus so you avoid drivers taking leaving with your change; when returning to Phuket town, first ask the driver where he is going to stop because some of them do not like to get into the bus terminal and can leave you literally anywhere.
Longtails are typical boats that have become iconic in Thailand. They mix very well the concept of heritage and useful way of transportation. They are long and narrow boats with recycled motors at the end where a native leads the boat by moving a long pole.
Longtails are very useful in three types of journeys: in case you want to visit some islands near Phuket in the best typical way, they are a little bit noisy yet, they move fast enough to get you to your destination soon; they are also used to provide touristic tours around the island, as you can pay for a trip to see the coast of Phuket in the Andaman Sea; taking a longtail to get to some hidden and private beach that is impossible to get by land is an amazing idea too.
Longtails have little benches which passengers can sit on during the trip. Prices are considerably low and they will depend on the type of the trip you want, they oscillate between 1000 and 2000 baht. If you want a ride to a secret beach, be sure that the driver will wait to get you back to your destination.
There are several places where you can rent them, if you want to do the whole journey, it is not so important where you take it; however, if you are looking for a specific beach, go to the nearest place so you will get a cheaper price. Without any doubts, taking a trip in a longtail is an important part of Phuket experience.
Getting around Phuket does not have to be a real concern, all you need to do is select the option that fits you the most based on your preferences and budget. And remember, we are always here to help you!