There aren’t many places like Phuket Island, it’s no wonder it’s one of Southeast Asia’s most popular travel destinations – understandably so. The island sings of beaches, boats and promising times. But it’s hard to know what to expect on arriving in Phuket. Below, I’ve mapped out some ways to navigate the capital of the island using local transport, and the most convenient ways to do so.
Fast Facts on Phuket Island
- Set in South Thailand.
- Largest island in the country.
- Holds many beaches and towns including Patong town (has Patong Beach), Kata Beach, Nai Harn Beach, Rawai Town (has Rawai Beach), Freedom Beach, and many others.
Heads up! Phuket Island is a dense, tourist-hub within the country. This has, in turn, promoted the growth of taxi-mafias running the transport system. So apps like Grab, though functional, are 3 times more expensive than in any other province.
The most affordable modes of transport when navigating from transport terminals, that is, to and from the airport and bus stations, are the Airport bus and Songthaew. The latter is a bit rugged, but will get you from point A to B, and Z if you negotiate.
Arriving on Phuket Island
The following tips will help you spend between 75 – 200 Baht on transport to either Rawai, Patong, Kata or Karon beach.
Bus to Beach
T2 >> pink Songthaew >> Suriyadej Traffic Circle >> blue Songthaew >> beach choice
Buses arriving from other cities, such as Chiang Mai or Bangkok, to Phuket arrive at T2 (terminal two) bus station. The cheapest way to reach the other beaches or towns such as Rawai or Patong, is first via the pink Songthaew for 15 Baht to Suriyadej Traffic Circle, then a blue Songthaew to your choice of beach. The pink truck begins operating from T2 at 6.00am, and goes via Suriyadej Traffic Circle, the truck rank of the city where you’ll find Songthaews to Rawai, Patong, Kuta and Karon beach. In order to go to the other beaches, drop off at Suriyadej and find a blue Songthaew written your beach/town destination. Even better, some drivers may call out to ask where you’re going. The fares start from 15 Baht, and differ depending on your destination.
Airport to Beach
Airport >> airport bus >> T1 >> walk/bike >> Suriyadej Traffic Circle >> beach choice
An airport bus commutes from Phuket International Airport to T1 (terminal one), for 100 Baht. Exit the Airport and to your left you’ll see a sign indicating the Airport Buses, with bus operators dressed in orange. The bus takes between 1.5-2hrs to reach Phuket Old Town (in Phuket City). You’ll be dropped off at T1, which is a 15 minute walk from Suriyadej Traffic Circle. So you can either walk or hop on a motorbike to reach the circle, then get a blue Songthaew to the beach.
- Grab transport prices are usually hiked up, starting only from 300 Baht for a 5km distance, costing up to 600 Baht for a 20km distance.
- Only pay bus ticket to airport bus operators (usually after you’re seated on the bus).
- Negotiate prices with tuk-tuk or motorbike locals, they expect you to.
Hopefully, these tips will help you on your upcoming journey to Phuket, or at least aid you to plan your next trip.