There are only a few places like Phuket Island. It’s no wonder it is one of Southeast Asia’s most popular travel destinations.
The island boasts beaches, boats, and good times. But it’s hard to know what to expect on arriving in Phuket. Below, I’ve mapped out ways to navigate the island’s capital 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.
Phuket Island is a dense tourist-hub. Over time, this has promoted the expansion of taxi-mafias running the transport system. Apps like Grab, though functional, are three times more expensive than in any other province.
When navigating from transport terminals such as the airport and bus stations, the most affordable modes of transport 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 travel to Rawai, Patong, Kata, or Karon beaches.
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 most convenient 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 6.00 am and goes via Suriyadej Traffic Circle, the city truck rank where you’ll find Songthaews to Rawai, Patong, Kuta, and Karon beach. To travel to the other beaches, drop off at Suriyadej and find a blue Songthaew written your beach/town destination. Some drivers may even 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 you’ll see a sign indicating the Airport Buses to your left. Bus operators will be dressed in orange.
The bus takes between 1.5-2hrs to reach Phuket Old Town (in Phuket City), and they’ll drop you off at T1, a 15-minute walk from Suriyadej Traffic Circle. So you can walk or Grab 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, and 600 Baht for a 20km distance.
- Only pay bus tickets 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 help you plan your next trip.