Phuket is certainly on the international jet set map and has become one of Asia’s most visited destinations. Its international airport receives flights from many Asian cities and selected European airports. The island is also connected to the mainland by a causeway and is easily reachable by bus or car, taking about 10 hours from Bangkok, and a rail link passes nearby. Ferries also connect to Krabi and Phi Phi several times a day.
Once you’re in on Phuket you will probably need to get around, since the island is fairly big and spread out. Rental cars are easily available from the airport and major centres, but many choose the ease of scooter for local trips. There are also numerous taxis and tuktuk-minivans that serve as commuter transport. Find out more about specific transport options.
Phuket airport is Thailand’s second busiest, somewhat crowded but servicing its travellers well. Find out about facilities, avoiding touts, and getting to your resort safely.
More than 50 flights arrive daily in Phuket from regional and some long haul airports, with numerous connections from Bangkok, also Chiang Mai, KL and Singapore.
Getting Around Ferries
Pick up a hired car from reputable companies at the airport or rent yourself an automatic scooter to zip around the island and explore freely, here’s our recommendations.
Connecting Phi Phi island, Koh Lanta and even Krabi to Phuket, ferries depart several times daily and are safe and reasonably quick. Here’s how to best get a ticket and transfer.
Long distance buses travel to Phuket from Bangkok and regional cities throughout the day and night, as well as minibus connections to Surat Thani’s rail station; how to get a seat.
Not the most convenient aspect of Phuket, but for those that love to travel by rail there is a station near Surat Thani which serves the historic Bangkok to KL route and up to Chiang Ma.
Getting to Phuket
The most convenient gateway to Phuket is the International Airport, located at the Northern end of the island. It receives more than six million passengers a year and flights arrive from Bangkok (20+ a day, duration 1 hour), Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Samui, Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur Bali, Perth, London, Berlin and other European cities on charter. The airport is a 40 minute drive from Phuket Town, Patong or Kata, and a hotel transfer is the best means of avoiding a taxi rip off.
Getting to Phuket by car, you can easily drive from Krabi (two hours away), or Bangkok (nine hours). A good highway system links most major centres in the South although you should be alert when driving as the local driving habits are sometimes reckless.
Buses also ply the route and leave every hour from Mo Chit Bus terminal in Bangkok as well as less frequently from Khao San Road. Hotels, guesthouses and travel agents in Bangkok, as well as Krabi, Samui, Koh Pha Ngan, Khao Lak and other popular centres can all arrange a passage for you, including pick ups, feeries and transfers. The journey from Bangkok can be 10 to 12 hours and overnight buses are the most popular choices.
Getting to Phuket by train, is a little trickier, you need to get off at Phun Phin station near Surat Thani, where minibuses await for the hour long transfer to Phuket, usually as part of an all inclusive ticket. The overnight sleeper is the most comfortable, however trains in Thailand are slow and a bit neglected.
Ferry is another means of getting to Phuket from Krabi, Phi Phi, Koh Lanta and the Yao islands. These mostly arrive at the ferry terminal at Koh Siree, east of Phuket Town, where you will be met by plenty of eager taxi drivers. The ferry arrival point from the Yao islands is on the north eastern side of Phuket, a 30 minute drive away. Ferries to and from Krabi and Phi Phi twice a day, going on to Koh Lanta.
Metered taxis are plentiful, but good luck getting local drivers to put the meter on. Invariably they overcharge you, relative to the rest of Thailand, being part of a well organised taxi mafia. Little minivans act as commuter transport running set routes between beaches for a much more reasonable fee, though they are less convenient or comfortable. Renting your own scooters to get around is recommended option, or you can secure a vehicle in advance by booking car hire online.