Getting to and around Phuket Island is very easy and can easily be organized. A few options can be found in our Travel Guide.
Getting to Phuket
The airport is roughly 30 km north of Phuket city. It is situated close to many of the beaches and resorts. THAI operates daily flights from Bangkok and regular flights from Hat Yai and Narathiwat. You can visit them at http://www.thaiairways.com. Nok Air (www.nokair.com), Bangkok Airlines (www.bangkokair.com) and Air Asia all offer regular service from Bangkok.
You can also take a charter plane directly from Europe, Australia, Penang, Singapore, and Hong Kong, to name just a few. Tiger Airlines (Ph 001800 656752) is a no-frills operator from Asia that offers daily flights from Singapore to Phuket (www.tigerairways.com). AirAsia is another budget carrier (www.airasia.com) that can take you from Singapore to Phuket Island.
With the Sarasin Bridge, traveling to Phuket by car or bus is an economical option. You can get from Bangkok to Phuket in 12 hours. Take highway 4 through Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon, Surat Thani and Phang Nga. You will then come to the Sarasin Bridge, which will lead you into Phuket. If you do not wish to make the drive all in one go, there are reasonably priced hotels along the way.
Letting someone else do the driving may be a more relaxing option. Buses leave Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal at several times in the evening. The trip will take 13 hours.
Phuket doesn't have direct train service. If you are traveling by train you must get off at Surat Thani at the Phun Phin station and use a regular bus to get to Phuket.
Getting around Phuket
Once you reach this gorgeous island, there are many reasonably priced ways to get around both the town and the beaches.
The taxis of Phuket are divided into the legal and illegal. If the taxi has a permanent sign attached to the car it is probably legal. If the car has a hand-lettered sign that is hidden away once you drive away, it is probably of the other variety. There is nothing alarmingly criminal about the illegal taxis-usually someone is just making a little extra money from the family car.
Regardless of the option you choose, negotiate your price before getting into the cab. Otherwise you may find yourself experiencing capitalism first hand-you will pay what the driver thinks you can afford instead of for the distance covered!
Most taxi drivers speak some English-enough to get you where you need to go at any rate. Remember that tips are always appreciated.
This rather exotically named transport is a small, brightly painted pickup truck. There are bench seats in the rear, and they operate much like buses-do not be surprised if the tuk tuk stops to pick up or drop off other passengers on the way.
Negotiate your price before hand. This is the cheapest form of transportation on the island, so keep that in mind during your negotiations.
Opinions vary widely on whether tuk tuks are worth the price. We say, if you can negotiate a low enough price-and aren't transporting anything breakable, then go ahead.
Ferries and Water Taxis
Ferries go to Koh Phi Phi during the high season. Depending on whether the ferry is air conditioned or not, costs range from THB 250-750. Budget an hour and a half for the trip. You can find the ferries at the Rassada Pier on the east coast. The King Cruiser leaves from Makham Bay and is run by Ferryline and Songserm.
To get to Koh Yao Yai, go to the Laem Hin Pier at 1400, or the Tien Sin Pier at 1000 and 1400. On Thursdays and Sundays they also run a ferry from Rassada Port at 1400 and Saturday at 0600. The trip should cost THB 50, and take a little under an hour and a half.
As with every type of transport in Phuket, double check before you get in the water taxi. A quick "This is the free taxi to the Shopping Centre, correct?" can prevent many misunderstandings.
On the subject of free transportation, many of the high-end stores and restaurants in the Shopping Centre will send a water taxi, minibus or bus to your hotel if you are a potential customer.
The way we see it, you could get around Phuket quite handily this way, if you go to the shopping centre then get a ride back to a different hotel, in an area of Phuket you wish to see. It isn't fast, but it's free.
Do not rent a motorcycle unless you have a death wish. This is a bit blunt, but most of the fatalities on Phuket roads are tourists that were riding motorcycles. There are places to rent on practically every corner at very low prices, but it really isn't worth it. And don't believe anyone who tells you they can include "first class" insurance in the price. There is only one kind of insurance and it is pretty useless for any kind of serious motorbike accident or theft.
If you wish to experience Phuket from a motorbike, take a motorcycle taxi. You can find young men and a few women with motorcycles that have passenger cars. Take one of these. The fee is around THB 20-100 per person per trip. It is still something of a hair-raising experience, but at least you are in the hands of a professional.
What you might think of as a limousine and what the average Phuket Islander thinks of as a limousine are not necessarily the same thing. Essentially, a "limousine" is an American style car that may or may not come with a driver. Check the regular taxi prices and see if the "limousine" is worth the expense.
Limousine prices range from THB 500-1300 one way, from the airport to your destination in Phuket.
Driving in the City
Driving in and around Phuket town can take a little getting used to if you have never done it before. In fact, if this is your first time in Phuket, let someone else drive you around for a while before attempting it on your own.
In theory everyone is to drive on the left, but this rule is sometimes taken as more of a suggestion. Motorcycles will zip into any spaces they think they can fit into, regardless of the direction. Remember they have the right of way. Tour buses will often drive down the middle of the road (because the roads are quite narrow). If you see one coming toward you, pull off to the side. Then there is the odd road project that can delay traffic in either direction.
No matter where you look, someone will be happy to rent a car to you. You can rent a car from the airport, or wait until you get to your resort. This latter option is highly recommended for those of you who haven't driven in Phuket before.
Stay away from car companies or people who offer to rent a vehicle to you without insurance. The lower rental cost isn't worth it. Accidents happen. Don't ruin your trip over a few extra Baht a day.
Most companies will accept a European license, though a few will ask for an International Driver's licence. You have to get one of these from your home country before travelling, so plan ahead. You have to be 21 or over to rent a car, with some companies requiring an older driver.
Your car rental rate will depend on the age of the car, its amenities, and the demand. Don't be afraid to call around for the best rates.
There are dozens of places that will rent a bicycle to you for a very reasonable rate. Check with your hotel or resort first and see if a complimentary bicycle is included in your stay. If not, you can either enlist the help of the hotel staff in locating a rental company, or find a bicycle on your own.
Phuket has many paved roads, and a bicycle ride can be a great way to see the beautiful country. But take care. Avoid busy roads unless you have experience with Phuket's traffic.
Signing up for a bicycle tour that comes with a guide is a safe and fun way to see the country.