Getting Around

Phuket is a large island and you need some form of transport to get around. Public transport are unfortunately very limited and taxis and tuk-tuks are controlled by a local mafia that turn fares to ridiculous high prices. So the only practical — but dangerous — option is rent your own wheels.

Hotels generally offer shuttle bus services into Phuket Town, and also have taxi and car hire facilities. Jeeps and motorbikes can be hired from various shops in Phuket and at the main beaches. Taxis are plentiful in town.

In the city
There are no public buses, but mini-buses which operate a communal service. Just tell your destination to the driver. In town journeys cost 20-30 Baht.

From the city to the beaches
There are local-bus services between town and tourist beaches. Local buses leave for the beaches at the market on Ranong Road at half-hour intervals until 6 p.m. After that, a taxi must be hired. Bus fares range from 25-35 Baht.

By songthaew or bus
Public transport within Phuket is limited to a radial network connecting Phuket Town to the beaches. There are a few full-size buses, but most lines are operated with songthaews, basically converted pick-up trucks serving as buses. The fare is 25-35 baht up on distance, and there are no set stops - they pick up and drop off as requested.

Most operate from the local market (Talad Sod or Ban San); those to major beaches go via Phuket Town bus terminal. The main lines connect to Patong, Kata-Karon, Chalong Bay, Rawai-Nai Han beach, Panwa (Aquarium), Mai Khao, and Surin-Kamala. There are very few beach connections, so traveling from Surin to Patong (15 min by taxi) requires an hour-long detour via Phuket Town.

By taxi
Phuket has three types of taxi - millions (or so it seems) of small songthaew-style minivans (usually bright red, occasionally bright yellow) called Tuk Tuks, a much smaller number of conventional sedan-style taxis (yellow and red, with a Taxi-Meter sign on top), and random vehicles that serve as unofficial taxis.

The minivans are universally referred to as tuk-tuks. They have no meter, and their drivers are tough business men, so always agree a price beforehand and do bargain hard. Tuk-Tuks should be avoided at all times, these are run by locals and charge you 200 baht for less than 1 kilometre runs.

Metered taxis are a much better option when available, being safer, more comfortable, and usually cheaper than tuk-tuks. However, they're often hard to find, and during peak periods their drivers will also ignore the meter and demand flat fares.

By motorbike taxi
There are also motorbike taxis (motosai). Never jump on the back of just anyone's motorbike, motorbike taxi drivers wear bright numbered vests and are usually the cheapest way to go.

By car or bike
Renting a car or motorbike to explore the island on your own is a cost-effective way of getting off the beaten track. However, given the driving habits of most locals and the resulting carnage on Phuket's roads every year, the risks do demand careful consideration.

Due to the geography of the island with its winding hilly roads and poor vision, Phuket certainly gets more than its fair share of accidents. In fact, the death and injury statistics are more than high.

Drive very defensively at first and watch what the locals do. Driving under the influence of alcohol is both illegal and dangerous, and driving at night also increased the risk of accidents — even if you're sober, many others aren't.

Motorcycle and scooter rentals start at around 200 baht/day, coming down to 150 baht/day for rentals of a week or more. There is a theoretical crash helmet requirement, widely ignored by locals, but farang riding around without one will be taxed 300-500 baht by the police for their stupidity. You must also have a driving license with you, or you'll be slapped with a 500 baht fine.

Renting a car usually costs between 1000-1200 baht if you want to go for an ecomonical one like a Toyota Vios (stay away from the jeeps). Several rental companies are located in and around airport. Avis is located within the airport while Hertz, National and six are located walkable distance outside the airport (across the road). Bookings can be made online for these. Reputable local car rental companies, which are often a little cheaper, include:

  • Sutin Car Rentals
  • Braun Car Rentals
  • Pure Car Rent
  • Via Car Rentals

Be careful to check the level of insurance on a hire car, as many local companies say they have 'full' insurance when in fact it is only a very basic level.

By boat
For a bit of island hopping the longtail boats are a great way to do so. Prices must be negotiated and are app. 500 Baht per hour or no more than 1,800 Baht per day.

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Last Update This Page:Sunday, October 23/2016