As one of Thailand’s most popular travel destinations, Phuket is well serviced by transportation options, including an international airport. There are buses almost hourly from Bangkok, Samui or Krabi, and ferries to and from Krabi, Phi Phi and other nearby islands. A train service also reaches Phun Phin Station near Surat Thani, from where minibuses complete the remaining 90-minute journey to Phuket.
Phuket car transportation
A good highway system connects most major centres in the south, and Phuket Island is linked to the mainland by a short causeway providing easy access for motorists and buses.
A typical journey from Bangkok will take up to nine hours, while overnight buses leave hourly from the Southern Bus Terminal and also from Khao San Road in Bangkok, arriving within 12 hours. Tickets can be arranged at any travel agent in the capital. See our Phuket bus timetable.
In the south, Krabi is just an hour’s drive away with regular transportation to Phuket. Koh Samui is reached via a two-hour drive to Surat Thani, where there are several piers offering ferries to the island, as well as Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao. Khao Lak is just an hour’s drive north from Phuket.
Warning! When driving in Thailand, exercise extreme caution and be alert for reckless motorists.
Phuket International Airport
Most visitors arrive at Phuket International Airport, which receives flights from Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Incheon, Tokyo, Munich, Frankfurt and Sydney, as well as several other European cities on charter. The airport is small but comfortable with a restaurant, coffee shop and limited shopping.
It’s located in the north of the island, 40 minutes drive from Patong and other southwestern beaches. Adequate taxi transportation is provided into Phuket Town, but avoid the overpriced limo service offered by the airport and catch a metered cab from across the car park and insist on the meter being used. Car hire is also available. More on Phuket Airport.
Ferry transportation to Phuket
Ferries generally service the outlying islands and are most likely to be used by visitors wishing to spend a few days on Phi Phi or Kao Yai Noi, as well as those travelling between Phuket and Krabi. Ferries for Phi Phi and Krabi depart from the terminal at Koh Siree, east of Phuket Town (best reached by taxi), while the low-key ferry to the Kao Yai islands departs from the pier in Bang Rong village near the Gibbon Rehabilitation Centre in the northeast of Phuket.
Generally, there are two or three ferries a day. The journey to Krabi or Phuket takes roughly 90 minutes, and the buses to Krabi offer more choice on times. Private companies offer more frequent boats to Phi Phi from private piers in the east of the island. From Krabi or Phi Phi, you can catch a ferry to Koh Lanta. Check out our Phuket ferry timetable.
Public transportation on Phuket
Getting around Phuket isn’t difficult, since there are plenty of affordable taxis and minibuses. The island itself is quite large and transportation between one bay on Phuket and another usually involves a rollercoaster journey over hills and bluffs. But this is Thailand where there is always a taxi loitering, waiting to take you wherever you wish.
The metered taxis are air-conditioned, though you might have difficulty getting them to use their meter. It’s safest to ask your hotel concierge to arrange a taxi and thereafter you can more accurately judge what a fair price is. Taxis from the airport are overpriced and cost upwards of 600 baht.
A more common site is the Phuket transportation version of the legendary Thai tuk-tuk, more of a minivan with an open back, which follow set routes and will stop when waved down. Simply hop in the back. The fares are 25-40 baht for a medium length journey, but 200 baht in Patong when chartered.
A few public buses run between Phuket Town, Patong and other centres, but they are impractical for tourist use. More on getting around Phuket.
Bike and car hire on Phuket
This is a good idea, since there is a lot to see on the island and it will give you flexibility to travel from one lovely bay to another without having to haggle with taxi drivers. The island is worth exploring and can take up a whole day of cycling. Riding around gives you the freedom to experience more of what Phuket has to offer and explore some of the lovely areas on the mainland.
Many visitors rent motorbike scooters, which are easy to ride and better value than cars. But some people do fall off on the steep, windy roads so be careful. Driving isn’t generally difficult and the roads are in good condition, but the locals have some reckless driving habits so remain alert. There are several private hire companies locally, but quality is always an issue in Thailand and we recommend online booking in advance. Rental motorbikes on the other hand are found everywhere.