Getting to Phuket
Phuket is the largest island of Thailand and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. The island runs a length of forty eight kilometers and lies on the southern part of Thailand. The western side faces the coastline of the Andaman. A pair of short road bridges keeps Phuket suspended from Phang Nga Province’s southern tip.
The Phuket International Airport is a small and compact airport situated on the northern part of the island. It is the second largest hub of Thailand next to Bangkok. There are direct flights connecting Phuket with Bangkok as well as other cities that include Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. The charter flights connect to Australia and Europe when the season is high.
There are a few charter flights from the countries in Europe and Asia such as Japan, Taiwan, etc. The airlines do not charge much fare.
There are a number of domestic flights that fly to and from Phuket which include the likes of Orient Thai, Air Asia, and Nok Air. The tickets are available from either of the two airports of Bangkok and are priced at around 1300 baht for one way when booked in advance. However, if the tickets are booked on the same day of flight, they would cost between 2000 and 2500 baht.
There are flights from Thai Airways from the Suvarnabhumi Airport of Bangkok doing several trips a day. There is one flight daily from the Chiang Mai Airport. Additionally tickets are sold to and from a number of international and domestic destinations that have a stopover at Bangkok.
Air Asia flights are available to Chiang Mai from Phuket twice a day which offers an opportunity to enjoy a beach holiday while also giving a taste of the exotic cultures and the wildlife of Thailand. There are direct flights between Koh Samui and U Tapao Rayong Pattaya International Airport and Phuket offered by Bangkok Airways. There are as many as six flights from Bangkok daily. The fares remain the same as that of the Thai Airways. However, sometimes the fares become really inexpensive inclusive of all taxes when bought on the website of the airlines. The flights offered by Bangkok Airways remain less crowded while the entire journey becomes a relaxed one. They offer free use of lounges even to the economy passengers on certain special events. One thing to note here is that Thai Airways International and Bangkok Airways have flights to Suvarnabhumi while Orient Thai and Nok Air have flights to the Don Mueang Airport.
There are a number of ways which you can take from airport to your destination. The airport bus service is available and the fare is reasonably cheap. There are a number of local buses running from here as well as Ranong St Market to all major beaches in the area until evening. You will have to wait for another bus to continue the journey after getting down there. The spot is both comfortable and convenient as there are no hustlers and touts.
There are minibus services from the airport available as well and the services are cheaper. You would be charged 100 to 180 baht for a seat. These go faster than all municipal buses. The buses leave only when full and so these are available only after the arrival of flights. The mini buses halt when halfway toward Patong.
There are yellow taxis or metered taxis offering services just outside the airport building. The taxi stand is visible at the end part of the walkway. These taxis are conducted through a systematic service where you would be offered a vehicle after you tell the destination. The fares are charged according to meters with an additional airport fee of one hundred baht. The meter starts off with a display of fifty baht. There are a number of freelance taxi drivers available outside the airport who would take you to your desired destination at Patong against a flat fare of 450 baht. You can take the same taxi to Phuket town from Patong at an additional charge of 350 to 400 baht.
The blue taxis or limousines are also offering services from the airport. These are expensive and offer a luxurious ride down to your destination. You would be charged 600-700 baht up to Patong and about 800 baht for taking you to Phuket directly. There is a cooperative booth of the airport which is behind the airport building. If you hire the limousine services from here, they can be a little cheaper.
There are two terminals of the airport, 1 and 2 are used by some of the low cost operators and charters use the second terminal. The terminals are located at a distance of a few hundred meters from each other and are separated by a walkway that is air conditioned.
There are no direct services of rail to Phuket. However, most of the trains leave from the central station of Bangkok and goes straight to Singapore. The most convenient and comfortable of all these are sleeper trains. Those travelling by train have to get down at the station of Phun Phin near Surat Thani. From here, regular buses are available to Phuket and the journey takes about five hours.
The mainland destinations to which bus services are available include Surat Thani, Sungai Kolok, Ranong Satun, Phang Nga, Krabi, and Bangkok among others. There are public BKS buses running from Bangkok to Phuket from Southern Bus Terminal. It takes 13 hours for the journey and the cost ranges between 650 and 950 baht. There are private bus companies as well that offers services to Phuket. There are two terminals offering bus service at Phuket. A modern terminal has been much recently built which is 4 kilometers north of the Phuket Town.
Phuket is connected directly to mainland by Thao Thepkasattri Bridge. From Bangkok, you will take Highway 4 passing through Nakom Pathom, Chumphon, Parchuap Khiri Khan, and then through Kra Buri of Ranong Province and the Kapoe districts, Thai Muang districts, Takua Pa of Phang Nga Province, and to the island of Phuket. There are a number of cars available in Phuket for rental purposes. All the vehicles enter or leave Phuket pass through the police checkpoint of Thai Chat Chai which is five kilometers toward the southern side of the bridge to Phang Nga. The cars usually have to go through checking at the midway.
You can opt to reach Phuket by boat as well. There are a number of ferry services that would take you to Phuket. There are ferry services connecting the Rassada Port of Phuket Town and Ko Phi Phi. The ferry services continue till Krabi situated on the mainland. The boat services are available twice in a day which takes one and a half hour to two hours at a cost of 350 baht for one way and 650 baht for both ways. The journey is usually pleasant but it can be bumpy when windy.
On reaching the harbor, there are minibuses available. However, you can also reach Phuket town by songthaew. If it is not available outside the terminal, you would have to walk outside of the gate of the terminal along the road that takes a left turn at the T junction. The distance from the harbor is about 600 meters. Cheap songthaew is available on the main road.
You may avail of the speed boat services available from Ko Racha, Phi Phi, the Similamn Islands, and other islands. The yachts and boats can be chartered throughout the year from Phuket at the Chalong Bay, the Boot Lagoon, the Rawai Beach, the Royal Phuket Marina, and Yacht Haven. Boat services to Phang Nga and Phi Phi can be available at the local beaches in the area. There are a number of companies offering inter island charter and services.
The prices for transfers of a tour speedboat is between 1500 and 2500 baht depending on the destination. Speed boat transfers at Phi Phi are provided by the resort at Zeavola. Most of the companies offering Phi Phi speedboat tours do not accommodate baggage due to limitations in space.