Phuket is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia and has a litany of diverse attractions worth visiting, with the island’s beautiful ladies top of the list. Getting to Phuket is simple with almost every mode of transport on offer, including direct international flights, long distance buses, high-speed ferries and a railway station nearby.
The island is connected to mainland Thailand via a causeway and so driving here from Bangkok is relatively simple. Most people prefer the most cost-effective option of taking a luxury coach service to Phuket (around 800 baht for the 13-hour overnight journey) although the rise of budget airlines such as Air Asia has made flying to Phuket ever more popular in recent years.
The easiest way of reaching the resort is via Phuket International Airport, situated by Mae Khao Beach in the north of the island. There are direct services from here to all over Southeast Asia, as well as long-haul services to Europe, Australasia and beyond. Taxis from the airport (or anywhere else in Phuket for that matter) are outrageously expensive at around 1,500 baht to the popular resorts, and so taking a shared minibus to your hotel (Patong, Karon and Kata are around 40 minutes drive) is a cheaper option at around 300 baht per person. More on Phuket airport.
Long distance buses to Phuket tend to terminate in Phuket Town, and this is also where to head when wanting to leave the island. VIP coaches from Bangkok’s northern Mo Chit Bus terminal are complimented by direct tourist services which depart from the capital’s backpacker mecca of the Khao San Road. Any hotel or guesthouse will be able to arrange tickets, but it’s worth shopping around for the best deal. More on buses to Phuket.
There are also several ferries to Phuket from nearby jetties at Krabi, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta and the Koh Yao islands. If arriving at the port from one of the above then plenty of eager taxi drivers are on hand to take you to your final destination. From Phuket, these services generally depart from Rasada Pier just to the east of Phuket Town. The exception is Bang Rong Pier for the Yao islands, which is found to the northeast of the island around half-an-hour from Phuket Town. More on ferries from Phuket.
Getting to Phuket by train is less straightforward and only really recommended for diehard rail fanatics. From Bangkok, passengers should alight at Phun Phin Station by Surat Thani where there are usually minibuses waiting to take passengers for the drive to Phuket. This can be arranged at the station or as part of an all-inclusive ticket from most Bangkok travel agents. More on trains to Phuket.
Once you arrive on the island, getting around Phuket is relative straightforward but can be expensive depending on the distances travelled. Moving around the resorts is easy on foot, but getting between the beaches is expensive (from Kata to Patong costs around 500 baht for example) as taxis are controlled by a mafia which keep prices fixed high. More on getting around Phuket.
There are metered taxis on Phuket but the drivers would rather turf you out onto the street than switch their meter on and charge you a fair price, so be prepared to bargain for a decent rate. Small minivans travel set routes between the beaches and are much more reasonable, although they are slow and less comfortable. The best way of getting around the island is by hiring a motorbike (around 200 baht per day) but always wear a helmet and avoid driving after nights out on the town as accidents are common and often fatal. More on transport in Phuket.