Simple enough question - how do I get to Phuket? Well, first of all, if you are coming from another country you have to get to Thailand. Phuket is an island and also a province of Thailand located in the south of the country about 800km south of Bangkok. Getting here is easy. Hope to see you soon!
Come Fly with Me
Most people will fly to Thailand these days, since a boat from Europe or America would take a very long time. International flights normally arrive in Bangkok, but you can also fly long haul into Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) or Singapore and get connecting flights to Phuket from there. There are a few direct flights from Europe to Phuket, mostly holiday charter flights.
From Bangkok you have plenty of domestic flights with a whole bunch of airlines. Most depart from the new airport (Suvarnabhumi), though some also depart from the old airport (Don Muang). See links below.
• Suvarnabhumi Airport Information
• Thai Airways
• Air Asia
• Nok Air
• Bangkok Airways
• One 2 Go
• Orient Thai
• Thai Domestic Flights
- Shows all domestic flight schedules and routes in Thailand
One that many people don't know about is Destination Air - they have seaplane services between Phuket, Phi Phi, Krabi, Koh Lanta and more. Charters can be arranged. It's ideal if your flight connections don't match with ferry times, or if you just want to get there right now with no messing around in taxis and boats. And the view is good.
• Destination Air
• Seaplane to Phi Phi on Jamie's Phuket
Phuket International Airport is not very large, has a single runway, single terminal and the queues at immigration can be long in peak season. The airport is in the north of Phuket and it often surprises visitors that the taxi ride to their hotel is so long. It can take an hour to reach the south of Phuket where the main tourist beaches are found. It's also about an hours drive to Khao Lak, but in the other direction. The nearest beaches to the airport are Nai Yang, Mai Khao and Naithon.
• Phuket Airport Information
• Phuket Airport - Live Flight Status
From Phuket Airport, you have a choice of transportation to reach your hotel. Some people complain about taxis being a rip off, but I think 500 - 600 Baht for a 40km ride is pretty reasonable. There are airport limos, metered taxis (which tend to work out a little cheaper), or you can arrange pick up in advance with your hotel, dive center etc... Booking your taxi in advance is a great stress saver. Its nice to walk out of the terminal and see someone holding up your name!
Cheaper options - you can take a shared minibus which departs when full and charges about 160 - 180 Baht per person to the southern beaches. Cheaper, but slower. You might be lucky and be the first to drop off, or you might be the last. Also, you are almost sure to be dropped first at a travel agent who will try to sell you tours or a room if you've not already arranged it. The taxi and minibus drivers get commission. Again, a prearranged private pick up has the advantage - they will take you directly where you want to go.
There is now an airport bus service too, but this runs only into Phuket City and not to the beaches. Very cheap - just 85 Baht from airport to town. If you plan on staying in Phuket Town, great. If you then want to get to the beaches, you have to take a tuk tuk or taxi from the bus station which will cost around 300 Baht.
• Phuket Airport Bus Service
Long Distance Bus Services
Thailand has a very good bus service. I have taken the VIP buses many times, you are well looked after and if it's a night bus you can almost sleep. Buses are the preferred method of travel for budget travelers, though the prices offered by the budget airlines these days are very tempting. Fly from Bangkok in 80 minutes or take a 12 hour overnight bus...? A bus in the day time means you can see some countryside, though the VIP buses tend to be almost non stop so you don't see much local life. If you really want to mingle with the masses, take a cheaper 2nd class bus or even a non aircon bus for shorter trips.
Warning: There are many reports on travel forums about bags going missing or items being stolen on long bus rides, especially those organised by private companies and especially
those booked in backpacker areas like Khao San Road, Bangkok. Better to book the bus at the bus station yourself. The government run VIP buses are excellent. The private companies take advantage of the sheep mentality of many backpackers. If you take the buses that the locals take, you should not have any problems. But its common sense when traveling to carry all really valuable stuff on your person and not in checked luggage, right? A good way to put a thief off is to pack your dirty laundry on the top of your backpack. Makes sure it's nice and stinky.
The Phuket Bus terminal is in Phuket City within walking distance of many hotels and guesthouses. There is talk of building a new terminal north of the center which the taxi drivers will love! If arriving by bus and needing onward transfer to the beaches, there are plenty of taxis waiting for you.
• Phuket Bus Time Table
• Government Bus Website
Ferry Services to Phuket
Phuket is an island. True, but it's only just an island and is connected to the mainland by Sarasin Bridge. Nevertheless, if coming to Phuket from islands such as Phi Phi or Koh Lanta, you'll need a ferry. There's ferries from Krabi too, but you can also take a bus from there. There are 2 ferries per day between Phuket and Phi Phi. From Phi Phi departing 09:00 and 14:30. The ferry takes about 90 minutes. The Rassada ferry terminal is right in the east of Phuket City, not really walkable from the center, but if you buy tickets for the ferry in advance from a travel agent they will normally include onward transfer to your hotel. It can easily take 45 minutes in traffic to get from the terminal to Phuket's main west coast beaches.
• Ferry Services - Timetables and Online Booking
Choo Choo Ch-Boogie
Dear train lovers... Sorry there are no trains to Phuket. The nearest you can get is Surat Thani, which is about 3-4 hours away by bus.
• State Railway of Thailand - Southern Timetable
• Guide to Train Travel in Thailand
If there is any travel information I have missed here or any links that would be useful, please do leave a comment. Enjoy Phuket!