Phuket Public Transport Options


Getting around Phuket is quite easy as most of the beach resorts and hotels are located close to the beach, restaurants and shopping areas. If you’d rather not walk, or if your hotel is not on one of the main beaches, you can either arrange a taxi, songthaew or tuk tuk through your hotel or flag one down in the street.

The polite way to stop one on the street is to hold your arm out in front of you, palm down and make a up and down motion.
If you want to go exploring the island on your own, there are plenty of places to hire cars or bikes (see here) or you can take the local bus. There are two types of buses – the songthaew – blue open-air buses that run between Phuket Town and the main resorts, and air-conditioned “micro” buses that service the Phuket Town area.

Tuk Tuks in Phuket

Phuket Tuk Tuk

The Bangkok style three-wheeled  variety of tuk tuk are now extinct on Phuket and have been replaced with small red vans with open sides.

For short distances tuk tuks are fine, but their small size makes them uncomfortable for anything longer. Tuk tuks used to be cheap, but now in the main resorts areas like Patong, even short distances cost around 100 Baht and from Patong to the airport (a forty five minute ride) can cost 600 Baht.

Always make sure you agree on a price and be clear about your destination before getting in a tuk tuk as many drivers like to act as travel agents. They will normally only take you to a place that will pay them an additional commission over and above what they overcharge you for the ride in the first place.

Quick Tip: Never ask a taxi driver or tuk tuk driver for their recommendation on where to stay, as they will take you somewhere that pays them a commission.

Songthaews in Phuket

Catching a Songthaew in PhuketThese local open-air buses (painted bright blue for easy recognition) run regularly between 7.00am and 6.00pm and have the destination written in English on the outside of the bus. There are no designated bus stops, which means you can stop them anywhere on the route.  The polite way to stop one on the street is to hold your arm out in front of you, palm down and make a up and down motion.

In most areas, your best chance of catching a songthaew is to go to the main part of the town, as sooner or later one will come along.  In Patong, your best spot for catching a bus, is along the beach road outside the tourist police box. In Phuket Town, head for the market on Ranong Road (opposite Thai Airways) where you will find songthaews waiting to go to destinations all over the island. Standard cost for trips to/from Phuket Town to/from locations such as Patong, Surin and Kamala is around 20-25 Baht.

Taxis in Phuket

Phuket Airport TaxiMeter taxis are relatively cheap and hassle free in Phuket. Fares start at 50 baht and go up in increments of 7 baht depending on distance travelled and time. There are currently not that many metered taxis operating in Phuket so it may be difficult to flag one down. However, your hotel should be able to order one for you by phone. Metered taxis from the airport and taxis ordered by phone incur a surcharge.

You may also come across a few unlicensed taxis, especially in busy tourist areas like Patong, Karon and Kata beaches. These are normal looking cars without any special markings. Like tuk-tuks, you must agree on the fare beforehand as drivers will always quote a price much higher than they will accept. If you are planning on visiting a few places, it can be convenient to hire these taxis for the whole day. Expect to pay upwards of 800 baht for 8 hours. Possibly more depending on the time of year and where you want to go.

As is the case with tuk-tuks, unlicensed taxis are prone to stopping at shops along the way, for which they will receive a commission or petrol vouchers. Always insist that they take you to your specified destination.

Here are some tips to keep in mind before you flag down a Tuk Tuk:

  • Be careful of the tuk-tuks ‘mafia’ around touristy areas, who often offer sightseeing tours and unsolicited help to take you places. The same rule applies to taxis.
  • Do take note that some of the tuks tuks driver will make a detour to some jewellery/gem shops along the way so that they can earn a voucher for free gas.
  • It’s essential to bargain the price with tuk-tuks before getting in. If you only ask after the ride, it’s likely to end in a request for an ridiculous fare which can obviously lead to an unpleasant situation.
  • Avoid taking a tuk-tuk during peak traffic hours. You don’t want to be stuck in traffic for hours, breathing in the hazardous exhaust fumes.
  • If possible, get your hotel to write in Thai the name and location of your destination on a slip of paper which you can give the driver.
  • Have a map written in both Thai and English, and point to the place on the map.
  • If one tuk tuk seems to not understand, then say never mind and try the next one.

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Updated: July 9, 2011 by admin

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