Phuket transportation: Everything you need to know

Phuket is well-known for its countless attractions, from powdery beaches and exuberant nightlife to day trips and the surrounding islands. However, many travelers don’t know their transportation options in Phuket.

Sure, the next tuk-tuk in Phuket is never far. But luckily, you have more choices for getting around Phuket than honking tuk-tuks.

Phuket transportation

Keep reading for the other ways to crisscross Phuket, from cheap buses to not-so-cheap Phuket taxis.

Ride the Smart Bus

Phuket's Smart Bus

If you’re not in a rush, using the Phuket Smart Bus is the best way to get around Phuket. It departs at Phuket airport and takes you southwards along the west coast, stopping at beaches like Patong, Karon, and Kata for 170 baht ($5.15), or 100 baht ($3) for Phuket Rabbit Card holders. It operates every 90 minutes daily. The scheduled travel time from the airport to Rawai, the last destination, is two hours and 15 minutes. Mind you, if the streets are gridlocked, it can be three hours or more.

There are also other buses in Phuket, like the airport bus that takes you from the airport to the Phuket Bus Station 1 for 150 THB in about one and a half hours.

Hail a taxi-meter or Grab cab

a red and yellow taxi in Phuket

Taximeter cabs wait at every corner, whether in front of shopping malls like Central Festival in Phuket Town or near Patong’s infamous Soi Bangla nightlife street. You can also use Grab Phuket and hail them via the app. Uber is history in this place, so use Grab instead.

The Grab app is available almost everywhere on the island but not at the airport. So, you’ll need a taxi from Phuket airport to get to your accommodation.

While not as colorful as the tuk-tuks in Thailand, Grab taxis come with some benefits. There’s air conditioning, the seats are considerably more comfortable, and you won’t have to haggle. In addition, they are the most straightforward form of public transportation to get you to Phuket’s seven trendiest cafes

Rent a car

Car rental in Phuket is another form of transport and a popular one for good reason. Picture yourself driving a car along the coast, marveling at the palm-fringed coastland curving inwards.

It’s much safer than riding a scooter, and it can carry up to four people and some luggage. You can reserve conveniently and affordably online before you arrive, but make sure to rent from a reputed international company with a well-known name and proper insurance. Full comprehensive insurance can come in handy as the tiniest scratch can be costly and a waste of vacation time for sure.

Ride a scooter

Scooters are available from 250 baht ($7.55) per day—sometimes 200 if you’re lucky. If you manage to avoid crashes, it’ll save you a lot of bucks you can spend otherwise. Imagine feeling the wind in your hair as you weave through Patong’s stop-and-go traffic. 

Although, you’d better wear a helmet. The cops wait in all the touristy areas, ready to give you a ticket for not wearing a helmet, a facemask, or not carrying an international driver’s license. Also, take pictures or videos when you rent a bike, as Thailand’s scratch trick scam still exists, unfortunately.

Ride the blue bus

A blue bus in Phuket

Phuket’s blue wooden truck-reminiscent bus, also known as a songthaew in Phuket, is the oldest local bus. If you’re wondering how to get from Phuket Town to Patong and don’t want to shell out for a taxi, the blue bus is for you. It runs between Phuket Town’s historical commercial hub, the Central Market at Ranong Road, and various places across the island, such as Nai Harn Beach in the island’s south.

The blue bus can take you from Phuket Town to various beaches. However, strangely enough, it doesn’t travel up and down the coast between the beaches. It runs from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. every 30 minutes or so and costs next to nothing at 30-50 baht ($0.90-1.50).

As an aside, there’s also a pink bus that takes you around Phuket town for a paltry five baht (¢0.15).

Jump on a tuk-tuk

red Tuk-tuks in Phuket

Our Phuket transportation guide wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the tuk-tuks

Phuket’s tuk-tuks are pretty different from Bangkok’s quirky, three-wheeled autorickshaws; they’re Daihatsu four-wheelers you can access from the back. 

While tuk-tuk rates are advertised on boards near the main beaches, you’ll have to drive a hard bargain to get a cheap ride. The drivers often charge 200 baht ($6) as a minimum, even if only for a couple of hundred meters. Still, Phuket’s tuk-tuks with impressive sound systems and bright neon lights are popular with young travelers who use them for a night on the town. 

Also, note that the tuk-tuks’ various colors ranging from red and yellow to pink and purple have no difference in meaning; they’re probably to attract tourists’ attention.

Ready to pack your bags? The honking tuk-tuks are just around the corner. And they’re waiting to take you to all of these unique things to do in Phuket, Thailand.

If you have a couple more weeks to travel, our Thailand itinerary has all sorts of good info about the country’s hotspots.

FAQ

Do I need to have a scooter license to rent a scooter?

Legally yes. But there are plenty of shops that will rent you a scooter without one. However, the cops, who will undoubtedly pull you over, are looking for the correct license. Without it you will get a ticket.

How much time should I spend in Phuket?

Between 3-7 days is the perfect amount of time.

What do I need to rent car in Phuket?

You’ll need a valid international driver’s license and a passport.

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