From the outside, Phuket is known as this coastal paradise that's unlike any other. White sandy shorelines, crystal clear seas, lots of luscious greeneries everywhere, and more. With such a beautiful image to look forward to, it's no wonder many often go here for vacation. Some would even go so far as to relocate here too. However, The paradise that is Phuket is only one part of the actual destination. Phuket is also a busy and bustling metropolis too, albeit less sprawling than Bangkok. And in order to travel all around here, you'll need to familiarize yourself with its public transport.
Getting to Phuket
When going to a place like Phuket, it's only natural to take a flight or ferry to get here. After all, Phuket International Airport
welcomes both domestic and international flights every day. Taking a plane to go to Phuket is the most obvious and easiest choice. However, if you're coming from other parts of Thailand, you can still get to the island via an intercity bus or minivan. There's actually a bridge that connects Phuket to the mainland and buses coming to and from and other parts of the country pass through it. Whether you're coming from Bangkok or Surat Thani, you can get still get to Phuket via land transportation.
Boarding The Bus
Speaking of buses, those in Phuket are the easiest and most affordable way to get around the city. Unlike the public transport in Bangkok
, the island doesn't have its own metro railway system. There were plans to set up one but because of Covid-19, they've been delayed indefinitely. Fortunately, unlike any metro system, buses can travel to all the different neighborhoods of Phuket
and back. The more common ways have a flat fare of ฿10.00 but if you go for the more luxurious, air-conditioned Phuket Smart Bus
, this will cost you around ฿50.00 to ฿70.00 per ride.
Riding The Songthaew
Now, if you want a more local experience of traveling around Phuket, the city offers two traditional modes of transportation that are practically instilled within the culture of Thailand. The first is Songthaew
, a kind of open-air pick-up truck that locals use to get to where they need to be. With two benches situated on the (often roofed) trunks, songthaews are fairly easy to board and drop off. They mostly follow routes and, unlike regular buses, have no designated stops. It's up to you to tell the driver to stop at your destination along its route.
Getting Around by Tuk-tuk
The other traditionally local vehicle in Phuket is the tuk-tuk. Compared to those in other parts of Thailand, Phuket's tuk-tuks are a lot bigger and more spacious. They have four wheels instead of the usual three and some would even mistake or regard them as mini songthaews. However, unlike the latter, a tuk-tuk only serves only one or one group of passengers at a time. Do note, however, that while they may seem cheaper than regular buses or songthaews, tuk-tuk drivers are notorious for charging high fares. And try as you might, negotiating can only do so little to lower the price. As a rule of thumb, only go for a tuk-tuk when you know your budget can handle it.
Taking a Taxi
In many ways, tuk-tuks are like open-air taxis that go around Phuket and the rest of Thailand. However, they still can't replace the efficacy of standard taxis in busy places like this island. Here in Phuket, the taxis are brightly hued in yellow and red. If you spot one with a red light glowing in the front window, it means the taxi has no passenger and you can get it while you can. They often stay within the busier parts of the city so if you want better chances to get a taxi, you'll want to go there.
Renting a Vehicle
Of course, in a destination like Phuket, you don't always have to be at the mercy of public transport. It's not that they're inefficient or anything but more often than not, relying on them means that you'll need to abide by their timetables and pay their fares. At least, if you rent a vehicle yourself, you can travel around Phuket at your own pace and you only have to pay for it once. There are a ton of great car and motorbike rentals in Phuket. Phuket101
listed down some of the great local and international ones that you ought to check out.
Island-Hopping by Boat
Part of the Phuket experience is to go island-hopping. In fact, it's in the area's more remote little islets that you'll find the most stunning beaches in the world. And to get there, you'll need to take a ferry or boat. Luckily, you can easily find one along Rassanda Pier, the main port of Phuket. This particular harbor is always lined with oats and ferries you can rent right then and there and they don't cost that much money. But during monsoon seasons, however, expect frequent cancellations and fewer available services.
Although Phuket is far from Bangkok, it's still as modern as the Thai capital. This mostly means that the many conveniences you have in Bangkok, you can still get in Phuket, especially transportation apps. If you find it hard to get a taxi and you don't want to ride an overpriced tuk-tuk, you can always book a ride using a ride-hailing app. The main app to use here is Grab
, which offers different options such as a private luxury car, a standard taxi, or even carpooling. It works just as well in Phuket as it would in Bangkok.
Phuket is a lot more complex than you probably realize. One of the first things you ought to do when you get here is to familiarize yourself and get used to public transport. Only then will you be able to explore the city with little to no problem at all.
Once you've memorized everything about Phuket's public transport, you can finally get around and go back to your luxury home
here as quickly as possible.