Getting Around in Phuket, Thailand

Travelling around the island is not as convenient or cheap as you might expect. Unless you are staying in a busy resort area such as Patong or Karon, it won't always be possible to just flag down a tuk tuk and buses only run during the day and mostly do not connect up the main beaches. Using the taxi service supplied by your hotel is probably the easiest option followed by renting a car or motorbike.

Bus

  • Phuket Bus Station

    The most reliable buses from Bangkok are the public BKS, buses from the Southern Bus Terminal to Phuket. The journey takes 13 hours and costs between 650-950 baht. There are also some private bus companies, Phuket Travel Tour, Phuket Central Tour and Phuket Travel Service. The TAT next door offers the same for around 1,100 baht.

    There are a few modern air-conditioned buses that operate along routes in Phuket City but do not go to other parts of the island. The fare is fixed at 10 baht. There are designated bus stops, but you are able to flag them down along the route as well. You can also get off anywhere by pressing the buzzer.

    Bus #1: Route runs between Big C Department Store and Archeewa College, via Bangkok Road, Phuket Bus Terminal, and Phuket Road.

    Bus #2: Route runs between Rajabhat University and Lamchan Health Centre, via Supercheap Department Store, Phuket Provincial Prison, Phuket Bus Terminal, and Central Market.

Taxi

  • Phuket Taxi Meter

    +66 81 958 2791

    Often sitting in front of hotels insist hotel calls metered taxi ONLY. Plan ahead get metered taxi numbers. Ph 076 From Thailand Tourism website. Recommended to use a metered taxi only. Occasionally a Thai taxi will attempt to charge you a fixed rate and it may be difficult for you to know if it is a reasonable price; it is recommended that you use a metered taxi whenever possible. It is much safer and you will avoid putting your self in danger.

Car Rental

  • THAI RENT A CAR

    +66 (0) 87 50 50 50

    Exploring a foreign country by car is fun and easy, while getting to grips with the workings of public transportation abroad may be time-consuming and quite stressful, especially when you're pressed by time or are traveling with the family. With THAI RENT A CARl in Thailand, you can see Thailand on your own terms.

    The cheapest option for renting a car are the small Suzuki jeeps that are found parked along the side of the road in busy areas such as Patong. Prices for these start at about 800 baht per day, slightly less if its low season. You should also get discounts for longer rental periods

Driving

Distance unit
Metric (km/h)
Traffic system
Left-hand drive

Traffic Patterns

Here are few things about road sense and manners, especially for those who have never been here before, that might prove useful when planing to drive in Phuket.

Do plan in advance if you are thinking of renting a vehicle in Phuket. You need a licence, and your ordinary national licence is not valid in Thailand. Get an international licence for the type of vehicle - motorbike or car - that you plan to rent. Do rent from reputable companies if you want to avoid unnecessary drama during your holiday. This can be a bit of a problem with bikes, because they are all rented by small outfits with no international (or even national) reputation.


Safety

If there is one piece of advice to keep in mind when driving in Thailand it is this. Don’t assume anything. Just because someone is indicating right, doesn’t mean they won’t suddenly turn left. There is no highway code and driving tests are practically a formality. Therefore, you should always expect other drivers to do things you don’t expect. This includes running lights, not indicating, overtaking on blind corners and anything else you can think of. However, just because the locals drive like this does not mean that you should follow their example!

Cars drive on the left, most of the time. You will see a lot of motorbikes driving down the wrong side of the road in Phuket. Most of the roads are narrow and can have a few potholes, so don’t drive fast. The roads can also become very slippery when wet, so even more care should be taken during the rainy season, especially on motorbikes.

You should keep to the left of the lane when riding a motorbike, and keep an eye for overtaking cars. Most car drivers have an irrational urge to overtake motorbikes, even in queues of traffic. You really need to be alert on a bike. Apart from cars, there are all kinds of things on the roads, dogs for instance, that you don’t want to hit. Any kind of motorbike accident is almost always a bad one.

Larger vehicles have the right of way in Thailand. Coaches and lorries often tear around as if they were the size of motorbikes, everyone else just has to get out of the way. Unfortunately, this is an unwritten rule of the road in Thailand, which doesn’t look like changing any time soon.

Wearing a helmet while riding a motorbike is mandatory and if you are caught without one you will be fined on the spot. Due to the large number of fatalities from motorbike accidents, the local police have stepped up their efforts to enforce this law.

Wearing seatbelts in cars is compulsory for the driver and front passenger. You shouldn’t really need to be told to wear your seatbelt in any case.

The police are increasingly cracking down on drink driving which has been a big problem among both locals and tourists here in Phuket. There are a few police checkpoints around the island where you could be stopped and checked for drink driving using breathalysers.

This has not been intended to scare anyone from venturing onto the roads during their holidays. In fact, renting a car or motorbike is definitely the best way to explore the lovely island that is Phuket, but please take care.

Traditional

5

Tuk-tuks can be found all over Phuket, although they tend to be clustered in large numbers around Patong. Tuk-tuks are basically small red vans, which have open backs and sides, and can carry about five passengers. They are 4-wheeled as opposed to the 3-wheeled version found in Bangkok.

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