How to Use Phuket Transport
Phuket is a popular landing spot for tourists and for good reasons. It has a vibrant culture, food, activities and nightlife, which make it a great location for those who are looking for an adventure. The island has a lot to offer, but you will need to learn how to get to them. Here’s a quick guide on how to travel around Phuket.
The open-sided buses run from the Old Town to the main beaches in Patong, Kamala and Karon. These buses are cheap and reliable, but they aren’t very fast. There’s no express bus, so they take a lot of detours to reach all the stops along the way. This is good if you have some time to kill. You get to see Phuket in a down-to-earth way, and you will get to see the lifestyle of the people on the Island. However, the buses don’t run from the beach towns to the centre of Phuket so you will need to find another way. The buses depart from the main bus terminal or Talad Sod market on Ranong Road. You can also find air-conditioned buses in Phuket. These buses run between Big C and Phuket Vocational College, and between Rajaphat Institute and Laemchan Public Health Centre. These ACed buses are mainly used by locals though so you won’t see a lot of tourists on there.
Be mindful though, that these buses run throughout the day, and will typically finish at around 7 p.m. Local tuk-tuks will try to scam tourists by saying that there are no more buses, and they will charge them ridiculous prices for a short trip. Don’t fall for them and be patient. Buses come every 10 minutes during the day and every 20 minutes during the low hours.
Songthaews are converted pick-up trucks, and they are very common, as they can be found in almost every province in Thailand. The name means “two rows”, referring to the two rows of seats that are placed in the trunk. The trunk is also fitted with a roof so you won’t have to worry about the blazing heat too much. While they have set routes, they don’t have real stops, meaning that you will have to hail the driver and tell them where you want to go. However, just like the buses, there are no songthaews that run from the coast to the central area of Phuket. You will need to find other ways to connect to these areas via Phuket Town.
It’s very common that you will be dropped off in the towns. These are where the exploitative tuk-tuks and taxi drivers are, so you need to have a GPS in hand. Check for where the closest bus stations are, as sometimes it’s just a short walk away.
Tourists expect to see tuk-tuks everywhere in Thailand, and while it’s not an old tradition for Phuket to have tuk-tuks, but it is now. These are by far the most expensive way to travel on the island, and they often charge steep prices for their services. You can try to negotiate with the driver, but most of the time it will be useless. If you decide to take the ride, you should know the fares beforehand, as this is one of the most common tactics they will use. They will often offer to take you to jewellery shops and pearl stores around the island. You are not obliged to say yes, so if you don’t want to, just deny it. Do not, at no circumstances, yell and scream at the driver for poor service, as it will not do you any good. Try to be civil, calm and collected when negotiating with them. We know it reflects badly on the island that this scammy business is a thing, but we hope that it’s dealt with soon.
Surprisingly, taxis are actually cheaper than tuk-tuks. While it’s still rather pricey, but at least it’s not as steep. The general rule in Thailand is that if the taxi has a red light on their dashboard, then they are ready for service. During peak hours, it can be quite difficult to find a taxi so you need to be mindful of that. There are taxi stands around the major tourist spots and hotels in Phuket, which might cost a slightly higher flat rate instead of a meter fare to go somewhere. You can negotiate for some sort of day trip and have them as your driver for a day. This is a good way to travel around Phuket, as you are free to go wherever you want.
We recommend you jot down the driver’s information and their contact number and live chat accounts like Line. This can be a lifesaver when you can’t find a taxi. You can also make an appointment with them yourself to avoid involving a hotel which might ask for extra fees.
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