Phuket is the most accessible and most frequented of the Thai islands.
Whether you choose to find a quiet beach to unwind on, go on a boat tour adventure through exotic waters or hit up Patong with its infamous nightlife of go-go dancers and lady boys, there’s an activity to suit your travel style here.
There are numerous direct flights on both budget and luxury carriers to Phuket from Australia. Alternatively, you can choose to fly through another Thai city, such as Bangkok to enter Phuket.
Destinations include Gold Coast, Port Douglas, Bali, Phuket, Fiji, Vietnam and Hawaii. Sample packages include a 5-night stay in Surfers Paradise for $299 (Regularly $579) and a 5-night package to Fiji for $999 (Regularly $2,101).
Generally, public transportation is not commonly used by tourists, but it is the cheapest option to get from one of the main beaches to Phuket Town and vice versa.
While you can rent one, cars aren't typically hired either as it's often more expensive than other forms of transport like taxis and tuk tuks which can be hired from tourist shops and resorts. These can take you to all of the major attractions on the island in less time than public transport and still be affordable.
Motorbike taxis are ideal for nearby destinations. There's also an option to rent a motorbike and head to sights on your own.
Phuket public transport
Types of transport: Local open-air buses are referred to as song taews and are painted bright blue. They run regularly from 7am–6pm between the main beach areas like Patong to Phuket Town. The destinations are written on the outside of the bus in English and they have no stops so you can catch them anywhere along their route. Your best bet to catch one is at the tourist police box across from Bangla Road in Patong and on Ranong Road across from Thai Airways in Phuket Town.
Paying for transport: You can pay for the bus in cash on boarding.
Getting to and from the airport: No public buses run from Phuket Airport. The Airport Bus is infrequent but has a fixed, reliable schedule and can take you to Phuket Town for THB90–100. Taxis or mini buses cost THB100–200 while a private taxi can cost up to THB500.
Best apps for getting around: Currently there are no apps for public transportation in Phuket. The Grab app is similar to Uber and can be used to get cheap, private transportation.
Phuket car hire rental companies
Avis, Budget, Hertz, Europcar, Sixt and Thai Rent A Car are available for car hires at Phuket Airport. Use DriveNow to compare prices and find the best deal.
Taxis, tuk tuks and rideshare
Taxi: From the airport there is one limousine service with a fixed rate. Other taxis are metered and can also be found around town. THB100 is charged for taxis going to or from the airport. Metered taxis are difficult to flag down on the road so it is best to pre-book. Most taxis ask for a fixed rate though these prices can be bargained down.
Tuk tuks: An open-air vehicle that sits passengers in the back on benches, tuk tuks are common and a cheap option for transportation. Always agree on the price before you leave for both fixed price taxis and tuk tuks.
Rideshare: Grab is the most-used rideshare service in Thailand. It offers both car and motobike rides. Uber is currently not available in Phuket.
Airport transfers in Phuket
Avoid the hassle of finding a taxi or booking a mini bus at the airport by booking an airport transfer in advance.
Thai cuisine caters to all food lovers with food ranging from spicy to sweet. The amount of spices and flavours in each bowl create a delicious, mouth-watering dish that you'll be craving even when you're back home.
Whether you go north or south, world famous dishes like pad thai will be everywhere. But each region is home to unique dishes that are made best in each area. Be sure to try some street food as well as it is always the cheapest and is often some of the best.
Food tours and cooking classes
With so many dishes unique to the country, there is no better place to try a cooking class. From exotic fruits to new spices, a food tour will show you the flavours behind famous Thai dishes.
Yes, Phuket is a province within Thailand and one the country's main resort areas. It's located just off the west coast of Thailand on the Andaman Sea and is connected to the mainland by a bridge.
Is Phuket affordable compared to Australia?
If you compare the prices in Australia with those in Phuket, the overall costs in Phuket are significantly lower. Let's look at some of the examples of pricing difference for a better perspective.
In Australia we'd usually pay about $80 for a three-course meal for 2 people, whereas in Phuket you'd be looking at something closer to $26.40 for the equivalent.
Draught beer is more affordable too, as it would usually be in the region of $7 in Australia, whereas Phuket prices are more like $2.79 (averaged out).
For coffee we'd expect to pay in the region of $4, and in Phuket you'd be more likely to pay around $3.
Generally, public transportation and taxi services are cheaper than back home too but fuel costs are substantially higher in price.
Dairy products like milk and cheese will seem incredibly overpriced compared to what we pay in Australia.
Where should I stay in Phuket?
There are plenty of accommodation options on offer in Phuket and where to stay really depends on what you're looking for.
Patong Beach has an amazing party atmosphere and is great for those travelling on a budget, although it's not really ideal if you're looking to relax or for somewhere to stay with your family.
Kata Beach is popular with surfers and divers. It offers an well-rounded holiday experience ideal for families and young travellers alike. Nightlife is on offer but it's a little tamer than that in Patong Beach.
Kamala Beach is ideal for relaxation. It's peaceful and quiet, which makes it popular with retirees.
Mai Khao Beach is luxury and serenity at its finest, which makes it the ideal spot for honeymooners.
Does Phuket have an airport?
It does indeed. Phuket International Airport is situated in the north of Phuket Island, approximately 32 kilometres from the centre of Phuket City. Direct flights are available from Melbourne and Sydney. To get to Phuket from other Australian cities, you're likely to connect in Singapore, Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur.
Phuket: how do you pronounce it?
The 'h' in Phuket is silent, so you would just pronounce it as 'Poo-ket'.
Is Phuket safe?
Phuket is relatively safe for travellers in general. As always though, it's important to be aware of the hazards at risk during your stay.
Beaches. Phuket was one of the places devastated by the 2004 tsunami. Tides are unpredictable and you should exercise caution when swimming.
Jellyfish. Some of Phuket's beaches have been taken over by box jellyfish. If you spot one, get out of the water. If you get stung, seek immediate medical assistance.
Mosquitoes. Dengue fever is present in Phuket and can be transmitted by mosquitoes. Always wear mosquito repellant.
Electrical shock risks. Electrical systems are not always properly grounded and Phuket's power lines can be a tangle of wires, so take care and watch where you are stepping especially when visiting during the wet season.
Crime. In order to prevent yourself from falling victim to crime, take the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of your personal possessions. Keep your bag and phone out of sight when out and about. Also, exert due diligence when drinking in bars. Do not leave your drink unattended.
Culturally different from what we're used to, there are a few do's and don'ts to keep in mind during your trip to Phuket.
Visiting religious sites. You should not wear beach clothes to a temple and shoes should be removed before entering any building containing a Buddha image. Men will need to wear hats, and women should cover their heads with a shawl. Women should not touch monks or hand anything directly to a monk.
The Monarchy. Thai people hold the monarchy and in particular the King of Thailand in the greatest respect. As a visitor, you are expected to demonstrate respect also. For example, standing for the Royal Anthem before the movie at the cinema is customary. Disrespectful comments towards the monarchy are not tolerated at all, and considered to be a serious crime.
Other important etiquettes:
Thais greet each other by pressing their palms together in a prayer-like gesture called a "wai". The younger person greets the older, who then returns it. However, an adult should not wai a child. Thais will greatly appreciate it if you practice this part of their culture during your visit.
The feet are considered the lowest part of the body by Thais, both physically and spiritually and are therefore not to be used for anything other than walking. They are not to be used for pointing at anything. The head is the highest part of the body so refrain from patting children on the head. One of the worst things you can do is to point your feet at someone's head, even accidentally.
Shoes should be removed before entering a Thai person's home. It is also quite common to remove shoes before entering some shops and offices. If there is a pile of shoes outside, that indicates that you are expected to remove your footwear before entering.
Stephanie Yip is the travel editor at Finder and has been writing about travel and lifestyle for over a decade. She has written for Travel Weekly, Escape, Showpo, The Nibbler and Hostelworld. She was also the editor of kids magazine DMAG. Stephanie has a Bachelor of Communications from the University of Technology Sydney and has visited 55 countries (and counting).
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