Getting around Phuket island
The main roads on Phuket are generally in good condition with road signs in both Thai and English. If you drive in south Thailand outside Phuket, you’ll notice most signs are in Thai only.
The main road between north (airport) and Phuket Town have been improved during the last 1-2 years and is now finished.
In case you don’t know in Thailand you DRIVE ON THE LEFT SIDE!
If you plan to rent a motorbike or car, don’t forget to acquire an international driver’s license in your country before you arrive to Thailand.
The police in Patong only enforce the helmet law and have checkpoint at the corner Bangla road and Rat-u-thit road almost daily between 17:00 and 20:00, but the last few months they have often been at the beach road and Sawatdirak road during daytime which makes it hard to know when they will show up. Due to this, many people and taxi drivers begun to wear helmet all the time.
Outside Patong, Kathu and Phuket Town police also enforce the driver’s license law and only a thai- or international driver’s license is valid in Thailand.
The fine is 200-600 baht depending on police district and what rules you are breaking. (In Patong, they mostly charge you 300 baht for not wearing a helmet.)
Motorbikes are the most common transportation on the island and the easiest and cheapest way to get around. Swedish travel agencies recommend tourists NOT TO RENT A VEHICLE due to the many accidents on Phuket every year and also, there is no insurance available for any rental motorbike.
My recommendation is TO RENT if you feel safe and comfortable with a motorbike and the traffic in Thailand. I think this is the best way to get around and explore Phuket by yourself without spending too much money. Phuket is ideal for cruising with a motorbike, but drive SAFE and be aware of that vehicles may turn left or right without using the blinkers and don’t trust the traffic lights, look carefully yourself.
The rental fee is normally 120-150 baht/day in low season and 150-250 baht in high season for a standard motorbike. For a big bike, the rental fee may be 400-800 baht/day.
The rental fee is normally 900 baht/day for a small Suzuki jeep, if you rent weekly you can get lower price. I think rent a car would be a good option for small groups or if you plan to drive long distances. There are insurances available but make sure you read the fine prints.
Motorcycle drivers are usually dressed in a green or orange vest and are available for a short trip taxi service. Simply wave one to a stop and ask for the fare to your destination. The price is normally 20 baht.
hey have become expensive the last few years and they over charge you most of the time. Not that long time ago you could pay 10 or 15 baht for a short trip inside Patong, nowadays they may want to charge 40-50 baht for each person. I don’t know exactly what the standard rate between Patong and Phuket Town would be, but we paid 300 baht last time (March 2000). The standard rate between Karon beach and Patong should be 200/250 baht.
If you want to look around on the island you may hire a driver for half or full day and negotiate a good price, generally around 400-800 baht. But be aware of that he may take you to places that will pay him commissions when he talk about to show you around. You better use other resources and tell him exactly where you want to go and what you want to see.
These buses run daytime (7:00 – 17:00) between the beaches and Phuket Town and cost 10-30 baht. However, these buses do not travel from beach to beach, instead, you must first go to Phuket Town and then change to a bus with your final destination. To stop a songthaew on the street you should wave with your hand or wait for the bus at one of the stops (huts) along the road.
There is a minibus (taxi) and airport limousine service at airport and most hotels also have a minibus for this service. The standard rate for airport limousine from airport to Phuket Town is 360 baht, Patong beach 480 baht (540 baht if your destination is along Nanai road) and Karon beach 540 baht. If you chose minibus the standard rate would be 150 to 200 baht.
Free pickup with minibus
If you buy tickets in advance for some events/tours (Fantasea, Simon Cabaret, Diving daytrips) the transport service to/from your hotel is included free of charge.
Longtail boat and speedboat
Longtails are available on most beaches and are used to provide a number of marine services. While not fast as a modern speedboat, a voyage in a longtail boat is an interesting experience and a great way to take short sightseeing trips. Rental prices average 400 baht per hour for a short trips and up to 1200 baht for a roundtrip to a neighbour beach.