Four wheels, two wheels or none? Choose an option that best floats your boat from our transportation guide to getting around in Phuket:
BUSES (SONG TAEWS)
Travelling on a budget? The local buses, otherwise known as song taews, are your best bet. Shuttling around in these non-air conditioned vehicles may not be the most comfortable option, but it is a good way to take in the sights of the town.
Running from 7:00am till 6:00pm daily, the buses don’t operate on a fixed schedule, so it can be hard gauge the traveling time you’ll need. Expect an estimated waiting time of 20 – 30 minutes in between buses. There aren’t designated stops either, so you can stop the driver anywhere along the route. The best chance of catching a bus ride is to wait at a main location or destination in town, where a large number of passengers can be expected to alight or board a bus.
If you’re just a short distance away from your destination, hopping on a motorbike taxi might be your most convenient option. Motorbike taxis are available at all hours of the day, and you’ll easily find clusters of motorcyclists (donning red or green vests) along the streets.
It might not be the safest mode of transport around, so it may require a sense of adventure – particularly if you’re not used to riding pilion. Fares are negotiated before the ride, and will vary depending on your bargaining skills.
Scooting around on your very own motorbike can be extremely liberating – but also rather risky in Phuket. Little attention is paid to traffic rules and regulations here, and there is a tendency of unexpected driving behaviours on the roads, so inexperienced riders may be better off driving a car or getting a motorbike taxi.
If you’re keen on navigating the roads on a scooter or motorbike, make sure you have a Thai or international motorbike license, so a successful claim can be made on insurance in case of mishaps or accidents.
If you prefer traveling with ease and comfort (and have a flexible budget set aside for transportation), getting around by taxi is your best option.
- Metered taxis
It is a challenge getting a metered taxi in Phuket, so expect a rather long wait if you’re flagging down a taxi by the road. Once you’ve hopped on the cab, check that the meter is turned on before the ride begins.
- Private taxis
Rates are negotiated before a ride, and are usually higher than the price of taking a metered taxi.
GrabTaxi is your most convenient option for getting a cab ride. The estimated prices provided by the app is generally accurate, but the final fare will depend on the taxi meter.
Tuk tuks in Phuket are not quite the three wheel vehicles that you see in other parts of Thailand. The island’s hilly and uneven terrain requires transport vehicles that are more sturdy, and you’ll find that the tuk tuks here are more like miniature trucks. Coloured in a striking red or yellow hue, and with a loud sound system and blinking disco lights, these vehicles are hard to miss on the roads – especially when they are usually found in groups waiting outside popular tourist attractions and accommodations.
But beware before you jump right in though! Tuk tuks are known to be one of the most expensive modes of transport on the island. Prices are negotiated before the ride, and make sure you double check on whether the quoted rates are for a single individual or a group. If you’re traveling a long distance, hopping on a metered taxi may be a more comfortable and cost-efficient option.