Traveling to and from nightlife zones or even touring around Phuket isn’t always as straight forward as it seems, especially if you’re on a tight budget. From the mafia run Taxis and Tuk-Tuks to the local ‘public transport’ song-theaos there are many options, and depending on where you are and what your plans are it’s hard to decide exactly what to do.
The easiest way to start is to decide whether you can drive yourself around or want to have some one drive you…
Taxis, Tutk Tuks, motorcycle taxis and personal drivers are all on offer depending on your requirements (budget, comfort/safety level).
The first thing on offer out of the airport, and available at all the tourist areas around Phuket. Generally not the cheapest option as they have set rates that can vary from place ot place and the time of day/night. It is possible to find meter taxis which are a fairer price. With the set rate taxis it is sometimes possible to haggle the price down especially if it’s obvious that there are no customers, but remember to keep smiling and treat it as a game. Serious haggling will get you nowhere!
A little cheaper than the taxis (but not much!) these are good for short trips, as they can get uncomfortable over longer distances. Again, haggling is possible.
The cheapest option, but the most dangerous, especially if you’re not used to riding on the back of a motorcycle. Haggle the price and use the opportunity to check whether the driver is in good condition to drive (he could be too tired, or even drunk!)
The big bright blue buses that you will see driving around the island are the preferred mode of transport for budget conscious Thais and tourists alike. The buses have no set bus stops, so it is possible to flag them down, and they have their destination written in English on the front and side, so you can make sure you’re going the right way! These are very cheap, and you will usually be charged the same rate as the Thai sitting next to you.
It is possible to hire a car and driver for the day for a very reasonable price, and is possible the best option if you want to travel to several places, or if you need the driver to wait for you (for example whilst you’re in the zoo, or at the beach). Have a search online and there are plenty of recommendations to be found for local drivers, and this is the best way to find drivers with good track records that you can trust.
DIY – Rent a vehicle
Make sure you bring your international drivers license when you come to Thailand and this becomes a very practical alternative to finding your way around the island during your stay. When you do hire a vehicle, make sure that you’re happy with the insurance cover first, and make sure that the excess you would have to pay in the event of an accident isn’t too much.
The downside of this option is if you plan to drink. The chance of you being stopped by the police is small, but because of the craziness of the roads, it’s usually best to choose a designated driver, or decide to use the taxi option when out at those late night parties!
A variety of cars can be rented per from 500THB – 2000THB in low season, and 600-3000THB in high season. Discount for longer rentals are always available, and it’s always worth trying to bargain the price down. Hiring for a month can cost from 12,000THB up, and so it can sometimes be worth hiring for the month, depending on the length of your stay.
Jeeps are very common on the island, and are often the cheapest option available. They are a good option, unless you have a large group, as they can start to struggle going up some of the steeper hills on the island!
A variety of bikes can be hired, from small scooters, to big choppers and Harleys. The smaller scooters can be rented for as little as 150THB per day but this depends on the age/quality of the bike, the engine size and whether they are manual or automatic gears (auto is more expensive). Remember to get a well fitting helmet from the hire shop, but as an alternative, you can buy good quality helmets from the local super stores for as little as 700THB.