Getting Around Phuket
The best way to get around Phuket is by tuk-tuk, though occasionally you might have to rely on another mode of travel, such as a taxi or rental car, if you want to travel beyond the town in which you're basing your vacation. Not only is a tuk-tuk (a small yellow or red truck) the most atmospheric of all transportation options, it's also one of the most convenient – they're absolutely everywhere. Still, they can be expensive for trips outside of town, and a metered taxi, songthaew or rental car might be a better option.
To reach Phuket, most travelers fly into Phuket International Airport (HKT), which is located at the island's northern end. Most of the accommodations are congregated in the south around Patong, Kata, Karon and Phuket Town. Travelers should check if their hotel offers an airport shuttle, and if not, they can hop in an airport bus, which takes travelers to Phuket Town. A taxi is probably the easiest and most efficient way to traverse the distance between the airport and accommodations. Although there are vans and minibus operators that offer rides from the airport to these southern locations, it can be hard to decipher which ones are reputable. If your hotel does not offer a shuttle service, ask if the concierge can recommend any reputable van or minibus operators.
Travelers can rent cars through Avis, Budget, Hertz and a number of other operators at the Phuket International Airport, but they can also rent them through their hotels – usually at a slightly discounted rate. Travelers should obtain and carry an international driving permit, which you can get from AAA, along with their native country's license. Visitors should keep in mind that in general the roads in Phuket are poorly marked and maintained, so consulting a GPS and several maps is highly recommended. Drivers should also note that speed limits are posted in kilometers.
Taxis are becoming increasingly more common in Phuket, and they're one of the best ways to get from the airport to your accommodations. Still, finding a metered taxi can be somewhat difficult, but using the Grab smartphone app, which operates much the same as Uber, can help.
A tuk-tuk, which is a yellow or red truck, is probably the most common way to get around in Phuket, but you'll likely have to haggle for your rate. Keep in mind that fares within town shouldn't cost more than 50 Thai baht (about $1.50) though some might charge a flat fee of about 100 Thai baht (around $3). You can hail them down like you would a taxi.
To travel between beaches, a songthaew – basically a pickup truck that's been converted into two rows of seats – is a great option, as it's much cheaper than a tuk-tuk (since the ride is shared among many passengers). These songthaews stop at the bus stops in popular beach towns, and they tend to operate from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and charge around 25 Thai baht (less than $1) per person for a ride.
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