Some of the most popular beaches in Phuket are the cities of Patong, Karon and Kara. Sometimes they get the reputation of seedy and unsafe party cities and of course one can certainly find these elements there, but they also have respectable hotels and budget places from which to enjoy the heart of the beach and pulse of the cities.
Transfers from these cities to the airport can be overwhelming or daunting for tourists, it is not because options don’t exist, but probably that there is such an abundance of ways to get there and many people go unprepared that tourists pay high prices or are taken advantage of by some companies.
First of all understand that if you have the proper price in mind for the right transfer service and you insist on paying what is fair, you will find good rates. It simply takes patience to find the right taxi or shuttle service at the airport, you may walk away from or turn down certain offers to find a fair price. This is part of the experience, so don’t be offended or overwhelmed, there are many legitimate carriers to choose from.
Some hotels offer complimentary transfer and some hotels offer it for a fee. The rates vary but they can be competitive with other transit options, so consider them. It certainly is the most stress free because your driver is employed by or contracts with the hotel. Work out a solid price in communication while booking or before you even arrive, your payment should always go through the hotel not the driver. Rates usually start at 1700 baht.
This is the most direct option from the airport when going without pre-arranged transport. The taxi stand is located outside of the Phuket airport main terminal building of the far right as you exit the terminal.
Fares to Patong are around 800 baht, Kata/Karon 900 baht plus a 100 baht airport surcharge. The ride lasts 40 minutes to Patong Beach, and around one hour to Kata and Karon. Prices may fluctuate in high season, it is good to have contact information for your hotel handy, since there are thousands the driver may not be exactly familiar and insist on the use of the meter. You can get a voucher from the taxi booth, don’t engage anyone but the booth officials, others standing around will just charge you a commission for referring you.
Mini Vans and Limousines:
Limousines are just private car companies, that is fancier taxi services. Prices are a little more than metered taxis. Mini Vans are a good affordable option in which one shares a ride with others going to a similar destination. The only drawback is waiting at the airport for the van to fill up, then stopping at an office where people are reshuffled into vans departing to various cities. Then the mini vans will stop at 4 or 5 hotels. Everything is paid ahead of time and rates can vary from 300 baht per person up to 800baht per person depending on the deal you get.
The Buses are the mostaffordable option but the most restrictive in terms of when the bus runs and you will not be taken to your hotel directly, but a bus station. It runs only to Patong and it drops off at the airport itself between the hours of 8am and 8pm roughly. Cost is 120 baht.