Getting around Phuket
Phuket transportation is even a problem for the local folks, Phuket has a very poorly organized transportation system. While Phuket has songthaews that operate around the island, they usually run only until 6pm. After six, you are at the mercy of the “tuk tuk” drivers, motorcycle taxis (you must always negotiate the fare and they don’t always want to go where you want to go – also, not a great choice in the rainy season), negotiated rate taxis or “limousines” and metered taxis (which can be hard to come by).
Phuket’s brand of “tuk tuk”Real “tuk tuks” as you would see them in Bangkok or elsewhere in Thailand are quite rare on Phuket. You are more likely to see and use either a regular car-type taxi – “meter taxis” or “limousines” or small Suzuki or Daihatsu trucks – which the locals call “tuk tuks”
Many people avoid the tuk tuks if they can, they are often quite overpriced – and they really don’t mind charging you as much as possible. Late at night, been drinking, very dark, long way back to the hotel? Probably a BIG CHARGE.
Renting a vehicle short term is an option many people chose. For some reason rental cars on Phuket are often expensive, but if you go with a well-known name brand such as Budget Rent-a-Car – you’ll find just about the lowest rental rates around, good insurance, free on the road service, good vehicle maintenance and vehicles that are safe to drive.
Many of the local car rental companies will not allow you to leave the island with their vehicles – a major problem if you want to take a day trip to Krabi, Khao Lak, or Khao Sok. Rent from Budget Car Rental when you want to take a long trip and wear out somebody else’s car. On Phuket, Budget has offices just outside the airport and in Patong. Don’t worry though, almost every travel agent can arrange a car for you and Budget delivers, you don’t have to go to their office!
If you are going to live on Phuket, the only viable option is to own your own car, truck, or motorcycle. Motorcycles are choice for a large number of people on the island, but be warned that the injury and fatality rates are high, very few people know first aid and ambulances are few and far between.
People who plan to stay on the island for a long time will probably choose to buy a car or truck. For some reason, buying a car or truck in Thailand is more expensive than you might think.. Even used vehicles will be about 50% more than you would expect. However, the positive side is that repairs and maintenance are very inexpensive, vehicle taxes are minimal and insurance costs less than you might think. And living on an island you just won’t put that many miles or kilometers on the vehicle.
You can have your car serviced at the dealer for very good rates. Good quality service is often a mere pittance – perhaps only 25% or less of what you might expect to pay in a “developed” country. And even if you don’t speak Thai, they speak a little English and are quite good at understanding play-acting when you try to explain problems with gestures.