Most air arrivals to Phuket are from Bangkok. Thai Airways (www.thaiairways.com), Bangkok Airlines (www.bangkokair.com), AirAsia (www.airasia.com) and Nok Air (www.nokair.com), a subsidiary of Thai Airways, all offer services from the capital. Flying time is around 80 minutes. There are several charter airlines that fly direct from Europe to Phuket and there also services from Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Penang, Singapore, and Sydney.
Tiger Airlines, one of Asia’s no-frills operators, has a daily morning flight between Singapore’s Changi Airport and Phuket using Airbus 320s with 180 seats in an all-economy configuration. Tickets can be bought on the Internet (www.tigerairways.com) or by phone. Budget carrier AirAsia (www.airasia. com) also offers service from Singapore.
The airport works well and there are nice bars and shops to peruse. Normally, airports are expensive places to eat. Not so Phuket, where the prices are the same as elsewhere on the island.
We’re not suggesting you add the airport to your sightseeing agenda but if you do get delayed there are worse places to spend an hour or so. However, once you pass through the immigration control and pay your 500 Baht departure tax, the shops and bars on the airside are not as pleasant as those inside the terminal.
If you fly into Bangkok from a foreign destination and are in transit to Phuket, customs and immigration facilities are avoided in Bangkok and you take care of the formalities in Phuket. Because of the large number of people arriving in this manner, and the shortage of immigration officers on the island, there were delays in the past of up to two hours. It is a problem the airport is struggling to solve. The government does respond to complaints but not always as quickly as it should. After flying halfway around the world, nobody enjoys standing in line waiting for your official welcome to the land of silk and smiles.
Buses, both with and without air conditioning, leave Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal for Phuket several times daily. The trip, normally leaving in the evening, takes about 13 hours.
From Bangkok take Highway No. 4 (Phetchakasem Road) through Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon, Surat Thani and Phang-nga, then cross Sarasin Bridge to Phuket Island. The total distance is 862 kilometers and will take about 12 hours. There are several small inexpensive hotels en route if you want to break the journey. Be warned though, even the most adventurous traveller might need a couple of days to recover from this trip.
There is no direct train service to Phuket. Travellers by train must get off at Phun Phin railway station in Surat Thani and continue by regular bus to Phuket.
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