Due to the fact that public transport in Phuket is poorly developed, there is a real problem with cheap transport from Phuket Town to popular beaches of Patong, Karon, Kata, Kamala, etc. Just want to tell you that such a transport is still available and anyone can use it, but there are a number of some complexities that are actually solved easily if you have the necessary information. Therefore, in this article I will tell you how cheap it is to get to the Phuket beaches from Phuket Town, including when you came to the island by bus and found yourself at the new Phuket bus station, from where there are no direct buses to the beaches.
How to get cheap from Phuket Town to the beaches of the island
Due to the fact that local authorities have not been able to defeat the “taxi mafia” of Phuket for many years, even after the military has come to power in the country, there is still no cheap public transport available for passengers on the island. Cheap to get to the beaches of Phuket from the city center can only be on the songthaew – large and very old buses of blue color. In general, by buses such transportation can be called with a stretch: in fact it is a truck with a separate cabin and a separate passenger compartment, in which along the sides there are two benches (often in the center there is one additional). There are no windows and doors in the passenger compartment, so there is no air conditioner.
During the trip, you can breathe fresh air (especially when the exhaust from the ancient motor of this transport blows the wind not in the direction of passengers). It’s good that there is a roof in the transport that protects against rain and sun. By the way, on the roof there is a special platform where large-sized luggage can be fixed. Appearance of such transport you can see in the photo below. Blue-colored buses travel along the routes between Phuket Town and the beaches of the island, and similar pink buses – between bus terminals No. 1 (old Phuket bus station) and No. 2 (Phuket’s new bus station).
The real problem for budget travelers is that there is no cheap bus route between the beaches of Phuket. This means that it is cheap to get from Patong Beach to Karon or Kata Beach, only with a transfer to Phuket Town. Given the fact that the passenger buses in Phuket are not moving very fast (in order to collect more passengers), they make many stops on the route and depart from the final stops not exactly according to the schedule (every half hour), and when the minimum number of passengers is typed, the trip between the indicated ones beaches can take 2.5-3 hours. With the fact that by taxi or when renting a car in Phuket it can be done in 15-20 minutes, and even on foot you can walk faster than on such buses with a transfer in the city.
Big passenger songthaew from Phuket Town to the beaches of the island do not depart from any bus station, but from Ranong Road, which is located next to the Phuket Old City. Those, blue “buses” simply park along Ranong Street and wait for passengers. The main landmarks of the place from where cheap buses go to the beaches are Phuket Town Central Market and the Suriyadej Traffic Circled round area. It is this object or directly Ranong Street that I recommend to use in the navigator on the smartphone while searching for the bus departure point. As a rule, buses for each of the directions are parked in approximately the same places all thr time, so that they are easier to find for local residents and for tourists.
For example, the closest thing to the circular movement you will find is big blue bus to Kamala beach. And if you walk about 150 meters along this street, you will see a blue bus to Patong Beach. A little further will have to pass in order to find an inexpensive bus to the beaches of Karon and Kata. By the way, a good reference point for bus parking to Patong, Karon and Kata beaches is the 7Eleven store on Ranong Road. If you go from the side of the ring traffic, the store will be about 180 meters to the right (the store sign is placed high above the street level). On the left, there will be a sign of the Thai military bank (TMB), as shown in the screenshot.
If you have any problems finding the right bus – just ask the locals or the drivers of the other blue buses. Just do not ask taxi drivers who in their own interests can convince you that there are no cheap buses to the beaches. By the way, routes on most blue buses are written in Thai and are duplicated in English. The easiest way to see the name of the route is from the side in the roof area and on the windshield, but sometimes there is a sign at the back. Since the Blue Route Songthaew from Phuket Town is slow moving, the trip to the beaches rarely lasts less than an hour. Therefore, you can go to 7Eleven before the trip and buy some food and drinks for yourself.
The fare on buses is often indicated on the sides of the vehicle and in the front of the passenger compartment, on the cab. The cost is fixed and does not depend on what distance you are going to drive. For example, a trip from Phuket Town to Patong Beach always costs 30 Thai Baht (THB), which is slightly less than 1 USD as of 2018. Payment can be made in several ways. Sometimes there is a conductor, who take the money immediately at the entrance. Sometimes the conductor collects the board during the stop already during the trip (for example, when bus left outside Phuket Town). Also, there are cases when the fare is collected directly by the driver during a stop in the middle of the route. If you need go out from transport, you need push to the special call in any part of the route. Only it is better not to do it during a steep climb on the serpentine.
How to get to the beaches of Phuket from bus stations # 1 and # 2
Almost all intercity buses in Thailand arrive at the new bus station of Phuket (Bus Terminal 2), which is located outside the city limits. Therefore, all those tourists who first arrive on the island by land transport are very surprised when they do not find direct cheap buses to the beaches. Of course, the easiest way is to take a taxi to the right beach right on the new bus station. But this is very expensive option. Therefore, there is a more complicated way, but it is much more budgetary. It consists in a trip to the beaches on those oldest blue bus-trucks. But the problem is that you still need to get to big buses, and do it on foot because of the long distance is very difficult, especially when the sun shines brightly or it rains, and you have a heavy backpack or suitcase.
Therefore, in cases where you want to save money or just like to travel colorful local life, I recommend the following option: get to the old bus station in Phuket (Bus Station 1 or Bus Terminal 1), and from there get to Ranong Road, where the parking of inexpensive buses to the beaches of Phuket. Perhaps you already searched on the Internet information about cheap transport between the bus stations of Phuket and you were recommended to use city blue passenger pickups, that drive along a wide street directly next to Bus Terminal 2 in Phuket. The fare on this transport is 20 THB. The option has the right to life, but there are some problems.
First, you most likely do not know the Thai language to read the name of the route or ask about the destination of the driver or other passengers. Secondly, such city pickups do not travel very often and you can get a sunstroke, until you wait for this transport. Personally, I at one time waited a very long time for a pickup truck on the road nearby new bus station and generally began to doubt that there are such. And when in 20 minutes I finally saw the right combination (and I need one that goes from right to left, if I stand with my back to Bus Terminal 2 in Phuket), there were no empty seats and I had to stay on the outer step. With one hand I held on to the rail, and the second tried to track the route in smartphone.
As a result, I had to leave the transport somewhere in the middle of the route to the old bus station, because I was not sure that I would get there at all until the parking of cheap buses to the beaches, and on the phone navigator saw that my pick-up turned to the side. Further I had to get to the destination through the Phuket Old town and vegetable markets. Maybe you are more lucky and you can immediately stop the necessary urban passenger pickup that will take you straight to Ranong Road or the old bus station, but just in case I described my adventures so that you had an idea of the possible difficulties and chose a simpler option that I used during the trip in the opposite direction.
In order not to waste time waiting for the right passenger pickup on the road, I recommend using a pink bus directly to Bus Terminal 2. There are many buses and platforms at the new Phuket bus station, so do not waste time searching immediately and go to the platform number 12. Typically, there are waiting for the departure of 1-2 small pink buses that carry passengers between the old and new bus terminals. The appearance of buses you can see in the photo. As a rule, the fare is 15 THB and is paid to the conductor when boarding. The journey takes about 20-25 minutes, depending on the time of day and the traffic situation.
After reaching the bus terminal number 1, it remains to get to Ranong Road and make a landing in a large blue bus to the beach you want. The following is a fragment of the map of Phuket Town with the route between Bus Terminal 1 (the final point on the right) and the bus stop to the beaches of Phuket. As you can see, the distance is about 1300 meters, which you will pass in 15-20 minutes, depending on the weight of your things and traffic signals. The easiest way is to move most of the route along Phangnga Road (a long horizontal section on the map). This is not a very wide street, but with sidewalks and pedestrian crossings.
If you plan leave Phuket by bus, you will also have to get to the new bus terminal (Bus Terminal 2) with a transfer in Phuket Town (if, of course, you want to save money). When traveling to Phuket Town from the beaches of the island, you will be disembarked from a large blue bus next to the Suriyadej Traffic Circled – a small square with a circular traffic, about which I wrote above. Next, you need to get to Bus Station 1 (Bus Terminal 1) and from there cheaply get to the new bus station number 2 and take a bus to Bangkok or another city in Thailand. By the way, in order to purchase a bus ticket in advance without visiting the bus station, I recommend using the international transportation service in Asia (I bought a ticket from Phuket to Bangkok).
Also I remind you that if you decide to get from Phuket airport to Phuket Town by bus, you will also be taken to Bus Station 1 (old bus station) for 90-100 THB (depending on the type of bus). Next, you will either need to use the variant described on this page with large blue buses to make cheap trips to popular beaches or use minibuses. Perhaps the second option will even be preferable in terms of comfort and speed, and the price is quite adequate – 50 THB per person in one direction. In this case, you do not need to waste time searching for bus parking, because air-conditioned minibuses are sent directly from the Bus Terminal 1 platform in Phuket.
Minibuses depart every hour both ways. The first such bus leaves from the bus station at 07:00 in the morning, and the last – at 18:00. At the same time, the first minibus from Patong Beach leaves at 06:00 in the morning, and the last bus to Phuket Town at 17:00. Unfortunately, if you need not a Patong but another beach in Phuket, you will have to use a big blue bus. If you do not want to use such not very simple at first glance ways to get to the beaches of Phuket from Phuket Town, you can rent a car in Phuket or book a cpecial car transfer. The latter option is especially relevant when you arrive in Phuket in the evening or at night, when there is no cheap transport to the beaches at all.
I hope that the information on this page was useful for you and now you know how to get from Phuket Town to the beaches of the island and do it as quickly and cheaply as possible. A separate article will provide information on how to quickly get from Patong Beach to Phuket Town. I wish you pleasant and safe trips and rest in Phuket!
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