All About Phuket International Airport

One of the worst parts of planning a vacation is wondering what the experience will be like at the airport. Flying can be very stressful, and arrival at an unknown airport – often in the middle of the night – can be an unsettling experience. If you are coming to Phuket from anywhere in the world or the rest of Thailand, chances are you will arrive first at the Phuket International Airport. While it is impossible to predict travel delays or tell you what the length of the line for customs will be, it does help to have a bit of detail about the airport itself so you can be prepared. Find out what to expect at Phuket International with this quick guide.

Phuket International Airport
Phuket airport on Mai Khao Beach / Image via Andy Mitchell/ Flickr

Arrival at Phuket International Airport

Lines for immigration are often long but don’t panic, you’ll soon get through and can head to baggage claim to pick up your luggage. There are two different luggage claim spots, one for international and one for domestic arrivals. Obviously, if you boarded the plane for the first time in Bangkok you will go to the domestic arrivals baggage claim.

Phuket Airport Distances

You will need to get a taxi or a hotel transfer service to your resort because most hotels are around 30 to 40 km away from the international airport. For example, popular hotels in Patong are 53 minutes’ away from the airport and a distance of around 37km. If your hotel is in Kata or Karon it will take around one hour to reach in a cab. Panwa is also around one hour away. Shorter distances include around 40 minutes to reach Phuket Town (although there are not many resort accommodation options here) and Chalong in 50 minutes. The closest resort towns are Kamala (36 minutes away) and Surin (around a 30-minute trip). The trip to Rawai takes around an hour. And Mai Khao Beach? It’s right there beneath the airline flight path – an 18-minute transfer.

Taxis from the Airport

To take a taxi from the airport to your hotel, step outside and walk round to the end of the airport building. If you take a taxi to make sure that the driver turns on the meter and uses it. If he tries to negotiate a non-meter price you can pretty much guarantee it will work out as more expensive. Be careful that you don’t get taken in by “scams” where the taxi driver or a friend of theirs says that there is a problem with your chosen hotel and offers to take you to a different place – this different place will be owned by them or their friend and there will be nothing wrong with the place you actually want to stay. Here more about; Airport Transportation Service.

Airport Limousine Service

This option is a bit more expensive than a regular taxi but the rates are clearly presented and you travel in style in a new car. There are a few different counters situated right outside the baggage claim areas. Check a couple of these operators to see what their price is before committing.

Take the Local Bus from the Airport?

It may make sense if you are on a tight budget but the airport is around 40km from the nearest hotel and the local bus takes forever and goes all over the place. Use it on the way back if you spent all your money, but try another option to get to your hotel and start your vacation.

Car Rental at Phuket Airport

It’s easy to rent a car when you get to the arrivals area at the airport. There are a number of different agents at the ready to take your money. You will need an international driver’s license. Hiring a car starts at around 1,000 baht a day with insurance included – not the cheapest, but great if you want to travel all over the island at your own pace.

Money at Phuket Airport

It is easy to get cash out of one of the many ATMs that are located past the customs area. If you have cash or traveler’s checks to exchange you can do this at one of the bank counters – exchange rates are displayed.

All About Phuket International Airport
Image via Binder.donedat / Flickr
Getting Out of Phuket

When you are flying home you will be leaving from one of two terminals for departures, although both have the same entrance. If there is a huge line to get into the airport through the departures entrance you can go through arrivals and take the elevator to the correct floor. While you are waiting for your flight there are some dining options and you can spend a few hours eating and shopping in Duty-Free.

For more Phuket info and advice, check out PhuketOn. Discover the best places to stay in Phuket with the help of PhuketOn.        

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