Before going to Phuket, all I could read online was the advice that to travel to Patong beach from Phuket Airport, one either needs to take an expensive taxi or an Aiport Bus to Phuket Town and from there a local bus to Patong. I was prepared to go through the hassle of using the Airport Bus option because the taxi rates being quoted were just outrageous. Phuket anyway is an expensive destination and that applies to everything that a tourist does here, starting right from the visa on arrival at the Phuket International Airport. The visa / immigration staff themselves rip tourists off by charging them 1200 THB for visa fee as against the official fee of 1000 THB and pocket the additional 200 THB. You may read about this Thailand Visa Scam at Phuket International Airport here. Coming to the topic of this article, the choice of travelling from Phuket International Airport to Patong, Kata, or Karon beach does not necessarily have to be between paying too much money or enduring too much inconvenience. I wonder why this thing has been kept such a secret.
The Usual Options
The taxi fare from Phuket Airport to Patong beach for the 39km ride is quoted at a minimum of 600 THB online. If one decides to take the cheaper option of the “Airport Bus”, one needs to first pay 100 THB to go to Phuket town by this bus and from there hop on to a local bus that costs 30 THB per person to Patong. Heavy bags can be carried on both taxi and the buses but the taxi may be able to carry upto 2 large bags only even if four passengers are riding on it.
Direct Bus From Phuket Airport to Patong and Kata
After coming out of the Phuket Airport Arrival area, I was approached by a guy who was offering a bus ride directly to Patong and Kata beaches. He said the bus fare would be 150 THB to Patong but the bus would leave after more than an hour. He pointed me to go towards the left side. I did walk up to the bus parking area and saw this bus. I did not see any ticket counter for the bus except one guy sitting on a side trying to tell me in Thai language the bus will take a long time to start. It was a nice comfortable looking bus and I would have liked to go for it but the wait time for that bus to start was not certain. So I decided to take the other equally comfortable but quicker option.
Direct Mini Van (Mini Bus) from Phuket Airport to Patong, Kata, and Karon Beaches
So here’s the good news. As you step out of the airport, you will notice about two or three of these counters probably belonging to the same company advertising mini van rides to Patong, Kata, and Karon beaches. The beauty of this service is that the fares are reasonable, the vans have a limited seating capacity, hence they fill up fast and are ready to go without a long wait. Another big advantage of the mini van service is that each of the passengers is dropped right at their hotel. All this at a price that really surprised me…
Mini Van Fares From Phuket Aiport to Patong, Kata, and Karon
The mini van fares from Phuket Airport are as under:
Phuket Town: 150 THB
Patong Beach: 180 THB
Kata Beach: 200 THB
Karon Beach: 200 THB
Bags are stored in the back of the van and there is no demand for extra fare even if a passenger is carrying heavy bags. The service operates as long as scheduled flights arrive at the airport.
At the airport, you just need to pay the fare and wait for boarding the mini van. When they have adequate number of passengers, a guy from the counter escorts you towards the van in the parking area. Just Keep your bags in the back and take a seat. The vans are air-conditioned too.
The Stop On The Way
The mini van stops somewhere in Phuket town at an office of the company where something like “Phuket SeaWorld and Tours” is written. This is the place where they take the name of your hotel and sort the passengers. Sorting means that your van may change at this place depending on the beach and the hotel where you need to be dropped. As an additional feature of this stop, the staff of the company try to sell tours to the passengers. Each of the passengers go through a small interview with the staff in which the name of the hotel is written at the back of the ticket and then the passenger is encouraged to purchase tours. Saying a polite “no” to the tours here is the best option in my view. Its a 15-25 minute stop depending on whether or not your van gets changed. If there is a change, make sure to take down all your bags from the first van.
Drop At The Hotel
After about one hour (for Patong), and probably going around in circles a few times, the van driver is able to locate your hotel.
In my case because the hotel was 20 meters inside a lane (Soi), they dropped me outside the Soi. Still, I was happy to have made this potentially difficult trip in a cheap and best way.
Return Mini Van From Patong To Phuket Airport
One would generally expect a particular place in Patong from where one can book a return mini van to Phuket Airport at a fixed price. Unfortunately there is no such place and because one has to book the return mini van seat from a travel agent in Patong, there is no fixed price too. I went to a travel agent close to my hotel (Lotus Hotel). It was a roadside counter as you can see in the above picture. They display the service as “Shared Mini Bus To Phuket Airport”. The price was not displayed but the lady there asked for 200 THB that seemed very reasonable considering I was in Phuket. That was in September 2017. The price includes free pickup from your hotel at the appointed time and the van takes more than two hours to reach the airport. It takes so long because the van first goes around to different hotels in Patong picking up other passengers. The service was good because they agreed to drop me at my airport hotel where I wanted to spend a few hours before catching an early morning flight.
Also Read: Patong to Ao Nang (Krabi) By Bus