Phuket is a final destination for many travelers in Thailand. If you’ve just arrived in Bangkok from a Western country, chances are good that you’re sick of airplanes. Fret not – you can find a multitude of other ways to reach Phuket.
How do you get to Phuket from Bangkok? Many people travel to Phuket by bus as it’s a
What’s the best option for you? Well, that depends on your budget, how much time you have in the country, and a few other factors. We’ll give an overview of the options, discuss the pros/cons of each, then give you a robust answer for this travel related question.
Most backpackers who traverse Thailand prefer to travel by bus. The primary reason for this thought process lies in the cheap pricing structure. You can travel to Phuket via bus for as low as 600 Baht ($20 USD). During high seasons, tickets from Bangkok cost closer to 1000 Baht ($33 USD).
The trip from Bangkok to Phuket is a very long ride. On a good day, your bus will reach Phuket Town after 12 hours (on a bad day, it will take closer to 14 hours). While it may be a solid choice for backpackers, few other tourists choose to travel this way.
You can visit almost any city in Thailand thanks to their expansive bus system. As such, there are upwards of 100 different bus companies operating in Thailand. It’s important to remember the following adage – “you get what you pay for”.
Many travelers recommend Transport Co Ltd (the government bus service). It has a better reputation than many private services because of the government proper funding into tourism infrastructure. BKS Buses are another reliable company. Almost all bus operations offer air conditioning and onboard restrooms.
Several travel agencies in popular tourist areas sell bus tickets. We recommend you don’t buy your ticket in Khao San Road as bus passes are available for sale at the stations for a cheaper price. If you have heavy luggage, you won’t need to pay any type of baggage fee.
You will likely leave from Bangkok’s Hualamphong Station but it’s important that you clarify that with your specific bus company. About 10 buses leave for Phuket every single day, ranging from early in the morning to late at night.
Early morning bus rides are a great way to see the country’s natural beauty. You won’t have much else to do aside from looking out the window. It’s worth spending a little bit more money to ride on a luxury express bus as the seats are cozier. Bring snacks as there aren’t always formal meal stops.
If you can get a good night’s sleep on a bus, take advantage of it. Book a night bus and sleep during the ~13-hour journey. When you wake up, you’ll already be in Phuket. You won’t need to waste money on a hostel if you choose to do an overnight trip.
While certainly a frugal alternative to flying, that doesn’t imply the journey will be enjoyable. 12-14 hours spent on any activity is seldom fun. You might be lucky and have movies playing on your bus, however, they will certainly be in the Thai language.
Most travelers choose to skip the half-day bus ride and opt for a short flight instead. The duration of a plane ride from Bangkok to Phuket is only about an hour and a half long. This surely beats sitting in a bus seat for 12-14 hours and surprisingly doesn’t cost that much more.
If you wish to find a cheap flight, look into booking your flight with one of the following carriers: Thai Smile, Thai Lion Air, Nok Air, and Thai AirAsia. Between these 4 budget airlines, you’ll find a flight leaving from the Bangkok Don Mueang Airport every hour or so. Thai Airways, VietJet, Hahn Air, and Bangkok Airways are all extremely reliable options if you have more money to shell out.
Flight costs obviously vary with seasonality but you can expect to pay anywhere between 1500 Baht to 6000 Baht ($40 USD – $200 USD) for a roundtrip flight. Flights leave every hour so it’s seldom a flight is fully booked. You can even have success in purchasing your ticket at the airport counter.
It’s crucial to know the difference between Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport and Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport. The latter sits on the East edge of the city, while Don Mueang is directly North of Bangkok. Make sure you show up at the right location!
When you arrive in Phuket, you’re still a 30-minute taxi ride North of Phuket Town or Patong. While not expensive, you’ll need to hail a taxi when you arrive at Phuket airport. You’ll likely pay a little more than $20 USD for the lengthy ride.
Some people choose for Phuket to be their final destination. If you plan to use Phuket as a jumping-off point for your island hopping adventures, you have even more travel in your immediate future.
All in all, you could likely take a plane ride from the US to Bangkok (with a layover), then a plane ride from Bangkok to Phuket, and finally a multi-hour ferry ride. Quite a lengthy journey but certainly worth it!
Unfortunately, there are no direct trains from Bangkok to Phuket. However, if you’re not in a rush and open to indirect routes, you can use a train for the longest leg of your Southbound journey. The most common route involves taking a train from Bangkok to Surat Thani, then jumping on a bus to Phuket Town.
If you opt for a train and bus combo, expect the train ride to take anywhere from 5-8 hours. The time difference can be explained by the number of stops along your route (and any technical difficulties one might encounter). The train will bring you 650 kilometers south, then a 4-hour bus ride will get you to the city center of Phuket.
This train option can be very long winded however you don’t have to worry about being confined to a tiny seat on a bus for 12-14 hours. It still takes a considerable amount of time to reach your destination but it costs much less than a flight.
Trains offer a multitude of seat options for their patrons. There are sleeper cabins, first-class seats, and the standard second class seats. If you plan to take a trip via train, book your first class and sleeper seats ahead of time. Second class seats can always be bought at the station.
While second class might sound like a suitable option, it’s important to recall that trains don’t always offer air conditioning. Ask the ticket attendant if your train’s main cabin will have AC. If not, try to book a first class cabin.
The first Bangkok trains headed to Surat Thani depart at 8 in the morning. They leave every 1.5-2 hours until 10 PM. If you miss one, you won’t have to wait too long until the next train is ready. Prices vary with demand however ticket prices begin at 1000 Baht ($33 USD).
A private driver will cost you a pretty penny. A service that takes you from Bangkok to Phuket begins at $375 USD. If you wish to stop occasionally at sites that pique your interest, this is a great option. A privately rented vehicle with a driver ensures your trip won’t be crowded. However, the high cost makes this out of the question for many tourists.
Is there a direct train from Bangkok to Phuket?
There are no direct trains from Bangkok to Phuket. If you wish to travel by locomotive, book a train from Bangkok to Surat Thani, then hop onto a bus for the remainder of your journey. The train will take you most of the way but the final 4 hours need to be completed via automotive options.
Can you hire a private driver in Thailand?
Yes, there are many private drivers happy to offer their services in Thailand. These private vehicles are great options for tourists traveling a short to medium distances, however, the cost-benefit decreases the further the journey.