Phuket Airport - Good To Know about Phuket International Airport
Note that Phuket airport is going through a major upgrade and will be completed by July 2015. Extensions look massive and hopefully will solve many of the current issues such as parking.
Arriving at Phuket Airport - Everyone knows that the most stressful time for any traveler resides between the leaving home and arriving in a (satisfactory) hotel room. Everything in between is just a long list of things to worry about: taxi, luggage, lost passport, how far is the gate, why is the queue so long, etc. We can't predict everything, but at least we can give you few hints about Phuket International Airport.
Be ready to queue... immigration is a lucky draw, the queue you are about to pick will always be the wrong one anyway. But think about this: even if it goes faster than you expect, your luggage hasn't arrived anyway! So take it easy, you'll get through eventually.
Important point, there are 2 luggage claims: Domestic and International. If you did your immigration in Bangkok you will arrive at the Domestic terminal BUT your luggage are waiting in the International terminal. Since you are now aware of that fact, you will quickly spot the sign pointing to the right direction, and it's only 10 meters away out the door.
Getting from Phuket Airport to your Hotel: You booked your transfer in advance of course? If not you have 4 options.
Located far outside, turn to the right as soon as you step outside and walk all the way to the end of the building... it's not really far. Make sure taxi turns on the meter! There is a surcharge of 100 Baht for Airport... I haven't use it myself but I will. A reader reported a Phuket Airport-Kamala by Taxi meter cost 400 Baht while it would cost 600 to 700 by limo. There used to be another weird story when taxi would stop on their way at their office and a travel agent would come to the car, trying to convince you to change hotel for all kinds of silly reasons, the real one being their commission of course. (It happened to us too)
The Local Bus:
Seriously? Phuket Airport is on Mai Khao Beach, 30 to 40 km from your hotel and you just did few thousand miles.
Easy, they are just outside the domestic gate. If you arrived from international, turn right past the customs (before stepping outside) and walk all the way to the end, you'll see the logos from far anyway. Better take an internationally known brand, and make sure you have your international license... later I'll tell you how fun it is to drive in Phuket! Rates for a Honda Jazz or Honda city start at 1,000 baht/day with insurance. You can rent a GPS for 100 Baht/day.
Other Points about Phuket Airport:
In the terminal, there is not much excitement here, especially since you are leaving. Proceeding to the check in counters is simple but time varies, like anywhere else. If you have time to waste there are several restaurants or pubs. Bill Bentley is cool, and Thai Airways restaurant on third floor is comfortable and food is pretty good, but I wouldn't recommend it if your time is short... service can be slow, as well as the bill. I always thought if someone should understand he words 'speed', or 'fast' or 'I'm in a rush but I'm hungry' that would be the Airport staff... wrong guess.
Then you also can pick between local counters, Subway or Burger King (often crowded). If you pass immigration and move inside international lounge, you'll find... oh, surprise: Another Burger King! There is so far only one Duty Free shop for perfumes, alcohol and cigarettes, but you can still find few interesting deals.
If you plan to leave your car for a domestic flight somewhere, it costs 200 baht per day and finding a parking spot can be stressful at certain hours, so allow extra time. Reaching the airport at the end of the afternoon as well... traffic is very unpredictable.