Phuket Airport New Domestic Terminal is now open too. The International terminal has been up and running for a while. Extensions are massive and despite a difficult start and long queues at the opening, it solved many of the past issues such as parking and crowded areas. Note that the Phuket International airport is located just next to the old terminal that has become the domestic terminal.
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 now 2 terminals: Domestic and International.
Getting from Phuket Airport to your Hotel:
You booked your transfer in advance of course? If not you have 5 options.
Best and maybe not as expensive as you think, several counters are located right outside the baggage claims. They might appear a bit pushy and look like touts, but they are not. It’s just competition: if they don’t convince you, the next counter will (or might). It cost a bit more than taxi meter, but it’s hassle free (well most of the time) and prices are clearly displayed (expect 400 to 600 Baht but you get a nice new Camry.)
Located outside and available 24 hours a day. 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-Patong by Taxi meter cost 600 + 100 baht airport tax while it would cost 750 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).
Seriously? Phuket Airport is on Mai Khao Beach, 30 to 40 km from your hotel and you just did few thousand miles. Local bus is very cheap but also very slow. It might be better t keep it to go from beach to beach once you settle down and you have plenty of time. In addition the bus will drop you in the middle of town and you still have to pull your heavy suitcase all the way to your hotel. Anyway if you really want to read about it, read about Phuket Smart Bus
Probably the best option if you are on budget. Shared Mini buses can usually carry up to 10 people and costs around 200 baht per person. It might take a bit of time to fill-up the mini-van and if you are unlucky you will be the last to be dropped off.
Rent a Car at Phuket Airport:
Easy, they are just outside the domestic gate or at the ground floor of the international terminal. If you arrived from domestic, just walk outside, 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 the Airport
There are several ATM past the customs, all from well known banks, so safe to use and exchange rate is good. (I don’t cover bad luck cases). – Hotel representatives are not allowed inside the Airport terminal so if you booked a transfer with your hotel, go straight outside and find your name. – Once you picked up your luggage, there is STILL one duty-free shop! Your last chance to pick a bottle of something…
Again, there are two terminals but there located next to each other 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.
How early should I arrive at Phuket Airport
Theoretically you should be there 2 hours before for an international flight and 1 hour before for a domestic flight. But lately traffic is an additional factor… and it can easily add a good 30 minutes! Avoid the stress and leave your hotel as early as 30 minutes to 1 extra hour if it’s at rush hour which is 5 pm. (that makes 2.30 to 3 hours for international and 1.30 to 2 hours for domestic)
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.
Some Distances from Phuket Airport:
to Patong: 37.7 km, 53 min
to Kata : 47.4 km, 1 hour
to Karon : 43.4 km, 1 hour
to Panwa : 43.9 km, 1 hour
to Bangtao : 21 km, 29 min
to Phuket Town : 32.8 km, 40 min
to Rawai : 48 km, 58 min
to Chalong : 40 km, 50 min
to Kamala : 27.6 km, 36 min
to Surin : 23.3 km, 29 min
to Mai Khao : 8 km, 18 min
Phuket Airport Map
Below is a map with Phuket main destinations starting from Phuket airport. You can select yours by disabling all others destinations.