Flights to Phuket
Phuket International Airport is situated 32 kilometres from Phuket City on the northeast of the island between Nai Yang and Mai Khao beaches. It has two terminals one for domestic and one for international flights. Despite being Thailand’s second busiest airport many long haul flights do not land direct and come via Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. There are domestic connections to Samui, Pattaya and Chiang Mai.
The airport is served by about 10 different airlines and the flights that do come direct are usually from Australia and Scandinavia. Airlines including Silk, Tiger, Qatar and Thai all land at Phuket International. Low cast carriers including Air Asia and Jet Star also fly into Phuket with Jet Star now flying direct from Phuket to Sydney. There are currently 30 flights per week from Phuket to Sydney with Air Asia promoting cheap deals from Melbourne to Phuket via Kuala Lumpur.
Upon arrival meter taxis are now available outside of the terminal building with fixed price taxis and car rentals available inside. Ambitious expansion plans are underway at Phuket International Airport with completion dates for upgrades scheduled for 2016 by which time traffic at the airport is expected to rise to 11.5 million passengers arriving per year. It is at least 45 minutes drive from the popular beaches and the local taxi mafia see to it that you pay ‘international’ prices for the trip.
The airport does get busy, being the second largest by through-traffic in Thailand, a bit chaotic at times in the crowded terminal, but most services such as car hire, food and drink, conveneince stores, a bookshop and pharmacy and tourist booking services are found in the terminal.
Phuket Island is literally surrounded with stunning white sandy beaches, brilliant azure water and coral gardens hiding colourful tropical fish. There are also a host of neighbouring islands framed by dramatic limestone cliffs boasting secluded coves and beaches where the only footprints will be your own. Inland, shining Buddhist temples and 50 baht noodle stalls reside alongside sleek marinas and five star resorts.
Phuket is usually considered Thailand’s most chic island destination, however there are still a few locations offering backpacker style accommodation if that is more your thing. The island is Thailand’s largest at about 570 square kilometres with the airport located in the north and the best beaches down the west coast.
Its size offers a wide range of landscapes from green jungles full of coconut trees and rubber plantations to waterfalls and mountains whilst just off the island spectacular limestone cliffs jut out of the surrounding waters. Culture fanatics need look no further than Phuket town (or Phuket City as it now calls itself) with historic Sino-Portuguese shop houses offering a glimpse of how things used to be.
The main attraction for tourists is unsurprisingly Phuket’s beaches with enough to satisfy all tastes from quiet and remote to vibrant and loud. The more popular beaches offer a wide range of watersports including jet skis and paragliding, while the more remote beaches offer no more than a coconut tree for shade.
Off the beach there are enough shopping and site seeing opportunities to keep everyone amused from elephant rides to temples to Thai cooking and batik painting. Wherever you head in Phuket you’re sure to be met with a warm friendly smile from the locals most of whom speak plenty of English. Public transport is available along with taxi’s and tuk-tuks vehicles, but make sure you agree a rate in advance. Car and motorbike rentals are available but not recommended for the faint hearted.