What to Expect on Arrival and Leaving Phuket Airport0
Phuket International Airport (HKT) is the main port of access to the island for the vast majority of overseas and domestic visitors. The second busiest airport in the country by passenger and freight volume, it sees over 14 million passengers passing through its two terminals every year and nearly 100,000 flights touching down on its single runway.
The airport’s location is one of the most remarkable in Thailand, being directly behind Mai Khao Beach. During high season, with the wind coming from the east, aircraft from 46 airlines, serving more than 37 destinations, make their approach over the glittering Andaman Sea, passing no more than a couple of dozen metres above the beach before touching down. When they take off, the flight path passes over the beautiful Phang Nga Bay, giving a unique view of the limestone karts and emerald islets.Read More
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The two terminals of Phuket Airport consist of the aging domestic terminal and the visibly newer international terminal, which began operating in September 2016. While the latter has 15 immigration points, the extremely busy airport has a long-standing reputation for long queues, especially during high season (December – May). It is advisable to be prepared for this, with your arrival and departure cards fully filled in before landing.
After getting past Immigration, you will find five baggage carousels, eight customs counters and a 300-metre arrivals curb, with various options available for carrying you to your final destination. This includes metered taxis, limousines, the airport bus, car rental and minivans. Money changing, ATMs and local SIM cards are also available in the arrivals hall and there are lifts, toilets and telephones adapted to disabled persons' needs throughout.
There are currency exchanger counters available throughout Phuket Airport, both in the Arrivals and Departures areas. Those in Arrivals get very busy as each flight lands, creating long and slow-moving queues. It is often quicker and easier to use one of the many ATMs. If you choose to do so, ensure that your card has a 'Cirrus' logo on the back, which denotes that it is suitable for overseas transactions. It is also advisable to alert your bank prior to travelling, otherwise they may lock your account on the assumption that your card has been stolen. Most banks will charge a small fee for using their card overseas.
Please note that the exchange rate from airport currency exchange services is often not the best. It is generally advisable to only convert enough cash to get you to your destination before doing the bulk of your money exchange elsewhere as you will get more baht for your buck.
Getting to Your Hotel
A limousine service is also on hand, albeit a more expensive option. You can buy tickets for this service on the first floor of the terminal, but booking your airport transfer in advance saves you time and energy. The silver-grey vehicles are parked en masse directly opposite the terminal's main doors. They are the cleanest and most comfortable form of transport - ideal after a tiresome long-haul flight. Read More...
A well-signed taxi stand is located just outside Phuket Airport, to the right of the main exit. The taxis are red and yellow and they can generally be relied upon to use their meters. We have listed the average fares for popular destinations below, but please note that you will need to pay an additional 100 baht airport fee. This only applies to journeys departing from the airport.
- Phuket Town: 400 baht
- Patong Beach: 550 baht
- Kata/Karon Beach: 650 baht
Note that this charge is for the taxi, not per head. Read More...
There are two inexpensive hourly bus services from Phuket Airport. The bright orange buses go to Phuket Bus Terminal 1 in Phuket Town, with services from 06:30 to 21:30. Tickets are available from the counter by the airport exit and cost 90 baht for the larger bus and 100 baht for a mini-bus.
The other service travels to Patong, Kata and Karon beaches. The cream-coloured buses with the blue strip operate from the northern end of the arrivals curb (turn left out of the exit) from 07:30 and cost 150 baht to reach Patong and 200 baht for Kata or Karon. Tickets are bought from the driver. Read More...
Tickets for minivans are for sale at two counters on the ground floor (Phuket 100 baht, Patong 150 baht, Kata/Karon 180 baht). Minivans sometimes stop off at tour agencies where you will be asked to book a tour from which the driver makes a commission. Minivans take longer than a taxi to deliver you to your hotel as they drop off other passengers at hotels along the way.
When it comes to going home or continuing your travels, Phuket Airport is quite compact and very easy to navigate. This makes getting to your gate simpler, even if you’re a running a little bit late, but it also means that the duty free services are quite limited. There is a much larger King Power duty free shopping mall near Phuket Town, where you can make your purchases and collect them at the airport just before boarding your flight. Restaurants and money exchange are available in the departures hall.
Generally speaking, it is advisable to arrive at the airport at least three hours before the departure time of an international flight and one hour before a domestic one. Given Phuket Airport's small size, you may be able to cut that down to two hours, but it is advisable to check with your airline first. Thanks to traffic, travelling from Patong Beach to the airport can take as little as 40 minutes for a late-night flight and as long as an hour or more for a flight leaving during the day, particularly around rush hour.
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