Taxis and Tuk Tuks in Phuket are one of the more convenient methods of getting around the island, giving you private transport directly to your destination. While they are more expensive than buses and motorbike taxis, they are much faster than the former and much more comfortable than the latter. They are also more convenient than hiring a car to drive yourself.
This type of public transport is ideal if your budget has a bit of flexibility and you want to get around comfortably and quickly. There is some degree of choice, with advantages and disadvantages for each, with some differences between them. Checking out our hints and tips below will help you have a care-free time getting around Phuket.
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Unlike in Bangkok, ordinary metered taxis are surprisingly difficult to find in Phuket. If you are planning to stand on the road and flag down a passing cab, you will find yourself waiting for rather a long time. When one does come by, they are pretty much what you would expect of a metered taxi anywhere in the world, with the bright paintjob denoting the company or collective it comes from and the illuminated sign with the words “TAXI METER” on the roof.
Once you have found or flagged down a taxi, you will need to explain where you wish to go. Most of the drivers speak pretty good English and can easily find their way to the major attractions and resorts, but you might have to help with directions or street names if you are staying at a smaller hotel or guesthouse. Make sure they turn the meter on once you set off, which should charge you 50 baht for pick-up and the first two kilometres, then 7 baht for every kilometre after that.
Some taxis operating with private firms do not use meters and will instead name a flat rate before departure. You may be able to bargain this charge down a little, but it will usually still be at least a little more than you would pay on the meter. This is usually because the quality of the car is noticeably better. Some taxi meters will also try to ask for a fixed rate, particularly for long distances.
If you are travelling from the airport, you have the choice of airport limousines (which used the fixed price system) or taxi meters (which will levy an additional 100 baht surcharge on top of the meter). Note that most taxis leaving the airport will usually stop at a nearby tours office, which may try to convince you to buy a tour or try to claim that the hotel you have chosen is fully-booked. Despite the fact that this is common practise, it is technically illegal. Just go along with it and don’t buy anything you don’t want.
GRAB TAXI Mobile Apps
GrabTaxi is an extremely convenient means of getting a meter taxi to come to you instead of waiting for one to drive past. Select your pick-up point and destination and nearby cabs will bid for the job, with the winner usually being whichever is closest. The driver will then call you to confirm the collection point and you will then be able to track their progress.
Once you have been picked up, the process continues like an ordinary taxi meter experience. The app will give you an estimate of the price, which is generally accurate, but the final cost will still be decided by the meter. An extra bonus to using this service is that you can precisely select your destination, which means you don’t need to direct the driver personally if it is a more obscure location.
GrabTaxi will also enable you to book limousines and large SUVs, which are ideal if you have a large group with lots of luggage. To date, GrabTaxi is the only such app operating in Phuket, with a good number of each class of vehicle available and generally well spread across the island.
Uber was briefly introduced to Phuket in the high season of 2014/15, but ceased to operate in April 2015. There is a possibility that it will return at some point in the future.
Tuk Tuks in Phuket are not the iconic three-wheelers from Bangkok and other parts of the country – Phuket’s hilly landscape would totally defeat such a vehicle! Instead, you will see modified ‘mini trucks’, usually painted bright red or yellow. A surprising number of them also have powerful sound systems and disco lights set up in the passenger compartment.
These are probably the most common form of public transport on the island, with dozens of them parked up waiting for customers outside all of the major attractions and resorts. Unfortunately, tuk tuks have also developed a reputation for being among the most expensive means of getting around Phuket, with even a short cross-town trip costing as much as 100 baht. Setting the price works in the same way as with private taxis and limousines – state your destination and haggle the price before you get on. Make sure you’re clear on whether the price is per person or for your whole group.
While they are convenient for getting from one end of town to the other, the passenger compartment is not that comfortable if you are travelling between towns. The price for such a journey will also generally be quite high – as much as double the cost of a comparable trip in a taxi meter.