What is the Best Way to Get from Bangkok to Phuket?

How to Travel from Bangkok to Phuket

How to Travel from Bangkok to Phuket

Deciding where to go in Thailand isn’t an easy decision.  But for first timers, Phuket is an obvious choice.  Phuket is located around 800km southwest of Bangkok but was the first location in Thailand to cater to large numbers of foreign tourists.  

Having decided to spend some time in Phuket the next decision will be how to get there.  There are direct international flights into Phuket Airport but the majority of visitors will travel via Bangkok. 

There are four ways that visitors can travel to Phuket from Bangkok:

1. Flight to Phuket 
2. Bus to Phuket  
3. Train to Surat Thani then bus to Phuket
4. Drive by car to Phuket

And for anyone wondering . . . Taking a boat from Bangkok to Phuket isn’t possible. 

Keep your main goal in mind when choosing the best one for you. Do you want the fastest? The cheapest?  The best views? To explore other areas along the way?  

Let’s take a look at the options . . . 

Bangkok to Phuket by Plane

Thai Airways plane landing at Phuket Airport

Due to the distance from Bangkok to Phuket (around 850km / 530 miles) many visitors will opt to fly.  It’s a very long journey to take overland. 

Flying is the most obvious and also by far the quickest way to get to Phuket.  And due to the popularity of the route, prices are also very reasonable.  It’s not the cheapest way to travel but is the best value for money.  Best of all, if you take a morning flight you’ll be at your resort in Phuket in plenty of time to have lunch by the pool.

There are around 50 daily flights from Bangkok to Phuket International Airport. Passengers can choose to fly from either Suvarnabhumi Airport or Don Meuang Airport. Flights depart several times an house from around 6am until 11pm.  Flying time is around 1 hour 20 minutes.  One way ticket prices are from as low as 600 Baht ($20) 

Seven airlines have scheduled flights from Bangkok to Phuket.  Thai Vietjet Air, Thai Smile, Thai Airways, and Bangkok Airways all fly from Suvarnabhumi Airport.  AirAsia, Thai Lion Air and Nok Air fly from Don Meuang Airport.

Flights on low cost carriers from Don Meuang tend to be a bit cheaper than those from Suvarnabhumi.  But on the flipside, Suvarnabhumi is a much nicer airport to fly from. It’s also easier to get to, being accessible by train or taxi from central Bangkok or airport bus from Khao San Road.  

If possible also avoid the early morning and late afternoon flights.  These are also a bit more expensive. And of course during public holidays all flights will be packed and prices higher.

Check prices for Bangkok to Phuket flights from Don Meuang and Suvarnabhumi. 

You’ll land at Phuket International Airport (HKT) which is located in the north of the island, around 30 – 40km from the main beach areas. Depending on where you’re heading in Phuket there are several options for getting from the airport to your hotel.  These include bus, minibus and taxi services. 

But note that the airport taxis are expensive.  Minibus services run from Phuket airport to hotels on Patong, Karon and Kata beaches. The fare is 180 – 200 Baht /person. The ticket counters are in the arrivals area.

There is also a ‘Smart Bus’ service which runs between the airport in the north of the island and Rawai beach in the south.  Buses depart at frequent intervals between 06:00 and 21:00. It makes a stop at the main west coast beaches.  But doesn’t drop off at hotels.  Ticket price is from 50 to 180 Baht/person.   

Bangkok to Phuket by Bus

Exterior of Phuket bus station

Travelling from Bangkok to Phuket by bus is the most affordable option.  But there are some obvious drawbacks. 

It’s over 850km from Bangkok to Phuket.  So, you can expect to have a minimum of 11 hours aboard the bus.  And if you are on one of the Second Class buses then this will be nearer 14 or 15 hours.  As it will do various detours and will make a huge number of stops on the journey.  So getting to Phuket by bus isn’t recommended.

The 24 seat VIP buses are very comfortable though.  They have large reclining seats and drinks and snacks are served onboard.  However, the price is very similar to flying.  But, if you are taking an overnight Bangkok to Phuket bus then it will save you the price of accommodation.  Aside from that there’s no real reason to take a bus unless you have a lot of luggage or a fear of flying. 

Buses depart from both Morchit and Sai Tai Mai Bus Stations in Bangkok.  Taking a bus from Sai Tai Mai, also known as the Southern Bus Station, will save an hour of travel time and there are also far more departures from this bus station.

Bus Timetables from Bangkok to Phuket

Departures from Sai Tai Mai (Southern) Bus Terminal

Bus Departure Time Fare
First Class VIP Bus 07.30, 17.30, 18.00, 18.30, 19.00 1058 Baht
Standard B Class Bus 19.45 660 Baht
Standard C Class Bus 18.30 543 Baht
Second Class Bus 05.00, 07.00, 09.30, 14.00, 16.00, 17.30, 20.30, 21.30 529 Baht

Check ticket prices and bus timetables . . . 

Bangkok to Phuket by Train and Bus

Sleeping berths on the Bangkok to Phuket train

Another option is to take the train part of the way from Bangkok to Phuket.  Phuket doesn’t have a railway station so the journey comprises taking a train from Bangkok to Surat Thani, then a bus to Phuket. 

Trains to Surat Thani depart from Hua Lamphong Station in central Bangkok.  The travel time will take around 11 – 12 hours. 

From Surat Thani Train Station, take a bus to Phuket. There is a daily service at 8am.  This takes around 6 hours to Phuket bus station. 

The main downside is obvious.  It takes a very long time by train and bus.  You will leave Bangkok in the evening and eventually get to Phuket mid-afternoon the next day.  It is best to take the overnight train to save money on a night’s accommodation and also to connect to the bus service to Phuket.  

Taking the train and bus is only recommended if you want to save a night’s accommodation and don’t want to do the entire trip by bus. 

Train Timetable from Bangkok to Surat Thani

The ticket prices for the overnight sleeper train are currently (late 2020) 578 Baht for a Second Class air-conditioned seat. 1,008 Baht for a Second Class Sleeper berth and 1,579 Baht for a First Class sleeper berth.   

There are several trains a day but if you want to connect to the 08:00 daily bus to Phuket then you should take one of these trains:

Sleeper Train Hua Lamphong, Bangkok Surat Thani
#173 17:35  05:48
#167 18:30 06:23
#85 19:30 07:06

Then take the 08:00 bus, operated by Phantip travel, from Surat Thani train station to Phuket.  Ticket price is 550 Baht per person. You should arrive in Phuket around 14:00 – 14:30.  Tickets for this bus and also private transfers by taxi or minibus, can be booked here .

Driving from Bangkok to Phuket

Road trip!

It is possible to rent a car and drive from Bangkok to Phuket in a day.  But a more enjoyable, and less tiring, way to drive from Bangkok to Phuket would be to break it down into two or three days.  Not many people rent cars and have touring holidays in Thailand, but it’s a great way to see the country.  You’ll be able to get to places that most visitors don’t go to. 

So I’d recommend driving from Bangkok to Phuket, but only if you wanted to have a self-drive holiday and spend a couple of weeks exploring the south of Thailand by car. 

The Best Way is . . .

You should now have a good idea of how to get from Bangkok to Phuket.

If you are on a tight budget and time isn’t a factor, then the Bangkok to Phuket bus is the best option for you.  Plus, if you take an overnight bus you’ll also save the cost of a night’s accommodation. 

Travelling this way is only really recommended for people who love rail travel, due to the long travel time.

Driving from Bangkok to Phuket is a great way to experience the country.  But not recommended simply as a means of getting from A to B.

This leaves flying as the preferred way to travel from Bangkok to Phuket.

It’s obviously the quickest way to travel to Phuket from Bangkok.  It’s not the cheapest but ticket prices are around the same or just a little more than a first class bus. Plus there’s an excellent choice of flights on low cost and regular airlines.  This means plane fares are competitive and outside peak travel times there are bargains to be had year round.

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