Phuket (Thai: ภูเก็ต, [pʰūː.kèt] ( listen)) is one of the southern provinces (changwat) of Thailand. It consists of the island of Phuket, the country’s largest island, and another 32 smaller islands off its coast. It lies off the west coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea. Phuket Island is connected by the Sarasin Bridge to Phang Nga Province to the north. The next nearest province is Krabi, to the east across Phang Nga Bay.
Phuket Province has an area of 576 square kilometres (222 sq mi), somewhat less than that of Singapore, and is the second-smallest province of Thailand. It formerly derived its wealth from tin and rubber, and enjoys a rich and colorful history. The island was on one of the major trading routes between India and China, and was frequently mentioned in foreign ship logs of Portuguese, French, Dutch, and English traders. The region now derives much of its income from tourism.
Phuket International Airport (HKT) commenced a 5.7 billion baht (US$185.7 million) expansion in September 2012, scheduled for completion in 14 February 2016. The Phuket Airport Authority has confirmed that the expansion of the international terminal will be completed deadline as promised. The airport will increase its annual handling capacity from 6.5 million to 12.5 million passengers, and add a new international terminal.
There is no rail line to Phuket. Trains run to nearby Surat Thani. Songthaews are a common mode of transport on Phuket. Phuket’s songthaews are larger than those found in other areas of Thailand. Songthaews are the cheapest mode of transportation from town to town. They travel between the town and beaches. There are also conventional bus services and motorbike taxis. The latter are found in large numbers in the main town and at Patong Beach. Traditional tuk-tuks have been replaced by small vans, mostly red, with some being yellow or green. Car taxis are quite expensive and charge flat rates between towns.
Phuket’s Bus Station 2 BKS Terminal is the long-distance arrivals hub for buses to and from Bangkok and other major Thai cities and provinces. Located four kilometres to the north of Phuket’s town centre and port, the complex is large and modern, linking with transportation by tuk-tuk, metered taxi, motorcycle taxi, songthaew, or local bus to the island’s beaches and resorts. There are daily scheduled buses from private and government run companies going to Phuket from Bangkok’s Mo Chit and Southern terminal stations.
There are special combined bus and train tickets, 1,068 baht (about $33) with a 2nd class sleeper on the train, 1,639 baht ($55) with a 1st class sleeper. You can buy from most travel agents in Phuket.
A bus leaves Phuket at 15:30, arrives Surat Thani 20:30.
Sleeper train leaves Surat Thani 23:17, arrives Bangkok 09:55.
Alternatively, a bus leaves Phuket at 12:00, arrives Surat Thani 17:30.
Sleeper train leaves Surat Thani 20:47, arrives Bangkok 08:25.
Time for dinner at Surat Thani in both cases.
The bus and train is the ideal combo. No stressful airports or unnecessary flights, it’s a genuine ground level Thai travel experience, and dirt cheap too. Unlike a nightmare overnight bus ride it’s a much sorter and less arduous bus ride only in the daytime, then you get a comfortable sleeper berth on the train with crisp clean sheets and pillow plus curtains for privacy so you can actually sleep in comfort.