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Travel There & Moving Around



By Air


Visitors to Thailand who hold valid passports or travelling documents issued by any country included in an officially issued list of eligible countries, are permitted one-month visa-free visits. If planning a longer stay, a Tourist Visa valid for 60 days must be obtained from a Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate abroad. Visa extensions can be applied for at the Immigration Department in Bangkok or in Phuket.


Several carriers now fly directly to Phuket's International Airport from locations abroad, making a stopover in Bangkok unnecessary. Particularly in the high tourist season, flights come directly from all over Asia, Australia and Europe. It is still the trend for many tourists to come through Bangkok however, catching domestic flights via Thai Airways, which run regularly through the day, 7 days a week. Flight schedules can be found on the
Thai Airways web page or by Tel: (02) 628 2000 (Bangkok office); or (076) 211 195 (Phuket office).


Bangkok Airways
offers a daily 25-minute flight to and from Koh Samui on the other side of the peninsula. This is a popular option for those wanting to take in all of Thailand's beautiful beaches.


If travelling from (or to) Krabi, Air Andaman has recently begun operating daily flights between Phuket and Krabi, with schedules dependent on the season and weather conditions. They also operate a Phuket-Surat Thani flight daily - handy for those who want to take the train from Bangkok and complete the last leg by air (See Train Info below). Call the Air Andaman Phuket Office: 076-351374, 351375; or Krabi Office: 075-691495 for details.


From the airport, travel to locations around the island can be undertaken by taxi or hired minivan, unless your hotel has arranged transfer for you. For a rough guide: a trip to Patong in a shared minivan will cost approximately 100 Baht. If hiring a taxi, expect to pay up to 600Baht. The trip to Patong takes approximately 40 minutes.


If travelling from (or to) Krabi, Air Andaman has recently begun operating daily flights between Phuket and Krabi, with schedules dependent on the season and weather conditions. They also operate a Phuket-Surat Thani flight daily - handy for those who want to take the train from Bangkok and complete the last leg by air (See Train Info below). As of March 25th, 2001, there will also be flights from Bangkok to Phuket via Chumporn and return. Call the Air Andaman Phuket Office: 076-351374, 351375; or Krabi Office: 075-691495 for details.


By Train

Train lovers can travel from Hualomphong Station in Bangkok to Surathani Province, and catch a bus from there to Phuket. Travel to Surathani by train takes approximately 12 hours, with various classes of seating available ranging in price from 187 Baht to 1040 Baht. Train schedules for the State Railway of Thailand can be found by contacting Tel: (02) 220 4334. Advance tickets are available at all principal stations or the Bangkok Advance Booking Office. Tel. (02) 225-0300 ext 5200-3. For bus timetable and information contact the Surathani Bus Terminal on 077-200031-3.


Overland
by Road

From Bangkok the journey to Phuket can be undertaken by bus - a trip that takes about 14 hours. Daily services leave from the Southern Bus Terminal in Thonburi, and there are many private services available from almost any travel agent and hotel tour desk in the city. For information on bus timetables contact the Southern Bus Terminal on Boromratchchonnani Rd, Bangkok, Tel: (662) 435-1200, 434-7192. Most services will bring you directly to the Phuket Bus Terminal in Phuket Town, from where you can take a local bus to most beaches on the island, or a taxi truck or Tuk Tuk.


If you want to go your own way, drive down to Phuket in a hire car - the road system is good and well sign-posted. Travel on Route 4 from Bangkok to the south, passing through Nakhon Pathom, Ratchaburi, Phetchaburi and Prachuap-Khirikan, At Chumphon go right to Ranong where you must head south through Kraburi and Kapoe Districts to Phang-nga Province. In Phang-nga the road passes through Kuraburi, Takuapa, and Thai Muang Districts before reaching the town of Kok Kloy. From here cross the Sarasin Bridge to Phuket Island. Head down the main highway and follow the signs to your destination beach.

There are many car hire firms in Bangkok, including international rental companies such as Hertz, Budget and Avis, which offer full insurance. An international driving license is required.


By Sea

Cruise and cargo ships come to Phuket from abroad. Contact your travel agent for information about the many different ships that stop at Phuket. For private vessels entering Phuket waters, there are regulations that should be observed which include that all vessels must report upon entry to:


Phuket Port Control Center

2nd Floor Phuket Fishing Lodge Hotel
52/2 Moo 9 Tambon (Sub District) Chalong
Amphoe Muang, Phuket,
Latitude 7o 49' 0" N, Longitude 98o 22' 0" E,
Tel. and Fax. 66 76 381614.




Moving Around


 

Once here, getting around Phuket is case of either doing it the easy way, or doing it the adventurous way. If staying in one of the island's epicenters like Patong or Kata, getting around is a breeze. Most hotels are within close proximity to the beach, entertainment, restaurants, shopping and activity centres, which makes getting round on foot the best option. In less populated spots, or if you want to explore locations around the island, you have the choice of having your hotel arrange transport in the form of a taxi, hirecar or tuk-tuk, or taking the local transportation.


Tuk Tuk
       

For trips of any duration at any time of day, a tuk tuk or small taxi truck is often the most efficient. State your destination and agree on the price before setting off! A trip within a beach area or town shouldn't cost more than 50 Baht, but for trips further afield, anything up to 400 Baht can be expected - depending on the distance, the weather and your bargaining skills!






Song Taew

If heading off to other beaches and sites during the day, you also have the option of a local songthaew or bus.

The local buses (painted bright blue for easy recognition) will have their destination written in English on the outside of the bus and run regularly between the hours of 7.00 am and 6.00pm. There are no designated bus stops, which means you have to flag them down in the middle of the street.


In most populated areas, your best chance of catching a bus are to go to the main thoroughfare - sooner or later one will come along. In Patong, your best spot for flagging one down is along Phra Baramee Road outside the tourist police box. In Phuket town, head for the fresh markets on Ranong Road (opposite Thai airways office) where you will find Songtaews waiting to go to destinations all around the island. Standard cost for trips to/from Phuket Town to/from locations such as Patong, Surin and Kamala are approximately 15-20 Baht, and you shouldn't take one if you are in a hurry to get where you want to go.





Hire Cars and Motorbikes

Private cars, jeeps and small motorbikes can be hired from most major hotels, and from private dealers off the street. If you really want to explore, having your own vehicle is the best way to go. It's important to check that full insurance coverage is included and that you have the appropriate licenses at hand in case of accident. Note that motorcycle hire is extremely risky as insurance is usually not included - regardless of what you are told. You don't want to find yourself liable for damages and medical bills or worse. A Thai or an international car license is mandatory for the purposes of claiming successfully for insurance in case of accident with a vehicle.


For serious bike enthusiasts, the area around Patong offers lots to enjoy. Cruise out of the town on smooth roads that bank and curve around lush green mountains looking out over the Andaman Sea and visit some of the smaller areas outside the main tourist strip. There are bike shops in Patong that specialise in road cruisers and dirt bikes for those who want something more challenging than the traditional Honda Dream favoured by most tourists and locals alike. Check out the shops along Rat-U-Thit Road at Patong Beach. A word of warning - needless to say those who ride motorcycles should take extreme care when riding the roads in Thailand. Not only is there an extreme disregard for traffic regulations which leads to unexpected and dangerous behaviour on the roads, but during the rainy season, bike riders often come to grief when damp roads become slippery to ride on due to oil spill build-ups. It is therefore recommended that the inexperienced rider elect the safety of a standard vehicle as the means for enjoying touring around Kata, Patong and elsewhere on the island or just making confirmation booking at
online booking (by budget)


Motorcycle Taxis

During the day and night, groups of motorcyclists can be seen lurking on street corners or cruising the streets wearing coloured vests and trying to get your attention. These are the motorcycle taxi drivers who will take you anywhere around town for a fee. Again the price can vary depending on the distance you want to travel and your bargaining skills. Not the safest mode of transport but can be convenient.