Since Phuket is the most popular resort area in all of Asia, and it has the second busiest airport in Thailand, it would seem that getting to the island would be very easy and straightforward, but it’s really not. There are easy ways but also a few other options that are often cheaper, more efficient, and more enjoyable.
Since you are reading this in the English language we can assume that you are heading to Phuket from somewhere other than within Thailand. So you’ll definitely be flying most of the way, but there are a few interesting options to consider before you make your final decision.
Flying directly into Phuket International Airport
The Phuket International Airport (code: HKT) is a large and modern facility that is extremely foreigner-friendly. It’s located near the northern tip of Phuket, which means that it’s relatively far from Patong Beach and most of the other popular resorts along the southern west coast, as well as Phuket Town itself.
Depending on your home airport, it’s certainly worth a look to see if there are affordable and convenient flights directly into Phuket Airport, but chances are there are not. Only a few European airlines fly into the facility, so almost all the flights are from somewhere else in Asia. This means that Europeans or North Americans will usually have to change planes twice on the way, and it will take around 24 full hours in most cases.
Two better options: Fly into Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur
Since Bangkok (code: BKK) and Kuala Lumpur (code: KUL) both have major and modern airports that are used by most of the large airlines around the world, most visitors to Phuket fly into one of them on the way. You will usually save money and also get more convenient flights if you book from your home airport into BKK or KUL and then get a separate flight from there to Phuket, where you’ll have more choices of airlines, including the cheap and popular Air Asia.
- Bangkok to Phuket Airport: 1 hour 20 minutes
- Kuala Lumpur to Phuket Airport: 1 hour 20 minutes
Combining a city stay with a Phuket beach holiday
It’s already very popular for people who’ve come from Europe or North America to add 3 nights or so in Bangkok on the way to or from their Phuket resort holiday. Increasingly, many people are doing the same in Kuala Lumpur, which is the same distance and also has great air connections.
If you’ve never been to either it’s recommended to try Bangkok first, but Kuala Lumpur is actually nicer in its center and is easier to deal with for newcomers. Both have excellent shopping and amazing cultural experiences in the city center, along with world-class dining and also interesting nightlife.
The city of Bangkok is huge and very spread out, but the famous attractions are all fairly close to one another so it’s easy to see them in just a day or two. Bangkok is arguably also the shopping capital of the world, with over a dozen indoor shopping malls all within walking distance of each other in the Siam Square area.
There are many wonderful hotels near both disticts as well as in between, so you can spend a few unforgettable days before or after Phuket without wasting any time.
With large Chinese and also Indian populations, the capital of Malaysia could not be more international, especially with English being widely spoken and understood at the same time. The Petronas Towers are the focal point of the ultra-modern city center, and KL Tower has even better views available of the entire area.
There is no shortage of fantastic hotels in KL, and airport transportation is fast and easy as well.