Just to be clear, this is not a failed episode of Fast and The Furious – it’s a heads-up.
Thai drivers (or some expats) can get a little over confident (or lack responsibility) on the road. It’s possible to get from Phuket Airport to Khao Lak Center under 60 minutes, but anyone trying is simply driving way too fast. We are not challenging you to try this nor do we want you to encourage any driver to accept the challenge. We are simply stating it’s crazy if anyone does try and any attempt should be avoided.
Having said that, how do you get from Phuket Airport to Khao Lak and how long does it safely take? Here’s some useful information for you to plan your trip.
Take a taxi from Phuket to Khao Lak
When you exit the arrival terminal at Phuket Airport, you won’t have to search long to find a taxi stand or someone offering you a transportation service.
A taxi from Phuket Airport to Khao Lak costs around 1500-1800 baht. The prices seem to differ depending on the time you would like to depart (late at night = pricier). Just always aim for not more than 1800 baht.
Depending on traffic (and ongoing construction), it takes around 80 to 100 minutes to get from Phuket Airport to Khao Lak Center (La On) by taxi. The last bit of the journey is the Khao Lak mountain with swirly roads – this part can get you a bit funny in the tummy.
Take a bus from Phuket to Khao Lak
If you are on a tight budget, you could consider public transport. Daily buses go from the Phuket Bus Terminal to Khao Lak every hour or so (the schedule isn’t clockwork). Unfortunately they don’t stop at Phuket Airport, so you would have to take a taxi from the airport first. Taxi drivers at the airport might frown when you request a trip to the bus terminal, but with a little friendly persuasion it shouldn’t be an issue.
A bus ticket from Phuket to Khao Lak will cost between 80-100 baht (subject to increase). Take any bus with direction Takua Pa, Ranong or Surat Thani. Tell the driver you would like to stop in Khao Lak, Bang Niang, or any other popular place along the route. If you are a bit familiar with the route, or you keep an eye on Google Maps + GPS while seated, you can also, at any given time, tell the driver to stop – very convenient.
A public bus trip from Phuket to Khao Lak will take around 2-3 hours depending on traffic, stops, and your final destination. It takes a while, but it’s the cheapest option you got.
Rent a car and enjoy ultimate freedom
Another option is to rent a car, which you can do at the airport. Several car rental companies have a stand in the arrival terminal. If you don’t like to drive yourself on arrival, especially after a long and tiring flight, you can also decide to take a taxi and rent a car in Khao Lak to cruise around the area. Keep in mind that, especially in the peak high-season (Nov-Mar), cars may not be available on short notice and have to be brought up from Phuket. Sometimes it’s cheaper to book a rental car prior to arrival and have it brought to you at the airport.
Driver license: if you rent a vehicle in Thailand, you need an international driver’s license. The rental company may not be as strict, but police controls and insurances will make a problem.
Deposits: In any given situation, never allow your passport to be used as a deposit for rentals. Your passport is the most important document for your stay and departure. Only provide a copy of your passport and/or a cash/credit deposit.
Insurance: a basic car insurance will cover damage to person and vehicle, but there’s usually a limit of up to 50,000 baht. Check the insurance details before you sign.
Vehicle inspection: always carefully check the vehicle before you drive off. Make photos of scratches, rusty spots and such. Make sure you set your camera to record a timestamp, this may help later in the case of possible claims. At least the repairs here are often cheaper than at home!