Thursday 30 August 2018

Patong Beach, Phuket, Thailand

The island of Phuket is one of Thailand's major tourist destinations, famed for its beach resorts.  It lies around 700 kilometres south of the Thai capital, Bangkok.

The biggest of the beach resorts is Patong Beach, on Phuket's west coast.  I spent a few days there in April 2018.

Public transport in Patong Beach is fairly limited.  A half-hourly bus service links the resort with Phuket Town, the main town on the island.  Phuket Town is the hub for the island's bus services.

Most of the buses I saw running to and from Phuket Town were these truck-derived vehicles in a blue livery.

These vehicles have an entrance at the back.

I did see one vehicle which was a more conventional bus, with entrance and exit doors.

The bus service does not have fixed stops, but will stop on request.  In Patong Beach, it picks up along the beachfront, on Thawewong Road.  Official information about the bus service is more-or-less impossible to find.

A second service linking Patong Beach with Phuket Town is provided by air-conditioned minibuses.

This service also has little if any publicity.  I found it by chance.  It appears to operate hourly, picking up passengers outside the Jungceylon shopping centre in Patong Beach.

In early 2018, Phuket Smart Bus began operation. This introduced a direct bus link between Phuket's airport to the north of the island and the beach resorts along the west coast.

Previously the journey between Patong Beach and the airport, or from Patong Beach to other resorts along the coast, would have involved travelling into Phuket Town then changing buses - or going by taxi.

High-specification minicoaches operate the Phuket Smart Bus route.

At the time I was in Patong Beach, Phuket Smart Bus was operating to a timetbale with alternating 1-hour and 3-hour intervals.  I understand the service has since been increased to hourly.

Fares cannot be paid directly in cash, but must be paid using a Rabbit smart card.  However, Rabbit cards are sold on the bus.

The Phuket 101 website gives an overview of Phuket Smart Bus as well as the traditional bus services on Phuket.

Taxis are plentiful in Patong Beach.  I didn't see any of the three-wheel "tuk-tuks" which can be found on the streets of Bangkok, but I did find plenty of these small four-wheel vehicles touting for business.

Fares on these taxis are not metered, tourists are advised to agree the fare with the driver before the journey.


Although many were painted red, I also saw other colours too - pink, yellow, green and blue.

In this image (right), the sign on the street corner shows the tsunami evacuation route, a reminder of the devastating event which hit Patong Beach - and many other coastal resorts - in 2004.



There are also metered taxis operating in Patong Beach.

Unsurprisingly for a major tourist hotspot, private coaches visit Patong Beach.


Finally, some of the hotels and tourist attractions have their own private transport, as shown by these truck-derived vehicles.