The Similan Islands & Richelieu Rock are in the province of Phang Nga, in southern Thailand. Most Similan Island liveaboard diving boats depart from Tab Lamu Pier in Khao Lak, but a few depart from southern Phuket. Some divers travel by land to the departure area, but most land at Phuket airport before joining the dive cruise to The Similans. The nearest airport to Khao Lak is Phuket International Airport (HKT). Phuket is the largest and most-popular tourist island in Thailand, but the seaside town of Khao Lak is more popular for divers who want to go to The Similans. Not only is Khao Lak the nearest part of mainland to The Similan Islands, it has a diver-friendly atmosphere without being loud, busy & expensive like Phuket. Unless you have a specific reason to visit Phuket’s tourist areas, we recommend travelling directly from Phuket airport to Khao Lak, even if this is several days before your liveaboard diving trip. This page explains how to get to Khao Lak from Phuket Airport.
Depending on your budget, group size, needs & preferences, there are several options to choose from and factors to consider for travelling from Phuket airport to Khao Lak.
- Local Bus
- Private Taxi
- Dive Centre Minivan
- Rental Car
- How far is it?
- How long does it take?
How to travel from Phuket airport to Khao Lak by bus?
Unless you are alone, on a tight budget or you have plenty of time to kill, then this is NOT the best option. The Phuket airport to Khao Lak bus is not as easy as it sounds. There is no direct bus from Phuket airport to Khao Lak. This means you firstly have to get out onto the main road, which is 3 kilometres away from the airport. A private airport taxi doesn’t want to do a short cheap journey, and even though there are some airport bus services, they are infrequent and difficult to find. Even if you can get yourself and your luggage out to the main road, you then need to wait for a passing bus to Khao Lak. Some buses are direct, but others will stop half way and require you to transfer to another bus. Yes, it is a lot cheaper than a taxi but if you are paying for flights and a Similan diving trip then you can probably afford the small extra cost for much greater convenience. Solo travellers sometimes make the trip from Phuket airport to Khao Lak by bus if they have no one to share the cost of a taxi with.
What is the Phuket Airport to Khao Lak Taxi Price?
Phuket airport to Khao Lak taxi prices range from 1,000 THB to more than 2,000 THB per vehicle. The price of a taxi from Phuket Airport to Khao Lak depends on how many passengers, the time of day, and how you book it. 1,000 THB is the absolute cheapest price but 1,500 THB is the average cost of a taxi from Phuket Airport to Khao Lak. Prices are ‘per vehicle’ not ‘per person.’
1-3 passengers can travel from Phuket airport to Khao Lak in a standard taxi, such as a Toyota Corolla Altis. Of course, this depends on how much luggage you have. Sometimes three passengers and luggage need a larger car, such as a Toyota Camry or Fortuner SUV. There are also private minivan taxis which can take up to ten passengers.
The taxi fares during the daytime are cheaper than at night. This is partly due to the greater competition for business during the daytime and partly due to the driver’s overtime salary. From 7.00am to 7.00pm the day rates apply, and then from 7.00pm to 11.00pm the evening rates are slightly more. From 11.00pm to 7.00am expect to pay a bit more than the evening rates.
Although there are official taxis from Phuket Airport, there is very little regulation for fares to Khao Lak. The meter taxis are quite new to Phuket, but they are only licensed & willing to operate on Phuket Island. Khao Lak is in the neighbouring province of Phang Nga in the opposite direction, and this makes it almost impossible to get a meter taxi from Phuket Airport to Khao Lak. Therefore you need to pre-book a private taxi or negotiate when you arrive.
If you choose to negotiate then your success & the price will depend on the driver. If he thinks he can charge a higher price, he will. Sometimes our guests tell us that drivers normally try to charge 2,000 THB for a standard taxi, but they can be bargained with down to 1,500 THB.
Most of our guests pre-book a taxi with us. This way a fair priced is agreed and the driver tracks your flight before meeting you as you walk out of the airport. We only use one taxi company, who have served us perfectly for several years. Sometimes known as Boss Taxi Khao Lak, the official company name is Cheaper Than Hotel Taxis Khao Lak. With just a few hours’ advance booking Boss can have a driver meet your flight and bring you safely to your hotel or resort in Khao Lak Town. Rates start at 1,200 THB for 1-2 passengers during the daytime shift, but if you’re three or more people or landing late, then rates are still very competitive. 1,500 THB for a larger vehicle for up to four guests during the day or for 1-2 passengers in the middle of the night are examples.
Similan Liveaboard Minivan Transfers from Phuket Airport
Most Similan Island diving liveaboard boats depart in the late afternoon or evening from Khao Lak’s Tab Lamu Pier. Therefore, it’s common for guests to arrive at Phuket Airport during the day and travel directly to the dive centre or the pier in a minivan organised by the team. Some dive centres provide this service for free, and others charge a small amount, which is usually less than $10 US per person.
The minivans are used to collect guests from around Phuket first, and then they stop at the airport on the way north to Khao Lak. Therefore, when you get in the van there will most likely already be other guests who have been picked up from around Phuket. The minivans run to a set schedule, but it’s impossible to be exactly on time when collecting tourists from several places. Don’t expect a VIP service. You will be met by a representative at an agreed waiting area, and then ushered into the van. Your luggage will be put on the roof, in the boot/trunk, or maybe on your lap.
Is it Worth Renting a Car to Drive from Phuket Airport to Khao Lak?
In most cases the simple answer is no. If you’re going to join a Similan Islands liveaboard trip, then you will be out at sea for two or more days, so the rental car will be parked on land wasting its daily rental fee. If you’re just going on a day trip to The Similans, then you normally need to arrive in Khao Lak the day before anyway. There are plenty of car rental options at Phuket Airport, but these are better suited for people who will drive around to sightseeing locations and not join a diving trip.
How Far is Khao Lak from Phuket Airport?
The Phuket airport to Khao Lak distance is 75 kilometres (46 miles). The road is quite straight and easy to drive apart from the final 3-4 kilometres approaching Khao Lak. In 2018 much of the road was widened, making more lanes and therefore shorter journey times. Your Phuket to Khao Lak transfer time depends on your vehicle, driver and any traffic, but in general it’s 75 minutes from Phuket Airport to Khao Lak in a private vehicle. A fast driver may be able to complete the journey in one hour, and sometimes it may take an hour and a half. Journeys by bus depend on several other factors, but don’t be surprised if the total journey takes up to four hours.
So, now that you know more about how to get to Khao Lak after landing at Phuket Airport, all you need to do is choose which Similan Island liveaboard diving cruise best suits your schedule, budget and needs. Do a ‘date search’ on any page of our website, or get in touch with our team to let us find and offer you the best available trips.
Getting Around Khao Lak & Returning to Phuket Afterwards
There are lots of travel options in Khao Lak and to return to Phuket afterwards. Unlike the greedy travel agents in Phuket’s main tourist areas, Khao Lak is a lot more laid back and friendly. Khao Lak taxi prices are also far more reasonable. Online Khao Lak reviews usually support this theory. Khao Lak transport is available in several forms.
Taxis in Khao Lak : These are local pickup trucks that have been converted to take up to about twelve passengers. The rear of the vehicle has two bench seats and a roof. The sides and rear are exposed. Prices start at 100 THB for a 2-kilometre trip from Nang Thong to Bang Niang or back. Prices depend on the distance, how many passengers and the time of day. For a private taxi Khao Lak normally has these vehicles, but it’s also possible to hire a car & driver. A private driver Khao Lak price depends on the time, distance, vehicle and how many passengers.
Rental Scooters : The most-popular way to get around Khao Lak is to rent a motorcycle scooter. This can be done for as little as 150 THB/day for a simple Japanese twist-and-go motorcycle. Newer & more-flashy models can cost 250-350 THB/day. Make sure you get & wear a crash helmet because police road blocks are common. The roads in Thailand are infamously dangerous, but in general Khao Lak is much safer than Phuket.
Returning to Phuket : Once you’re in Khao Lak you may choose to stay longer instead of returning to Phuket. Also, you may have gotten used to the prices, vehicles, roads and general travelling in southern Thailand. Depending on where you want to go, your Khao Lak transfer should be easy enough to arrange. Some people try to do it online in advance, but it’s easier once you’re actually there.
To travel from Khao Lak to Phuket Airport, you can do this by taxi or by bus. There are also some shared minivan services. From Khao Lak bus station you can get tickets for a Khao Lak to Phuket Airport bus. A Khao Lak to Patong taxi costs at least 1,800 THB per car. Normally the price starts at 2,000 THB because Patong is much further than from Khao Lak to Phuket airport. Also, the driver is less likely to be able to find customers for his return to Khao Lak from Patong.
Coming to Khao Lak from Elsewhere
If you’re coming to Khao Lak from elsewhere, such as Phuket’s tourist areas or even Bangkok, then this link (getting to Similans blog) may be of more use to you. Getting from Phuket to Khao Lak can be done a number of ways, including public bus, private taxi and shared minivan. It is not possible to travel from Phuket to Khao Lak by boat. The Phuket to Khao Lak distance depends on where you start in Phuket, but on average it’s 100-120 kilometres from the southern beaches. Normally, the travel agents at Phuket tourist beaches try to persuade you to pay a private taxi, but it is also possible to find a shared minivan service. There is no benefit to them to help you with a public bus, other than to charge you for a transfer to the other side of the island where the Phuket Bus Terminal is located.
- A Phuket to Khao Lak bus ticket can be bought from one of the Phuket bus terminals. Phuket Bus Terminal 2 is located north of Phuket Old Town. It is quite common for non-diving tourists to also travel from Phuket Bus Terminal 2 to Patong or from Phuket Airport to bus terminal 2. This bus station is also where you would board a Phuket to Bangkok bus or Phuket to Ao Nang bus. It’s important to check the Phuket bus timetable, as information is impossible to keep up to date when they change schedules, prices etc.
- Travelling from Bangkok to Khao Lak can be done on a VIP bus that takes approximately twelve hours, but we recommend flying to Phuket Airport and then using one of the transfer methods listed above. There are now several low-cost airlines offering flights from Bangkok throughout the day and night.