First we were driving completly alone from the Phuket town center to a beach near Phuket airport. Then children came on the bus and the crowd was so big I though someone will fall down of the bus.
And after arriving on the bus station we realized that the beach was more than 5 km away ...
One small problem with Phuket, is the public transport network. Buses run between Phuket town and all major western beaches, but not between the beaches on the west coast. This means if you don't fancy a long round-about trip to get say from Kata to Patong, you can take a tuk-tuk. The tuk-tuks on Phuket aren't quite like the ones in Bangkok. They're bigger and very expensive. Fares are fixed by the "tuk-tuk cartel", so don't bother trying to haggle. 200Baht is the fare from Kata to Patong and that's just oneway!! I read that taxis are being introduced to the island in order to provide competition for the tuk-tuk oligopoly and therefore reduce costs of transport between beach towns. Send me an e-mail if you learn more!
I did the long journey from KL to Patong Beach. Took bus from Puda Raya (35RM) from KL for an approx 7 hour journey to Hat Yai. At Hat Yai I booked a mini van for 300B (Variety Travel: 074 - 351280/81). They said it would take 6 hours when in fact it was 9 hours and the driver took us to a place where we were basically agresssively asked to reconsider our accommodation options and staying in one of "their" hotels. Looking back I should have gone to the Phuket Bus Station and caught a Top Class bus for the same price - but quicker and more comfortable.
Once in Phuket you have to get to the markets (1-2 Km walk) from the Phuket bus station to the markets to make sure you get the last bus at approx 6pm. The bus trip costs 15B. If you miss the bus - you will have to catch a tuk-tuk or motorbike taxi (between 100B and 500B).
We tried travelling on the local Kata/Karon bus to Phuket town. It costs 20 baht per person regardless of the starting or ending point. It took us more than an hour to travel from the starting point at Kata to Phuket town. The bus comes at half hour intervals. But they may wait for more than 10min for passengers at Kata and Phuket towns, the starting points. We also noticed that there was a bus from Phuket town to Patong and each passenger pays 15 Baht.
Buses (sawng thaews) to the various beaches leave from the main market in Phuket.
If you arrive at the main bus station from elsewhere in Thailand and want to get to the beach don't believe anyone that tells you that it is necessary to get a tuk-tuk or taxi. You can of course, but the bus is cheaper.
The market is about a 10 minute walk from the main bus station or a short tuk-tuk ride if you are carrying luggage.
There are 3 airlines flying this sector.
They are: Silkair, Tiger Airways & Jetstar Asia.
Both Tiger Airways & Jetstar Asia are budget airlines.