Renting a car in Phuket is surprisingly affordable, especially if you’ll be in the area for a while and need a vehicle to get around. Many people believe that because Phuket is an island, it’s small and easy to get around. In reality, it is anything but.
Taxi fares can add up to some serious money—in fact, for the cost of about three medium-distance taxi rides, you can rent a car in Phuket for an entire day. This makes renting a car the go-to choice for people looking to maximise their vacation dollars and their personal freedom.
Where to Rent
The vast majority of people arriving in Phuket do so by plane. There is limited bus service via a single bridge that connects the island to the mainland, and Thailand’s rail system does not extend to Phuket. However, some travellers may arrive from other popular destinations, such as those coming from Koh Phi Phi via ferry.
The primary car rental location for most arrivals to Phuket is Phuket International Airport (HKT). The alternate location is in the Patong Beach area—the tourist mecca of the island.
At Phuket Airport
Drive Car Rental’s desk is located on the first floor of the international terminal. Go to the arrivals hall, and you’ll find us near gate four.
At Patong Beach
Our rental desk is inside the lobby of the Holiday Inn Hotel located on Thaweewong Road, on the south side of the Patong Beach area.
The rates are comparable between locations, with only slight variations based on the season and current inventory.
Tips for Driving in Thailand
Passengers travelling internationally should know that Thailand drives on the left side of the road, just like the UK, Malaysia, Australia, and Japan. The steering wheel is on the right side of the car, so take a few minutes to familiarise yourself with your vehicle before you start your journey.
Most road signs will be in Thai and in English and will display distance in kilometres. They also often list the road number you are on. Motorcycles are very common in Thailand, and they typically stay to the left and drive slower than normal traffic. Keep an eye out, and always check your blind spots before changing lanes, as motorbikes commonly weave between cars in heavy traffic.
Beware of narrow alleys and one-way streets, as they are everywhere in Thailand. Be sure and have a look at the map before going anywhere, lest you find yourself needing to make a long circle u-turn on one-way streets.
Ways to Save Money on Rentals
Obviously, the smaller and more economical the car that you rent, the cheaper it will be. Beyond that, here are a few ways to save money on rentals:
Rent by the Week or Month
The highest rates are weekend single days, as demand will be the highest then. One way to help cut this cost is to rent your car in the middle of the week and take it for the entire week.
Alternatively, if you’ve fallen in love with Thailand and want to stay awhile, renting a car for an entire month can save you some serious cash.
Visit Phuket in the Off-Season
With so many things to see in Phuket, a great way to avoid crowds and higher prices is to visit in the low season–this is also known as the rainy season, and it runs from May to October. Prices for hotels, car rentals, and excursions are often significantly cheaper during this time.
While it may seem that visiting during the rainy season means your vacation could get rained out, this isn’t really true. Much of the rain comes in short bursts of just twenty or thirty minutes. The rest of the day it is typically cloudy, which helps subdue the sweltering tropical temperatures.
Off-season visits also mean getting a more intimate look at places that are often overcrowded. This allows you to take in the vibe and atmosphere of each place you visit, rather than having to push your way through throngs of other tourists to get a glimpse of what you came so far to see.
The Trip You Deserve
Phuket is an incredible destination that deserves a spot on dream vacation lists. By visiting in the off season and renting a car, you can save money and have a unique and intimate experience in this magical place!