Phuket International Airport serves not only Phuket Town and Patong but all of the beach resorts on this much-loved southern Thai island. It is located in the north of Phuket Island, around 30 kilometres from Phuket Town, and serves domestic routes across Thailand, as well as international flights.
The Phuket International Airport is the third busiest in Thailand after Bangkok’s two airports, Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang, and plays a vital role in the island’s flourishing tourism industry. It is divided into two terminals, including Terminal 1 which is used for international flights that were newly opened in 2016, and Terminal 2 for domestic routes. A third terminal, known as Terminal X, was also opened in February 2014 to serve charter flights. The airport is relatively compact which makes getting to gates easy and there are a few duty-free shops and eateries scattered throughout both terminals. Currency exchange facilities and ATMs are located throughout the arrival halls, as are car hire companies and private transfer booths. The airport lies just behind Mai Khao Beach and the approach over the Andaman Sea is one of the world’s most spectacular, passing over magnificent Phang Nga Bay and its karst limestone islands.
Phuket Airport is connected to Patong, Kata and Karon beaches via shared minibuses, or there are metered taxis which wait in the ranks outside for a private transfer or to venture further afield. There are also airport bus connections to the main terminal in Phuket Town from where visitors can get public transport to the island.
Prior to the construction of the Phuket International Airport, the island was served by a smaller airport which began operations in the 1970s after the first bungalows opened at Patong Beach. As tourism flourished on the island and the demand for flights increased, the new facility was built in 1988 to handle around 6.5 million passengers, with recent expansions almost doubling the capacity to 12.5 million.