It is not as easy to make the 55 minute trip to Karon Beach from the airport as it should be. For those arriving from the airport, the best solution is to make arrangements with your hotel or guest house to pick you up. Of course this is often not practical or possible.
Another solution would be to rent a car, which is possible if one has an international driver's license. It can be expensive, however, and risky for drivers not accustomed to driving in Thailand.
The most practical option is to take a metered taxi or an airport taxi (limousine). The metered taxi is the cheapest option even though they frequently will not use their meters. They will probably charge in the range of 650 to 700 baht. They are easily identified – they are red and yellow – and are located just to the right of the main building.
The limousines, which are larger vehicles and have a reputation for fast driving, generally charge 200 to 300 baht more than the taxis. Representatives of the limousine service meet all arriving travellers and there are service desks inside the airport. The limousine service also runs a minivan but it is not recommended.
It is possible to take the airport bus to Phuket town (the airport bus only goes to Phuket town), and then get a local bus to Karon Beach, but this is complicated as there is no bus station for the local buses, they do not make regular stops and they stop running at 18:00!!!
One could also try hiring a local driver to meet you at the airport.
Most people get around by hiring motorbike taxis or "tuk-tuk" taxis. Tuk-tuks are small, bright red, four wheel vehicles where the driver sits in a cab and the passengers sit in an enclosed flatbed area in back.
Motorbike taxis and tuk-tuks are safe and efficient, although the drivers are not always polite and friendly. Most destinations in Karon have a standard price, but you should always ask, especially at night, and politely decline if the price seems too high.
This is also not as easy as it should be. The only "public" buses on the island go to Phuket town from varioius locations on the island and back to Phuket. Thus, it is possible to catch a bus to Phuket town, and then in Phuket, catch a bus to another location such as Patong.
But you can't catch a bus directely from Karon to Patong!! Also, the bus service stops running at 18:00!! After this time, those without their own transportation must rely on motorbike and tuk-tuk taxis to transport them and this can be expensive.
While the buses are cheap, usually costing 20 to 30 baht for a trip, it has been reported that tuk-tuk drivers are asking as much as 700 baht to transport customers from Karon to Patong in the day time. And of course the price increases after dark.
Those considering taking a tuk-tuk to a location outside of Karon MUST ask the price in advance and either say "yes" or "no".
For those interested in catching the local bus, hotel or guest house employees, or merchants can explain the best place to "flag" one. There are no regularly scheduled stops. Unfortunately, travel around Phuket from Karon is not easy or cheap.