Rent a Car for Travel in Phuket

The island of Phuket in southern Thailand is a popular tropical getaway known for its palm-lined beaches, colorful coral reefs, luxurious resorts and lively nightlife. Renting a car during your Phuket vacation gives you the freedom to explore the island’s many treasures at your own pace.

Benefits of Renting a Car in Phuket

Having your own set of wheels provides advantages when exploring Phuket:

  • Freedom – Go where you want when you want without relying on group tours or public transport. Fully customize your itinerary.
  • Convenience – Avoid wasting precious vacation time waiting for buses or haggling with taxis. Travel door-to-door from your hotel.
  • Accessibility – Reach remote beaches, island viewpoints, small villages and other sites not easily accessible otherwise.
  • Cost Savings – Renting a car can actually be cheaper than relying on taxis and tuk tuks, especially for families or small groups.
  • Comfort – Travel relaxed with air conditioning and space for luggage and other amenities you need.
  • Island Exploration – Circling the island by car lets you discover beaches, restaurants and attractions at your own pace.

Types of Rental Cars Available in Phuket

Phuket offers rental cars ranging from economy models to luxury vehicles:

  • Economy – Small hatchbacks like Toyota Vios ideal for squeezing into tight spaces. Gets great gas mileage.
  • Compact Sedans – Roomier models like Honda Jazz or Toyota Altis for 2-3 passengers.
  • Standard Sedan – Midsize 4-door saloons like Toyota Corolla with ample luggage room.
  • Minivans – Spacious models like the Toyota Innova for families up to 6.
  • SUVs – 4x4s like the Toyota Fortuner for rougher terrain on rural roads.
  • Luxury Cars – Impress with an Audi, BMW or Mercedes rental on your holiday.
  • Convertibles – Fun cruising around the island with the top down in a sporty convertible.

Where to Rent a Car in Phuket

Convenient car rental locations around the island include:

  • Airport – Counters in the arrival hall of Phuket International Airport for pick-up and drop-off.
  • Hotels – Major beach resorts either have on-site rental or partnerships with agencies.
  • Patong Beach – Agencies located in Thailand’s premier beach party town.
  • Phuket City – Scattered rental offices within Thailand’s largest island city.
  • Online – Reserve ahead online for the best rates and confirmed booking.

Documentation Required to Rent a Car in Phuket

Have these documents ready to present when picking up your rental:

  • Valid Driver’s License – Must be presented with a valid license from your home country. International Driving Permit is recommended but not always mandatory.
  • Passport – Required to verify your identity. Should be valid for at least 60 days beyond rental period.
  • Credit Card – Necessary to pay for the car rental as agencies do not accept cash or debit cards.
  • Voucher – Any confirmation voucher if you prepaid for your booking online.

Driving Laws and Rules in Phuket

Driving a rental car requires observing these main Thai road rules:

  • Drive on the left-hand side of the road.
  • Driver and passengers must wear seat belts at all times.
  • Using a mobile phone while driving is prohibited, even with hands-free devices.
  • Drink driving laws are strictly enforced. The legal limit is 0.05% BAC.
  • Motorcycle helmets are required by law and provided with rentals. Wear them.
  • Speed limits are 60 km/h in cities, 80-100 km/h on rural roads.
  • Be mindful of pedestrians, motorbikes, tuk tuks and animals crossing the roads.

Top Destinations to Explore By Rental Car in Phuket

A rental car allows easy access to top attractions around the island:

  • Big Buddha – Phuket’s iconic 150-foot tall white marble Buddha statue. Offers 360 degree views.
  • Old Phuket Town – Quaint Sino-Portuguese district with colorful shophouses, cafes and museums.
  • Karon Viewpoint – Dramatic cliffside lookout spot with vistas of Kata, Karon and Patong beaches.
  • Wat Chalong – Gorgeous Buddhist temple that is Phuket’s most revered and important monument.
  • Phi Phi Islands – Famous archipelago of islands with pristine beaches and cobalt waters.
  • Phang Nga Bay – Striking bay dotted with limestone karsts jutting from emerald waters.
  • Similan Islands – Stunning protected national park renowned for diving and snorkeling.
  • Bang Pae Waterfall – Rainforest waterfall offering refreshing swims in jungle-fringed rock pools.
  • Phuket Town – Explore Sino-Portuguese architecture, shops, and restaurants in the island capital.

Helpful Driving Tips in Phuket

Follow these tips for a smooth and safe rental car experience in Phuket:

  • Drive defensively as local driving style tends to be more aggressive.
  • Opt for a car with air conditioning as Phuket gets very hot and humid.
  • Use mobile GPS or rent a car GPS to help navigate Phuket’s disorienting roads.
  • Print out a detailed Phuket map as backup in case you lose data connectivity.
  • Confirm that the rental agency includes free emergency roadside assistance.
  • Carefully inspect the car at pick-up and note any existing damage on the contract.
  • Confirm that insurance coverage is included – additional coverage can provide peace of mind.
  • Avoid leaving any valuables in the car when parked to deter smash and grab theft.

FAQs about Renting a Car in Phuket

What is the minimum age to rent a car in Phuket?

The minimum age to rent a car is typically 21 years old but a few companies may rent to younger drivers for an added fee.

Can I use my international or home country driver’s license?

Yes, foreign licenses are accepted if presented along with your passport. An IDP is recommended but not always mandatory.

Are automatic transmission cars common for rentals?

Automatic transmission cars are readily available from major rental companies around Phuket.

Do I need an International Driving Permit to rent a car?

Having an IDP along with your native license is advisable but not legally required in Phuket.

What side of the road does Thailand drive on?

Thailand drives on the left side of the road unlike most Western countries.


Renting a car opens up the freedom to explore Phuket’s stunning beaches, cultural attractions, sleepy rural roads and surrounding islands at your own pace. Just be sure to adhere to local driving laws and road etiquette for a smooth experience. With a comfortable set of rental wheels, you can pack your Phuket trip with adventure and make unforgettable memories.


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