To get from the airport to your destination, there are several options:
Municipal a/c Airport Bus service (every day 6:30-20:45, every 60-90 minutes) to Phuket Town bus station costs 85 baht and takes one hour. Local buses run from there and Ranong Street Market to all the major beaches until around 18:00 for about 25-40 THB. After getting off the respective bus just cross the street and wait for the continuing bus there. It is a very convenient and comfortable spot, with no touts or hustlers, plenty of shade and a mini mart for drinks and snacks. — The bus will stop anywhere along its route upon signaling the driver (“bus hiking). A very informative website is here: www.airportbusphuket.com
If you are going to take the municipal airport bus from Phuket to the airport in the afternoon (especially 16:30 and 17:30 buses) you should allow yourself plenty of time. With dozens of schoolchildren getting on and off during weekdays and/or congested traffic the bus is frequently delayed en route.
Minibus services (basically door-to-door share taxis) are a good value. They charge 150-250 baht per seat, and will get you to your destination much faster than the municipal/government buses. To Patong 150 is typical; to Kata Beach, 180. When you get off the plane, don’t dally, because when the minibuses fill up, they leave. If you miss the first group of them, you may have to wait until the next plane comes in, because they don’t leave until they’re full. Note that the minibuses will stop at a travel agent about halfway to Patong. They’ll ask everyone to get out (you don’t have to) and then they’ll ask you where you’re staying, and they’ll try to sell you a hotel. You’re NOT obligated to use the hotels they push. Just say you already bloged a hotel, and tell them the name. They will inform the driver, and he/she will drop you off at the hotel. This is a little annoying, but it’s over in 10 minutes, and you’re on your way again. Any travel agent can arrange a minibus ride for the way back to the airport.
Metered (yellow) taxis – Turn right as you exit the airport building (ignore the touts) and you’ll see a stand at the end of the walkway. You tell your destination to the staff at the stand and they will give you a paper with the taxi driver number for you to keep in case you need to report a problem. Fares to destinations in Phuket cost around 600 baht and up. The rate is what is displayed by the meter plus 100-baht airport fee. The meter will start with a 50 baht display. You may stumble upon a freelance taxi driver that will take you from the Airport to Patong for the flat fee of 450 baht. If the driver is pleasant, you may wish to ask for his mobile number for the return trip later. The same driver can take you from Patong to Phuket Town for 350 to 400 baht.
Limousine (blue) taxis from the airport are expensive, costing 600-700 baht to Patong or Bt800 Phuket Town. The airport co-op booth tucked away towards the back is a little cheaper than the competition. Despite the name, most “limousines” are Toyota Camrys with leather seats, though you may be lucky and get a Mercedes. It is likely that your “limousine” will also stop at a travel agent in order to sell you hotel rooms and/or tours. Before you purchase your fare, insist that you do not want to stop at any travel agency along the way. (They will try to legitimize stopping at the travel agency by insisting that “the driver must sign in” or “the driver needs to stop here for directions”)
Departure tax is now included in the ticket price. The airport is notionally divided into Terminal 1 and 2, with some charter and low-cost operators using the second, but these are only a few hundred meters apart and connected by an air-conditioned walkway.