The two ridesharing apps, Grab and Bolt, are both legally allowed to operate in Phuket, but which one may be better for you to use? We regularly use both apps, so we thought it would be helpful to compare the features and efficiency of both apps to help you decide.
TL;DR – download both apps for your trip to Phuket!
Table of Contents
The Vehicle Categories Grab vs Bolt
In Phuket, both Bolt and Grab offer a range of vehicle types to cater to different needs and preferences. Here’s a breakdown of the options available from each service:
Bolt Vehicle Types in Phuket
|These are the most affordable standard cars, suitable for everyday rides
|Regular cars that offer a balance between affordability and comfort
|Perfect for larger groups or families
|suitable for families
|Order a regular metered taxi at a suggested price
Grab Vehicle Types in Phuket
|Great for short solo rides
|Luxurious ride in a CABB (London-style taxi)
|Experience a more comfortable ride
|More space for luggage, but should also offer a pop-up extra row for kids, allowing up to 6 passengers
|Best for larger groups
|Great for short trips
|Limited area instant service – you’ll be assigned whatever vehicle is nearest to you -only in Phuket Town and around Patong/Karon beach area
Pros and Cons of Grab vs Bolt
Pricing: The immediate thing we noticed when we started using Bolt as well as Grab in Phuket was the pricing. Bolts prices are easily 25-50% cheaper every time we have used the app.
Availability: The reason we don’t automatically use Bolt every time is that there are simply more Grab drivers available at this time (Dec 2024 last updared). This could change over time, but I’d say 50% of the time, we’re being asked to wait over 10 minutes for the next available car on Bolt, whereas Grab we never wait more than 5 minutes, max.
Punctuality: Bolt also seems to have a habit of telling you a car is assigned and then cancelling a few minutes later after you’ve already done the payment hold or waited 10 minutes. Grab, we’ve found far fewer issues; once your ride is accepted, the driver shows up pretty quick, and you don’t have to wait for them to complete another journey first.
Payment: One small intricacy we have noticed is that once you have your DR/CR card set up on Grab, the amount just comes off as a hold when you book and payment is taken after your journey.
Bolt works pretty similarly, though upon booking, you can choose to pay in cash, by card, or using a Bolt balance (the fare doesn’t change).
We are, however, asked every time to enter a secure banking pin for Bolt. Luckily, we run dual sims for Thailand and our home country, but just be mindful of this if you travel on a different mobile number from your banking system: this emphasises the fact you really need to run dual sims these days when travelling.
Cleanliness: We never found an issue with either service; the cars that have picked us up are clean, the right size we ordered, and properly have their licenses displayed.
Safety: Through both apps, your journey is traced through GPS, and you can share your journey details
So whether you book Grab or Bolt in Phuket, it’s really up to you and your patience for potentially waiting a little longer vs getting a great price on your transportation. We have both apps and use both on an almost daily basis when we are staying in Phuket. Bolt is undoubtedly cheaper and the one we’ll try first, but Grab is more reliable.
Although Grab and Bolt are the apps you’ll most commonly hear mentioned, there are eleven approved apps you can use in Phuket. You could also try:
- Hello Phuket (App Store | Google Play)
- Robinhood (App Store | Google Play)
- CABB (App Store | Google Play)
- bonku (App Store | Google Play)
- AirAsia Super App (App Store | Google Play)
- InDrive (App Store | Google Play)
- TADA (App Store | Google Play)
- Maxim (App Store | Google Play)
- Line Man (App Store | Google Play)
Be aware you may not have the same availability for drivers with these apps, but some of these could be good options to consider if you want to pre-book a driver service.
Since we wrote this review initially, InDrive received final approval to operate from Phuket’s Provincial Land Transport Office. February 2024 saw another three services added to the legal list so you really have a lot of choice now ehen it comes to choosing your Phuket ride share service.
There are, unfortunately, still high incidents of ‘the taxi mafia’ operating in Phuket. These are the guys who operate taxi stands outside of key tourist locations.
They can be notoriously difficult to negotiate and deal with, despite set rates between many key destinations and have been reported on many occasions as not just harassing but threatening and executing physical violence on legally-operating rideshare drivers.
They are entirely in the wrong, and as a passenger, you should feel safe, but unfortunately, many green plate drivers do not feel comfortable at present with particular locations. Be mindful of suggesting pick-up points adjacent to existing taxi stands; you may want to consider setting your pick-up pin at least 100m away from where a taxi stand operates to prevent arguments over ‘turf wars.’
We explain more about the difference between yellow-plated/metered taxis and green-plate cars over here.
Other Transport Options in Phuket
Taxis and rideshares may be convenient t for tourists, particularly those travelling in a family group, but they’re not the only option, depending on what flexibility you need; you can also consider:
- The SmartBus operates through the west coast beachside towns all the way from HKT to Rawai on the south coast. This is just ฿100 per person per journey (so value for money depends on how many passengers you have)
- Take a local Songthaew, a unique open-air experience but great if you’re on a budget and you’re prepared for the haphazard timetabling! Expect around ฿30-50 per passenger.
- Hire a car or motorbike; cost is hugely variable on car size and model, but it can open up a greater amount of flexibility in terms of planning your travel around the island.
© Mama Loves Phuket 2024