We can’t talk about Thailand’s beach destinations without mentioning its 2 most popular beach spots – Phuket and Krabi. Surrounded by gorgeous islands and pristine waters, Phuket and Krabi both share a lot of similarities and travellers are usually faced with a tough decision of choosing between the two 🤔
To help you out, we’ve come up with this guide so you’ll know which getaway is more suitable for you!
#HHWT Tip: Before you go on your trip, don’t forget to get your travel essentials on Klook! One of the most important things is getting mobile data and Klook’s 4G Sim Card is just what you need – it has unlimited data with 4G speeds up to 3GB for 8 days. You can book online at a cheaper price and pick it up at Phuket or Krabi Airport!
First up, the deal breaker to choosing any beach getaway – the beaches. Honestly, it’s hard to choose between Phuket or Krabi as they are both blessed with beautiful beaches. So, it all boils down to what type of traveller you are and the atmosphere you’re looking for.
Let’s start off with Phuket! Being the more popular destination out of the two, Phuket’s beaches are known to be filled with tourists but thankfully, with over 30 beaches, there’s enough space for you not to feel like it’s overcrowded. Phuket’s beaches are perfect if you’re looking for variety and convenience 🤗
Now, who says you need to hang around Patong Beach all the time? Don’t get us wrong though – for all its crowds and tourist traps, Patong’s still got its charm and a lively atmosphere, so it’s no wonder why many beachgoers still head there. Not to mention that it’s easily accessible to everything – hotels, shops, restaurants, spas and more.
Credit: Love Rawai on Facebook
But believe it or not, it is possible to find quieter beaches in Phuket too. Karon and Kata beaches are perfect alternatives to Patong, with laidback vibes but still close to shops and restaurants. Looking for even more secluded spots? Phuket’s got them too! Bangtao, Surin and Nai Harn beaches will give you some undisturbed time 🙆♀️
If you’re thinking of limestone caves with white sandy beaches and emerald waters, then you probably got Krabi’s beaches right. Krabi might have lesser beaches than Phuket but each of them is steeped in a natural beauty that’ll leave you in awe. We recommend Krabi if you’re looking for complete serenity and a getaway that’ll transport you to another world.
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Take for example Krabi’s iconic Railay Beach – there are no roads here and the only access to it is via longtail boats. Although it’s popular with beachgoers, being cut off from the rest of Krabi means that it’s mostly just you and the beach, with little distraction. Plus, there are 4 coastlines to choose from, each with gorgeous views of limestone cliffs 😍
Credit: Chalamkaw Muay thai Krabi on Facebook
Even Krabi’s most vibrant spot, Ao Nang Beach, can’t be compared to Phuket’s Patong. With a small town atmosphere and friendliness of the locals, it’s perfect if you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. If you want an even quieter spot, Krabi’s Klong Muang and Tub Kaek beaches will do just the trick. They are both tranquil beach spots which you can’t quite find anywhere else.
2. Island day trips
Located just a mere 90 minutes speedboat ride from each other and separated only by the Phang Nga Bay, Phuket and Krabi share many gorgeous islands. Day trips from both places will most likely cover the same places such as Phi Phi Islands, James Bond Island and Phang Nga Bay. But that said, some islands are only accessible from Phuket or Krabi alone, so here’s a breakdown.
If you’re looking for a quieter vibe with less crowd, Phuket’s Racha Island is the place to be. This tranquil island is a perfect alternative to the busy Phi Phi Islands and is known as an excellent diving and snorkelling spot.
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Take your sightseeing in Racha up a notch by booking a luxurious Klook catamaran tour. If you’ve never sat on a catamaran before, here’s the perfect chance to do so! You’ll feel like royalty on this catamaran as meals and snacks are prepared onboard by a hotel chef (vegetarian option available). With ample room to relax and bask under the sun, you’ll get to explore Racha at your own leisurely time, which is better than travelling on a speedboat 😉
Credit: Nok T. Pohnchanok on Facebook
Other than the chance to snorkel in Racha’s refreshing waters, the catamaran will also make a stop at Coral Island where you’ll be able to try water activities like parasailing, jet ski or sea walking or kayaking. Tours like these are one of the ways you can pack a whole lot of activities in your Phuket island-hopping itinerary.
While Krabi might not have fancy or luxurious tours, its paradise islands alone will be the star of your day trips. And a speedboat trip to Koh Rok and Koh Haa certainly won’t disappoint. For one, there is no lack of gorgeous spots both over and underwater at these two islands. In fact, they are known to be the most magnificent islands in Krabi, largely unmarred by tourism.
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With endless white sand beaches and turquoise clear waters, Koh Rok and Koh Haa are one of the best playgrounds for divers and snorkelers. The abundant marine life here will leave you in awe – gorgeous reefs, unique fish species, sea turtles, white sharks and even manta rays 😱
Credit: Beaches & Resorts – Southeast Asia on Facebook
Another island exclusively accessible to Krabi is Koh Hong. With the Phang Nga Bay as a backdrop, Koh Hong is known to be one of the most beautiful islands in Thailand. Consisting of a lagoon surrounded by majestic cliffs, a visit to Koh Hong promises utmost privacy and transports you away from the hordes of tourists. The best part is, to explore these islands, you can choose either a speedboat or longtail boat tour. We’d recommend taking the longtail boat for a more authentic local experience! You can also do a couple of activities here, from snorkelling to kayaking.
P.S. Do note that some of the marine parks in Krabi have entrance fees in order to preserve the environment and are usually not included in the tour prices.
BONUS: Phi Phi Islands
One of the destinations that are worth a visit from both Phuket and Krabi is Phi Phi Islands. Consisting of two islands – Phi Phi Leh and Phi Phi Don – these islands are made up of the greenest waters and gorgeous rock formations. The uninhabited Phi Phi Leh is home to gorgeous lagoons like Pileh Cove and Maya Bay (closed to tourists) which has been featured in Hollywood movies.
Although there are many tourists at Phi Phi, it’s still an unmissable experience, whether you’re from Phuket or Krabi. The best part is, there are speedboat tours from both destinations. From Phuket, you can book a day trip to Phi Phi, either alone or with accompanying islands like Khai or Bamboo. From Krabi, the Phi Phi tour will include a visit to Bamboo Island. Tours from both Phuket and Krabi will also include a snorkelling stop so you rest assured, you can marvel at the coral reefs and marine life that Phi Phi has to offer!
#HHWT Tip: We recommend booking your island day trips on Klook as they are reliable and affordable. Plus, you can get discounts with these promo codes: TRAVELHHWT (SGD5 off), TRAVELHHWTMY (MYR15 off), TRAVELHHWTID (IDR50,000 off). (The promo codes have ended as of 31 Dec 2018 ☹️)
What makes Phuket and Krabi more than just mere beach getaways are the wealth of thrilling activities you can do in both places. While they both have many similar activities, here are some activities that we’d recommend you to do in each destination 😊
Phuket’s perfect for its array of thrilling activities which includes both beach and nature activities. So, if you’re looking for a good mix of both, Phuket’s your best bet. One of the must-do activities for thrill seekers is parasailing. For the uninitiated, parasailing is when you’re gliding through the air on an open parachute, towed by a motorboat. With such an expansive coastline, parasailing gives you a breathtaking view of Phuket from above.
If you’d like to see clear waters and reefs from up above, try parasailing at Banana Beach, Coral Island. Here, your view won’t be clouded by the crowd – it’s just you, the sea and the islands surrounding Phuket. Banana Beach’s also great for those of you who want to try jet ski or sea-walking!
Did you know that a large part of Phuket is covered in lush forests? The Flying Hanuman is one way to experience the best of Phuket’s jungles. This adventure course is one of Southeast Asia’s top rainforest escapes 👍
With 28 platforms, this is the best place to get your adventure fix, with a non-stop course consisting of zip lines, abseils and sky bridges. Check this out – the Flying Hanuman’s longest zipline is 400+ metres and highest abseil is 40 metres. This is one activity that’ll suit all you adrenaline junkies!
#HHWT Tip: Book the Flying Hanuman on Klook for a more affordable price and you get the option of including a private transfer to and from your hotel, and a Muslim-friendly vegetarian meal.
As we’ve mentioned earlier, Krabi is defined by its majestic limestone formations and scenic nature. Many adventurous activities in Krabi will let you experience its stunning natural beauty. If all you need is a day or two steeped in nature, then Krabi is perfect. A mangrove kayak trip through one of Krabi’s hidden bays, Ao Thalane, will leave you in awe. Not only are the karst formations a sight to behold, but the abundant nature and wildlife in the mangrove forests are also a great way to destress and isolate your mind from your busy schedules for just a bit 😌
We recommend booking this mangrove tour on Klook where you’ll get the option of choosing a half-day or full-day tour. Plus, with private transfers to and from your hotel, you won’t need to worry about getting there.
If kayaking isn’t enough for you, another activity that’s bound to keep your heart pumping is a rock climbing course at Railay. As if admiring Railay’s limestone cliffs through its beaches isn’t amazing enough, now you can even get close to them! With a rock climbing course booked on Klook, you’re in good hands of a reputable rock climbing school.
Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, there are packages suited for you, so you don’t need to worry even if it’s your first time climbing. Other than enjoying the panoramic view from high up, you can also add a caving tour to marvel at other natural wonders of the cliffs.
P.S. While you’re busy making your way to the top, don’t forget to look down and admire the beautiful view of the beach.
4. Exciting activities (other than beaches!)
Yes, a whole day out on the beach is fun but there are times where you want to take a break from the beach and engage in other activities, especially if you’re travelling in a big group of family and friends. Well, lucky for you, both Phuket and Krabi have some exciting non-beach activities in store for you and here are our top picks!
Often overlooked for just a beach destination, a lot of travellers miss out on one of Phuket’s underrated spots, Phuket Town. Exuding an old town charm and filled with colourful shophouses dating a 100 years, a visit to this town will fascinate you.
Credit: @ssmusicluv on Instagram
The best way to explore Phuket Town is through Klook’s Phuket Heritage Walk which will bring you through the Sino-Portuguese architecture of the area. You’ll get to visit the Chinpracha House, a mansion built in 1903, and Thai Hua Museum, which was once a Chinese language school. Here’s where you’ll learn more about the culture and history of Phuket, which is perfect if you’re travelling with your kids as they can learn a thing or two!
#HHWT Tip: Don’t forget to snap some pictures for the ‘gram, especially with the colourful backdrops and street art at Phang Nga Rd.
For a good break from the beach, Krabi’s Tiger Cave and Emerald Pool Jungle Tour will do just the trick. We know, a jungle tour sounds tiring but believe it or not, this fairly relaxing tour will bring you to Emerald Pool, one of Krabi’s best hot springs. With an abundance of minerals from surrounding limestone hills, soaking yourself in the pool will immediately rejuvenate you.
Credit: @mingbling_ on Instagram
You’ll also get to explore the Tiger Cave Temple, named after a rock formation resembling a tiger’s claw. Being a meditation centre amidst the mountains, you’ll feel at ease here with the view of Krabi beneath you 😍
Credit: @moni.que.schm on Instagram
BONUS: Spa packages
What better way to pamper yourself on a beach vacay than to indulge in a spa? Fortunately, both Phuket and Krabi have several massage chains that provide affordable spa packages so you don’t have to break the bank for total indulgence. After all the day trips to islands and thrilling activities, it will surely feel good to relax and unwind in the comforts of a professional therapist 💆♀️
We recommend heading to Let’s Relax Spa for a much-needed session. This award-winning massage chain has outlets in both Phuket and Krabi and there are various spa packages from 1.5 – 3 hours. What’s good about Let’s Relax is that you can customise your treatment by choosing your preferred natural oils.
#HHWT Tip: Book your preferred spa package on Klook at a cheaper price and you won’t have to waste time choosing your package while you’re there.
5. Halal Food
In a country with scrumptious cuisine like Thailand, there’s no doubt that food is a real deal. Both Phuket and Krabi have a vibrant Muslim population. So rest assured, finding yummy halal food in both Phuket and Krabi won’t be much of a problem. The only difference between the two places is the cost. An average meal in Phuket might cost around 150-200THB or even more if you’re eating fresh seafood. In Krabi, prices are slightly cheaper, averaging a decent 100THB.
Amidst the sea of nightlife and bars, it is possible to find halal food in Phuket. Although many restaurants in the bustling tourist areas like Patong tend to offer Middle Eastern and Indian food, you’d be pleased to know that there are restaurants with authentic Thai fare too. One of the best places to get your tom yum fix in Patong is none other than Kusuma Seafood Restaurant.
This eatery by the roadside may seem unassuming at first but you can actually pick your own seafood and choose how you want it to be cooked. If you’re looking to dine with a view, Pantai Seaview Restaurant or Bang Mud Floating Restaurant will do just the trick. Bang Mud is a floating restaurant off Laem Hin Pier, and you’d need to take a boat to get there, so you can just imagine how special your dining experience would be!
At Bang Mud, you can pick your own seafood too – from a selection of crabs, prawns, groupers, snappers and more. Perfect if you’re looking for a family-friendly or romantic eatery.
Finding halal food in Krabi is not difficult as over 40% of the population are Muslims. One of the most popular halal places in the tourist area of Ao Nang is May & Zin, located in a food court overlooking the beach. The average price of dishes here like tom yum or green curry is around 100THB, and more if you’re ordering a whole fish.
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For a view of Krabi’s limestone cliffs, while dining, De’Fish Seafood Restaurant at Ao Nang Fiore Resort is the place to go. The romantic ambience is perfect for couples or honeymooners 😉
Credit: @shadi218 on Instagram
Of course, seafood is the main draw here, with their Red Curry Tiger Prawns and Curry Crab being highly recommended 🤤
As with any vacation, shopping is always a must, more so in Thailand! It’s no different with Phuket and Krabi too. Shopping makes for a great activity at night or when you’re looking for souvenirs to bring back home.
What we love about Phuket is its variety of shopping options. There are plenty of night or street markets which offer affordable souvenirs and clothes. One of our recommendations is Naka Market. This weekend market has been dubbed Phuket’s Chatuchak and it has almost everything you need – clothes, accessories, shoes, handicrafts, unique souvenirs and more. Not to mention a whole section of street food where there’s halal food too!
If night markets aren’t your cup of tea, Phuket also has fancy malls like Jungceylon Shopping Complex in Patong. There are 200 plus stores here and you might even forget that you’re even at a beach destination. Here’s where you can find brand names and department stores like Robinson’s and Big C.
Credit: Jungceylon on Facebook
For those of you who are looking for more eclectic souvenirs and independent boutique stores, Thalang Rd in Phuket Town is the place to go. Check out hipster shops like Bookhemian Arthouse or do some souvenir shopping at Eleven Two and Co.
The shopping scene in Krabi might not be as bustling as Phuket but it’ll work if you’re looking for a more local experience. For one, check out Krabi Town Walking Street for an open-air shopping experience. More than 50 stalls are set up here every Friday to Sunday from 5 pm to 10 pm.
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It might be a small market but you can stock up on Krabi-themed t-shirts, eclectic paintings, “leather” goods and more. You can fill your tummy here too as there are dozens of halal food stalls. Plus, live performances along the street will liven up the atmosphere, so it’s definitely a great experience shopping here 😁
Being the bigger and busier tourist destination, the common misconception is that Phuket is more expensive than Krabi. While this might be true for food and transport, you can probably find a wider range of accommodations in Phuket, from budget to mid-tier and high-end resorts.
Credit: Fin Hostel Phuket on Facebook
Did you know that hostel beds in Phuket can go as low as USD7 – 8 per night? Fin Hostel in Kata Beach or Full stop. Hostel in Patong will show you that you CAN work with a tight budget in Phuket. But perhaps for many travellers, the best deal is having a feel of the resort life without paying too much. World-renowned resorts like Swissotel, Novotel and Wyndham cost only about USD100 plus per night.
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While the average cost of accommodation in Krabi is cheaper than in Phuket, the choices here are limited and the budget range isn’t as wide. For backpackers, hostel rates in Krabi are comparable to Phuket, starting from as low as USD10 – 11. Check out Chanchalay Hip Hostel or Amity Poshtel for cheap hostels that are value for money.
Credit: Amity Poshtel on Facebook
There is, however, a difference in prices for mid-tier and luxury resorts. In Krabi, you can get a comfortable night’s stay at a decent mid-tier resort from just USD30 and they are usually run by locals so you’ll get a more homely feel. Some of these mid-tier resorts are Ao Nang Cliff View Resort and Green View Village Resort.
Credit: The ShellSea Krabi on Facebook
Krabi’s where you can also enjoy a luxurious stay without breaking the bank! High-end resorts like Anyavee Tubkaek, Amari Vogue and The Shell Sea Krabi cost from around USD 200 per night, which is really affordable for the quality. Of course, there’s no stopping you from pampering yourself with a luxurious stay at Rayavadee or Phulay Bay – which are comparable in price to the luxury resorts in Phuket.
Credit: Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve on Facebook
Both Phuket and Krabi cover quite a large area and with so many activities to do, you will need to get around, either by renting a car, public transport, taxis or private transfers. If you’re worried about accessibility in Phuket and Krabi, we’re here to bring you through it!
Getting from the airport to your accommodation
First things first, getting from both airports to your accommodation is easy with Klook’s private transfers. Booking it is hassle-free and you’ll be greeted with a friendly driver once you arrive in Phuket or Krabi’s airport. What’s more, the transfer can accommodate from 3 up to 10 people – perfect if you’re travelling in a large group.
We’d recommend this private transfer as it’s affordable (SGD27) and it gives you peace of mind. You won’t need to queue for a taxi once you arrive and rest assured the transfer does not bring you to any tourist traps. It’s also great as the price is fixed – this is great when there’s a traffic jam (specifically for Phuket) where taxis can charge you exorbitant prices.
Getting around Phuket
There are a few ways to get around Phuket but we’ll admit – it’s a tad expensive to get around 😔 The best bet is by the local tuk-tuks – which cost from 200THB for a 10-minute ride. They look different from the tuk-tuks you see in Bangkok as they are larger but you can spot them in red, yellow or green. Each tuk-tuk can fit around 4 – 6 people. One tip for taking tuk-tuks is to set a price with the driver first before hopping in! Remember to do a search online or ask the locals on the price so you’ll know just how much to bargain.
For a more comfortable ride, you can take a taxi too, but as most drivers don’t use metres, you’ll have to set the prices with them too. If you’re up for an adventure, rent a motorbike for about 200 – 250 THB per day but do ride at your own discretion.
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The cheapest way to get around is by the local buses called songthaews. You can spot them in blue and the standard fare is about 20 – 40THB, which is really cheap! But one problem with buses is that they are mostly from Phuket Town to the different beaches and there isn’t much information about the routes online. So, you’ll have to talk to the locals or drivers to find out, but that’s the fun of it all 🤗
Getting around Krabi
Transportation options in Krabi are comparable to Phuket except for the price, which is less straining on your pocket! The most highly recommended way to get around is by motorbike taxis. They are usually inexpensive and fast but the downside is that it’s only for one person so you’d need to ride separately if you’re in a group. Plus, most drivers can only converse in Thai so it helps if you have your address written in Thai.
#HHWT Tip: Make sure your rider has an extra helmet for you. If he doesn’t it’s best that you wait for another motorbike taxi.
Credit: @tototraveler on Instagram
Unlike Phuket where tuk-tuks cost from around 200THB, tuk-tuks and samlor (motorbike sidecar taxis) in Krabi will bring you around town for just 50THB. Alternatively, if you want your own transport, you can rent motorbikes for around 150-200THB, which is slightly cheaper than Phuket. Car rentals (with drivers) are the safest way to get around, and prices start from 600THB, depending on where you’re headed.
We hope we’ve provided you with a clear picture of what you can expect on a beach getaway in both Phuket and Krabi. Of course, the ideal situation is to visit both destinations as they are both unique in their own way. With Klook’s tours and activities in both Phuket and Krabi, planning your getaway is a lot easier too!
But if you only have to choose one, here’s what you should take away from this: Phuket is great if you’re looking for variety and convenience while Krabi’s ideal for a tranquil beach vacay, if you’re looking to really disconnect yourself from the city life. Either way, seems like it’s time to plan a beach vacay!
This article is brought to you by Klook.