Phuket is highly developed and boasts stunning resorts, a lively nightlife, and fantastic beaches. Krabi, the area’s second largest city, is somewhat less established than Phuket, but hosts some of the most spectacular views our eyes have seen. When traveling to the area, why not visit both cities? Traveling between the two cities couldn’t be easier!
Ferry service from Krabi Town to Phuket includes a four hour stopover in Koh Phi Phi. If you have some time and not a lot of cash, this is a great way to explore the stunning islands of the Andaman Sea. Including the stopover, the journey is approximately 7 hours and is quite inexpensive at less than $18.
There is a wide range of bus services between Krabi Town and Phuket. The trip averages 4 hours in length. The least expensive option is a non-air-conditioned that costs 150 Baht ($4.15). A trip in an air-conditioned van is priced at 450 Baht ($12.50).
By Private Car:
To get the most personalized transfer, private car service is the way to go. For a direct trip in a standard vehicle, the price starts at 2300 Baht ($63). Tom and I chose this way to travel from Krabi to Phuket and decided to turn our drive into a full blown excursion in a luxury SUV with stops along the way for 3800 Baht ($105). We actually arranged our transfer through our hotel butler, who planned a fantastic trip for us to discover the area overland.
Our trip began with a wonderful farewell from our “home” in Krabi, Phulay Bay, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve. We met our driver who had ice cold water and an English language newspaper waiting for us in the back seat of a Toyota Highlander. The landscape in Krabi is stunning, with palm fringed beaches, rolling hills, limestone mountains, and green forests as far as the eye can see. The region is truly paradise. The trip via private car takes approximately 2.5 hours. However, we made a few stops along the way which increased the travel time. And we highly recommend everyone to do the same!
Approximately halfway into our journey, we reached Phang Nga Town. Here we hire a private long tail boat for a tour around Phang Nga Bay. A private boat, driver, and gasoline were all included in the 1200 Baht ($33) price. This is a steal compared to similar arrangements in Phuket charging 5000+ Baht.
Our long boat journey began with by motoring through a mangrove river that is reminiscent of our airboat excursion in the **Florida Everglades**. Upon reaching the bay, the view opened up to the quintessential beauty of the area: limestone mountainous islands, clear blue-green waters and lush greenery. The boat journey had us heading south and our first stop was James Bond Island.
James Bond Island is horrendously touristy. Loads of boats surrounded the island. Rather than disembarking, Tom and I chose to cruise the waters and view the main attraction just off the shore from James Bond Island in the comfort of our boat: the standing rock, or Koh Tapu (“nail island”). Although crowded, it was still fun to see such an iconic sight.
We then turned back north. After about 10 minutes, we happened upon a cave teeming with stalactites. It was a beautiful sight. After floating in the calm cave, we set out for Koh Panyee.
Koh Panyee is a small “floating” island community built on stilts over the shallow waters of the southern part of the limestone rock. The primary business is fishing and tourism. I kind of wanted to do a “drive-by” as it was full of tourists, but we decided to grab some water and a quick snack at one of the many seafood restaurants. Naturally, we had to try the seafood and it was surprisingly inexpensive for a tourist destination. We shared a meal and our check came to $5. Not bad. After our snack, we returned to our boat and motored our way through the bay and mangrove forest to meet our driver.
Although the longboat tour was highly “touristy”, it is something that should be on any traveler’s tour of the region. The limestone cliffs set against the blue green waters is special and unique to the area. We still talk about the natural beauty of Phang Nga Bay and would love to motor around the islands again.
Our final stop between Krabi and Phuket was Wat Suwan Khuha (Cave Temple) in Phang Nga. This temple was surprisingly quiet and devoid of tourists…a huge bonus in our book! The outside of the cave temple was surrounded by monkeys. We passed vendors trying to sell us food to feed ourselves (and the monkeys) and headed into the sanctuary. For 20 Baht ($.50), we gained entry into the cave which features a large reclining Buddha and other Buddha images. Climbing up the cave, visitors can sit in a glorious forest or explore yet another cave system filled with stalagmites and stalagtites.
After our longboat tour and stop at the Cave Temple, Tom and I continued another 40 minutes into Phuket. Given the options of transfer by boat, public bus, or private car, we highly recommend transport by a private vehicle. It’s very comfortable and the service is “door to door”. Even if you are not interested in any diversions, the drive from Krabi to Phuket is stunning. It gives you a sense of the extreme beauty of the area and how life was like prior to the huge tourist industry development. If you have traveled between Krabi and Phuket, what are your thoughts or recommendations?