Phuket Vs Krabi

Thailand has some of the most amazing beaches in the world. It’s easy to fall in love with Thailand. The white sandy beaches are warm and inviting and the crystal clear ocean water is calm and warm. Once you visit a beach in Thailand, you will never be satisfied anywhere else in the world. So which beach is best for you?

Three long tail boats tied up on a beach.

Two of the biggest hotspots in Thailand are right next to each other on the southern coast of Thailand. Phuket vs Krabi? If you’re planning a trip to Thailand, read this first to decide if Phuket is best for you or if Krabi would be a better fit.

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Where in the world is Thailand?

Thailand is located in Southeast Asia, south of Laos and north of Malaysia. The southern half of Thailand is surrounded by the magnificent waters of the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand.

If you are visiting Thailand from outside of Asia, you will most likely fly into the country’s biggest airport which is Bangkok. There are two airports in Bangkok but you will most likely fly into the larger one with the airport code BKK. Most major airlines fly into this airport.

Planning a trip to Thailand can be overwhelming at first, we’ll make it easy for you. Check out this article that is loaded with tips on planning a trip to Thailand.

How to get to Phuket or Krabi

If you are coming from Bangkok, the best way to get to Phuket and or Krabi is to fly. It is a quick flight from Bangkok. The airline that has the most flights in and out of Phuket and Krabi is Air Asia. This is a discount airline but it is also the largest airline in Asia.

White airplane on the ground with passengers boarding the plane from the ground on stairs.
Thai Airlines or Air Asia are your best airlines to fly to Phuket or Krabi

The airport code for Phuket is HKT. This is technically an international airport, but they do not have large flights from all over the world. Most of their international flights are regional. So if you are coming from somewhere in Asia, you can fly directly into Phuket’s airport.

The biggest downside to this airport is that it is located on the very northern tip of the island. Most of the hotels are located on the southern tip of the island. So you will spend a lot of time in the car and possibly in traffic from the airport to your hotel.

Krabi’s airport code is KBV. Krabi’s airport is much smaller than Phuket’s airport. Krabi’s airport is also an international airport and you can fly directly into Krabi from a regional city.

Krabi airport is centrally located on the island. Most hotels and resorts are within 30 minutes driving to the airport. It is much easier to get to than Phuket’s airport.

Read more about our trip to Krabi here with lots of tips and tricks.

Phuket vs Krabi Size and Terrain

Phuket is made up of over 30 islands. The total land mass for Phuket is roughly 210 square miles. Krabi on the other hand is much more spread out in over 80 islands. Krabi’s total land mass is over 1,818 square miles.

The terrain of Phuket and Krabi are similar. Both Phuket and Krabi are beach destinations. The ocean water will be amazing in both locations. That being said, you must make sure your resort or hotel has a good private beach in either location. Public beaches in both locations get overcrowded and are not as clean as the private beaches.

Beach on the ocean with a wooden tree swing in the foreground hanging from a tree
Private beach at Centara Grand Beach Resort in Krabi

~Pro-tip: Make sure your hotel has a private beach for the best Thailand experience. Public beaches tend to be overcrowded and less clean.

Phuket is more mountainous than Krabi. As you drive from the airport to your hotel, you will most certainly wind through the mountains of Phuket.

While Krabi does have mountains, it also features a lot more mangrove forests than Phuket. If you love hiking and exploring the rainforest, Krabi is a much better destination for you.

Phuket vs Krabi Cost

How much does it cost to go to Phuket vs Krabi? For a quick answer, Krabi is going to be cheaper. Phuket is a more popular destination and because of this, prices are generally higher.

Thailand’s money is called the Thai Bhat. The conversion from Thai Bhat to USD is great which makes traveling to Thailand super affordable for most Westerners. Typically $1 USD will equal around 30 Thai Bhat.

Up close of Thailand's currency.
Thai Bhat

The average 4-star resort in Phuket will cost you around $150 per night. The average 4-star resort in Krabi will you around $100 per night. For all your daily activities, you will also save money in Krabi. All around, Krabi is cheaper because it is less popular.

Krabi will be a little bit cheaper overall than Phuket. Krabi is smaller so you will enjoy lower prices for everything from flights, hotels, and even excursions.

Best time of year to visit Phuket vs Krabi

The greatest thing about these two destinations is that they actually have opposite best seasons to visit. So this could determine where you should go by what time of year you will be traveling.

The best time of year to visit Phuket is December to March. This is because the weather will be the calmest and the coolest. Thailand is hot and humid year around so trust me, you want to visit during the cooler months. April to October is monsoon season.

Large monkey walking in the sand on the beach with blue water in the background.

Hotels are WAY cheaper during this time. But be careful, the weather is unpredictable and can make your vacation miserable during this time. I mean heavy rain and wind every day. This will ruin your beach vacation that you have worked hard to earn.

The best time to visit Krabi is October to May. The heavy rains start in Krabi in June and usually last through September. The best part about visiting Krabi during their on season is that it is actually a quiet time for tourists. This is great news for you! If you visit in October you may even find that you have the beaches all to yourself.

Things to do Phuket vs Krabi

There is so much to do in each place you will definitely not be bored! So let’s dive right in and find the best things to do in Phuket vs Krabi.

Visiting The Phi Phi Islands

I think this is by far the favorite thing to do while in Thailand. The Phi Phi islands are a group of six islands located about a 45-90 minute speed boat trip from Phuket or Krabi. These islands are infamous from movies like James Bond and The Beach. Let me tell you, these islands look like a postcard straight from paradise.

Long tail boats in the blue ocean water with large rack formations in the background.

Right off the bat, I’d like to say that visiting the Phi Phi Islands is A LOT easier from Krabi than Phuket. I’ll share with you a few reasons why. Keep in mind that Phuket has a bigger landmass than Krabi. So if you are staying on the west side of Phuket, you will have to drive at least an hour to get to your boat.

It is much easier to get to your boat from Krabi. In fact, the hotel we stayed in had boats leaves right from there that would take us to the Phi Phi islands. This will save you at least a couple hours in the car and not to mention the hassle of transportation to and from the boat.

Time on the boat

There are 2 options to get to the Phi Phi Islands, you can take a ferry or a speed boat. If you take a ferry from Phuket, you will be on the ferry for about 2 hours each way. The ferries leave from Phuket Town.

If you take a ferry from Krabi, it takes about 90 minutes each way. So you will save 30 minutes each way if you stay in Krabi. Plus your transportation time to and from the ferry.

Passenger ferry boat in the water with large rock formations in the background.
Photo Credit: Get Your Guide. Ferry to the Phi Phi Islands

A speed boat will be much faster but also more expensive. If you take a speed boat from Phuket, you will arrive at the Phi Phi Islands in about an hour. A speed boat from Krabi will take you about 45 minutes to the Phi Phi Islands.

Price for a speed boat and ferry

The price for a speed boat from Phuket costs around $40 USD per person. You can easily book a tour through Get Your Guide here. Get Your Guide is very easy to use and their prices are great. I love that you can read reviews so you know what you are getting into before you book. Or I also recommend booking through your hotel when you arrive.

The cost of the ferry from Phuket to the Phi Phi Islands is around $17 USD each way.

A speed boat from Krabi will be around the same price as from Phuket (around $40 USD). Klook offers tours on the speed boat tours from Krabi as well. You can compare prices and book your tour here.

The cost of the ferry from Krabi to the Phi Phi islands is around $14 USD each way. You can view the ferry’s prices and schedule on their website here.

Visit Elephant Sanctuary

One of my favorite things to do in Thailand is to visit an elephant sanctuary. This is your chance to get up close and personal with these gentle giants. Most sanctuaries will have you help them take care of an elephant for a day. This includes feeding them, bathing them, and walking with them.

This is pretty much the same in Krabi or Phuket. The most important thing you do when picking out an elephant sanctuary is to make sure it is a true sanctuary. This way you can ensure the animals are treated well. Elephants have been and continue to be very mistreated. A true sanctuary will rescue elephants and treat them fairly and give them medical care.

Little girl in a red elephant trainer outfit standing in a field of elephants. On an elephant tour in Thailand.

I would highly suggest booking your elephant tour in advance, these sanctuaries have limited capacity and they do fill up typically well in advance. If you are in Phuket, you can quickly book your half-day experience with elephants through Get Your Guide here.

You can easily book a half-day tour at an elephant sanctuary in Krabi through Get Your Guide here. If you enjoy animals or if you are traveling with kids, this is by far one of the best things to do in Thailand.

Also read: 13 Essentials to pack when traveling to Southeast Asia

Night life in Phuket Vs Krabi

If you would like to take advantage of all the night life that Thailand has to offer, Phuket is definitely better for you than Krabi.

In Phuket, you can enjoy all the Patong Beach has to offer. At Patong Beach, it seems as though there is a battle for the best night lift with all the bars and nightclubs in one place. Check out all the best places on Phuket101 here. This works to your advantage! You can bounce from club to club with just a few steps. Such an easy place to get your bar crawl on you may never leave.

People on Patong Beach at night in Phuket Thailand.
Photo Credit: Make My Trip. Patong Beach in Phuket

There is still a good nightlife scene in Krabi. At Ao Nang, you will find a good amount of bars and clubs as well. Check out the best nightlife in Krabi on Travel Triangle’s blog here. Krabi is also a great nightlife town, but nothing compares to Phuket.

Beaches Phuket Vs Krabi

No matter which destination you choose, the beach is going to be spectacular. Both Phuket and Krabi are located on the Andaman Sea. This sea is part of the Indian Ocean, which is the warmest ocean in the world. The beaches of Phuket and Krabi are filled with white sand that is as fine as baby powder.

Empty beach with fallen tree branches and bright blue water.
Private beach in Krabi

One thing when visiting either Phuket or Krabi is to make sure you book a hotel that has a private beach. The public beaches of Phuket and Krabi can get very busy and by the end of the day, dirty.

A private beach is the only way to go when traveling to Thailand. This will ensure you have your own space on the beach and that the beach is clean. I would say that your choice in hotel is more important than Phuket Vs Krabi when you are looking for the best beach.

Where to stay in Phuket

My favorite hotel in Phuket is actually the JW Marriott that is close to the airport. I love this hotel for so many reasons, but my top reasons are:

  1. It is super close to the airport so you don’t waste time sitting in traffic.
  2. The hotel has its own kids club that is amazing. The kids club at this hotel is one of the best I’ve ever seen!
  3. I love their private beach, it is so beautiful and clean. They also have great beach chairs which make it easy to spend the whole day relaxing.
  4. There is a kids pool with a water slide.
  5. The hotel has a separate wing for families so you don’t have to worry about your kids being too loud.
Pool and main buildings at the JW Marriott in Phuket Thailand.
Photo Credit: Travel Online. JW Marriott Phuket

Also read: Why you need to take your kids to Phuket

Where to stay in Krabi

My favorite hotel in Krabi is the Centara Grand Beach Resort. I love this resort for so many reasons but here are a few of my favorites:

  1. It is extremely private, so private, you cannot even drive to this resort. You have to take a boat or walk through the jungle to get through this amazing resort.
  2. All the rooms face the ocean. I love that the rooms are built on the hillside which means almost every room has an ocean view.
  3. Private beach and dock. You can enjoy the beautiful quiet beach right outside your door. Also, the private boat dock means you can book ocean tours right from the resort.
  4. They have an excellent kids club. The best way for parents to be able to relax while on vacation is to find a resort with a kids club and this resort has a great one!
Up close of a pool with a beach and the ocean in the background.
Pool and private beach at the Centara Grand Beach Resort in Krabi

Wrap up on Phuket vs Krabi

Overall I enjoyed Krabi way more than Phuket. I really enjoyed the quieter pace of Krabi, it was much less commercialized but just as luxurious. I felt like I was experiencing a more authentic Thailand in Krabi than in Phuket.

That being said, I am a mom traveling with young kids so quiet destinations are right up my alley at this point in my life. If I was looking for more nightlife, you cannot beat Phuket. So in the end it really is up to what you are looking for in your trip.

Whichever destination you choose, follow our simple tips and you will have a great trip!

Pinterest image that says Phuket Vs Krabi. Two images of beaches


September 28, 2020 at 4:24 pm

Love this guide and have to say I totally agree with your preference! I definitely enjoyed a few other spots over Phuket, my favorite was probably the beaches on Ko Samui. Thanks for putting together such a good guide on the area, ill be sure to come back to it on my next trip

October 3, 2020 at 9:55 pm

I love both these places. I had visited few times couple of years ago when I living in India. I look forward to go back again someday soon. It’s so beautiful and love the beaches. This blog is truely fascinating. Thanks for sharing.

    October 5, 2020 at 4:54 pm

    Thank you for your kind comments, Demi. I love both Phuket and Krabi too. The beaches are spectacular! India is a beautiful place to live, I bet you saw some amazing things there too.

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