Krabi and Phuket are neighbours on the stunning Andaman Coast, around 2 hours travelling time one from the other. While Krabi enjoys a wilder and more rugged landscape, Phukets’ wide sandy beaches and more developed tourist infrastructure are a big draw for families and package tourists. Although Phuket is an island, it is actually possible to travel overland to and from there, thanks to the Sarasin Bridge at its northern tip. It’s a very short crossing over the narrow channel separating separating it from the mainland in Phang Nga, and there are no tolls to pay. Below you will find all your options for getting to Krabi from Phuket, and to Phuket from Krabi.
Ways of travelling from Phuket to Krabi
1. OVERLAND / DRIVE
Most national car rental companies will allow a pick-up and drop-off in different locations, so why not drive to Phuket? The journey is 150 – 190km and takes 2 – 3 hours, depending on the traffic and where on the island you are going / coming from – the further south taking longer than the north. The road for the most part is good and well sign-posted – GPS also works fine in Thailand. There is a road-widening project along the main Route 4 that has been going on for some 10 years now, so there are often stretches that are under construction but usually there are no serious delays.
Taxis and private minivans are another option if you prefer not to drive. Expect to pay 2500 – 3800 THB per one way journey, again depending where on Phuket you are travelling from / to. This option has the advantage of being door-to-door, unlike the shared minivan and bus services below, and offers the possibility of stopping off to visit places en route (see below).
If you are the type of person who enjoys white knuckle rides, then this may be the mode of transport for you. Although accidents are – thankfully – very rare, Thai minibus drivers are notorious boy racers. Expect a painfully slow start (up to an hour) as the minivan travels from hotel to hotel picking up passengers, then a manic dash making up for lost time as the van weaves its way at breakneck speed to your destination – usually a “bus station” / tour agency, where you will need to take a taxi onwards to your hotel. Expect a total travel time of 3-4 hours. Tickets can be purchased for around 450 THB in any street travel agent in Phuket / Krabi. There are several services a day, year round, and no advance booking is necessary.
The government buses are a more sedate way to travel. They are also cheaper – around 200 THB one way – but only travel between the municipal bus stations in Phuket Town and Krabi Town, so you will need to factor in the time and cost of a taxi to / from the bus station at either end. Services run every couple of hours from early morning to late afternoon, and are a good way to meet local Thai people. Tickets must be bought directly at the bus station; no advance booking is necessary.
2. BY SEA / BOAT
The sea journey between Phuket and Krabi, across the bay of Phang Nga, is a pleasant cruise, going past many beautiful islands. Once on the boat, it is relatively fast as well, but you will need to count travel time to /from the pier at either end. The ferry company will usually offer passengers a pick-up service that comes 1.5 – 1 hour before departure.
The other consideration when deciding to take the boat is that during low season, some services do not run daily.
The passenger ferry (no cars or other vehicles allowed) travels between Rassada Pier (south of Phuket) and Nopparat Thara Pier (Ao Nang) once daily in high season (November to April) and 3 times a week in low season (May to October) on a Sunday, Wednesday and Friday only. Journey time is 2 hours 15 minutes and ticket price is 700 THB / one way. You can book in your hotel, or any tour agent on the street. Hotel transfers on both sides are usually included in this price. If you are staying out of the main pick up area, a small supplement may be due.
If you really have to travel by ferry during May – October on a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday OR if you are trying to get to Krabi Town, there is another way to go – via Phi Phi. You will need to book a morning ferry from Phuket to Phi Phi (or Krabi to Phi Phi), then take the afternoon boat onwards. If you have a day to spare and the weather is good, this is not such a bad idea: you can have lunch on the beach in Phi Phi, though you will not really be able to explore much as you will also have to take all your luggage with you when you change ferries – there is no secure storage at the pier. Check the ferry timetables here.
Leaving from Bang Rong Pier in the north east of Phuket, and travelling via Koh Yao (Yai and Noi) to Ao Nang, this is a year round service – suspended only occasionally during monsoon season (May – October) if the sea is too rough – and is the fastest way to get between Phuket and Krabi. Journey time is 1 hour 20 minutes. Ticket price is 1200 THB / one way, and can usually be bought at the pier (if travelling during peak season months of Dec – Feb, it may be worth booking ahead via an agent). There is no pick up service available.
Anywhere to stop off along the way?
If you are travelling by shared minivan or bus, it won’t be possible to stop off anywhere. If coming by boat, you could stop off (overnight only) at Koh Yao, with the speedboat, or at Phi Phi Don for up to 4 hours, if you take take 2 ferries and change there.
If you are driving, or taking a taxi, there is plenty to do en route to break up the journey.
For a start, there are a couple of unusual temples: Wat Suwanna Kuha (or Monkey Cave Temple) in Phang Nga, and Wat Bang Riang in the north of Krabi. For a longer break, you could take a short detour to Phang Nga pier for a couple of hours’ longtail boat trip to James Bond Island and Koh Panyi, the floating Muslim village. Boat rental is around 1500 THB total + National park fees. Or, closer to Krabi, stop off in Ao Luk to visit Tharnbok Khorani National Park, or the caves at Bor Thor by kayak or longtail boat (800 THB per boat).
If you are travelling with kids, the Dairy Hut Farm, located exactly midway, makes a fun break from the car, with plenty of lambs and kid goats to pet and feed. They also have a restaurant and restrooms. If you are hungry, there are also several fabulous seafood restaurants just off the highway. We’ve tried most of them, and Tha Sai Seafood is hands down the best, with easily the best view over the Phang Nga backwaters.
Cheapest way from Krabi to Phuket / Phuket to Krabi: by shared minivan or ferry if travelling with 1 – 5 people; if 6 pax+, may be more economical to take a private van.
Fastest way from Krabi to Phuket / Phuket to Krabi: If staying at the north of the island, by speed boat (if timing suits); at the south, by ferry (if timing suits); alternatively by taxi at any time.
Best way from Krabi to Phuket / Phuket to Krabi: by ferry or by private car. If the timing and weather works for you, the ferry is like a mini-cruise with amazing scenery. Travelling by private car or minivan will allow you to stop off at lots of interesting places en route (see above) OR simply get from A to B in a fast and hassle-free way.