One of the questions that I am frequently asked is about the Island Hopping and Day Tours that can be done from Phuket and Krabi. I wonder how I never wrote about it until now, but, better late than never right? Let’s begin. 🙂
Phuket and Krabi Itinerary
Airports & Visa
First off, I would recommend that you fly directly into Phuket or Krabi instead of stopping over at Bangkok. It saves a lot of time and gives you room to accommodate changes if any.
With an Indian Passport, you can opt for Visa on Arrival and the process is very smooth. For more details on the process, please follow this link.
Island Hopping Tours from Phuket and Krabi
The important question that comes while choosing the ‘base location’ for Island Hopping is whether to do it from Phuket or Krabi. While both Phuket and Krabi are centrally located, I would recommend choosing Krabi as the base location because of the connectivity and availability of ferries/boats.
Also, Ao Nang in Krabi is where the ferries take off from and it is quite accessible than Phuket where it usually takes off from Royal Phuket Marina or Rassada Pier. If you are planning on doing island tours from Phuket, I’d suggest you take your ferry from Royal Phuket Marina. It is more organised than Rassada Pier.
There are four group of islands that are easily accessible from Krabi. Each of these can be covered as a one-day tour in a private / shared speed-boat.
The Phi Phi Islands
Koh Phi Phi Don, Koh Phi Phi Leh, Bamboo Island, Bida Nok, Bida Nai and Koh Yung
The Hong Islands
Koh Hong, Koh Pakbia, Koh Rai, Koh Lahding
The 4 Islands
Koh Poda, Chicken Island, Koh Tub, Koh Mor
James Bond Island (Phang Nga Bay)
Koh Khao Ping Kan, Koh Tapu, Koh Panyi, Khao Kian, Tam Lod
Note – Phi Phi Islands & James Bond Island Tours can be done as a one-day tour from Phuket as well.
The boat you choose for your island hopping tours is very important. While the long tail boats are cheaper, they are not at all comfortable for travelling the longer distance. Also, they are very slow when compared to the speed-boats. A shared speedboat is a good option if you are a group of 2 or 3. However, for larger groups/families you can opt for a private speed boat. The information about the boats will be given to you at the time of booking itself.
How to book for the Island Hopping Tours?
Bookings for these one-day tours can be made at your hotel or with a help of any travel agency. The streets of Phuket and Ao Nang (Krabi) are dotted with numerous travel agencies, so you should not face a trouble. You can also check at your hotel reception for the tours & services they provide. Make sure to compare the prices before booking and Don’t Book Online. You can book a day or two before and it should be just fine.
While it is very tempting to go on all the island tours available, I would suggest that you limit your island tours to 1 or 2 tours at the maximum. Especially if you are a first-time traveller and also wish to see other sights.
Day Tours from Phuket and Krabi
I am not for planned day tours that can be booked at a travel agency. Though they cover most of the places in a limited time frame, I feel the fun is lost. So, here I’ve listed some of my favourite places in and around Phuket & Krabi.
Things-to-do in Phuket
- Head to the Big Buddha temple.
- Wat Chalong is grand and beautiful.
- Wat Khao Rang – Great drive from Phuket Old Town and offers amazing views of the ocean.
- Phuket Old Town – One of the best neighbourhoods of Phuket.
- Thalang Night Market (Only on Sunday’s) – Don’t miss this one.
- Phromthep Cape (Near Rawai) – Pretty crowded during sunset but the drive is amazing and you also get a chance to find many hidden beaches all for yourself.
Things-to-do in Krabi
- Sunsets and Sunrise in Aonang Beach, Krabi
- Sunsets in Nopparthara Beach, Krabi
- Head to Railay if you did not visit that as part of your Island Tours. You can hire a long tail boat from Ao Nang to Railay.
- Emerald Pool – The pristine green waters of the pool is very relaxing. A must visit.
- Hot Springs – A tad crowded, but, still very beautiful and relaxing.
- The Tiger Cave Temple – Amazing views of Krabi and the ocean + the caves that pass through the jungles are superb. Must visit.
Usually, Emerald Pool, Hot Springs and The Tiger Cave Temple are done as a day-tour but I would suggest that you hire your own vehicle for visiting these places.
Renting a vehicle
All the travel agencies will give you options to rent your own bikes and scooters. The only catch is you’ll have to give your passport to them during the period you rent the vehicle. This is something I did not appreciate, I mean who asks for the passport?
Having said that, I did see a couple of shops in Ao Nang where passport was not required for renting. Make sure to look at a few shops before renting a bike/car. If you are someone who does not enjoy driving by yourself, you can always opt for private / shared taxis that are available from these agencies itself. But, self-driving makes life much easier.
Our 6-days ‘relaxed’ itinerary for Phuket and Krabi
Day 1 – We flew into Phuket early morning so we had the entire day to explore and sort out the important things like getting the sim card, finalizing the bike/car rentals etc. As this was our first day in a new country, we took it slow. We spent the day catching up on sleep, cafe hopping and exploring our new neighbourhood.
We stayed in Phuket Old Town which according to me is one of the best neighbourhoods to experience the amazing Thai culture. If you are staying in Phuket Old Town, do not miss the uphill ride to Wat Khao Rang. One of the few temples in Phuket that is not crowded and the area offers stunning views of Phuket Town & the ocean. We spent rest of our evening exploring the quaint, colourful roads of Phuket Old Town and nibbling on sun-dried fruits & local snacks.
Day 2 – Reserved this day for local sightseeing – Wat Chalong, Big Buddha, Promthep Cape & Rawai. We drove to Promthep Cape and Rawai in the evening and ended up finding a hidden, nameless beach just for ourselves.
Day 3 – We spent the day island hopping in Phang Nga Bay (James Bond Island). The night was spent exploring Thalang Night Market – which you should not miss. A great place to taste local food (a little tricky to get vegetarian food, though), juices and ice-creams.
Day 4 – Phuket to Krabi via Ferry. It takes about 2 hours to reach Krabi and the ride is comfortable if you manage to get a seat inside. The ferry drops you off at Ao Nang, but, also makes a stop at Railay. We spent the evening watching the sunset in Ao Nang beach, getting our bikes for rent and guzzling up on coconut icecreams and banana pancakes.
Day 5 – Reserved for local sightseeing – Hot Springs, Emerald Pool and Tiger Cave Temple. Evenings were spent in Nopparthara Beach and hunting for some good vegetarian street food.
Day 6 – We kept this day free to go island hopping, but, cancelled our plans last minute. We went for long rides along the coast, spent some time in Krabi Town and explored hidden streets and cafes. We spent the evening in Railay exploring Phra Nang Caves and the quaint surroundings.
Day 7 – Flew to Bangkok from Krabi.
Notice, we did not cramp our holiday with multiple island tours and day tours even though we could have easily fit more. The islands were way too crowded and we did not quite enjoy the crowd. So we decided to go easy and take the ‘unexplored’ path to simply enjoy and relax.
We went for long drives along the coast, enjoyed the sumptuous cuisine, went on spa dates, spent the mornings meditating at a nearby beach, made new friends along the way and ended up falling in love with Thailand even more.
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