Travelling between Krabi and Phuket is easy. Krabi Town and other resort destinations in Krabi province, including Ao Nang and Railey Beach, are connected with the largest island of Thailand by buses and/or ferries. Buses offer more departures throughout the day – almost every hour – and there are also minibuses plying the route along the Andaman coast. Both need about three hours to cover 170 km between Krabi and Phuket. Boats leave a couple of times a day, cost more and are dependent on weather conditions; many call to Koh Phi Phi en route and need more time to bring you to your destination, but the sea trip itself is very pleasant – if you are not prone to seasickness, of course.
From Krabi to Phuket by boat
Boats from Krabi to Phuket leave from Khlong Jilard pier, located about 4 km south of the centre of town (THB50 by local bus). There is at least one boat a day; more during high season months. In most cases these boats make a stop-over in Koh Phi Phi, sometimes for as long as 3 hours what brings total travel time to seven hours. Tickets may cost anywhere from THB700 to THB1200.
Instead of buying a ‘direct’ ticket from Krabi to Phuket, you can connect via Koh Phi Phi all by yourself – it gives you more flexibility as there are more departures a day from Krabi to Koh Phi Phi (THB450-THB600) and from Koh Phi Phi to Phuket (THN600-THB800) than from Krabi to Phuket – not all the companies travel the whole way to Phuket.
If you are based in Ao Nang, there is no need to go to Krabi Town first to take a boat to Phuket. During high season, there is a daily ferry to Phuket from Ao Nang. It does not call to Koh Phi Phi and thus provides a much faster way to get to Phuket, passing between Koh Yao Yai and Koh Phi Phi. During low season, the boat normally runs every other day but is dependent on weather conditions.
From Railey Beach you have to take a longtail boat to Krabi Town and hop onto a Phuket-bound boat there, though some companies offer ‘direct’ tickets to Phuket from Railey meaning that you will need to transfer from your longtail onto a big ferry in the middle of the sea – the experience not everyone will enjoy.
Obviously not the fastest way to get from Krabi to Phuket, travelling by boat also qualifies for a nice sea trip with great marine panoramas – provided the weather is good.
Tip Let us give you a little warning: the Andaman Sea is notorious for its rough character. When the weather is stormy it is really dangerous to go by boat. Put off your sea journey until the skies clear up or go overland – by bus or by taxi. It is much safer.
In Phuket, boats dock at Rassada pier, a 10-minute-drive east from Phuket Town. There are regular songthaews running from Rassada pier (THB10) to Phuket Town. The bus stop is located right in front of the ferry terminal. If you do not want to wait, get out of the terminal gates to the main road and catch a passing by songthaew to the town.
From Krabi to Phuket by bus
Krabi provincial bus station is connected with the other parts of the town by white and brown songthaews (THB20). Buses to Phuket leave every hour and take about three hours to get to the new bus terminal in Phuket (THB200), located a couple km north of Phuket Town. You can take a pink songthaew (line 2) to get from the terminal to the town or to the in-city bus terminal.
There are also minivans both from Krabi Town and Ao Nang to Phuket. They can be a hit or miss as even when full they sometimes pick up passengers on the way, making the travel time considerably longer.
Both big buses and minivans follow route 4 and call to Phang Nga Town. Phang Nga is undoubtedly one of the most underrated destinations of the Andaman, so consider making a stop there if you have a couple of more days at your disposal.
From Krabi to Phuket by taxi
There are a lot of street counters offering a taxi to any destination imaginable. These are normally ok though sometimes they may ‘forget’ to pick you up on the date agreed. Ground Business and Andaman Taxis are two reliable companies to get from Krabi to Phuket or other destinations. Take a note of their rates offered for chartered minivans accommodating up to 9 passengers (THB3500-THB4400). Even for a large group of travellers this kind of ride will cost you more compared to a bus trip, but less compared to a boat journey. And it will definitely take less time.
Why go to Phuket
People tend to either love Phuket or hate it. Yes, that is true: the Pearl of the Andaman has got too touristy and too commercialized these days; prices in the main resort areas are inflated and the taxi mafia contributes to the bad reputation of the island. But also true is that Phuket remains an incredibly beautiful island. With over a dozen sandy beaches to choose from; hiking and walking jungle trails; crystal clear waterfalls and spectacular view points; world-class wining and dining scene; glittering huge shopping centres; and accommodation options to suit every budget the island continues to attract nearly a third of all the international visitors arriving to Thailand every year. It does face a lot of environmental and uncontrolled development issues, but the steps undertaken in the recent years aimed at bringing the natural beauty of the island back appear to be slowly bearing fruits. Though elimination of beach umbrellas and chairs still provokes controversial opinion, it cannot be denied that without those chaotic agglomerations beaches do look better.
Getting around in Phuket
Phuket tuk-tuk drivers are notorious for hefty rates charging you from THB200 even for a couple of km ride. Things are slowly getting better, but you still have to accept the rules of the game: either you rent your own transport or pay the asked price to hop from beach to beach.
The local transport exists in the form of large songthaew trucks. They originate from Ranong Road near the market in Phuket Town and follow radial routes to destinations and beaches around the island. A ride costs THB25-THB40 depending on the route. Trucks leave almost every half an hour till 6pm. The sad thing about this is that to hop from one beach to another you have to connect via Phuket Town. There are no local buses connecting beaches with each other. For example, you cannot get from Patong Beach to Surin Beach directly by local bus. You have to change in Phuket Town thanks to what a quick 15-minute ride becomes a two-hour torture.
Motorbikes are available for rent from many street rental shops, hotels and guesthouses. Many (almost all) of them will ask you to leave you passport as a security deposit. It may or may not be a problem: after you return the vehicle you have rented some shops would require a compensation for ‘the damage’ of the motorbike – often scratches which you have not noticed while taking it for rent. Another thing to take a note of is treacherous island roads, which are especially dangerous after rain. Note that helmets are compulsory – and it makes sense to wear one not only for policemen!
Things to do in Phuket
When you get tired of the beach and nightlife, check out some of the other attractions Phuket has on offer.
Siam Niramit show is a great light and sound performance telling the story of the Kingdom and is worth seeing especially if it is your first time in Thailand.
For a more authentic local experience, take a group walking tour around Phuket Old City to discover its architectural and culinary treasures.
Visit the largest of all the temples of Phuket, Wat Chalong, to get the taste of the Buddhist culture and marvel a slender, elaborately decorated 60-m chedi, the latest addition to the temple.
Devote at least one day to the tour of the neighbouring islands. If you do not want to buy a package tour, charter a boat all for yourself. It is obviously more expensive but definitely worth it. Do not forget to take your snorkelling gear.
Check at least five of the numerous Phuket viewpoints to find your own perfect spot to take in jaw-dropping panoramas of the island.
Your onward travel from Phuket
Phuket does not have a railway line anywhere close to the island, and if you need a direct hop to any destination from Phuket, check flights and buses in the first turn. You can get almost anywhere in Thailand from Phuket, connecting via Bangkok, too.
There are direct flights (2 hours; from THB2000) and buses (27 hours; THB1750) from Phuket to Chiang Mai in the north.
On the Gulf coast, Suratthani (four hours) and Chumphon (7 hours), the starting points for ferry rides to Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, can be reached by bus from Phuket. You can as well opt for a combination ticket from Phuket to Koh Samui instead (7 hours; THB500-THB1300).
From Suratthani, you can travel up north to Bangkok by a night train, which is a great experience in itself and helps save on a hotel room, too.