Krabi & Phuket are two of the main tourist destinations in Thailand. These two neighbor regions, just separated by the Phang Nga Bay, offer a very distinct atmosphere and attract a different type of travelers visiting these exotic places.
Whether you are hesitating on where to plan your ultimate Thai paradise experience or have already visited one of them and want to know more about the other. We will compare here all the points you could think of before choosing where to go, in order to give you a clear understanding of what to expect in both Krabi and Phuket.
Please note that the ranking given below is objective as everyone can have a different perception.
Things to do:
Since Phuket has been a tourist destination for longer than Krabi, you will find a larger panel of activities in Phuket – even though Krabi is catching up quickly!
You will find everything in both destinations from Cooking classes, Diving courses, Boat tours, treetop & Zipline, Spa treatments, etc… However, if you fancy for activities that are a little more than the ordinary, such as Helicopter flights, Night Shows, etc… these will only be accessible on the Pearl of the Andaman sea, Phuket.
Phuket, is an excellent base to go for island hopping and the number of options will keep you perplex. Phuket marks a point here, offering you the option to board on a boat from its West Andaman coast that gives you access to more secluded location such as the Similan, Koh Tachai, Surin National Park … well known among divers and snorkelers, and also a wonderful escape in paradise for families or between friends.
Another alternative is to choose amongst the multitude of pristine islands in the Phang Nga Bay, amongst them Koh Yao, Racha island, the famous James bond island and of course Koh Phi Phi, and the inhabited Bamboo island. Daily departures from both Krabi and Phuket offer you to explore these white sandy islands and their crystal water.
Needless to mention that Krabi is also an excellent destination for island hopping with its 83 islands surrounding the region, most of them being inhabited.
Lastly, if you are still undecided on where to go, we have selected some of our favorites island hopping destinations from Phuket, just here.
If you are looking at a very relaxing holiday, in a quiet location, Phuket might not be the place for you during its peak season between December and January, unless you stay in one of its remote luxurious resort that you can find at each corner of the island.
On the other hand, Krabi, with its quiet roads amongst the jungle and limestones will offer you the serenity you’ve been looking for. You will also meet less tourists on your way, which makes it feel like a real getaway from your busy life.
Nature often goes with quietness, such is the case when we compare Krabi and Phuket. For the obvious reason that Phuket has became a tourist hub, fancy infrastructures, bigger roads, more cars, and even malls in the Patong area have covered a part of the nature. Not to worry, you can still find some hidden beaches, monkey reserves and jungle, however you might have to drive a bit or take a boat to reach these places.
On the other side of Phang Nga Bay, Krabi and its abundant jungles and splendid seascape surrounded by majestic limestones offers a more intimate approach to nature.
Lastly, if you are a nature lover, Khao Sok National Park is the place for you to be, and you can even join on a day trip from Phuket or Krabi.
This is not a secret to say that Phuket owes its fame to its beaches. Indeed the 40 kilometers long island offers access to the World’s finest beaches. The most popular are the one around Patong area, further south Kata and Karon are two of the popular resort beaches and can offer a quieter scenery than Patong. The number of options is such that the more adventurous will look for the secret beaches spread all over the coast. To give you a hint, you can start looking for Ao yon and Siam beach in the south, or Hua beach and Banana beach if you are in the north or around the Kamala beach area.
Let’s not forget to mention the famous Ao nang beach of Krabi, which is the resort beach of Krabi, a favourite for families. Railay beach is well known for its laid back atmosphere, full moon rites, and offers amazing rock climbing by the beach.
For the ultimate beach lovers, we recommend you to make the way to Koh Lanta (South of Krabi) and discover its long and serene beaches.
Krabi and its wilder roads, dense jungle will give you a better feel of adventure. Adrenaline seekers won’t be disappointed by the panel of attractions Krabi’s untouched nature has to offer. You will find there ATV excursion, Off road dirt biking, White Water rafting, Rock climbing… and for the adventurous families, we recommend the treetop and zipline experiences, a very fun filling attraction.
Alternatively, Phuket offers similar thrilling activities and sensational gyrocopter and paramotor flights, early morning when the sun is rising and the scenery at its most harmonious.
Needless to mention that both destinations are diving paradises, for this reason you will get access to some world famous diving spots, an extremely rich marine life, and a clear visibility. Phuket and Krabi are amongst the best places in the world to get introduced to the underwater world while discovering Scuba Diving.
Phuket is a great destination to travel with your friends ! You’ll find everything you need to make the most of it, bars, restaurants, beach clubs, and plenty of fun things to do. Make the most of it during a day out in the sea, wrap it up with a sunset barbecue and relive the full moon party together.
Another appealing alternative is to rent your own yacht for a day (or more), go island hopping, stop where you like, sleep and eat aboard and live some unforgettable moments with your friends.
Simultaneously, Krabi can offer such experiences too. However, the number of options will be limited as compared to Phuket. A great place to hang out between friends at a relatively low cost would be Railay beach, or Koh Lanta.
Romantic holidays & Couple
Krabi can be an inviting romantic escape with its tranquil beaches and islands, natural spas hidden in the jungle, and also offers a charming local feeling where Thai people will make you spend a lovely time together.
Nonetheless, Phuket will mark some points here thanks to its number of romantic resorts and restaurants options.
At night, sip a glass of wine with your loved one while watching the sun laying down into the Andaman sea, and make place to a splendid candlelight dinner.
Other than this, you’ll find an infinite choice of Spa treatments, and why not experience a day out kayaking in the caves and enjoy a twilight snorkeling ?
When it comes to families, it is essential to find kids friendly resort or hotels, both Krabi and Phuket offers a good number options. A few options for Krabi can be the Golden beach resort and Krabi resort, in Ao Nang, or the Sofitel in Klong Muang. In Phuket, we recommend the Holiday Inn resort, Dusi Thani Laguna, and the Boathouse in Kata beach.
As for attractions, you will find plenty of things to do with kids, Phuket makes the difference here by offering a wider panel of attractions, water parks, mini golf, shows and performances with the elephant show at FantaSea being the highlight.
Beach clubs, Boat parties, Full moon parties, where else in the world than Phuket would you find this ?
Phuket’s capital of all pleasures, Patong is the place where to feel the Phuket’s night fever and why not relive The Hangover movie with your friends. Obviously, this is not a place to go with children, as what you will find in this street are mostly gogo bars and the famous ping pong shows.
Patong is an option, or not. If you are looking at something more swanky and groovy, we then recommend you to head to beach clubs in the north of the island.
On the other hand, if you’ve chosen to go to Krabi, options are more limited, you will always find some bars in Ao Nang but we would not call this a night out. Railay beach offers a laid back party atmosphere where people dance at the rhythm of Bob Marley’s music around fire shows performances, and full moon parties on selected dates.
Lastly, for party seeking travellers wanting to avoid Phuket’s sleazy bars, Phi Phi might be your call for a proper night out, where a great mix of pubs and bars await you and will stay open until late in the night.
Restaurants & Culinary experiences
Famous Chefs from all over the world came to establish themselves in the paradise island of Phuket, and the number of restaurants exponentially popped up around the island – we advise you reading our Top 10 Restaurants in Phuket to know which places you should not miss.
Krabi is not as competitive as Phuket, but offers a local taste that has became harder to find in Phuket. And if like us, you fell in love with Thai food and want to learn more about this culinary art, we recommend you this Cooking Class held by Ms Ya, a master Thai Chef established in Krabi.
Even though you’ve been seduced whether by one of these two destinations, the budget is an important factor to take into account when planning your trip.
You should be aware that room prices increase (sometimes even double) during peak season from November onwards until the end of March or April.
For being a tourist hub, Phuket’s prices are substantially higher than in Krabi, and are also among the highest prices found all over Thailand. Restaurants and transports can be twice the price in touristic areas such as Patong.
Be mindful and aware of the rip off on transportation services, therefore we recommend you to book your transportation services on eOasia website at negotiated rates.
Our last traveller advice is to go local, as it is the best way to get immersed into a culture, you’ll be amazed by the food quality and affordable prices you can get while eating in local restaurants.
What both destinations have in common :
- A feeling of paradise
- Tourist friendly & International airports
- Splendid landscapes and white pearl beaches
- Rich marine life and diving
- Sunny and dry season from November to April
We hope we’ve helped you decide where to go. As you can see, it is a discutable topic as everyone has different expectations. Overall, Krabi is quieter, but Phuket compensates it with a wider range of local experiences. Both destinations offer a different travel experience and are inviting you to discover them.
Now, we would love to hear your opinion. Which one is your favourite, Phuket or Krabi ? What did you like the most in each of these destinations?
Also, if you are still unsure about where to go, please feel free to drop your questions here, we will be happy giving you advice in planning your trip.
Check out our guide maps at Mapspire.
eOasia guide map for Phuket – things to do and recommended places to stay in Phuket