Southern Thailand, usually called by travelers as the islands, is on Kra Isthmus, the narrowest section of the Malay Peninsula. This part of Thailand is between the Andaman Sea on the west and the Gulf of Thailand on the other side. Southern Thailand has tons of island destinations but prominent ones are Phuket and Krabi.
Luxury hotels and nature adventures await tourists planning to plunge into this part of Southeast Asia’s tourist haven. Tourism activities are endless but island hopping shouldn’t be missed. Most of my 9 days were spent basking on the beach or snorkeling in the sea. To give you an overview of activities and try to do for your visit, here’s a Phuket and Krabi itinerary.
Things to Remember
Filipinos are allowed to enter and stay in Thailand for a maximum of 30 days if entering via international airports and 15 days via land borders. Foreign nationals are only allowed two (2) Tourist Visa Exempt entries via land borders per calendar year. For the immigration requirement; a passport with at least six (6) months validity, confirmed travel itinerary; and proof of accommodation and funds of at least THB10,000 per person or THB20,000 per family. On my few entries to Thailand, no immigration officer asked for proof of accommodation and funds. But I heard some travelers on forums that were asked randomly for that entry requirement.
Since Southern Thailand is relatively lower than Bangkok in terms of geography, the weather is quite different in this part of the country. Phuket and Krabi, located on the west coast, is facing the Andaman Sea. Three seasons are observed in this region; cool weather runs from November to March, summer from March to May, and rainy season from June to October with the highest rainfall in September and October.
Thailand Baht (THB).
How to Get Out of Phuket International Airport
There are several ways to get out of Phuket International Airport to your hotel either in key spots like Phuket Town, Patong Beach, Kata, and Karon.
Airport Limousine. Near the baggage claim area on the arrival hall are several counters offering transfer services from the airport to your hotel. They might be pushy sometimes and rates can range from THB400 to 600. You can skip the airport to your hotel in no time in a nice car.
Taxi Meter. Outside the arrival hall are 24-hour taxi cabs that can bring you to your destination. Just be sure to ask the driver to turn on his meter. I’ve heard from other travelers that an airport surcharge of THB100 is added to the metered fare.
Mini Bus Join-in. The cheapest way and perfect for backpackers who are on a tight budget. Though the service is not available 24 hours, late arrival at Phuket Airport will force you to wait for the earliest departure, around 8 in the morning. You can avail of the services via the counters in the arrival hall or at the booths outside the airport gates. I paid THB180 for the trip from the airport to the Patong area. The bus will stop at a travel agency office along the way for travelers to avail Thailand vacation packages. None from our group availed a tour from the agency.
How to Get Out of Krabi Airport
To get to Ao Nang or Krabi Town from Krabi Airport, one can either avail transfers from the following services:
Krabi Airport Bus. Servicing the airport to Ao Nang and Krabi Town, 10-12 times on a day. The bus starts its operation from 8 AM to 8 PM with fares of THB100 (Krabi Town) and THB150 (Ao Nang).
Airport Taxis. Unlike Phuket airport, which forces metered-taxi services, most taxi on Krabi airport work on a fixed price basis.
* For a more detailed Krabi Airport travel guide, check out Your Krabi.
9D8N Phuket – Krabi Itinerary
DAY 1 – Arrival
Rain didn’t stop after our midnight arrival in Phuket Airport until morning when I boarded the first van to Patong Beach. Some roads were covered with ankle-deep brown water and not a good sign for my Phuket itinerary. I was dropped in front of my hostel and immediately rushed to the lobby, drenched.
The entire morning was gloomy but thanks to the staff of Lub D Patong Beach for allowing me to check-in early. I had few hours of sleep before my stomach rumbled and signaled for me to look for food. The rain subsided a little but you can still see people walking with their umbrellas. I decided to go back to my accommodation and sleep.
Enjoy the evening at Bangla Walking Street but be prepared not to be shocked by the activities offered to you on the streets. There are tons of bars bombarding their amplifiers that make the entire street a dance floor. If you feel hungry, restaurants and alleys filled with local eateries are everywhere.
DAY 2 – 3 Khai Islands
You can start your island hopping experience in Phuket slowly but surely by availing a half-day trip to the 3 Khai Islands. Three major islands, Khai Nai, Khai Nui, and Khai Nok comprise the island hopping tour.
Everyone gets onboard a speedboat that will doze you to the islands. What’s great about Phuket island hopping activities is that unlimited refreshments are available onboard. Two of the small islands, Khai Nai, have sandbars perfect for some sunbathing and clear waters best for swimming. Khai Nui, usually the second stop of the tour, is a reef island making it a great stop for an snorkeling activity.
DAY 3 – James Bond Island and Phang Nga Bay
Want to see the famous island where a James Bond movie filmed some of its scenes? The James Bond island tour will first bring you to Hong Island to kayak inside a lagoon and go under its water caves. After that, drop by Khao Ping Khan island or famously called the James Bond Island.
Included lunch will be served in Panyee Island, a fishing village inhabited by Muslim people. After the sumptuous lunch, check out the island’s floating football field. Last stop of the day is Naka Noi island to relax on the beach before heading back to Phuket.
DAY 4 – Phuket Old Town/Koh Phi Phi
Phuket Old Town is a different world compared to the chaotic Patong Beach. The tiny town is very charming that walking its alleys is a great morning activity. Interesting places to drop by during your walk are
Around noon, make your way to – port to take a ferry bound to Koh Phi Phi Island. After settling in your hostel, marvel at the karst mountains that surround the island and the clear waters crashing on Koh Phi Phi’s powdered beaches. In the afternoon, take a walk to Koh Phi Phi viewpoint and join a massive crowd for sunset viewing.
In the evening, join the pack of travelers loitering around Koh Phi Phi’s drinking alley. Buckets with an assortment of alcohol drinks are displayed on shop-stalls up for grab. At the famous Reggae Bar, a professional Thai boxing game happens around 8 or 9 PM.
DAY 5 – Maya Bay and Koh Phi Phi Tour
Most famous spot in Koh Phi Phi is Maya Bay, the location of Leonardo de Caprio’s The Beach. Travelers from Phuket and Krabi even do a day tour to visit the beach. With its popularity, the strip of beach facing Maya Bay is always filled with tourists. If you have the courage to brave the way going to the beach and joining a massive crowd, then it’s a good thing for you. UPDATE: Maya Bay is closed for tourists from June 1 to September 30 to allow the natural attraction to take a break.
In addition to Maya Bay are other destinations included on the island hopping activity like the monkey beach, some snorkeling activity, sunset viewing by the bay, and plankton watching around 7 in the evening.
DAY 6 – Phi Phi Island to Krabi/Thalene Bay Kayaking
To save you time and money, book a ferry bound to Krabi instead of going back to Phuket. Travel time is about an hour and a half with fare at THB300 that includes a drop-off to your hostel anywhere in Krabi. Take the entire time to rest and enjoy the slow-moving town. If by chance you stayed in Ao Nang area, Lion and Shark is a great place for healthy breakfast meals and also a nice spot to just plug-in to your music.
In the afternoon, sign-up for a Sunset Kayaking Tour in Thalene Bay. Thalene Bay has one of the most impeccable mangrove forests in Thailand. Tourists are led to the bay, on kayaks, and then directed to enter canyons, sea caves, and along mangrove forests. Pop-in Hostel’s tour ends with a can of cold Chang beer while enjoying a remarkable sunset. Some tour agencies do the activity early in the morning.
DAY 7 – Krabi 4 Islands
Have you heard about the chicken island in Krabi? Not that there are tons of chickens on the island but because of the limestone formations in the island that look like, yes, chicken. If you’re interested in the tour, avail a Krabi 4 Islands island hopping activity.
Islands included in the tour are Koh Poda, for its turquoise waters and a tall rock from a distant. Part of the tour is two small islands, Koh Mor and Koh Tub, connected by a sandbar during low tide. Before going back to Krabi, the boat will take a cruise near Koh Gai, or the Chicken Island, for everyone to marvel at the iconic island in Krabi.
DAY 8 – Koh Hong/Tiger Temple
If Phuket is more of speedboat tours because of the distances of the islands, island hopping in Krabi is more exciting on long tail boat tours. Avail another island hopping activity for Koh Hong, a four-island archipelago and part of the National Marine Park. The tour includes a snorkeling activity, visit several islands and coves, and ending at the long stretch of powdery beaches of Koh Hong.
My arrival back at my hostel was in time for an afternoon visit to Tiger Temple, the highest temple in Krabi that could be accessed via 1260 steps. Challenge yourself and reach the temple’s summit.
DAY 9 – Departure
Nine days is enough to explore Phuket and Krabi. But take note that Southern Thailand still has tons of island destinations to offer that will surely encourage you to book another flight back to the destination even on your departure. You can take an airport transfer to catch your flight or book a bus to Bangkok to explore more of Thailand’s history, culture, and food.
WHERE TO STAY
Similar to Bangkok and any part of Thailand, backpacker hostels are readily available to accommodate budget travelers and backpackers. On my stay on Phuket, I’ve tried staying for few nights at Lub D Patong Beach and Fulfill Hostel. On the other hand, I stayed in Pop-in Hostel in Ao Nang, and in its sister-hostel Pak-up Hostel in Krabi Town.
If you have spare money and want to enjoy luxuries on hotels and villas, use the following accommodation search box to find the best hotels in Phuket and Krabi for you.
DAY 1 Phuket Airport to Patong 180 Lunch 80 Dinner 80 Lubd Patong 3 Nights 960 DAY 2 3 Khai Island Tour 750 Lunch 80 Chai Iced Tea 20 Dinner 100 DAY 3 James Bond Island Tour 1450 *Lunch included on the tour Dinner 120 Day 4 Lunch 80 Ferry to Koh Phi Phi 300 Koh Phi Phi Envi Fee 20 Viewpoint entrance 30 Dinner 75 Chao Koh Dorm 2 Nights 450 Day 5 Maya Bay Island Tour 500 Lunch 70 Dinner 90 Day 6 Ferry Koh Phi Phi to Krabi 300 Lunch 80 Lions and Sharks Yoghurt 100 Sunset Kayaking 450 Dinner 60 Pop-in Hostel 3 Nights 675 DAY 7 Krabi 4 Islands Tour 460 *Lunch included on the tour National Park Fees 400 Dinner 88 DAY 8 Koh Hong Island Tour 580 *Lunch included on the tour National Park Fees 400 Tiger Temple Tour 150 Dinner 75 DAY 9 Bus Krabi to Bangkok 650 GRAND TOTAL THB9903 (~USD310)