Visiting Thailand’s Stopover Destination: Day Trips and To-Do’s in Krabi
Krabi may be the gateway town to Thailand’s neighbouring islands, but the nearby day trips and availability of Thai Street Food will leave you anything but—well, crabby!
Krabi is a province in Thailand on the south-western side. Tucked away from the chaos of Bangkok city, Krabi Town is where many travellers stopover for a few days before heading out to the western islands; this makes a lot of sense as Krabi is conveniently located 45 km away from Koh Phi Phi Don and 50 km from Koh Lanta. If you’re looking to party, this is not the place for you. However, if you’re looking for a variety of cheap, local food, night markets and easy access to many day trips, this is where you should stay before jetting off to your next destination in Thailand.
Although there are tons of day trips from Krabi, we only managed to do two:
James Bond Island
There are many tour companies to choose from for James Bond Island, so it’s hard for me to recommend one. My best advice is to talk to other travellers in Krabi and see what they liked/disliked.
These tours are usually 9-10 hours long (including all the transportation there and back) and take you to the infamous filming location of the original James Bond movie. Yeah sure, the tiny island is known solely because of the movie, but it really is a neat place because the rock seems to defy gravity with most of its weight sitting on the top.
Your tour will start with a pick-up from your hostel or hotel. This means that yes, everyone else will be picked up from theirs too, and you’ll have about 13 people in total in your minibus. In other words, although it’s convenient to be picked up, it takes some time to actually get going to the island, so be patient. If you’re picked up first, that also means you’ll be dropped off last so bare all this in mind if you get car sick easily.
Once everyone has been picked up, it’ll take another 1.5 hours to get to the port where your long tail boat will be waiting for you. At this point, you’ll be joining the other three minibuses, so don’t worry if you haven’t made friends at that point. If you chose to pay extra for a speed boat, you’ll be in a completely different tour group and it’s pretty likely that you’ll travel around the islands a lot faster. Side note: although taking a long tail boat is cheaper and more traditionally Thai, the engines of these boats are very, very loud. If you can, sit up closer to the front of the boat, or pay the extra money to travel by speed boat.
By long tail, it’ll take about 45 minutes to get to James Bond Island where you’ll get off and explore for half an hour. You won’t be the only tour group there, however, so don’t expect to have the island to yourself. Take a few Snapchats and Instagram worthy photos and then head back to the beach where you got off your boat.
Next, you’ll travel to a different area close by where kayaks will be waiting for you. Each kayak is equipped with a local guide who will paddle you around. There are two people per kayak and you’ll spend about half an hour paddling around the bay. If you chose to book “James Bind Sightseeing” instead of “James Bond Sea Canoeing”, then you’ll stay on the long tail and explore the surrounding area in that same boat instead.
Be wary because at the end of your kayaking trip, your guide will ask for a tip. If you offer anything less than 100 THB he’ll ask for 100. Give what you have and feel comfortable with and keep in mind that they are still being paid to be there.
Afterward, you’ll get back on the long tail boat and head to lunch on the floating village, Ko Panji. You’ll be given a family style lunch to share with the rest of your table, which will consist of a variety of Thai style dishes. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you can tell your tour guide and they can arrange for the cooks to make you a variety of meatless dishes.
Once you’ve finished lunch, you can shop around at the village’s markets. Like other markets in Thailand, they sell clothing, souvenirs, and more. They will try to rip you off though, so barter hard and go in with a set price in mind.
Next, you’ll get back on the long tail and return to the port. From there, you’ll be taken to a Buddhist cave/temple and Raman Waterfall, where you can go for a swim. Going into the tour, we were unaware that these were a part of the included price, so I’m sure you can imagine that we were happily surprised to find out the tour wasn’t finished after James Bond Island itself.
Finally, you’ll be driven back to your hotel before 6pm.
This is not a tour, but instead just a beach you can visit during the day if you’re staying in Krabi, where nice beaches are not really a thing.
From your hostel or hotel, walk to the pier closest to the centre of Krabi Town. Before you even reach the pier, you’ll be bombarded by locals asking you if you’re going to Railay Beach (pronounced RAY-LAY). They’ll take you to a man selling boat tickets on the pier for 150 THB each (300 round trip). In comparison to taking a taxi and then taking a boat, this is not only faster, but also a lot cheaper (600 THB vs. 300 THB). The long tail boat ride will take you 30-35 min in total to reach Railay East.
Once you get dropped off at the pier in Railay, walk through the town past the shops and follow the signs to Railay Beach West. Park yourself on the sand (keeping in mind when high tide is; we saw a few different groups get swamped by waves mid-afternoon) and spend a few hours tanning, swimming or reading. If you want to drink, buy your beers before you reach the beach because the bars selling them near the beach charge ridiculously high prices.
When you find you’re in need of some lunch, keep in mind that there’s not much in the way of cheap food in Railay. Even “local Thai food” restaurants will charge at least 80 THB for a dish. If you want to splurge, there’s a few places on the beach to choose from. We ate at a restaurant called Mangrove, and it cost us 80 THB for one pad Thai without chicken or egg. Mind you, it was a pretty tasty Pad Thai.
If you’re looking for a hopping bar to go to after a few hours in the heat, I’m not going to lie, Railay is not really the place you want to be. It’s more of a resort village than a party town, but you can certainly find a few quiet bars where you can buy a beer for about 80-120 baht (like I said, it’s not as cheap!).
There’s also a cave near the beach that we never checked out, but if that’s something you’re into, it might be worth a look.
Because you’ve already purchased your boat ticket back, you can simply head back to the same pier at Railay East where you were dropped off and they’ll take you back to Krabi when they have enough people.
Of course, there are other day trips you can do from Krabi, but if you plan to go to any of the islands, a day trip to the “4 Islands” might not be worth the money. You can also sign up for cooking classes (starting from 1,000 baht and other trekking day trips. If you want to do elephant trekking here, please make sure that you’re doing so with a highly reputable sanctuary and not a company that lets you ride elephants.
Alternatively, I highly recommend staying in Ao Nang instead if Krabi. When we drove through this town on the way to our James Bond tour, it seemed a lot more lively with more young people. It’s less spread out than Krabi, so that could be why. You’ll also have closer access to other beautiful beaches from there.
Other than day trips, I highly recommend you visit the markets in Krabi. There is one main market that opens for food every evening, and another, smaller street food market that opens only some evenings near the pier. I had great experiences (food-wise) at both, and I can definitely say that I’m craving the Krabi pad Thai right about now!