Phuket and Krabi are two of the most popular destinations in Thailand drawing millions of travelers every year. Both have long stretches of white sand bordering turquoise blue oceans, making them a paradise for beach lovers. Although they sound similar, each has its own distinct personality and deserves a visit on its own. But reality bites hard sometimes and you realize you can’t have it all. So if you are put in a difficult place of choosing one among them, this guide will help you make the right choice.
Phuket is a buzzing island which lures millions of visitors every year with its luxury spas, beaches, adventure and hardcore party culture. It’s wild, sensational and rightfully so, loved by all. Whether you are going with families, friends or with your special someone, Phuket will delight you.
Its hippy neighbour Krabi has a more relaxed vibe to it, where travelers lounge about on beaches, disappear into its forests and spend their evenings idling away at a bar. If you are looking to escape the crowds, want a slow-paced trip and the company of nature, then Krabi will appeal to you.
Phuket is one of Thailand’s party hotspots with its blazing neon-lit bars, enticing go-go bars, deafening music and a no-holds-barred party atmosphere. Bangla road is at the centre of all the sleazy action and wild parties in Phuket. For those who want to chill with a drink, there are bars at Kata beach with a relaxed ambience.
The party scene in Krabi is more relaxed with travelers usually lounging about in bars while listening to music and talking to the locals. Ao Nang centre point and Soi RCA are the main party venues here where you can find loads of drinking options.
So if you are going with the intention of partying every night, then Phuket should be your one and only stop.
If you are looking for some heart pumping action, then Phuket will give you that adrenaline fix. Right from extreme ones like Bungee jumping to milder ones like ziplining, scuba diving and snorkeling, Phuket has just about every adventure sport in the book. Its beaches are filled with thrill seekers zooming around on Jet Ski’s or soaring in the skies by parasailing.
Krabi has a fair share of adventures too, but not as many options as Phuket. Krabi’s towering limestone cliffs are famous amongst rock climbers. Daredevils can jump off a monster cave and swing high above the forest floor. There are options for scuba diving and snorkeling too, but water sports aren’t permitted on the beaches of Krabi.
So if adventure is important in your scheme of things, then Phuket is the place to go.
Both Phuket and Krabi are blessed with beautiful beaches. Krabi is home to Railay beach, one of the world’s most famous beaches, surrounded by mammoth limestone karsts. Ao Nang beach is the busiest beach in Krabi, famous for its resorts lining the sandy stretches.
Phuket pretty much owes its fame to its beaches. The island has a long stretch of beaches with Patong being the most popular and busiest one. Karon and Kata, a short drive from Patong have a more relaxed vibe. If you want a beach entirely to yourself, then drive around and find secret beaches like Ao yon, Siam and Laem Ka Beach.
Krabi is nature at its dazzling best with its serene beaches, dense mangroves, emerald pools, hot water springs and its famed limestone cliffs. Nature lovers wanting solitude can easily escape into the mangroves or hike up a mountain. Despite being popular among tourists, Krabi has still retained its rugged charm.
Phuket on the other hand has lost much of its natural beauty due to massive commercialization. But you can still find lush green jungles at the Khao Sok National park which is a day trip from Phuket. Phuket also has tonnes of points like the Promthep cape known for spectacular sunset views.
Phuket and Krabi both lie along Phang Nga Bay with access to many islands with even more beautiful waters. Popular ones like James bond Island, Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta can be reached easily from both these places in a few hours’ time.
Phuket exclusively acts as a base to Similan and Surin islands, which are some of the best places in the world for scuba diving. On the other hand, island tours around Krabi can take you to islands like Koh Poda, Koh Tup and Koh Mor, which are incredibly scenic. On low tides, you can even walk along narrow sandbars from Koh Tup to the neighboring Chicken Island.
Points of Interest/Places to see
Phuket draws around 5 million visitors annually and it’s not surprising to see why – there are a million things to do here. Whether you are looking for temples, monuments, art museums, marine parks or cabaret shows – Phuket has it all. History buffs can stroll along old Phuket town for an authentic feel of the place and it’s heavily influenced European architecture. You can spend a week here and it will still not be enough for you to absorb.
Krabi is known more for its natural wonders and has relatively less options for sightseeing.
So those looking for an endless stream of sights, sounds and action are better off at Phuket.
The shopaholics will absolutely love Phuket. Phuket has a variety of shopping options from mega malls to stalls selling everything from funky accessories to clothes, local artifacts and delicious street food. The weekend night markets in old town are a must visit for everyone.
Krabi has fewer options for shopping in comparison to Phuket. But they do have “Walking Street Markets” which happen from Fridays to Sundays. Apart from touristy merchandise, you can get clothes, jewellery and handicrafts at these markets.
Now that you have seen how they fare in comparison to each other, you should be able to decide the place based on your personal tastes and desired experiences. Irrespective of which place you end up choosing, you are sure to have a memorable time.
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