When you’re in bustling and crowded Phuket for your first holiday there, try not to leave without having stayed overnight at one of the smaller Krabi islands in the Andamans. Phuket hardly feels like an island, with its taxis, tuk-tuks and motosai jostling with pedestrians on crowded streets, its luxury tourism, offbeat interiors away from the beaches and its sheer size. Many people choose to take a Phuket ferry out to Phi Phi, Lanta and others of Krabi’s almost maze-like and mystic archipelago of 130 islands.
Where to go via ferry
Pristine, secluded and even uninhabited beaches on tiny islands, mid-sea dives into coral beds, misty rock formations and limestone cliffs await you in the Andaman Sea off the coasts of the Thai mainland. Phuket is within easy distance of Krabi and its beautiful islands of Phi Phi and Koh Lanta to the south.
The Ao Nang resort is what is locally known as Krabi, so beware of confusion with Krabi Town, the bustling town center on the island. You can enjoy rock-climbing on Railay and Ao Nang’s beaches, ride in longtail boats towards misty cliffs that rise out of the sea, and swim off the Phi Phi coast where Leonardo Di Caprio once dabbled in danger in The Beach.
The island of Lanta further south of Phi Phi is home to long white beaches, plenty of mangrove forests to kayak through, coral reefs teeming with some wonderful underwater life, lovely sunsets, as well as dancing and parties for those who enjoy it, though there are fewer parties here than on other islands.
Planning ferry trips from Phuket
If you decide on taking a ferry out to one of Krabi’s islands in the Andaman Sea, then you should carefully consider the timings to make sure you don’t spend all your time traveling. Ferries that arrive late in the afternoon or depart early in the morning mean that your stay on the island can be shorter than you would like. Krabi and its islands are meant for relaxing in or enjoying water sports. When you visit, you should make sure to factor in an overnight mainland stay both on arrival and departure for a relaxed itinerary. But if you have the time on your hands, getting around from one island to another is easy. In fact, many people come here for the pleasure of island hopping by speedboats and longtail boats.
There are ferry from Phuket to Phi Phi and from Phuket via Railay to Ao Nang or speedboats via Koh Yao to Ao Nang. According to the latest schedules, ferries ply the Railay route daily between November and April, and thrice a week between May and October. The journey takes nearly two hours. If you want to go via Koh Yao, then you can take a speedboat journey of 1 hour 20 minutes between November and April.
Ferries also ply to Phi Phi thrice daily, throughout the year. The journey takes an hour and 45 minutes. There are daily ferries from Phi Phi to Krabi Town, an hour and 30 minutes away and to Lanta, which is an hour away. The Phi Phi-Lanta route is only open in the November to April season. You can also take direct ferries from Phuket’s Rassada Pier to Lanta’s Saladan Pier. While the fares are cheap, you can save quite a lot on them by looking out for discounts online.