The number 1 thing to do in Krabi? Leave.
That sounds unfair. It’s not a terrible place, it’s just surrounded by much, much more beautiful places and is well set up as a transit base.
It’s a short drive away from national parks like Khao Sok or Khao Lak (for the Similan Islands), has easy access to prime dive spots, is a few hours away from Gulf of Thailand islands, and is the perfect place to start exploring Ko Phi Phi, Ko Lanta, and other smaller islands further along the Andaman coast.
The town sits on a peninsula, and, though there are no beaches, does have a few of it’s own sightseeing spots; the weird metallic sculptures along the waterfront, longtail cruises at sunset, negotiating bargains at the night market, and a visit to the tiger cave temple are good options if you have a day to spare – but, judging from the other people staying in our hostel, most had the same idea as us: arrive by bus or cheap AirAsia flight, spend 1 night, and book onward travel. We did this 3 times in total.
The first time we came to Krabi was by a short flight from Bangkok. The airport is out of town, but there are plenty of options for getting in: a taxi should cost only 350THB, an airport bus is around 120THB, and a shared sorngtaaou costs about 50THB. We landed at 2pm, by 4pm we had checked in and booked onto a 7am minivan to Khao Sok National Park the next day.
Khao Sok National Park
Minivans are cheap and really easy to book. Strangely, everything seemed to be about 3 hours away, and costs about 300THB. They’re often advertised as though they were public buses; every hotel, hostel, or travel agent will sell you tickets for ‘the 7am’, but there will be a whole bunch of vans picking people up from various places at 7am, and you won’t find out who’s actually running your service. The plus side is there’s almost always a spare seat at short notice. The tourist minivans we used were all pretty new, and took a more direct route than the public transport. Stories of being slightly uncomfortably packed-in with luggage turned out to be true, but exaggerated. We’d heard that roads would be much nicer than Cambodia. This was also true, but some minivan drivers took it as an excuse to drive like they’re Lewis Hamilton.
Like the minivans, longtails are run by individual boat owners, who leave once they’ve rounded up 8 passengers. But they’re happy to just up the price for people who don’t have time to wait. On the way back from Railay, we clubbed together with Adam from Singapore and negotiated a 1000THB private charter (paying on arrival to avoid the driver hanging around for more passengers before leaving).
By our third stopover in Krabi we had our routine down to a tee. Book in at Pak-Up Hostel (a converted primary school where classrooms are now dorms and the playground now a bar), cheap pad thai at the night market by the boat quay, book the next day’s boat or minivan with Pak-Up in exchange for free drink coupons. Done.