Backpacking Indochina: Phuket, Thailand for A Day (Phi Phi and Krabi Islands)

Phuket, Thailand must be an underrated paradise, especially Phi Phi and Krabi Islands. Although slowly becoming more and more famous, Krabi and Phi Phi Islands truly are a magical place worth the visit.

Phuket province is located in the southern part of Thailand and is home to the most luxurious beach resorts and spas. This is also where the most beautiful beaches in Thailand are located. The most famous of all, Phi Phi and Krabi Islands.


How to Get to Phi Phi Islands


My trip to Phuket, Thailand is part of our 9-day Indochina trip. We were coming from Kuala Lumpur and we flew to Phuket International Airport (HKT). There are daily flights going to Phuket from the Philippines as well, but direct flights from the Philippines may tend to be more expensive, so you might want to check the airline companies for the cheapest fare.

Once outside of the Phuket International Airport, van and cab services are already waiting either for their booked tourists or for tourists who haven’t booked anything yet. Travel from Phuket International Airport to Rassada Pier (port going to Phi Phi) usually takes about an hour and a half to two hours.

There are two options going to Phi Phi Islands from Rassada Pier — ferry or speedboats. The passenger ferry only has one scheduled trip every day at 11 AM. This takes about two hours to get to Phi Phi. Speedboats are privately booked and are, therefore, a bit more expensive than the public ferry.


Tips to Remember:


  • Book an early flight to Phuket. If you’re flying in, make sure to fly an early flight to Phuket. From the airport, travel time to Rassada Pier is about two hours, depending on traffic. From the port, the group of islands is still about two hours away. Tour usually starts early in the morning, and unless you are booked with the private speedboat tour and have arranged for a much later start of the tour, you might as well want to arrive early at the port.

  • Book your tours ahead (online) if you’re not good at haggling. There are several tour packages being offered to see the Phi Phi and Krabi Islands. Most of which differ in offers, fees, and island activities. Apart from the popular belief that booking online is expensive, you can actually find some cheaper alternatives and good deals online.
    Make sure to read fine prints and offerings of each package. I remember when I was trying to find good deals, I was able to compare and I saw that one deal was cheaper than another. But when I checked the fine print, I saw that the reason why the first one looked cheaper is that the deal doesn’t pay the entrance and environmental fees for you while the other package includes all those. Upon computing, it seemed that we were to get a good deal with the latter offer than the first one considering the fees that every island demands.
    There is also only one trip coming back to mainland Phuket from Phi Phi. Staying in Phi Phi Islands overnight is a must if you wish to enjoy and maximize what the island can offer. Being good at haggling is also a good skill if you’d opt not to book online. Prices at the port vary and are a bit expensive, and it would be such a great help if you are really good at haggling.

  • Your booked hotel at the island can also arrange your tour for you. If you aren’t able to book ahead of time and don’t want to haggle at the port, you can opt for the hotel where you’re staying to arrange your tours for you. What I realized during this trip is that the hotel tour arrangements could actually be the cheaper option sometimes. You just have to research well.
    The island hopping would take a whole day, which means that you’d have to worry about lunch while on the tour. There are some tour packages that include a buffet lunch while there are some that don’t. Some will only bring you to the restaurant that they are affiliated with, but your meal won’t be free.

  • Be vigilant and mindful of your belongings. Drivers at the airport may tend to be harassing while trying to negotiate with you. Don’t be overwhelmed by this. Most of the hotels in Phi Phi Islands offer airport transfers so ask ahead if that is available for you because that is actually a great deal.
    When we arrived at the port, all we saw were private vans and cab services. We didn’t have any idea of what price to base our haggle when we asked for a price. We just tried to haggle the lowest price possible. These taxis may tend to overprice as well if they see that you’re easily swayed. Presence of mind is also a very helpful.


    • Bring crackers. Travel time is long, and meal times might be forgotten so you might go hungry while on the road. Bread or crackers will definitely be helpful.
    • Bring your own tumbler and refill water when you can — at restaurants, food courts, or public places that offer free clean water.
    • Make sure to bring a lot of patience. You might not be able to get the best deals or the ideal price immediately. Learn to negotiate. Thai people tend to overprice, but if you know how to negotiate, they are willing to do so to meet the right price for both of you.


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