When it comes to Thai getaways, Phuket and Krabi are two destinations that should be near the top of everyone’s list. Both of these tropical paradises can offer unique varied experiences and unforgettable vacations.
However choosing whether to visit Krabi or Phuket for that once-in-a-lifetime holiday can be exceptionally difficult.
Thankfully we know both destinations well, so are here to help you decide which one is right for you.
Phuket vs Krabi: Which should you choose?
Below we compare both destinations, and give our honest opinion on which one is safer, cheaper, has the best beaches, nightlife, and more:
Phuket vs Krabi: Which has the better beaches?
Krabi and Phuket have some wonderful beaches and if you’re looking for sun, sea, and sand then both will keep you happy.
That said, there are notable differences between the two.
In general, we would say that the beaches in Phuket are better than the beaches in Krabi, mainly due to the many white sand beaches on this island. The water is also calm, warm, and good for swimming.
However Phuket is a busy tourist destination – more so than Krabi – and therefore the beaches can get busy and crowded.
Phuket is also much smaller than Krabi, and the Phuket region has around 30 islands compared to 100 in Krabi!
Subsequently Krabi has a huge array of beaches compared to Phuket, and there’s many opportunities to discover your own slice of paradise away from the crowds – something that’s much harder to do in Phuket. Krabi is also home to some of the country’s best coral reefs, and is therefore a great snorkeling destination.
All in all, the battle of the beaches is a draw.
Phuket or Krabi: Which has the better excursions?
If you’re looking to do more than just sunbathe and swim, then both have some great potential excursions.
In Phuket a trip north of the main city will bring you to jungles, waterfalls, and the island’s natural side. Around 25km north of Phuket city is Phuket Elephant Sanctuary, where you can meet some of Thailand’s most famous inhabitants. Off the coast of Phuket are some breathtakingly beautiful islands as well – Ko Yao Yai is one of our favourites.
Krabi is much bigger than Phuket, and with that comes a variety of possible excursions, including to some of Thailand’s most beautiful islands – like the stunning Phi Phi Islands.
Krabi’s natural beauty, jungle-covered interior and incredible cliffs and caves offer an array of activities for those who want more from their trip than just relaxing on the beach. Rock climbing, jungle trekking, and sea kayaking, as well as snorkeling and scuba diving, are all possible in the region. There are several elephant sanctuaries in Krabi too, so a trip here will also allow you to meet these gentle giants. (Recommended: Hiring a scooter in Thailand).
Phuket vs Krabi: Which has the better nightlife?
Thailand is famous for its party scene, and Phuket – alongside Bangkok – is probably the party center of the country.
For those looking for a wild time, Bangla Road in Phuket’s Patong offers its own selection of bars, go-go clubs and neon-covered craziness. As well as the famous adult entertainment clubs that have become synonymous with Thailand.
Phuket comes alive as the sun sets, and people from around the world come here to experience Thailand’s ‘sinful’ side and the various vices it caters too. However, while Phuket is a safe destination at night, you do have to exercise caution in the evening.
Krabi has a lively nightlife scene too, and you’ll find plenty of places to dance the night away. However this region has a relaxed way of life and there’s no doubt that places like Patong in Phuket are much more nightlife centric. For that reason Phuket has to be the winner.
Phuket or Krabi: Which is the better cultural experience?
Phuket feels more ‘Westernised’ than Krabi, and you’ll have no problem finding chain restaurants and hotels here. However beyond the beach bars and hotel complexes there is culture to be found, and the Big Buddha – a gigantic Buddha statue sitting at the top of Nakkerd Hill – is worth visiting.
Krabi is less developed than Phuket and is one of Thailand’s most diverse regions. There’s many stunning temples in this area from exotic beachside sanctuaries, to houses of worship hidden deep in the interior. The most famous is the Tiger Cave Temple which is a must visit.
There’s also lots of bustling local markets to discover in Krabi, along with rural villages where farmers have been tilling the land for generations.
If you’re looking for culture and a vacation that really feels like you’re in Thailand, then we think Krabi will be the better choice than Phuket.
Krabi vs Phuket: Which is the most beautiful?
Phuket Island has some gorgeous spots, with crystal-clear water giving way to a jungle and mountain covered interior. All of that, combined with its white sand beaches, makes this a stunning region to visit. The one downside is that Phuket’s coastline is becoming more developed every year due to the popularity of the island.
Krabi boasts a hugely diverse landscape, from the stunning Phi Phi islands that jut dramatically out of the ocean, to its dense mangrove forests and coastline dotted with hidden coves, beaches, and around 100 islands. Further inland, mountains and jungle dominate. All in all, Krabi is arguably Thailand’s most beautiful region.
Phuket vs Krabi: Which is cheaper?
Thailand in general is full of many accommodation options that are catered to visitors of all budgets. Subsequently you can find affordable accommodation in both Phuket and Krabi. For high end hotels, we’ve found that the prices can be slightly cheaper in Krabi though.
Food and drink prices are roughly similar in both destinations too, so we will have to call this one a tie.
Phuket vs Krabi: Which is safer?
Both are safe destinations, which is why tourists visit in their droves every year. However, as always when on holiday you should avoid confrontations with locals, avoid walking in unlit areas at night, and keep an eye on your drinks when at clubs and bars.
As for which destination is safer, you’ll find this is a contentious point among locals and tourists alike. However the fact remains that Krabi has a lower crime rate than Phuket. Phuket also has far more ‘party areas’ and like anywhere in the world when alcohol is involved, there’s the potential for criminal activity.
Phuket vs Krabi: Which is the better choice?
If you’re looking for sun, sea, sand and fun when the sun goes down then Phuket would be a better choice than Krabi. Phuket also has the better beaches, and some great excursion options.
However Krabi is arguably the more beautiful destination, and is certainly the better choice if you’re looking for a relaxed vacation with a mix of sunbathing and adventure, alongside cultural attractions.