How to Visit Krabi and Phi Phi: Don’t Make These Mistakes (+Photos)

The postcard pictures of quintessential Thai beaches are surely on everyone’s bucket list. And having a weak passport makes this an even more ideal destination thanks to easy entry regulations and cheap travel options.

If that isn’t already enough to entice you, just think about the buckets of Thai curry waiting for you at the other end…

You didn’t have to invite me twice and during my stint in South East Asia, I scrambled to book my first Thai getaway and see the unearthly blue water for myself. As a wet-behind-the-ears traveler I set my eyes on Phi-Phi because if it is THAT famous, it surely must be worth it, right?

Yet, amidst the excitement and the hype surrounding this viral Thai island, I learned some valuable lessons that I wish I had known before. From monsoon showers to all-night parties and tourist traps, there were a few things that I needed to learn the hard way because I am too stubborn for my own good and I wouldn’t let anyone put a damper on my tropical dreams.

Here’s my candid guide to help you navigate Krabi and Phi Phi Islands without falling into the same pitfalls I did.

In this post, we’ll cover:

Consider the Weather


Krabi and Phi Phi are tropical havens, but their paradisiacal charm comes with a capricious climate. The postcard-perfect image of sun-drenched shores is often accurate, especially during the high season from November to March.

However, the low season brings a different story — one where the sun plays hide and seek amidst bouts of heavy rain, especially from May to October. But it’s not all gray skies; mornings can be surprisingly clear and radiant, offering a window of golden light perfect for early adventures before the afternoon showers begin their symphony.

I visited in June and the showers made for some pretty interesting times at sea. But armed with some Dramamine, I braved the swell nonetheless. The biggest problem is that when the sun isn’t shining at full capacity, the water isn’t as hyper-blue and clear as you might hope.


For a first-time snorkeler, the darker water was a little intimidating but I put on my big-girl pants and dove in. Remember that the two coasts of Thailand have opposite weather patterns so when it is the rainy season on one side of the country, it is pretty much always sunny on the other side.

PRO TIP: Embrace the unpredictability of the weather by planning activities in the early morning. Sunrise on the beach and early morning swims are fantastic, especially since it is a little quieter with all the partygoers sleeping in. Always have a flexible itinerary and a good book or a backup plan for indoor activities when the rain decides to stage an impromptu performance.

Break Up the Ocean Tours in Phi Phi


A Phi Phi ocean tour is like a buffet of natural wonders, each more tantalizing than the last. Memorable stops like Monkey Beach, where simians rule the sands, and Runtee Bay, an underwater kaleidoscope lay waiting. Bamboo Island, true to its name, is an untouched oasis, with its wild bamboo and a beach that feels like a secret between you and nature. Other stops include the Viking Cave, Pi Leh Lagoon, Loh Samah Bay’s shallow waters, and Maya Bay.

Phi Phi

But seven hours at sea is something I would leave to Jack Sparrow next time. After several hours of shaky seas and endless swimming, our boat came to a halt for sunset. We were still scheduled to swim in the glowing phosphorous-rich water close to shore but our boat collectively decided we were hungry to get back on land, and opted to skip the swim.

Speaking of hunger, by this point we were famished! The tour includes lunch, but this is nothing more than a jam sandwich and juice so come prepared and pack some snacks that you can nibble on in between your swimming sessions.

PRO TIP: While the full-day tour offers a comprehensive experience, consider splitting the tour into two half-day trips to avoid exhaustion and allow more time to soak in each location. Always confirm the current status of attractions like Maya Bay to manage your expectations, as conservation efforts may restrict access.

The Underappreciated Charm of Krabi

Krabi View

I flew into Krabi from Bangkok and it was an easy Grab ride to the Klong Jilad Pier at the southern end of the town. In my mind, Krabi was just a convenient airport destination to take the earliest ferry to Phi Phi but it is not just a stepping stone to the islands; it’s a destination that stands proudly on its own.

With its laid-back vibe, stunning inland scenery, and a coastline that’s less crowded than its island counterparts, Krabi offers a blend of relaxation and exploration. 


There are tons of little towns around Krabi Town that are remarkable places to spend more than a couple of days and the lush surroundings are simply begging to be explored by motorbike.

I spent my last days in the sleepy fishing town of Ao Nang, about 30 minutes west of the airport. Here I booked a forest bungalow with a pool for only a few dollars, something I wish I appreciated more at the time considering the sharp inflation in a post-pandemic travel world.


I chose Ao Nang for another ultra-touristic reason, its proximity to Railay Beach. This hyped-up beach is only accessible by boat and it is a 20-minute long tail cruise to get to its white shores. Surrounded by limestone cliffs and jungle, it is easy to forget you are still on the mainland and this setting is every bit as idyllic as one of the islands.

Sadly, I only spent one day in town as I was still under the impression that Thai islands were the be-all-and-end-all of tropical destinations. Lesson learned.

PRO TIP: Allocate a few days to explore Krabi and the surrounding town. Rent a scooter to meander through the scenic routes, visit the Tiger Cave Temple, and immerse yourself in the vibrant local markets. Don’t miss the opportunity to climb the 1,237 steps to the temple’s summit for a sunrise or sunset that you’ll likely never forget.

Thai Delicacies You Can’t Miss


Thai cuisine is an epicurean journey of note. The spice-laden street food, fresh seafood, and sweet, tropical fruits are a constant culinary celebration. Each dish tells a story of regional ingredients and the harmonious blend of sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and spicy that defines Thai food.

Phi Phi is not the place to be if you are on the hunt for authentic Thai food. The streets are laden with touristic (read party animal) places and food is slightly “Westernized” to fit our uncultured pallets.

With a belly full of hostel breakfast and readily available 7-11 toasties, I didn’t indulge too much in the island cuisine. My penny-pinching ways are hard to kick and I simply could not justify spoiling my appetite for Thai food at inauthentic and overpriced Tripadvisor institutions.


But back on the mainland, the food painted a different picture. At the Ao Nang Landmark Night Market I sampled every food-on-a-stick I laid my eyes on and taste-tested as much curry as I could handle.

Although you can find even more authentic food than at the night market, time was not on my side and I needed to do a food blitzkrieg, and having everything under one roof was the solution.

PRO TIP: Be adventurous with your palate, but also know your limits with spice. Start mild and work your way up. Make sure to try the local specialties in Krabi, like the spicy and sour ‘Kanom Jeen’ noodles, and always ask for recommendations at street food stalls — the locals know best.

Do You Value Sleep?


After a quick accommodation search, I found a hostel that seemed idyllic enough to be the perfect complement to my island dreams. Beach views, a pool, and rooms that promised a postcard-worthy stay.

Being over 30 and a solo traveler, I weighed the social benefits of hostel life against my need for sleep. But let me tell you, the lines blur in a party hostel, and the nights get loud and messy. It’s a gamble where your odds of peace are slim.

Sadly, Phi Phi is the Asian equivalent of Cancun or Ibiza and this wasn’t something I understood the extent of. What I thought would be charming streets to wander through were bars upon bars selling booze by the bucket and even the beach turns into an all-night party with fire dancers and DJs.


Call me a grandma, but I was not mentally prepared for this. On the other hand, it could be great fun if you only visit for a day or two but I booked the bulk of my stay on Phi Phi, thinking a week-long island getaway is the ultimate dream!

PRO TIP: Stay somewhere serene, and if the party beckons, visit on your terms. After all, the parties are open to everyone, and your sanctuary awaits when the night ends.

Watch Out for Friendly Ladyboys

Lady Body

The ladyboy culture in Thailand is one of the most visible and celebrated aspects of the country’s vibrant LGBTQ+ community. These performers are known for their dazzling costumes and elaborate shows that often feature lip-sync performances, dances, and impressive sets.

But this is also one of the biggest tourist scams you need to be aware of. I’m not proud to say that I fell victim to this one, savvy as I might think I am. As you walk along the beachfront in the early evening, crowds of performers gather to hand out leaflets for their shows.

Nothing wrong with a little entrepreneurial spirit! But here’s the catch. You can quickly get roped into a friendly conversation and banter session and the performers then ask if they could take a photo with you.

You read that right, THEY ask YOU to be in a picture, not IF you want to photograph them. They lull you into a safe sense of security and make you feel like they do this simply as a kind gesture. But beware, once the shutter snaps, they become quite intimidating in insisting you pay them for the photo (that you didn’t want in the first place). Holding on tightly to my last few Baht to grab lunch at the airport, I scurried away with only a blurry photo and a bruised ego to remember the evening by.

PRO TIP: If you’re curious about the ladyboy shows, it’s best to attend an official performance where the artistry and talent are on full display in a respectful environment. Remember, consent and respect go both ways — always ask before taking photos.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *