Pick your pleasure, Where to stay?

So you’ve decided it’s time for a beach holiday, and you deserve it, after all. A little fun in the sun is like medicine for all types of travelers; rookie or seasoned, budget or luxury. But where to go? With its warm weather, white sand beaches and turquoise waters, Southern Thailand is an obvious choice. But there’s more than one beach around this awe-inspiring area. Will it be Phuket or Krabi?

You’re not the first to look back and forth between these provincial sisters. Phuket, with its well-established industry and bumping nightlife? Or Krabi, offering serenity, sunsets and laid-back style? When it comes to Phuket vs. Krabi, it’s hard to choose a winner. Both options are attractive, and ultimately will depend on the type of traveler you are. But comparisons are still possible. So if you’re not keen on picking out of a hat, we’ve compiled a list of reasons why Phuket or Krabi might be right for you. Welcome to Thailand, and may the best province win!

Phuket vs. Krabi – Who has the better beaches?

Phra Nang beach, Krabi Thailand

If you were to base your decision on aerial photography alone, Krabi would be a clear winner here. With the sheer size of this paradisiacal province and whopping number of accessory islands, Krabi outshines Phuket by a long shot. But for those of us who are hoping to get more up-close-and-personal than some drone footage, Phuket has its advantages as well.

Phuket has a long-standing reputation as one of the world’s premier beach destinations. More than 30 beaches are at your disposal here. You’ll have options ranging from the flashy and exhilarating Patong beach to hidden gems like Nui and Banana beaches. With some more well-known coasts taking most of the spotlight, you’d be forgiven if you thought that the beach scene in Phuket is a pulsing, astonishing affair. You’d be right, partially. Even though some beaches here may be crowded, they’re breathtakingly beautiful. If you’re on board for some exploration, Phuket has more to offer than first impressions. Neighbouring islands on the west coast are also rendered inaccessible to Krabi, upping the ante when it comes to coastal comfort.

Krabi, on the other hand, has seen tourism shape its landscape more recently, and as such offers a much more laid back vibe. While there are certainly a range of perfectly amenitied beacheshere, Krabi is a showcase of lesser-known gems that give life to the term “getaway”. With jungle-covered, dramatic limestone karsts enclosing you, Krabi is all about the rugged nature. If the idea of being alone on a tropical beach is attractive to you, this is the place to be.  But while boasting a much larger number of surrounding islands, main contenders such as Phi Phi and Koh Lanta are also accessible from Phuket, making the island province a winner in this round.

Phuket vs. Krabi – What About the Nightlife?

Patong beach nightlife Phuket Thailand

If a vacation for you is all about what happens after the sun goes down, you’ll have plenty of attractive, albeit distinct options in both of the beach provinces. If one is more of a beer and Bob Marley kind of date, the other presents cosmopolitans, beats and bling. There’s no mistaking it – when it comes to the nightlife, Phuket outperforms Krabi by a long shot. But not everyone is looking for the riotous lights of the after-hours scene, and Krabi corners a market that Phuket just can’t satisfy.

With a plethora of bars so close to the water, Krabi trumps Phuket in the beach-partydepartment. While Phuket laws keep the bar scene off of the beach, Krabi is your go-to if you want to dance and drink the night away with your toes in the sand. High season will see a good amount of packed venues entertained by international acts. More commonly seen are toe-tapping acoustic jams and choose-your-own-adventure playlists. With black light paint decorating bars constructed from ocean relics, you can lap up the laid-back vibes while the ocean laps at your feet.

If that sounds boring to you, then there’s the frenetic and well-known adult playground of Phuket. While noticeably lacking in evening beachfront beatitude, Phuket has just about everything else to offer the thirsty traveler, and then some. With its over-the-top discotheques, cabaret shows and raging full moon parties, there’s a good chance the only way you’ll be catching a sunrise is if you stay up for it. Though you can find a party on almost every part of the island, the hottest action will be found on Bangla Road at Patong beach. Here you’ll find all the exciting and surprising things that make Thailand’s social scene so famous.

Phuket vs. Krabi – Adventure Time!

Koh payee, krabi Thailand

Just one look at either of these idyllic destinations and you’ll know that there’s more to offer here than just laying around on the beach. As tourism grows in both locations, so do the options for travelers hoping to experience something new and exciting. While Phuket has the advantage of being in the game longer, Krabi has caught up quite nicely – with the added bonus of retaining its natural wonder.

With many years in the world-wide spotlight, Phuket has had more than enough chance to groom itself for its audience. With so many options for the adventure-seeker, you’re more likely to be overwhelmed than bored. While both provinces are fully established in the iconic attractions of scuba diving, snorkeling and Muay Thai boxing, Phuket definitely has a more metropolitan presentation. Here you’ll find extravagant activity centres offering wave pools, motorized water sports and other outlandish, man-made thrills.

Krabi is a natural playground of epic proportions. With so many wild and wonderful options, expensive tourist traps haven’t been necessary. Though you can do most of everything in both provinces, what Krabi lacks in flashy infrastructure it makes up for in rugged charm and exhilarating nature. Along with scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking and island-hopping, you can find a whole host of hair-raising outdoor activities. Mountain biking, cave exploration and our favourite – ocean view rock climbing – are all found here in the wild province. For its unspoiled grandeur and attractions built by nature, we favour Krabi in this arena.

Phuket vs. Krabi – Where Can I Stay?

Since accommodation ideals will vary from person to person, it’s hard to say whether one province triumphs over another in this category. Phuket’s long-standing relationship with tourism has given rise to a staggering amount of options, especially on the luxury end of the spectrum. But that’s not to say that there are no major contenders in Krabi.

Phuket’s hotel offerings outnumber Krabi’s aggressively. So many options can leave the traveler-to-be in a state of bewilderment. If it’s style you’re looking for, Phuket shines. An abundance of the accommodation is upscale, with some offerings being categorically out of this world. But budget travelers fear not, because Phuket wants your vote as well. Though you’ll find plenty of options catering to those with expensive taste, you can still find a bargain.

Krabi’s laid-back and uncut wilderness dictates a much larger selection of mid-range accommodation. Its strong backpacker scene favours rustic nature over bling and crowds. It’s here you’ll find your dream bamboo bungalow by the beach. While similar options do exist in Phuket, it’s worth mentioning that you’ll inevitably be sharing your dream with some neighbours. In Krabi, it’s still possible to really escape from it all. A gentler fame has left the wild province a haven for solitude seekers. But Krabi isn’t all back country roads and arcadian abodes, oh no. They have their fair share of five star resorts too, and everything in between.

Phuket vs. Krabi – Point Me to the Shopping, Please

Central festival shopping in Phuket

If you’re a traveler who likes to fly with a spare suitcase, you won’t be disappointed with our duo of beach beauties. Which province you consider better depends on what you’re in the market for.

Humble Krabi does shopping the same way that is does everything else – local, authentic, simple and gorgeous. You will find a spattering of department stores here and there. But the real gems are to be found in the entrancing markets and stalls lining the beaches. The rampant commercialization of Phuket means that much of its original charm has been lost. This is where Krabi steps in to play. Handmade items are common here, and bargaining will get you further than it will in Phuket. If your ideal purchases are things you just can’t find anywhere else, you’ll be happy in Krabi.

Phuket on the other hand, stocks its shops with all the glittery things that might appeal to the five-star resort crowd. Lavish clothing, handicrafts, antiques and housewares are all here for people with money to burn. A number of colossal malls dot the island, and extravagant night markets overwhelm the senses with colours, textures and prices. But to be fair, other than the glitz and glam, Phuket doesn’t really offer anything that Krabi doesn’t, there’s just more of it.

Phuket vs. Krabi – What’s For Dinner?

After all the shopping, adventure sports, sightseeing and sun, you’re probably feeling a little hungry. Food is a big deal around here, whether you’re in the mood for the exotic and unusual or familiar and comforting. So what’s on the menu of our provincial players?

It might not be a surprise at this point, but Phuket has major points for class in the food category. Upscale venues can be found across the board, even in some of the most remote locales. A longstanding love affair with tourism has made Phuket restaurateurs competitive. Here you’ll find some of the most decadent creations on this side of the Andaman sea. Chefs import ingredients from all corners of the globe to satiate your cravings, while keeping local delights and fusion masterpieces close at hand.

Krabi crushes Phuket in one category – the price. While there certainly is no shortage of innovative fine-dining in the shyer sister, it’s not her best attribute. Come here if you’re on a mission to try every local dish on the menu without breaking the bank. Street food can be enjoyed at ridiculously low prices, leaving extra for that artisan pizza or sumptuous seafood platter that caught your eye. And the best part is, you can enjoy it all with your toes in the sand, a simple pleasure that ritzy Phuket sometimes forgets.

Phuket vs. Krabi – What’s This Going to Cost Me?

Make no mistake, compared to many alluring beach destinations, both of our captivating contenders will be easy on the pocket book. When it comes to overall cost, personal taste will decide the outcome every time.

By means of the decadence that’s a mainstay of Phuket, Krabi will definitely win this round. For those of us who can afford the luxury, Phuket’s prices will still be a drop in the bucket when set against similar earthly locales. However, Krabi is a clear winner in the price department, and there’s no better example of this than the cost of transportation. Krabi offers an economical array of options to move from one end of the province to another. You can easily pay up to ten times as much for a journey of similar length in Phuket. If you can front for the gilded glamour of Phuket’s resort living, the inflated prices of other offerings probably won’t bother you. But if it’s a bargain you’re looking for, Krabi’s your friend.

Phuket vs. Krabi – So Who’s the Winner?

You might have noticed a theme in this contest – one of restrained impartiality. Both provinces have much to offer, and the choice is ultimately up to you. Are you here for the bustling nightlife, full-scale pampering and oodles of choices? If so, then Phuket is worth a visit. If you’re more of a free spirit, seeking adventure on a budget with a stunning backdrop, choose Krabi. Those who have the time might not have to decide; travel between Phuket and Krabi is easy. But like a parent who secretly favours one child over another, we’ll tell you with a wink to come to Krabi. She’s our home after all, and we love to have company.