Island hopping by ferry from Krabi

they pack them in good in the ferries

Krabi’s airport and bus station are the principal gateways to fabulous beach resorts in the surrounding region for the majority of international visitors. Buses, shared songthaew taxis and standard taxis are the transportation options to most mainland destinations after arrival. Offshore islands, the Phi Phi archipelago and even the Railay Peninsula are too small and rocky for their own airports and the only way of reaching them is by boat.

Visitors have a choice of scheduled passenger ferries, speedboats and the ubiquitous Thai long-tail water-taxis for their sea odysseys. Many travellers say that leisurely ferry trips across the sparkling waters of Phang Nga Bay with the region’s limestone karst rocks acting as a guard of honour is a cathartic experience.

Until a few years ago, the main Krabi ferry pier was in Krabi Town. Although some ferries do arrive and depart from this port, most use the purpose built terminal four kilometres from town at Klong Jilad. The terminal here has ferry company ticket offices, snack and beverage bars, and covered seating areas.

In high season, ferries can get full and it is better to pre-book tickets if possible. Tour agencies in Krabi’s resorts as well as online reservations sites such as the Tourism Authority of Thailand accredited PhiPhi-Ferry.com sell advance tickets.

Local airlines Nok Air and Thai AirAsia offer combined flight, road transfer and ferry tickets to islands near Krabi such as Phi Phi Don, Koh Lanta and Koh Mook. These combo-tickets are convenient and take the hassle out of bargaining with taxi drivers for a fare to Klong Jilad and buying ferry tickets once you get there.

The busiest route out of Klong Jilad is to Phi Phi Don. Some of these ferries also travel on to Phuket. During the November to April peak season there are several daily services between Klong Jilad and Phi Phi Don’s Tonsai Pier. The trip takes around two hours. Shuttle boats provide onward transportation from Tonsai for those heading up to the northern tip of the island at Leamtong.   

There is a daily service from Klong Jilad to Koh Jum and Koh Lanta in the high season. The outward leg of this journey sees the ferry depart Klong Jilad at 11:00, call in at Koh Jum one hour later and arrive at Ban Saladan Pier on Koh Lanta Yai at 13:00. From Koh Lanta, the departure time is 08:00 for the two-hour trip. 

An easier means of getting to Koh Lanta is the minivan service down Highway 4206 to Baan Hua Hin. The vans are loaded into car ferries for the trip across the narrow strait to Koh Lanta Noi. After disembarking it is but a few minutes drive across the island for the second ferry to Saladan. These car ferries are also useful for drivers with their own or rented cars.

In the tourist high season Saladan has direct ferry services to and from Koh Phi Phi. Another special during the season is the twice daily Saladan, Railay, Ao Nang to Phuket’s Rassada Pier service. There is a peak season speedboat service between Krabi and Bangrong Pier on Phuket. The boats stop at Ao Nang and Koh Yao Noi en route. Departure times for the 75-minute trip from Krabi are 11:00 and from Bangrong are 15:00.

special ferries will thrown in some snorkeling

Passenger ferries from Krabi, Phi Phi and Phuket calling at Railay dock at the peninsula’s east beach. Due to the lofty limestone mountains separating Railay from the rest of Krabi Province it is in effect an island. Longtail boats to Railay leave from both Krabi Town and Ao Nang Beach and take 30 minutes and 10 minutes respectively. Boat skippers usually wait for a full load of passengers before setting sail.

There is one ferry a day in each direction between Krabi Town’s Chaofah Pier and piers on the islands of Koh Yao Noi and Koh Yao Yai. Thalen Pier is around 30kms from Krabi Town and is a better option for getting to the Yao Islands. Both speedboats and longtail boats ply the route between the two and departures are frequent during daylight hours.

Yao Island services from Thalen are occasionally cancelled in bad weather during the May to October monsoon season. Regular longtail boats cross the narrow strait that divides Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi. People on the Yao Islands heading onwards to Phuket have a choice of ferries which land at piers at Bang Rong and Chianwanich.

During the high season there are quite a few extra scheduled ferry services to the less visited and more remote islands south of Krabi. One firm favourite with travellers is the Phi Phi-Koh Lanta service to Koh Ngai, Koh Mook, Koh Laoliang and Koh Lipe which terminates on the Malaysian island of Langkawi. From Phi Phi to Langkawi takes 8 hours 30 minutes and transports passengers through breathtaking vistas. 

About the Author

Andrew Bond is a travel writer who has been living in Thailand and writing about the region for more than 10 years, contributing to numerous local magazines and major web travel brands. He travels around South East Asia by tuk-tuk, bicycle, cyclo, jeepney, taxi, moto, elephant or foot in search of new smells, sounds, sights, and atmosphere. Share your travel bits with him on Google +

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