During my first trip to Phuket & Krabi, I was wondering whether to go on the island tours fron Phuket or from Krabi. The choice of the tours was difficult too: James Bond Island, Phi Phi Islands, Hong Islands, or a four island tour? Even if one could decide on a tour, which agent to book the tour with and what would be the right price to pay were other baffling questions. My first decision was to save the island tours for Krabi. In Phuket there was so much to see and do in terms of attractions or let us call them distractions. But once in Krabi, as I realised later, it would be difficult to find something that a tourist could do away from the sea apart from eating and drinking. I can suggest this for anyone. If you are visiting both Phuket and Krabi during your holiday, better save the island tours for Krabi. I already explained on reason for this. The other reason is pricing and reliability. In Phuket somehow a tourist always ends up paying too much for a service or does not get the proper value for his money. Krabi, on the other hand, is a gentler place. And once you read this article, you will have adequate information on doing island tours in Krabi.
What are the different tours?
There are four island tours that almost every travel agent in Krabi will be selling:
James Bond Island
James Bond Island (Koh Khao Ping Gan) in the Phang Nga Bay was made famous by the shooting there of the James Bond movie ‘The Man With The Golden Gun’.
Phi Phi Islands
The second largest island called ‘Koh Phi Phi Leh’ from this group of islands was used int the shooting of the movie ‘The Beach’ and is the most popular island group for tourists in this region.
The Four-Island Tour
This tour would include visits to Phranang Cave, Tup Island, Chicken Island, and Poda Island.
The Hog Islands tour covers Hong Island, Landing Island, Pakbia Island, Rai Island, and Daeng Island.
All these tours can be covered by either a long tail boat or a speed boat. Speed boat tours are a bit more expensive but much more comfortable. If you have time for only one tour, go for the Phi Phi Islands tour. This tour will include a speed boat ride, snorkeling, sun bathing at Phi Phi and a vegetarian or non-vegetarian lunch.
Where to book and how much to pay
I stayed in Ao Nang, and that is recommended for a first time visitor to Krabi, and hence the information that I share here was gathered by me in Ao Nang. The entire stretch of the Beach Road in Ao Nang has restaurants, bars and travel agencies where one can book any tour or activity. The prices that the road side travel agents display there are like this:
Phi Phi Island Tour: 900 THB
Four Island Tour: 400 THB
Hong Island Tour: 600 THB
James Bond Island Tour: 1300 THB
These prices are not final prices though. Something called a “National Park Entry Fee” is also payable by the customer on top of these prices which is 400 THB per person. Some agents told me the fee was 300 THB but then their tour prices were higher. Including the park entry fee, a Phi Phi Island tour will cost 1300 THB but this price is negotiable and anyway it is not a good idea to book tours from road side agents.
There are some crucial aspects here:
1. Speed boat or long tail boat?
2. Snorkeling gear provided free or not?
3. What kind of food included in the price?
4. Free pick-up / drop from / to the hotel?
5. Which travel company’s tour is this?
There are four major companies in Krabi that provide these tours: Barracudas Tour, Sea Eagle Tour, Andaman Krabi Travel & Tour, and Ao Nang Photo Tour. Prices of the first three are more or less similar.
Barracudas Tour pricing before discount but including national park entry fee:
Phi Phi Island (Speed Boat only): 1800 / 1200 (Adult / Child)
Four Islands Speed Boat: 1200 / 800 Long Tail: 600 / 400
Hong Islands Speed Boat: 1800 / 1200 Long Tail: 1000 / 700
Discounts offered by travel agents on these prices are massive. One agent on Beach Road quoted a Phi Phi Island Barracudas tour for just 1300 THB as against the list price of 1800 THB. Do bargain and do confirm what all you will be getting as part of the deal. If you want vegetarian lunch, make sure that the travel agent conveys that message to the tour company.
Ao Nang Photo Tour
I booked my Phi Phi Island tour with ‘Ao Nang Photo tour’ for just 1000 THB by speed boat including vegetarian lunch, pick-up/drop, and national park entry fee. It was a super value deal, absolutely no complaints. The only problem is to find a travel agent who sells this tour at this price. I got lucky because the hotel I was staying in – Ao Nang Goodwill Hotel – provided this tour booking. I will recommend that hotel also if you are planning to stay at Ao Nang. This hotel has almost all tour / activity bookings and also a van booking for going to the Krabi airport at 150 THB per person.