Here, at Your Krabi, we are often asked about how to organise and book all the various activities and excursions available in Krabi. Below, we offer some tips and advice on tour booking, featuring some of the most frequently asked questions in our inbox.
Where can I book a day trip in Krabi?
Tour agents can be found every few metres along the street / beach in Ao Nang, Phi Phi and Koh Lanta; even in Klong Muang and Railay there are a dozen or so agencies that are easily found. Your hotel, no matter how small or basic, is also almost certain to offer an excursion counter where you can book the various day trips on offer. Finally, some people prefer to book all their trips ahead of arrival; in this case there are now several online agents that will provide this service for you; always do a price check on our site first to see if you are getting a good deal.
Do I need to book excursions in advance?
Tourist infrastructure is very well-organised here, so there is no particular need to book ahead, except for certain limited space tours* at peak times (Dec – Feb), or perhaps if you are a large group.
The advantages of booking ahead are of course the peace of mind of knowing that everything is organised before they leave home; and that precious holiday time is not spent dealing with local sales people. Whether you choose to book ahead or not, a little planning and research is always a good idea!
Before booking anything in advance (while in Krabi or online), we would caution that the weather in Krabi can be unpredictable, even in high season, so your expectations of a sunny island-hopping trip may be dashed. In addition, tour operators never refund for rain, other than in the rare cases where the conditions are so bad that the entire tour needs to be cancelled. Our advice would be to do your research, check the forecast in the week before you travel, and book everything a couple of days ahead of time.
*see if the tour blurb mentions “small groups” or “limited availability”. The more “exclusive” a tour, the more likely it is to be booked up in advance. The standard itineraries are rarely, if ever, unavailable.
How far in advance do I have to book an activity?
If already in Krabi, street agents can take bookings the evening of the day before you wish to go for a morning or full day trip – usually up to 9pm is quite safe – or a couple of hours ahead for afternoon trips or other short activities such as elephant trekking. Of course you can also book as far ahead as you wish, bearing in mind the advice given above, and the possibility that your itinerary may be subject to change. The exception to this is a diving course (see below), which is always better booked prior to arrival.
Where is the best place to book?
There is no definitive answer to this, so we will give some pros and cons of each option.
In your hotel: may offer added security as they have an interest in protecting their guests if something goes wrong. However, prices can be more expensive (3 – 4 star places and above tend to charge more than on the street).
On the street: usually cheaper; may also respond to bargaining; but little recourse (expect a smile and shrugged shoulders) if anything goes wrong, and difficult to get a refund. It should not be difficult to do a quick price comparison while you are here.
Website agents: unless based in Krabi, tend to offer prices way over the odds of what you would actually pay through a local agent (real or online), so we would also recommend shopping around and doing a price check before making online tour bookings.
How do I choose a reliable tour operator?
With more than a dozen companies operating tours to Phi Phi, and many more offering kayaking and other island trips, it can be difficult to know which is the best one to go with. However, the majority of companies are reliable (market forces eventually ease out the bad ones) and typically offer similar, or even identical itineraries. One of the advantages of booking online or in your hotel is they will usually have vetted the companies they work with to avoid problems or bad reviews from their guests, while street agents (understandably) tend to work with whichever company offers them the most commission. Of course it may be that the most generous operator is also the best – but you never know!
What is usually included in the price of a tour?
Every single organised activity you can think of will offer door-to-door transfers to and from your hotel, within the central tourist areas, so there is never any messing around with finding and getting to meeting points. Note: this is not the case if you are doing a land-based trip from Railay or Centara Grand (which have no road access), though in these cases pick up points are usually well organised. A meal is always included on full day tours (6+ hours), as well as fruit and bottled drinking water. Some operators may also offer soft drinks (and beer for an extra charge).
Any activity-based tour will include all the required equipment – be it diving, climbing, ATV, rafting or kayaking. Kayaking tours offer a small waterproof bag to keep personal possessions dry; they may also have a locker or safe room to keep other things at the base. Always check that insurance is included on any excursion – it usually is.
Island tours will include mask and snorkel rental and have (adult size) life jackets on board. But what may not be included on these trips is National Park entry fees. Always check with your agent or operator, and prepare cash on the day if not. Inland tours almost always include entry fees.
How can I book specialised activities such as diving or rock climbing?
They can be booked through the street tour agents, directly at the school (online or in person), or in your hotel. In the case of a diving course, we do recommend advance booking prior to your arrival. Many diving schools offer PADI’s e-learning option, which allows you to do any study required before you arrive, meaning you don’t have to waste several days of your holiday in a classroom. For fun diving during low season, it is probably better to book when you are here: the published schedules change all the time so you can wait and see who is going where the next day, and on what type of boat. 8pm of the evening before is usually the cut-off point for booking.
Rock climbing or kayaking, neither of which lead to any accreditation, do not require advance study or booking – all training is given on the day itself.
I am staying in Railay / Centara Grand. Can I still explore the mainland?
Certainly, though do bear in mind that the free pick-up and drop-offs included in most inland tours do not cover Railay or Pai Plong, the Centara Grand beach; you will need to make it to the designated pick-up point in Ao Nang or Ao Nam Mao by the allotted time (usually 8.30 – 8.45am) and will need to take the boat back again in the evening on your return. Tour agents and hotel travel desks in Railay and Tonsai can book these type of excursions for you. Many speedboat island tours, and other water-based activities, do offer pick-up and return to the beach; check with your agent about these.
Does it make a difference what kind of boat I take for an island tour?
It makes a HUGE difference, yes. Firstly, the number of people in your group will be very different if you are going on a longtail boat, a speedboat, or a cruise boat (from less to more). Secondly, the type of things each boat can do is very different: longtails and speedboats can usually park right up on the beach; whereas larger vessels cannot, meaning for example you will not set foot on “The Beach” of Maya Bay in Koh Phi Phi, if you travel with a cruise boat – you will simply see it from a distance on board. Speedboats, as their name implies, are the fastest of the three, meaning they can cover more ground in the allotted time, giving you more time at your destination(s). However, speedboats are more expensive and not recommended for those with very young children, or anyone with back problems: unless the sea is very calm, they can give a very bumpy and uncomfortable ride. Cruise boats are the most comfortable, allowing you to stretch out and sunbathe on deck, walk around the cabin(s) and they also have toilets on board.
More on boat choice for island tours.
How many people will be on the same trip as us?
See above for boats: a longtail will sit anywhere from 12 – 60 people; speedboats up to 90; and cruise boats can take 35 – 150, depending on their size. In high and peak seasons you can expect the boats to be close to full; in low season they are unlikely to be filled to capacity. For kayaking and other inland trips, these are usually done by minivan, so there would be up to 14 people in your transportation to and from the site(s) on each trip. Obviously, as many companies operate tours to the same destinations, there are likely to be a lot more people there when you arrive; it is often the case that your group will get merged with others on arrival, for example.
You can assume all tour companies in Krabi will adhere to the above standards unless they specifically state “small group tours”.
Do I have to take an organised tour, or can I visit the same places independently?
Independent excursions out to the islands, or inland are very easy to organise, and in our opinion, worth the extra expense – or it may even work out cheaper if there are several of you! Longtail boats and speed boats are available to charter with a driver and basic services; or you can rent a van and driver for the day. Another option, if you prefer to have an English-speaking guide and your budget can stretch to it, is to do a private tour. Almost all the standard itineraries can be done this way, and some companies also offer non-standard itineraries which may be a useful way to avoid the crowds.
Self-drive car rental is an even cheaper option for independent sightseeing – see our information on getting around Krabi for further info.
Finally, to find out if group tours are really for you, we have put together an article about what to expect if you decide to go on an organised group tour in Krabi.