I was thinking of making a trip to Thailand for a long time, and I really wanted to go to Krabi. Although I also considered places like Phuket and Pattaya in Thailand as well, I wanted to travel to Krabi and sample its wonders, because I had fallen in love with the photos that I had seen. I had to do a bit of research, but after returning from there, I have decided to write a post about how to go there and stay there when you are on a budget. I am sure this will be of help to those who are planning to go to Krabi, Thailand soon. One of the good things about Krabi is that this place has tourists virtually all through the year, although the season for travelling is between October and March.
How to Reach Krabi by Air?
To go to Krabi, you will need to go to Bangkok first, and then get a connecting flight from there to Krabi. There are two airports in Bangkok – Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang (DMK). Although there are flights which leave from Suvarnabhumi to Krabi, its a better idea to get one from DMK because that’s where all the budget flights are from. After a lot of research, I checked out Thai Lion, Nok Air and AirAsia which provided budget flights from DMK to Krabi.
I spent about INR 11,000/- for my return tickets to and from Bangkok (I chose Spicejet as they coincided the best with my timing, and I bought tickets when they were on sale around December, 2015), and another 5000/- for tickets to Krabi via Nok Air (late December, 2015), because after reading many reviews, I saw that the general consensus was that Nok Air was good value for money.
Places to Stay in Krabi
Before making a decision about where to stay in Krabi, know this: Krabi is a town and near Krabi, there are a few lovely beaches – the primary beach, which is also the most accessible, is Ao Nang. This is the place where you will get all the food, shops, etc. You can also stay at Railay Beach, or in Ko Lanta. Ko Lanta is quite a long distance from Krabi town, so be prepared to be ferried across. When you go to the booking sites, you would find MANY properties for Krabi. However, pick your beach where you want to stay. If you don’t want to go too far away from civilization, stick to Ao Nang. However, if you like the wild, then check out Railay or Ko Lanta.
I also checked Booking.com, Agoda.com Airbnb for our hotel booking. As we were booking about 2 months before our trip, I ended up paying quite less, and both Agoda.com and Booking.com has great deals with really low prices from time to time. I got the hotel for about 30% lesser than its asking price, which was quite decent. I paid via credit card, as well as through my debit card and paypal, and there were no issues.
If you are going on a honeymoon trip, then you can actually tell the hotels in question that you might need a few extra services. Some of them do it for free, while others need a little bit extra, but you get the works in the end.
Once the hotels and air tickets are sorted, the next step is to get your Tourist Visa.
TOURIST VISA APPLICATION PROCESS FOR THAILAND FROM INDIA
Thailand has Visa on Arrival facility, but it is a great idea to get the Visa done from your country. Not only does it save you time, it also is a blessing, and when you see the HUGE crowd on the Visa on Arrival counter, then you pat yourself on the back that you got it done. To get your Thai Visa, if you have an Indian passport, then you should ideally visit the Thai Visa Website here. At this point (this is February 2016), it cost me 2000/- INR for the Visa plus some service charge. You will need the following documents for the Tourist Visa:
- Your Passport (that’s obvious)
- 2 copies of passport size photo with white background
- Plane tickets (both ways)
- Hotel booking details
- Financial statement which shows you have a minimum of $700 in your account (I gave my last month’s bank statement)
- Visa Application form (completed). You would find that on the link provided above.
The place where you can get the Visa done in Kolkata is located right beside Acropolis Mall in Rajdanga (this is the big building called Rene Towers). Do not carry your laptop there, as they will not allow laptops inside the Visa Application Center). Go there on a weekday between 9 am and 3 pm.
Generally, it takes 3 business days to complete the Visa process. Once it’s done, you will get a notification in your inbox. Go collect it between 3-5 pm.
What Happens if You Need Visa On Arrival and You Have a Connecting Flight in the Next Few Hours
Okay, in case you need Visa on Arrival and you don’t have the time, then immediately inform the people at the Visa on Arrival counter – there is a separate urgent allowance for those who need to get on another flight soon, and your Visa processing will be done much faster once you inform. You will need to barge in and be a bit assertive though, because many of the employees there will ignore you until you are firmly stating what you want. It is a good idea to keep the connecting flight details in hand.
What to take with you to Krabi:
If you are not in the mood to carry a lot of things, then you will always find stuff to buy in Krabi. However, as I was on a budget, and I didn’t want to spend a lot of money buying stuff, I carried a few things which were very useful.
- shorts, t-shirts, tank tops, singlets, crop tops
- a pair of sunglasses (Trust me, this is super important)
- a cap (you can also buy one from there if you really don’t want to carry it)
- sunscreen with at least SPF 40 (This is crucial for those who are like me and get super sunburnt)
- for those who wear contacts, a small bottle of the lens solution (make sure its not more than 100 ml. in size)
- a small travel-size perfume or a deo (because seriously, you don’t wanna stink)
- beach-friendly flip flops
- a towel
- Bikini/swimsuit/swimming trunks if you want to swim in the ocean (and its super lovely in the ocean too)!
How to Get to Don Muang Airport from Suvarnabhumi Airport
In general, if you take a cab, always ask for a metered cab, and you will reach your destination (especially if you are going through the tollway) in about 1 hour. It wil cost you roughly 350 – 400 baht.
However, if you are like me, and you have the connecting flight quite soon and you want to reach Don Muang (DMK) quickly, take the free bus service from Suvarnabhumi to DMK. Once you get out of immigration, go check out the bus service list (there are many signs there, you will find the free bus service offer mentioned). If not, then go talk to the people at enquiry or security desk. Its on the ground floor, and you will have to exit and keep to your right, and you will find it. These buses leave every half an hour, as far as I remember, between 6 am to 10 pm, and every hour from 10 pm to 6 am (I might be wrong). I got up in the bus which left at 6.30 am and I reached DMK around 7.30.
Exchanging Money at Airports
This is a huge question by many who are travelling to Thailand: How much money do I carry, and how much baht should I take from here? So, this is what I think: At Thailand, the worst exchange rates were at the airports. I took about 10,000 baht with me, and some Indian money as well as my credit and debit cards. I realized that spending on my card actually gave me the best value for rupee – while when I exchanged about 10000 INR from a kiosk at the airport, I got only about 4000 baht (which was a ludicrous amount, and later, when I saw the prices the moneychangers were giving outside, I cursed myself. The best value right after the bank was surprisingly the moneychanger I went to in Kolkata, and he was really good. So if asked who I would recommend, you know my answer. Also, it’s a good idea to shop around if you have more than one moneychanger. Just in case, you might get a better price.
Eating on a Budget at Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang International Airport
I admit, aiport food is expensive. And, as I was on a budget, I was out to see what I could get which would be filling and not too expensive. At Suvarnabhumi, I found the Airport Cafe to carry good food (sandwiches, croissants, cakes and pastries as well as fruits) for a reasonable price, as well as juices and cold drinks. I would ask you to steer clear of fast food chains, because the prices are hiked up to about 50-100 baht more than what the prices are outside. For example, the Double Mushroom and Swiss Burger at Burger King cost me about 345 Baht in the airport, while outside it was 255 Baht.
At DMK, I found that there was a place which served me great food at a very reasonable price. If you are a lover of good Thai and Malay food, go to the first floor, and look for the Aunty Anne Outlet – that part of the airport has a lovely set of food stalls selling excellent meals for 50-100 Baht, which were total value for money deals. I got a big plate of Hainanese Chicken Rice for 80 Baht, and a fresh fruit drink for another 50 baht. I remained full for the next 4-5 hours.
Travelling by Nok Air
I travelled to Krabi from Don Muang via Nok Air. I loved Nok Air services – the aircraft was spacious and clean, and they were on time during departure. They were about 1 hour late during arrival, but I was told that this was a common practice, and they often merged two flights for the lack of tourists. They served us a small meal on flight with a cup of water, and as this was only a 1 hour 10 minutes flight, we didn’t feel we needed any more food.
How to Reach Your Hotel from Krabi Airport
Krabi has woefully little transportation, and you can either hire a cab or get up on one of the buses which leave from the airport. When we went, cabs were priced at 600 baht, and buses were 150 baht, flat rate, for Ao Nang Beach. If you are’t staying at Ao Nang, then there are other options you can avail as well – there are bus/ferry services available if you want to go to Ko Lanta or Railay Beach. You can also ask your hotel to arrange something for you. We opted for the bus, and told the driver where we wanted to go. These buses are air-conditioned, and with nice seats. They also have the mercedes logo on it. When you tell them where to go, etc., they will drop you at the hotel. While returning, I picked the option of getting up in a shuttle to the airport, and arranged for a pickup from my hotel from one of the places which offer shuttle service with a guaranteed drop at a particular time. To be fair, I was dropped off right on time.
This is the first post about Krabi. I would be writing another one about food, hotels, attraction, etc. Do let me know if you have any query or comments.
Disclaimer: I wrote this post based on my experience and in case there are any changes or increase/decrease in prices, etc., I am not aware of the same.