Thailand is a beautiful country known for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and abundant marine life. One of the must-do activities when in Thailand is snorkeling, and with its rich underwater world, there are plenty of places to do so.
In this blog post, we will focus on three popular destinations for snorkeling in Thailand – Koh Phi Phi, Krabi, and Koh Lanta and provide recommendations on where to stay and eat, as well as tips to make the most of your snorkeling trip.
Related read: Scuba Diving in Thailand: An Epic Solo Adventure
Koh Lanta Snorkeling
Koh Lanta is a peaceful island located in the Krabi province, and it’s known for having some of the healthiest coral reefs and diverse marine life in Thailand. The famous Emerald Cave is a must-visit snorkeling site, where you can swim through a dark cave and emerge into a hidden lagoon. Koh Rok and Koh Haa are also popular snorkeling spots, if you are lucky, you might even spot some sea turtles!
The Emerald Cave will likely be the highlight of your snorkeling trip in Koh Lanta! This cave is located on the west coast of Ko Muk island and is accessible only by boat and requires a swim through a narrow and dark passage of about 80 meters in length. Once you emerge at the other end of the passage, you are rewarded with a stunning sight of the emerald-colored waters and white sandy beach.
It is a unique experience that is not to be missed! Depending on the time of year you go, the swell is variable. When we went, it was quite strong, so it was tiring to swim back through the passage after visiting the emerald cave.
Related tour: 4 Islands and Emerald Cave Snorkeling Trip
If you are not comfortable with swimming in the dark, there are other activities that you can do in Koh Lanta. Spend time on the beach, soak up the sun, and enjoy the stunning scenery.
On your snorkeling trip, you may also stop at the paradise island of Koh Ngai for some lunch. This island is so peaceful and it’s the perfect place to reflect on your experience at the Emerald Cave.
Other stunning snorkeling spots on this trip include Koh Ma and Koh Cheuk, you are bound to see azure waters and large coral reefs with abundant marine life and colorful tropical fish!
Where to eat in Koh Lanta
Friend House Food and Drinks was one of the places we went back to again and again in Koh Lanta, the prices are affordable and the menu has both Western and Thai options to choose from.
Three Sisters Restaurant is another good option, it is a little more expensive than Friend House but the portions are large, the service is great and the place is nice and clean!
Where Else Garden is another slightly pricier option than other places in the area, but the food, décor, and atmosphere are worth it!
Where to stay in Koh Lanta
Budget: Long Beach Simple House
Mid-range: Long Beach Garden Resort
Luxury: Long Beach Chalet – SHA Extra Plus
How to get to Koh Lanta
Getting to Koh Lanta is actually pretty easy, no matter where you’re coming from. If you’re coming from Bangkok, you can take a flight to Krabi Airport (KBV) and then take a taxi or minibus from there. The journey will take about two hours. You can find tickets here.
If you’re coming from Phuket, you can take a ferry from Phuket to Koh Lanta. The journey takes about two hours and the cost is around THB800-1,200 per person. You can also take a minivan from Phuket to Koh Lanta, find ferry and bus tickets here.
If you’re coming from Koh Phi Phi, you can take a ferry from Koh Phi Phi to Koh Lanta. The journey takes about two hours and the cost is around THB600-900 per person. You can purchase ferry tickets here.
Koh Phi Phi snorkeling
Koh Phi Phi is a small archipelago located in the Andaman Sea, and it’s known for its stunning scenery and vibrant marine life. Pileh Lagoon is a shallow lagoon where baby blacktip reef sharks can be spotted. This is a thrilling experience for those who love sharks.
Bamboo Island is another must-visit snorkeling spot, with crystal-clear waters and an abundance of colorful fish. It is best to do research on tours before booking to ensure a highly rated one. You will likely visit Maya Bay on your tour (like this one), it wasn’t my personal favorite stop due to the number of people there when I went, but it was beautiful nonetheless.
Where to eat in Koh Phi Phi
In Koh Phi Phi you can find cheap eats and more upmarket places. There is a good mix of western and Thai food.
There isn’t much street food because the place is so small and the streets are narrow, there are basically only restaurants.
Pa-Noi Thai Food
My favorite restaurant in Koh Phi Phi has to be Pa-Noi Thai Food, it serves a variety of authentic Thai dishes and offers very reasonable prices for travelers on a budget.
Brett and I ate there 3-4 times during our stay in Koh Phi Phi. I would highly recommend their Yellow Chicken Curry with Rice paired with a refreshing watermelon shake!
Garlic 1992 Restaurant
Another firm favorite of mine is the Garlic 1992 Restaurant. This restaurant is famous and always busy, you will see signs advertising it all over the island. I tried the Panang curry with rice and it was delicious. The restaurant also sells its own Garlic 1992 merchandise which is available to purchase on-site. Here they also serve cocktail buckets which were tried and tested by myself, I can confirm they are strong, tasty, and worth 200 baht!
Coco Bella Restaurant
Coco Bella Restaurant boasts affordable prices and good service. Their menu is large and I tried the fried chicken with chips and the loaded nachos which were both delicious! It was a nice treat to find Mexican-style food in Koh Phi Phi!
Is eating out expensive?
How much you’ll spend on eating out will depend on where you choose to dine. Thai food is always cheaper than western food, as goes for the whole of Thailand. Thai food is to die for, and if you’re not a fan of spicy food, ask for ‘mai pet’ (not spicy). However, be wary that what Thai people consider ‘not spicy’ may still be too spicy for you!
Where to stay in Koh Phi Phi
Phi Phi Don is the main island that you can stay on, there are plenty of hotels, hostels, and resorts to choose from and something to suit all budgets.
I stayed in a lovely hotel called Blue View House, we had the most fantastic view of the island, but we had to walk up so many stairs to get to and from the room.
It’s definitely worth getting a nicer room with a view, it just depends if you can face climbing up the mountain to get there!
Other Accommodation Options:
Budget: Blu Monkey Phi Phi Island
Budget: Kitty Guesthouse
Upmarket: Phi Phi Villa Resort
Upmarket: Phi Phi Coco Beach Resort
How to get to Koh Phi Phi
You can get to Koh Phi Phi via speedboat or ferry from Phuket or Krabi. Brett and I decided to go from Phuket and we stopped for 1 night in Koh Yao Noi, a beautiful little island close to Phi Phi. The speedboats are generally a little more expensive but in my opinion, they are worth the extra cost because they are faster.
Sometimes you also have the option to organize a taxi transfer from your hotel in Phuket or Krabi together with the speedboat ticket. I like this option because you can be more certain that you won’t miss the boat!
I prefer to use 12GoAsia to book transport like this in Thailand. Another good option is to organize the transfer through your hotel.
Krabi is a province located in the south of Thailand, and it’s famous for its limestone cliffs, secluded beaches, and emerald waters. There are many beautiful attractions to visit in Krabi, but the snorkeling experiences here are just fantastic. I highly recommend going on a snorkeling tour during your visit to Krabi! In particular, I suggest the ‘7 Islands Sunset Tour’ which is a full-day island hopping adventure by longtail boat. On this tour, you will visit the famous Railay Beach, view Chicken Island from afar, picturesque islands and enjoy a delicious BBQ dinner as you watch the sunset on the island of Koh Poda.
The next stop is at Koh Tub for some beach time or (at low tide) a walk across the spectacular sandbank that connects it to Chicken and Mor Islands nearby. Swim in the crystal-clear water at Koh Tan Ming, a small rock islet in front of Koh Poda.
But the highlight of any snorkeling trip in Krabi is the bioluminescent plankton. Book a tour that includes a nighttime snorkeling session to witness the magical glow of plankton in the water.
Complete the evening with a short swim amidst the bio-luminescent plankton in the surrounding ocean of Koe Raeng before returning to the pier in Ao Nang.
One thing to note is that snorkeling tours can be on longtail boats or speedboats. Longtail tours are cheaper, less comfortable, and have more people, whereas speedboat tours are faster, more comfortable, and usually take fewer people at a time. Learn from my mistake and don’t sit at the back of the longtail boat right next to the engine, it is incredibly loud and uncomfortable over the course of the day.
Where to eat in Krabi
Restaurants in Railay
Railay Family Restaurant – An affordable restaurant in Railay with many Thai and seafood options.
Mangrove Restaurant – They offer both Thai and western food, seafood, and vegan options at affordable prices.
Railay Beach Cafe Thai Noodles – This restaurant is very highly reviewed by travelers enjoying delicious noodles at excellent prices!
Restaurants in Ao Nang
BUZZ Organic Food and Drink – Visit BUZZ for healthy, fresh dishes in Ao Nang.
Red Chilli Thai Cuisine – This restaurant has excellent reviews of its tasty and authentic Thai food, attentive service, and welcoming atmosphere!
CRU Kitchen Krabi – For a more upmarket dining experience you could visit CRU Kitchen for some Western-style cuisine.
Where to stay in Krabi
Krabi offers a range of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences. Some popular options include:
- Railay Beach – This is a popular area for tourists and offers a range of accommodation options from budget-friendly guesthouses to luxurious resorts.
Budget – Rapala Rock Wood Resort- SHA Plus
Mid-range – Avatar Railay
Luxury – Sand Sea Resort Railay Beach
- Ao Nang – This area has a range of hotels and guesthouses to suit different budgets and is popular with backpackers and families.
Budget – Popeye Guesthouse
Mid-range – COSI Krabi Ao Nang Beach
Luxury – Krabi Tipa Resort – SHA Extra Plus
- Krabi Town – This is the main town in Krabi and offers a range of accommodation options including guesthouses, hotels, and resorts.
Budget – JP Hometel
Mid-range – Sita Krabi Hotel
Luxury – Krabi SeaBass Hotel
* Just to note that if you stay in Krabi Town there isn’t a great deal to see and do there and you can consider hiring a scooter to visit different places nearby.
How to get to Krabi
Krabi is a popular tourist destination in Thailand and there are several ways to get there, including:
- Flight – The most convenient way to reach Krabi is by air. Krabi International Airport (KBV) is located just 15km away from the city center. A one-way flight from Bangkok to Krabi can cost anywhere between 1,500 THB – 3,500 THB, depending on the airline and how far in advance you book.
- Bus: Krabi is well connected by bus with Bangkok and other major cities in Thailand. Buses are a cheap option, and several companies operate daily services to Krabi from Bangkok. The journey takes around 10-12 hours depending on traffic and can cost anywhere between 500 THB – 1,200 THB.
- Train: Krabi doesn’t have a railway station, the nearest one is in Surat Thani. From there, you can take a bus to Krabi. Trains are a comfortable option to travel to Surat Thani from Bangkok or other major cities. Train tickets cost between 500 THB – 1,000 THB from Bangkok to Surat Thani, depending on the class of travel you choose.
- Ferry: Krabi is also accessible by sea, and there are regular ferries from nearby islands like Phuket, Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta. You can catch a ferry from any of these islands to Krabi and the journey takes around 2-3 hour depending on where you’re departing from. A one-way ticket from Phuket to Krabi costs around 500 THB, while a ferry from Koh Phi Phi costs around 350 THB. Prices may vary depending on the time of year and the ferry operator.
Search for ways to get to Krabi below:
Let’s go snorkeling in Thailand
Are you ready to go snorkeling Thailand? There are so many incredible snorkeling spots around the islands in Thailand – so start planning your trip now!