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Krabi vs Koh Samui – Which is Better in 2024?

[Page updated 24 April 2024]

Many vacationers are trying to choose between these two Thailand beach destinations for their vacation. Both have great beaches, islands, and a lot to do, but which one is better?

Which Vacation Spot is Best – Krabi or Koh Samui?

We hope to shed some light on just how different these two places are, so you can come to the right decision and choose the right one for your vacation.

Krabi is the best place to go for your vacation because of the variety. You can see many more amazing beaches, mountains, rivers, caves, waterfalls, hot ponds, hikes, and wildlife.

In general, Koh Samui is going to appeal more to young singles, especially with money, who are going to meet other young singles with money. Koh Samui cost of living and visiting is very high and probably higher than in Phuket – which is astronomically high.

Which Thailand vacation spot is best - Koh Samui Island or Krabi with it's islands and mountains?
Map showing Ko Samui Island in top right and Krabi in lower left of map. (credit: Google Maps)

Here are some differences between the two destinations:

Ko Samui Island scene showing mountains and ocean.
Ko Samui Island is very picturesque.

Advantages of Koh Samui

  1. Koh Samui is in some ways easier to reach than Krabi. This seems odd because Koh Samui is an island. Still, Krabi is in a weird place and harder to reach for that reason. To reach Samui, you can go by bus or van, bus and boat, train and boat, and fly direct. You can take a boat from Koh Phangan after the Full Moon Party. You can reach Samui by taking a boat from Chumphon to Koh Tao and then down to the island of Samui.
  2. More Fun Things to Do for a Young Crowd. Young crowd meaning people under 30 are going to be drawn more toward Koh Samui than Krabi. Think of the island of Samui as one huge Club Med resort with all sorts of spas and other local attractions that would be fun for singles with some money. If you’re on a typical backpacker budget, you are going to want to give Samui a miss, or at least just go for a day and get back to somewhere cheaper. The island will suck you dry of money very quickly!
  3. Better Beaches? There are a couple of beaches that are mind-blowing on Koh Samui. My personal favorite is Tong Takien Bay, though it is being overbuilt all the time, it is stunning in beauty. Krabi has a couple of nice beaches, but just for sheer beauty, I think Samui has it beat. Now, I’m not including Koh Phi Phi in this comparison, so, sure – Phi Phi has some really nice spots!
  4. Better Food! If you are looking for food a cut above the rest, the island has far more choices than does Krabi. Krabi has many cheap places to eat – but really, not very many great places to eat – even if you can pay for it. There are about 4 really good places to eat in Krabi – one in Krabi Town and the rest in Ao Nang at the beach. Samui is just FILLED with great places to eat – expensive, but excellent food. Chefs are imported from all over the world to make the best food possible at their high-end restaurants. If your choice of where to stay has anything to do with food – don’t bother with Krabi!
  5. Better Spas! Koh Samui is the ultimate place to go for spas to pamper yourself. If you’re addicted to something, Krabi has excellent detox facilities in luxury spas. There are probably more places to get a colon cleanse on Samui than anywhere else in Thailand, including Bangkok.

Advantages of Krabi

Islands and Railay Beach in Ao Nang, Krabi, Thailand shown in an aerial shot.
Railay Beach, Ao Nang, Krabi.
  1. Krabi is Cheaper! Without a doubt, your vacation in Krabi could be much cheaper than your trip to Koh Samui. The accommodations and food, and day-trips and tours – are all much less expensive than you would pay in Samui for vacationers. For people thinking about living in Krabi or Samui, the difference is even greater. Housing in Krabi for a month starts at around 6,000 THB ($180 USD).
  2. Krabi is Better for Families. Krabi has a laid-back, safer atmosphere feel to it than Samui does. We considered moving to Koh Samui about nine years ago. We liked it. We probably could have made it there. Still, we were thinking about starting a family and the idea of raising them on the island put us off it. Krabi is more spread out, fewer people, fewer tourists, cheaper, easier to get around, and a better environment to raise kids. If you have kids and will be vacationing in Thailand, you are probably better off choosing Krabi if you have a choice between here or there.
  3. Roads are Safer in Krabi. Every time we stayed on Samui there was this fear that we were going to crash the car or motorbike, whichever we happened to be driving at the time. On the island, people cut the blind corners and come way over into your lane. It’s hazardous as hell. There are so many head-on crashes there that it was just one more thing that totally put us off the place. If you’re a bit afraid of dangerous driving – yours or someone else’s, choose Krabi!
  4. A Lot More Land Area to Explore. Though Samui has a lot of things to do, and you wouldn’t be bored if you were there for five days, Krabi has heaps more. I think you wouldn’t be bored in Krabi if you stayed for a month and tried to do something every day. There are so many fun attractions and little day trips you can do from here as a base. We have a lot of boat trips – you can see a number of different caves, Railay Beach, 4-island tours, see Phi Phi islands, go to Phuket, go to Koh Lanta. Krabi is really a great central hub and jumping off point to go see many other nice Southern Thailand attractions.

Let’s compare Krabi and Ko Samui side-by-side:

KrabiKo Samui
NightlifeAo Nang bars, mild not wildWild and crazy and naughty side
Safety at NightHighSketchy
BeachesPhi Phi, Lanta, Ko Jum,
Noppharathara, 18 Islands
Lamai, Tong Takien
1+ weeks2-3 days max
Best MonthsDec-AprilJan-March, July-Sept
Close by Islands18+ islands to visitKo Tao, Ko Phangan
Close by PlacesPhuket, Phang Nga, Trang, Phuket, Phi PhiIslands above
CostReasonableOutrageous (too high)
TrafficAlmost none in low seasonCrazy traffic sometimes
FriendlinessGreatNot always good 🙁
Top ActivitiesSwimming, hiking, hot springs, rock climbing, Crystal Pool, caves, waterfallsJet ski, swimming, tanning, banana boat,
restaurants, shopping, waterfalls
Singles or Family?Both!Singles more so than family.

So, you can see above the main differences between Krabi and Koh Samui. Now you have to choose… which will it be?

Is Krabi or Ko Samui Better to Live In?

If you’re not thinking about vacation and you are going to live in Krabi or Ko Samui, which one is better?

For us, and for the last 17 years, we chose to live in Krabi over Ko Samui. Krabi over Phuket. Krabi over Chiang Mai. Really, Krabi over anywhere. We could have moved anywhere in Thailand and worked online, but we chose Krabi and we have never felt like moving away. It has become home.

Krabi is safer. It’s a better place for raising a family (we have 2 small kids). It is far cheaper in cost of living. We can eat out more. We drive more in Krabi because the roads, traffic, and accident rate is not near what it is in Ko Samui. Krabi is more laid back. Krabi isn’t isolated like the island of Ko Samui is. You’re reliant on a ferry system that is often not working because of large waves created by bad weather.

Ko Samui has some beautiful beaches that match what Krabi’s Ko Phi Phi, Ko Lanta, and other islands surrounding the Krabi Coast have.

Krabi is so much better for easily visiting other top Thailand locations like Phuket, Trang, Bangkok, Chiang Mai (direct flights), and even internationally.

Overall in our humble opinion, Krabi is a much better place to live. Ko Samui might be a better place to visit if you’re going for the nightlife and you have enough money to overpay for everything.

Krabi vs Trang?

Krabi vs Phuket?

How to Travel from Ko Samui to Krabi? >

Best Of Krabi >

All Krabi Attractions (Things to Do) >