There are many ways to get there and many starting point that you can choose. If you are from Kuala Lumpur, these are possible options you can choose.
1. By flight
Taking flight will be the fastest and the most convenient option. Sometimes you can get it at cheap rate. Air Asia is usually the cheapest option. Malaysia Airlines use to fly to Krabi but was discontinued in May 2015. Another way is to fly to Phuket and then take a ferry or long tail boat from Phuket to Krabi depending on your plan and preference.
When booking for flight I always check the schedule on SkyScanner. At least you know the rough price indication when you browse using SkyScanner. Then, I will go to the main website such as AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines.
2. By train
Taking train is probably the most preferred option for many backpackers or backpacker wannabe. There are two types of train going from Kuala Lumpur to Padang Besar (the border check point). There are ETS and normal KTM. ETS is the fastest which is about 5 hours but unfortunately there is only one trip and is usually fully booked. So, you have to plan in advance. Normal KTM is usually available but the trip will take about 12 hours. Would you waste your 12 hours in a train? I will not if I have other choice.
At Padang Besar, you have to go through border custom check and continue the ride to Hat Yai. From Hat Yai, you may take bus (mini van) to Krabi which will take you about 4 hours. I will explain later in details.
3. By bus
This is probably the cheapest option and could be faster than ETS train. With bus, you can ride from Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS) or Pudu in Kuala Lumpur by midnight and arrive at border around 6pm (TBS Bus E-Ticketing). To reach TBS from KLCC, you can take train at KLCC Station and transfer at Masjid Jamek Station. From Masjid Jamek station you have to take another train to Bandar Tasik Selatan. If you go to Pudu, you may take train at KLCC Station and transfer at Masjid Jamek Station. From Masjid Jamek take train to Plaza Rakyat.
When you reach Bukit Kayu Hitam, you have to go through border check and then continue the journey to Hat Yai. Just like train, you have to take mini bus from Hat Yai to Krabi.
Okay, so now I would like to share with you my adventure journey from Kuala Lumpur to Ao Nang. Since we booked our flight late, the fare is too high so we decided to buy flight ticket from Krabi to Kuala Lumpur only. In the meantime, we have to find the best way to reach Ao Nang and save money at the same time. ETS train was our most preferred option but it was fully booked. We went there during high season holiday season of Christmas and New Year. If not other country tourists, Malaysians would flock Krabi during this time.
So, we have no other option but to take bus. I honestly do not like bus because riding bus will not give you freedom to stop and move around freely. Especially during emergency like you know what, it is always hard to go through. But, I have no choice but to be brave and go through the journey. We took 11pm bus with Alisan and the journey will take about 7 hours. We would arrive just when the border gate is open.
First of all, you have to choose the best rate. I believe no matter how much the bus costs you, the bus condition would be the same. We paid RM80 for Alisan Golden Coach which provides wifi and also power socket source. The wifi was extremely slow, so no use. The power source only available when the bus was moving (probably generated by the bus movement only). If you choose carefully, there are cheaper bus options even for Alisan itself they did offer RM65. So, better choose carefully.
The journey was quite smooth and the bus was definitely fast. Fortunately for me, everything was okay and it was comfy enough for me to get some light sleeps. We arrived quite early at 5am somewhere in Bukit Kayu Hitam about 5km from the border. Here, we were asked by the bus drive to hand over the passport for stamping. At this rest area, we were given 30 minutes to rest. There were so many people and you have to line up to enter toilet. Not a good scene at early in the morning.
Soon after that, the bus continued the journey to the border gate. Unfortunately the traffic was so bad. We were stuck for 2 hours at Malaysian side. This must be due to huge number of cars entering Thailand for Christmas holiday. Such a bad timing for us. Too make things worst, I got bad stomach ache due to cheesy wedges that I ate the night before. Oh no! It was not pleasant at all.
The border custom check is very easy. At Malaysian side, you get it stamp by the officer. In between Malaysia and Thailand, we stuck again for 2 hours. The traffic was horrible. At the Thailand gate, there were thousands of people lining up. Here, you need to prepare RM2 while getting your passport stamp by the officer. Then, you will be free to enter Thailand officially. The town is Dannok.
We bought some food to eat to fill our empty stomach. After that, the bus began the 1 hour journey from Dannok to Hat Yai. The road was quite empty in comparison to the traffic in Bukit Kayu Hitam and Dannok. At Hat Yai, we were dropped at Sheutit Road and greeted by many agents looking for passengers. Be careful when you reach the area, you better not say where you want to go. They were very persuasive to the point of forcing you. We did not have the chance to find ourselves as they forced us to ride on tuk-tuk. That costs us 60 baht/person. The tuk tuk took us to a shop. We tried to negotiate but failed to get the price that we wanted. At least the price was within the range of 1000-1500 Baht. Our ride was 1500 Baht. Another tuk-tuk came to pick us and sent us to a bus station. More like a van station.
We waited for another 20 minutes there and the van driver has already pre arranged the seating. The seating was not for us to choose. According to him, people have booked for certain seats. So, I was forced to sit at the back seat. The ride was not comfortable at all when you sit at the back. The van was really fast and bumpy. Thank god I did not get headache but my buddy did.
The van took a 20 minutes stop at a rest area near Trang. The rest area serves Halal food and also provides prayer area for Muslims. Quite convenient. Few passengers were dropped at their destinations. So, I moved to a better seat. In Krabi, we were dropped by the driver and was told to ride on another mini van. It was really an adventure and we were not told about it at all. Luckily the other van is empty and the driver spoke fluent Malay. We did not expect the distance from Krabi to Ao Nang was that far. It took us another 30 minutes before we reached Ao Nang.
It was already was passed our target ETA. We planned to arrive Ao Nang by mid noon but we reached Ao Nang at 5pm. We were so hungry at that time and then to add to the adventure there was some kind of drama with the hotel receptionist (which I will not talk about here).
- Do book your ticket in advance to provide any unexpected hassles
- Do bring enough snacks to eat while on the road
- Do bring any kinds of entertainment to entertain yourself while on the journey
- Do bring enough medication like paracetamol or for stomach pain
- Do negotiate with the vendor and make sure the price range makes sense. The fee from Hat Yai to Krabi is about 1000-1500 baht.
- Don’t eat anything fishy before you start your journey especially if you decide to ride bus
- Don’t travel by bus during public holiday because crossing the border will be an agony
- Don’t put too much expectations on the journey. Always plan for the worst case scenario
- Don’t let yourself fall in the trap of street vendors for your transportation. Avoid mentioning where you want to go