side by side photos comparing two of Koh Samui vs Krabi famous attractions

Koh Samui vs Krabi: 8 Things to Consider

Are you trying to decide between visiting Koh Samui vs. Krabi? Here are the eight most important comparisons you must consider before making a decision!

The biggest similarity between Koh Samui and Krabi is that both destinations are tropical in their own right, with beautiful beaches, nearby islands, and plenty of things to do.

But besides that main factor, Koh Samui and Krabi are quite different in many instances.

That’s exactly why you should consider these eight points before deciding which of these two destinations in Thailand is best for you to visit!

long beach shoreline showing mountains, palm trees and clear skies in the distance at Lamai Beach in Koh Samui, Thailand
Lamai Beach in Koh Samui

Beaches

Koh Samui’s beaches, for the most part, are more developed with restaurants and beaches; a perfect example of this is the bustling beach area of Chaweng Beach and Bo Phut.

While the island is most known for its well-developed beach areas, there are remote, peaceful beaches you can visit throughout the island as well.

Other advantages to Koh Samui’s beach are the water activities offered, including kayaking, diving, snorkeling, jetskiing, and more. Lastly, the beach parties at night are also worth mentioning!

Krabi’s beaches are renowned around Thailand for their dramatic large limestone cliffs that tower over its pristine beaches. Beaches like Maya Bay, Railay Beach, Phra Nang Cave Beach, and others in Krabi are arguably some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

The biggest advantage of Krabi’s beaches is that many islands are located in Krabi and are very accessible. Krabi is home to the best island-hopping tours: Phi Phi Islands, Hong Islands, Krabi 4 Island Tour, and James Bond Island.

Deciding which destination has better beaches depends on your personal preferences. Koh Samui may be your preferred choice if you’d prefer a livelier atmosphere with a variety of entertainment near beaches. On the other hand, Krabi would be more appealing if you seek breathtaking natural landscapes!

large limestone isolated in the ocean being views from Phra Nang Cave Beach in Railay, Krabi, Thailand
Phra Nang Cave Beach in Krabi

Main Attractions

Koh Samui’s main attractions, besides its beaches, are its many beautiful waterfalls, including Na Muang and Hin Lad waterfalls. Koh Samui is also known for its luscious green jungles in the island’s center.

Additionally, Koh Samui offers cultural sites like the Big Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Yai) and the Fisherman’s Village located in the Bo Phut Beach area. Ang Thong Park and Pig Island are two must-visit island attractions near Koh Samui.

Krabi’s main attractions are Railay and its many islands; they simply cannot be missed and are unlike any islands you’ll visit in all of Thailand. Snorkeling enthusiasts will love Krabi for its snorkeling opportunities.

On tours like the Phi Phi Islands tour and the Krabi 4 Island tour, you’ll experience some of the most colorful marine life.

Other notable attractions in Krabi that must be mentioned are the Emerald Pool (Sa Morakot), Dragon Crest Mountain, and Tiger Cave Temple (Wat Tham Sua).

Koh Samui appeals more to those seeking a good balance between beach relaxation and exploration. On the other hand, Krabi is best for adventure seekers looking for outdoor activities, such as island-hopping, rock climbing, and hiking viewpoints.

several pigs walking on the beach shoreline along with a long tail boats on the water and a sunset at Koh Samui Pig Island

Hotel & Resorts

Koh Samui boasts a wide range of hotels, resorts, and hostels that cater to various budgets. From luxurious large beachfront resorts with private villas and pools to unique boutique hotels nestled in Koh Samui’s lush tropical jungle.

While Koh Samui offers all types of accommodations, the island is most known for having some of Thailand’s best and most luxurious accommodations.

These establishments offer world-class amenities such as spas, fitness centers, multiple dining options, and exclusive beach access. But again, Koh Samui still has its fair share of boutique and hostel accommodations, too.

Krabi also offers a diverse selection of hotels and resorts catering to different travelers. Whether you are looking for a secluded beachfront hotel or a family-friendly resort with entertainment facilities, you will find suitable options in Krabi.

Unlike Koh Samui, Krabi isn’t known for its luxury accommodations but is more known for its unique accommodations. Though Krabi does offer few luxury options, it offers more mid-range hotels and hostel stays.

In Krabi, you’ll find accommodations with stunning views of limestones, high-up resorts in the tropical hills, and much more.

front exterior of the Bhu Nga thani resort in Railay beach
Railay Beach in Krabi

Nightlife

Koh Samui is known for its bustling beach towns, like Chaweng, Lamai, and Bo Phut Beach. Each beach town on the island has a nightlife atmosphere of its own.

Chaweng is the most lively, with several nightclubs, bars, and beach parties. Lamai is known for its outdoor beer bars, a more chill nightlife way. Lastly, Bo Phut is known for its night markets, beach fire shows, and beach clubs/bars.

The biggest bonus about Koh Samui’s nightlife is its neighboring island, which hosts the famous Full Moon Party. If you visit Koh Samui, you’ll be able to attend it!

Lastly, because Koh Samui is an established island, it offers several big-city activities at night, like go-karting, movie theaters, and more!

Krabi’s nightlife offers a more laid-back nightlife experience compared to Koh Samui. Except for one place in Krabi, Phi Phi Islands, an island in Krabi known for partying!

While Krabi may not have the same level of party atmosphere as Koh Samui, Krabi still has plenty to offer in terms of evening entertainment.

Visitors can enjoy beachfront restaurants serving fresh seafood, cozy bars with live music performances, and night markets where one can indulge in plenty of Thai street food!

fire performer performing along the beach shorelines in Koh Samui, Thailand

Atmosphere

Koh Samui’s atmosphere is very different from one beach area to the other. You could stay on the island’s western side and feel like you’re visiting a remote island far away from land.

Choose to stay on the eastern part of the island, and it’ll feel like you’re in the middle of a decent-sized city.

The island is well developed with a large mall and an airport, offering a wide range of activities to do during the day and night. It’s home to a bustling tourist scene with numerous restaurants, bars, and clubs catering to visitors from around the world.

But it must be said that Koh Samui is quite Westernized and mostly caters to tourists. Visiting Koh Samui is slightly far from an authentic Thai island experience. That’s not to say Koh Samui isn’t beautiful because it is!

On the other hand, Krabi couldn’t be more different than Koh Samui; it offers a more laidback atmosphere with a more local experience.

Unless you visit Ao Nang or Phi Phi Island in Krabi, both offer a less authentic experience, similar to Samui.

In Krabi, everything is slower and more relaxed; you’ll get to visit secluded beaches, hike to viewpoints to catch sunsets/sunrises, and experience the more local side of Thailand. I recommend visiting Krabi Town, the capital city of Krabi, if you’d like an authentic Thai experience.

It’s worth noting that both Koh Samui and Krabi have their own unique charm that attracts tourists from all over the world. Regardless of which destination you choose, you can expect to be mesmerized by the beauty of Thailand’s tropical paradise!

views of the entire Phi Phi Don island showing both bay's connection to the island, clear skies, and green mountains from Koh Phi Phi Viewpoint 2

Conveniences

This is one of the most significant differences between Koh Samui and Krabi. Koh Samui has big city conveniences. If you’d prefer to visit somewhere with more conveniences, Koh Samui is a sure win over Krabi for you.

At times, visiting Koh Samui feels like you’re in a large city, not on an island in the Gulf of Thailand, and that’s because of how developed the island is. There are shopping malls, restaurants, movie theaters, night entertainment, and more.

You have access to most things you’d desire when visiting Koh Samui; it’s one of the many reasons many expats have moved to Koh Samui over the last decade.

Krabi is nowhere near as developed as Koh Samui, and because of that, there are plenty of aspects/things in Koh Samui that Krabi doesn’t offer.

This may not be a concern for most visitors, and you’re only visiting for a holiday. But for some travelers, visiting destinations with conveniences they’re used to is preferred!

ocean views from the second floor at Coco Tams in Koh Samui

Family Vacation

If you’re visiting with your family and bringing kids, it’s hard to make a case to visit Krabi over Koh Samui.

Koh Samui is a much better destination for those visiting with kids. Here, you’ll find plenty of large resort hotels offering activities for kids. Outside the resorts in Koh Samui, you’ll also find plenty of attractions suitable for kids, like go-karting, soccer golf, and visiting Pig Island!

Krabi is less developed, with fewer activities offered as entertainment for kids. But if you’re fascinated by Krabi and set on visiting it with your family, I’d recommend staying in Ao Nang!

Cost of Visit

This consideration may not be relevant to some, but to others looking to budget themselves on holiday, it very much is!

When visiting either destination, the average daily spend is the following: these figures include hotel, eating out, and transportation. Keep in mind these are only averages and can be lower/higher depending on your travel style.

Koh Samui’s Average Daily Spend: $134 US

Krabi’s Average Daily Spend: $77 US

Koh Samui is fairly more expensive to visit than Krabi; similar to Phuket, Koh Samui is one of the most expensive places to visit in Thailand.

But with that being said, if you’d prefer to go to Koh Samui, it doesn’t have to be expensive; there are plenty of affordable accommodations and cheap food on the island.

On the other hand, Krabi is home to many cheap places to visit. The hotels and food are the two most significant cost differences between Koh Samui and Krabi.

Another factor worth mentioning is transportation. In most destinations in Krabi, you can walk everywhere, and you won’t spend anything on transportation.

But Koh Samui is different; it’s one of the largest islands in Thailand, and you will need to use some transportation in Koh Samui.

several tourists walking by the long tail boat taxis in Railay Beach / Is Krabi Expensive to Visit?
Railay Beach in Krabi

Things to Know Before Visiting Koh Samui or Krabi

Here are a few things you should know before visiting either Koh Samui vs Krabi.

Krabi is NOT a destination. It’s a province in Thailand that’s home to many of the top destinations. This is a common mistake many people make (including myself, before visiting Thailand).

Krabi’s top places to visit are Railay Beach, Phi Phi Islands, Koh Lanta, Ao Nang, and many more!

Both destinations have airports; Koh Samui has an airport conveniently located just minutes away from its popular beach towns. Krabi, too, has its own airport located a few minutes outside its capital, Krabi Town.

Yearly weather patterns in Koh Samui and Krabi are not the same. Koh Samui is located in the Gulf of Thailand and sees different seasonal weather patterns compared to Krabi and the rest of southern Thailand.

The best time to visit Koh Samui is January to September; it’s the rainy season from October to December. Refer to this weather guide for Koh Samui to know when to visit!

The best time to visit Krabi is late November to April, from May to October. it’s the rainy season in Krabi and the rest of southern Thailand.

a few tourist walking on a long shore of Lamai Beach complete with palm trees on the side in Koh Samui
Lamai Beach in Koh Samui

Koh Samui vs Krabi — Final Thoughts

Well, there you have it. Those are the eight most significant points to consider when debating between visiting Koh Samui vs Krabi.

Have you made up your mind yet? Make sure you first consider what type of atmosphere you’d prefer, whether big-city conveniences are relevant to you because you’re visiting with your family, and lastly, how much a lively nightlife matters to you!

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting both destinations and enjoyed my visits to both. Koh Samui had many advantages, being the more developed place, but Krabi’s nature took my breath away.

clear skies, several palm trees along the three-way road in Railay Beach, Krabi

What is better Krabi or Koh Samui?

It depends on the atmosphere you’d prefer. Krabi is far better for nature lovers looking to experience massive limestones along the beach and viewpoint hikes.

Koh Samui is more suitable for beach bums and those looking to relax and would rather be around many city conveniences.

What is better Phi Phi or Koh Samui?

They’re two very different destinations; Phi Phi Island is a small island known for its water activities, nightlife, and remote setting.

In contrast, Koh Samui is one of the largest islands known for its many beaches, hotels, and conveniences.

Koh Samui is famous for its beaches, large resorts, and plenty of activities to do both day and night. It’s also the second largest island in Thailand, so it’s well-developed!

Krabi is popular for its surreal nature. Here, you’ll experience beaches that will take your breath away, stunning islands, and mesmerizing viewpoints!

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