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Inside: Can you visit Krabi in the summer rainy season? Yes, of course! But should you? Well that’s another question. Here’s what to expect if you do.
In Thailand’s defense, we knew what we were getting ourselves into.
After all, you don’t travel to Southeast Asia during the summer monsoon season without expecting a little rain to fall.
But I’d been to Thailand eight times before (though always in January or February) and never seen it rain even once.
So, I figured, “how bad could it be?”
And all things considered, I think we were ultimately pretty lucky.
What’s the best time to go to Thailand?
Well, let’s just say it’s not July. However, you can find some pretty great hotel deals!
On Thailand’s Andaman coast – which includes Krabi, Phuket, and more drop-dead gorgeous islands than you can shake a stick at – the high season is the winter months of November to April.
Yes, you can visit pretty much all of Thailand year-round, but if you visit in the summer monsoon season, be prepared for a few washout days. Of course, you could get lucky and have a whole week of sunny skies. To me, it’s well worth a roll of the dice.
Arrival in Krabi
After a quick transfer in Bangkok from our blissful stay in Bhutan, Shannon and I arrive in the southern province of Krabi Thailand. The sun is setting, capping what we are told was a beautiful day.
We have two full days ahead in Krabi. The plan is to spend one relaxing by the pool and the other doing a little island-hopping in the immediate area. Krabi is a terrific launching point to explore lots of incredible nearby islands.
However, in the rainy season, it’s never a sure thing whether the day trip boats will run.
Where to stay in Krabi
It’s late when we finally arrive at the beautiful Dusit Thani Krabi Beach Resort located on peaceful Klong Muang beach.
We’re both exhausted after a long travel day so we decide to ease into our Thai beach vacation and spend tomorrow enjoying the hotel’s pool and beach.
Then we’ll plan a day trip for the following day.
Thanks to the timing of our low-season visit, rates at the resort are half what they would be in the high season. Plus, we scored an upgrade to a beautiful suite.
Day 1 in Krabi
We end up with nearly perfect weather for our first full day.
It’s a great opportunity to relax and do nothing for once. And after almost two weeks of constantly being on the move through the Himalayas, we have certainly earned it.
I mean, this is supposed to be a vacation.
During our luxuriously lazy day of relaxing by the pool, we decide to book a day trip to the Phi Phi islands for tomorrow.
I visited the Phi Phi islands (where the Leonardo Dicaprio movie “The Beach” was filmed) on my first visit to Krabi all the way back on Round the World #3. But the islands are so beautiful I’m excited to venture out there again.
Read More: Heaven on Earth – Ko Phi Phi Thailand
Here comes the rain…
We awake on Day two to slightly overcast skies. But we’re encouraged by a few breaks in the cloud cover and hopeful it will all burn off by mid-day.
The tour company’s van picks us up at the hotel for the drive to the dock at Ao Nang. And by 9:00am we’re boarding a speedboat and making our way toward the islands.
As soon as the boat reaches open water, it begins rising with each cresting wave and crashing down to the water’s surface. At this point, we realize just how rough the seas are. The ride was very reminiscent of our back-breaking speedboat transfers between Galapagos islands last summer.
Read More: How to See the Galapagos Islands on a Budget
Our captain has already explained that we will not be able to snorkel at Maya Bay (the actual beach where the movie was filmed and the highlight of any Phi Phi islands tour) due to high waves. Apparently, a tourist was injured there yesterday so until the seas calm, Maya Bay is off-limits.
Update: In 2018, over-tourism led Thai officials to temporarily close Maya Bay to visitors. While it was initially announced to be a 6-month closure, the bay remains closed to visitors as of late 2021 with no date set for re-opening.
But we head out for the islands anyway in hopes of finding a bay calm enough for snorkeling.
We are about half an hour into a very rough ride and nearing Chicken Island when we pass another speedboat headed back for Ao Nang. Both boats slow and the captains have a spirited exchange in Thai.
To summarize: the other boat left prior to ours and is already returning due to high waves and an impending storm. And since the other boat is considerably bigger than ours, there is simply no way we’ll be able to make it to Phi Phi.
A bummer, yes, but what can you do? The joys of off-season travel.
What can you do in Krabi when it rains?
By 10:00am we are back at the resort with a full day in front of us.
Shannon decides to reschedule the elephant trek she had planned for tomorrow for later this morning. And it’s a good thing she did, too, because by early afternoon the rain begins to fall.
If you’re visiting Krabi in the rainy season, there are a few activities you can do on a rainy day. For example, you can explore the Tiger Cave Temple (Wat Tham Seua), hit the spa, shop for bargains, or even visit the outdoor aquarium at Ao Nam Mao.
But we chose to relax at the hotel and enjoy our lovely suite.
In an effort to maintain your attention through the story of our remaining 36 hours in Krabi, I’ll beta cap the rest of the day for you:
Rain falling, Jenny working, Shannon reading, beer-drinking, sideways raining, monsoon cursing, ark building, circular raining, animals two-by-two-ing, power failing, umbrellas flying, puddle stepping, massage getting, wine drinking, beach-vacation-abandoning.
The enthusiastic torrential downpours continue in earnest into the evening.
Even the short walk off the hotel grounds for dinner and our daily massage (a must while in Thailand) is a challenge. The power flickers throughout the day but on the plus side, by the next morning, we have both an ocean and a new lake view. Bonus!
And they don’t even charge us extra for the new water feature.
Last day in Krabi
The next morning, the rain is still with us so we sleep in as late as we can (which isn’t late), have breakfast, and kill a couple of hours in the room before heading to the airport around noon.
We’re happy to have gotten at least one nice day out of Krabi. But it definitely would have been awesome to make it out to the Phi Phi islands and some of the other terrific islands near Krabi before the bad weather moved in to stay.
Luckily, I’ll get another crack at a Thai beach vacation next week in Khao Lak. Here’s hoping for better luck.
Read More: Kicking Back in Khao Lak Thailand
On to Bangkok!