Would you take the 13-hour bus ride from Krabi to Bangkok? I did, and it wasn’t that bad. Here’s my experience, and some things I learned along the way.
Traveling Around Thailand
It’s hard to conceive how large Thailand is, even for an American. It’s over 1500 miles to drive from the top to bottom, which is more than the drive from Los Angeles to Seattle or New York to Tampa. There are several transportation companies around Thailand, but the range of quality is staggering. Options exist from slow-moving, windowless trains to short flights within the country.
While I say I write an adventure blog (travel is getting to a place and the adventure is what you do when you’re there) sometimes the most important information is in the transportation side of things. As a budget traveler, I seek out deals while still trying to stay comfortable. I don’t always succeed. I do learn my lessons…even if I don’t follow them. The least I can do is pass those lessons on to you in the hopes that you’ll be smarter than I.
Getting a Bus in Krabi
There’s no train station in Krabi, so the only options for transportation are bus and plane. I needed to get to Chiang Mai and there were really cheap flights, but I had a lot of baggage with me and the additional fees were too much. I also wanted to spend a few days in Bangkok to catch up with friends and see some of my favorite spots.
In Krabi, there are “tourist centers” every few steps along the main road offering bus tickets. All the hostels will also sell you a ticket. The price for the ticket from Krabi to Bangkok was usually around 600-800 Thai baht ($20-$27). I searched online and found most of the tickets were around 580, so I aimed to purchase one for 600. I triple checked to ensure I was getting a good company and a bus without too many seats, although I didn’t trust they would tell me the truth. They pointed to a photo for Songserm, the same company that runs the ferries to Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao. As far as I can tell, it’s the same bus that all the companies sell tickets for. It wasn’t until later when I ran across the horrendous reviews they have, most about all the things stolen from luggage on the bus.
Getting to the Bus Station
The one advantage of booking with the company I did is my bus came with a pickup from my hostel. I was staying in Aonang beach. To get to the city center where the buses are, you will likely be pressured into getting a taxi which will try to charge you several hundred baht. Better is to wait at any of the bus stops along the road and get on the local bus, which will get you to the bus station for about 100 baht.
Songserm uses a separate bus station than the regular Krabi station. You can hardly call it a station. It’s a tin roof, a couple booths, a couple toilets and a shower at the end of a muddy road. The food selection is pretty much limited to instant noodle cups and cookies. There doesn’t seem to be any regular transport to the center of town, so you’ll be getting to or from there on their terms, and at their prices.
Traveling on a Songserm Bus
My bus showed up half an hour early and then parked while the driver chain smoked for the next 45 minutes. Finally, after futilely trying to avoid the mosquitoes, we were allowed to put our luggage under the bus and find a seat. There was about twenty of us, and 36 seats on the bus, so we were able to spread out. The bus was anything but VIP. Every seat was torn and the design was out of the 80s. I didn’t even venture to see what the bathroom looked like. I took a seat next to the window which I quickly realized I couldn’t see out of due to the decal on the other side, but the window seats on the other side of the bus were already full. The air conditioning blew out cool air which smelled like a filtration system had added a decade of musk to it.
For the next two hours, we bounced along the quintessential Thai road – full of potholes. Around 8 p.m., we arrived in Surin Thani. I figured we were stopping for dinner. Instead, we piled onto another bus already almost full. I got one of the very last seats, up next to a Thai guy who seemed to have no intention of sleeping that night. Thankfully, the bus looked a lot better. Okay, maybe just a little better.
We were off again. I waited patiently for them to stop for dinner, as I was getting hungry. It wasn’t until nearly 2 a.m. When we finally stopped for food. The selection was was miserable – boiled chicken on rice, or cookies. I had already been sleeping for a couple hours and didn’t want to wake myself up enough to eat, so I just went to use the urinal. The bus had one, but every time the door opened, the whole bus was filled with a foul reek which my buff could barely mitigate. So I used the free facilities at the restaurant, only to have my legs swarmed by mosquitoes in the few seconds I stood there. Well, this is Thailand after all.
The bus was scheduled to arrive in Bangkok by 5:30 a.m. I didn’t particularly want to try to make my way through the city so early, especially when most hostels in Bangkok don’t allow early check-in. Thus, I was happy that my bus arrived three hours late. At least it gave me extra sleep. I’m just glad I didn’t have anything scheduled for the morning, as I often do when I travel. We were dropped off on the side of the road not far from Khao San Road. Taxi drivers were on hand for us, and surprisingly the first I asked was happy to use the meter! Half an hour later I was sitting in a cafe by my hostel, wait until my check-in time so that I could get a shower and a bit more sleep.
Steps for Getting the Bus from Krabi to Bangkok
- Book a government bus online at busonlineticket.co.th, or purchase in person at the Krabi Provincial Bus Station.
- Take the local bus from Aonang or your residence to the Bus Station.
- Secure all your luggage with locks and keep your most valuable possessions on you.
- Don’t buy dinner, as this will be provided on the bus.
- Bring a neck pillow and eye mask.
- Relax and enjoy your sleep!
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Are you traveling to Thailand but not sure how to get around? Here are some other articles which will help your travel plans.
- Thailand Transportation: The Cheapest Way to Get from Bangkok to Penang
- How to Visit Cambodia from Bangkok
- 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Rent a Motorcycle in Thailand
Here’s some extra reading to save hundreds on your next vacation or stage of your journey.