Air Asia is our preferred carrier to get around Asia. The flights are pretty cheap, reliably on time, and we have figured out exactly how to fly them successfully – how to get our favorite seats, pay our bag charges, checkin online, and even pre-order our food. But, we are still trying to figure out how to use Air Asia’s Island Transfer Service,in Thailand.
We had used the Air Asia Island Transfer Service to fly to Koh Phangan before, and it worked pretty well. We arrived at the destination airport, Air Asia arranged a large charter bus to drive us to the ferry, arranged the ferry ride over to Koh Phangan, and deposited us at the pier. In fact, Air Asia offers a service like this to several Thai islands, and our friends also reported having good luck with their transfer to Koh Lipe.
We signed up for the transfer service to take us to Koh Lanta, and expected the same. But, considering how things had been occurring in Bali just before leaving, in that everything was just a little different, just a little off, it made complete sense that this Air Asia Island Transfer Service was just a little different.[box]
Check out these recommendations for Krabi Island tours and information on to island hop around the region[/box]
Air Asia Island Transfer Service from Krabi to Koh Lanta
When we checked in, we remembered to tell the girl at checkin at Don Meung Airport in Bangkok that we were flying to Krabi, our airport destination. Although our reservation stated that we were doing the Air Asia Island Transfer Service, she did not mention it. We asked what we needed to do on arrival and she suggested “just look for the sign.”
And, that was what we did. When we arrived in Krabi, we grabbed our bags from baggage claim, which is important to note. When you book the Air Asia Island Transfer Service, your bags do not meet you at the final, island destination. You need to collect them at the airport and bring them the rest of the way.
Just outside of baggage claim, we found a woman holding a sign that read Air Asia Island Transfer to Koh Lanta. We received a little sticker designating our destination.
When our entire group arrived (10 adults, 3 children) we were placed, Tetris style, into a shuttle bus. There was just enough room for all of us, all of the luggage, and 2 strollers. It was a little tight for sure.
We had no idea what would happen next. This is a major failing on Air Asia’s part. The greeter, or the driver, should let the passengers know how long on the bus, how long on the ferry, how long to wait, etc. We assumed, like the Air Asia Island Transfer Service to Koh Phangan, that we would be driven to a pier, and put on a passenger ferry. Even the sign at the airport implied big ferry. We were wrong.
From Krabi airport to Koh Lanta is about 50 kilometers. Along the way, there are two car ferries to bring cars, motorbikes, and small buses, to the islands. Although they are building a bridge over one of the waterways, from what we saw that will be a long way off. We stayed in the shuttle bus the entire time, other than when we were allowed to stretch our legs while waiting to board the second ferry. Because the ferries only hold about 20 cars at a time, the wait for the second ferry was considerable.
By the time we got back into the shuttle bus, arrived in Koh Lanta, and started to drop off passengers from our group (at an extra expense) I was ready to escape the confines of my tiny shuttle bus seat. Our flight landed around 1:15 pm and we arrived at our hotel in Long Beach about 5:00 pm, meaning the Island Transfer Service took about four hours. From my research, there are quicker options to Koh Lanta.
Air Asia Island Transfer Service From Koh Lanta to Krabi
The return to Krabi was even more confusing. We received no notice about where to checkin for the Air Asia island transfer service. We had no idea whether to go to the passenger ferry pier, or the car ferry pier. We found a random tour office with Air Asia check in flags, but they just made us more confused. Tweets to Air Asia went unanswered. We googled. We researched. A friend of ours who runs a travel company on the island called Air Asia. We were told to go to passenger ferry terminal to check-in.
We arrived over 30 minutes early and deposited our bags and immediately a guy walked up to us asking if we were checking in for Air Asia. How he picked us out of the group of gathered people, I have no idea, but he had our names on a list. He told us to wait. Then, he had breakfast at a cafe. Our departure time of 10 am came and went, while he finished his breakfast, ordered his check, and made a call. He apparently called a shuttle bus driver to come get us, where we received the last two seats in the shuttle bus. Me sitting in the front so that I could experience first hand the crazy maneuvers of the driver to get us to Krabi airport in record time. It was all, well, disorganized to say the least.
We arrived a lot quicker to the airport than I anticipated. The trip that took 4 hours heading to Koh Lanta, only took about 2 hours in return. Meaning, we hung around for almost 4 hours waiting for our one hour flight to Bangkok. And, Krabi airport is not an airport you want to hang around in. It was a lot of travel time for a one hour flight. We left our hotel in Koh Lanta at 9am, and arrived at our apartment in Bangkok just before 7pm.
Why Book the Air Asia Island Transfer Service At All?
We booked the Air Asia Island Transfer for two reasons: 1) we had a good experience with the island transfer before; and 2) we did not have to do our own research or make our own arrangements.
That said, when we arrived at Krabi airport there were numerous companies offering a variety of different ways to get to Koh Lanta. I do not think the Island Transfer Service is as needed as it was to get to Koh Phangan, which is more off the beaten path and difficult to get to. If I were to return to Koh Lanta, I would choose a different option on arrival at Krabi. Or, I was told you can fly to Phuket airport and take a speed boat to Koh Lanta from there.
Overall, I still think the Air Asia Island Transfer Service is a great deal, particularly if you don’t want to arrange anything yourself. It just was not smooth sailing heading to Koh Lanta, pun intended.
We did not price out the alternative, to do the trip to Koh Lanta more a la carte, but Nomad is Beautiful has laid out a great post on budgeting for Koh Lanta, including how to get there.
Have you booked the Air Asia Island Transfer Service? How did it go?
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new food and drink destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together they have traveled to over 70 countries.