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Krabi, Thailand: things to see and do

One of the most beautiful provinces of Thailand seen through the eyes of a resident
Sunset Krabi Thailand

After travelling to Krabi for several years, solo or on holidays with friends and family, two years ago I decided to move here for good. Since then, I’ve been exploring the province regularly, visiting the most touristic attractions as well as the less known places. To inspire your visit, here is a list of some of the best things to do in Krabi, Thailand.

Ao Nang

Ao Nang village is the most popular tourist destination in Krabi Province. It’s a laid back village about 20 minute drive from Krabi Town, where you will find plenty of hotels and renting accommodation, restaurants, shops, and the most popular beach in Krabi, Ao Nang beach. The village is far from being fancy, instead it appeals to visitors that like an informal atmosphere and plenty of facilities, from Starbucks and McDonald’s to simple café and local restaurants where you can eat a Pad Thai or Mango and Sticky rice for less than a hundred bath. At night Ao Nang is lively with cabaret shows, live music and performances, and a few bars where locals and tourists play pool and darts or drink a beer with bar girls. Boogie Bar and Roots Rock Reggae Bar are among the most popular bars, while the Slumber Party is a bar and hostel liked by young travellers and backpackers. Upscale Italian restaurants like Umberto or Azzurra (now Bolero) will make pasta lovers happy, while Kodam Kitchen or Ton Ma Yom offer the best local Thai cuisine. Indian restaurants are everywhere, and Japanese and Chinese venues are doubling by the year, so there’s really something for everybody in this small beach town.

During the day,  soaking in the sun and visiting the nearby islands are the visitors’ favorite activities: a boat ride from Ao Nang Beach to Poda and Chicken Islands only takes 20 minutes, and the local long-tail boats are waiting for passengers right in front of the beach. Snorkelling and diving trips can be booked from travel agencies and diving shops in central Ao Nang. Same for kayaking trips or jungle tours.

Railay and Phra Nang

Ao Nang beach is not the only lovely strip of sand along the coast and near Ao Nang Village: Railay, Ton Sai and Phra Nang are even more beautiful than Ao Nang. However, there are no roads to reach these three destinations and they only way to visit them is by boat. The closest to Ao Nang is Ton Sai, then there is Railay, and the last one is Phra Nang. These three sisters are the top areas for rock climbing in Krabi, with several climbing schools operating all year long. 

If you’ve never climbed before, you might want to take lessons, and there is a variety of half day, full day or multi day courses available. Even children can learn the basic techniques since there are cliffs for every level, from beginner to advance. One popular option is Deep Water Solo:  you practice rock climbing, then enjoy jumping into the emerald waters from different cliffs. 

The limestone cliffs of Krabi are amazing to see from a distance, imagine how stunning they are up close!

Once you are in Railay, and even if rock climbing is not your thing, there is so much to see and do: hiking paths and jungle trails, swimming, snorkelling, kayaking options, and several bars and restaurants to chill out from morning until lata at night. To avoid the crowds, go in the early morning or late afternoon, or, even better, book a hostel or hotel in Railay and spend the night there.

Phra Nang Beach is located on the southern Railay peninsula, and you can walk there through an easy and beautiful path from Railay East. The sea is turquoise and shallow, the sand is soft and white, and the cliffs provide some shade during the day: it’s a kids paradise. One attraction you shouldn’t miss is the Princess Cave where locals worship the goddess of fertility by bringing flowers, offers and…. phallic wooden objects which make this place really unique.

Sunsets are mesmerising in Railay West and Phra Nang Beach, and you can enjoy the show each evening with a cold beer and a Thai snack. It’s Thailand at its best!

Krabi Town and the Krabi Night Market

A 20 minute drive from Ao Nang lies Krabi Town, the provincial capital. It’s a relaxed little city that offers cultural experiences and close encounters with Thai people. 

Art lovers should visit the Krabi Contemporary Art Museum for exhibits of local and foreign artists. 

In Krabi Town you will also find many restaurants, shops, cafes and a river promenade which offers a scenic view of the Khao Khanab Nam,  a landmark of Krabi: two limestone mountains with the Krabi river running between them.

By joining a boat tour you can visit some interesting caves near the Khao Khanab mountains, the mangrove forest and the Muslim fishermen community that lives in Koh Klang, on the opposite side of the river, in front of Krabi.

Krabi Night Market

Night markets are ubiquitous in Thailand, in small villages and big cities. Thais love to buy food and goods at the market, and they love shopping even more at evening, when the heat of the day is replaced by a gentle breeze and a dropping in temperatures. Night markets are always busy and lively, colourful and cheap. If you’re looking for authentic Thai street food and souvenirs in Krabi Town, the Krabi Night Market is a must.

The night market, which is also known as Walking Street, is open at weekends from 6 PM until 10 PM. It’s just behind the Vogue Shopping Center where you can buy designer and international clothing brands (don’t expect an Icon Siam though, or you’ll be disappointed! This is just an average department store). The variety of items you will find at the Night Market is large: from local crafts and clothing to leather handbags, street food and houseware. Visitors love coming to the market to enjoy live music and performances, too.

The best time to visit the market is around sunset: grab some local snacks, chat with the friendly vendors,  enjoy the live music and street art performances before going for a beer in one of the bars downtown. 

The Emerald Pool & Klong Thom Hot Springs

From Krabi you can visit the Emerald Pool and the Klong Thom Hot Springs.

The Emerald Pool consists of several natural pools of fresh water located in the jungle. Only the biggest pool, whose turquoise color gives it its name, is suitable for swimming, while the Blue Pool is great for photos, but you are not allowed to dive in.

The Klong Thom hot springs are thermal underground springs with a temperature around 35-42 degrees Celsius. If it gets too hot, to refresh you can jump in the river below. Some locals believe that the springs contain minerals which are healthy and can heal some disease, and even if there’s no proof of that, just relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Avoid going there at weekends and National Holidays, because these places are very popular with locals and you will likely meet lots of people.

 

Explore the temples: Wat Tham Suea & Wat Kaew Korawaram

Besides the beach life, Thailand is famous for the thousands of temples that cover the country. Not far from Krabi Town, Wat Tham Sua (the Tiger Cave Temple) is the most popular among visitors, and for a good reason:  it consists of different buildings built into and around the cave in a limestone cliff. It derives its name from a wild tiger that used to live in the area when the first monks came to build the temple. The most spectacular part of the complex is atop the cliff, but the hike to the very top of the mountain requires good legs and lungs, and some courage, since it takes 1260 steps on very steep staircases to conquer the peak. From there, there’s an impressive 360 degree panoramic view above Krabi Province: on clear days, you can see as far as Lanta Island.  

The Tiger Cave Temple is one of the most popular attractions in the province, so plan your visit early in the morning (as early as sunrise) or in the late afternoon to avoid tourist groups. Don’t forget to cover your shoulders and legs, since this is a religious site, and be aware the monkeys who are great thieves of cell phones, hats and food!

In downtown Krabi, there’s another Buddhist temple that you shouldn’t miss, the Wat Kaew Korawaram, also called the “White Temple” because of its white exterior walls. 

The large, white staircase leading to the temple can’t be missed if you are walking or driving in downtown Krabi: you’ll have to climb it to reach the main building which is perched on a small hill, but don’t worry, it’s nothing compared to the Tiger Temple long staircase!

Once inside, check out the wall drawings showing important episodes of the Buddha’s life. Despite being an important temple in Krabi, and housing a monastery, the Wat Kaew is not as popular as the Wat Tham Suea, and you should be able to explore it without massive crowds.

 

All Nature: visit Ao Thalane and the islands

The fishing village of Ao Thalane is not as touristy as other places in and around Krabi Town, and it’s a great idea for a day trip. Once in Ao Thalane, rent a kayak to explore the mangrove forest and canyons and observe the lush jungle and the creatures who inhabit it. Locals are pretty serious about protecting the environment of Ao Thalane, and knowledgeable about the mangrove eco-system, so you will learn a lot about it during a kayak trip. A few villas and beach resorts can be found in Ao Thalane, but if you don’t want to sleep there, this is an easy day trip from Krabi and Ao Nang.

The islands

There are 52 islands off the coast of Krabi Province, and plenty of amazing tour opportunities for island hopping, with many of them starting from Krabi Town or Ao Nang. The closest islands are ideal for half day tours by long tail boats, while others require a full day tour by speed boat, or a multi-day package. 

One of the biggest and most beautiful islands where you should overnight is Koh Lanta Yai, a heaven for beach life, snorkelling and diving. It’s a laid back, relaxing place to spend a week in, ideal for families with your children, yoga lovers, digital nomads and anyone who don’t bother with the night life. You’ll see some fantastic sunsets from Koh Lanta’s west coast beaches.  Moreover, Lanta is easy to navigate: the roads are mostly paved and scooters are affordable. 

For a day trip from Ao Nang and Krabi, one of the most impressive islands is Koh Hong, boasting a long white sandy beach, a lagoon and, since recently, a phenomenal view point that can be reached in about 20 minutes, climbing an easy staircase.  Most join and private tours include a picnic lunch on the beach, anyway there is also simple restaurant where you can buy some fried rice, chips and ice-cream. It’s forbidden to sleep in Koh Hong, and the island closes at 5 pm. The boat trips to Koh Hong usually stop in two more islands: Lao Ladin (Paradise Island) and Pakbia.

The 4 island day trip is another tour that can be easily arranged from Ao Nang, Krabi Town and nearby locations. Hop on a long tail or speed boat and spend your day basking in the sun, swimming, snorkelling or kayaking in the Andaman sea. Poda, Chicken, Tup and Mor islands are very close to each other: at low tide you can even walk on the sandbar connecting the tiny Tup island to Mor, feeling like Moses. Poda Island is the one with the longest and whitest beach, it’s usually very crowded but if you walk to the southern part of the beach you might find a tranquil corner. 

Hike the highest peaks

Krabi Province houses several National Parks, one of them is the  Khao Phanom Bencha Park, named after the Khao Phanom Bencha, the highest mountain in the province. If you are in good health and fit, you can climb it, but you should hire a guide and plan to overnight, since it takes about 7 hrs to reach the top, and the sun sets early in Thailand. Another lovely (but challenging) hiking trail is the Dragon Crest (Khao Ngon Nak) which starts nearby Tubkaak Beach and takes about 2 hours per way. Start very early in the morning if you want to ascend slowly and enjoy some time at the top, taking in one of the most epic views in all of Thailand, because the National Park closest at 3 pm: after this time you won’t be allowed to enter and climb.

My favorite activities

You may wonder which are my favorite activities as a resident: well, as somebody who lives in Krabi all year long, I don’t visit the most touristic islands often, since I’ve been there many times in the past.Mostly, I like to spend my free time going for brunch at a beach or panoramic café, enjoying a day at the spa, hopping on a public boat to Railay or taking long walks in Klong Muang or Tubkaak beach. One thing I never get tired of is watching the epic sunsets that Krabi have often.

If you come to this part of Thailand, contact me and I’ll recommend some of my favorite secret places, so that you won’t miss out on all the natural beauties that Krabi has to offer.

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