Krabi is known as one of Thailand’s most stunning beach destinations. Arriving from the 40+ degree heat wave in Chiang Mai without the escape of a pool, we were gagging to hit the water.
I’d heard that Ao Nang is an excellent area to stay in for first timers to Krabi so we checked into the Ibis Styles Ao Nang which is located at the very end of the main strip.
The hotel desk told us that Ao Nang and Nopparat Thara Beaches were just a short ride away so we hired the first scooter we saw and off we went.
To say we were disappointed is a massive understatement. They reminded me a bit of Auckland’s Mission Bay.. Not terrible but not what we were expecting Krabi to be like! We ended up wasting an entire day mucking around here, only to end up sneaking into the pool at the Holiday Inn to perk up.
Don’t make this rookie mistake. Ao Nang really is a great place to stay but use it as a base to explore all the neighbouring islands that Krabi it’s amazing rep.
If you’re in the mood just to bliss out and not much else, head straight to one of the two long tail boat ticket stands located at each end of the main strip of Ao Nang along the waterfront, and buy a return ticket (200THB) to Krabi’s most beautiful beach, Railay Beach.
You enter the boat from the beach (there’s no pier) so be prepared to get wet. The last boat back is at 6pm.
Each boat takes a minimum of eight people so on some days you may be left waiting while the boat driver attempts to recruit more tourists from the street unless you:
a) pay for the remainder of the boat tickets yourself; or
b) keep asking the guy when the boat is going to depart until he gives in (I’ve found this happens within 15 minutes if you ask at least four times during that time).
The relatively unspoilt paradise of Railay is another great option to stay in Krabi. There’s accommodation here to suit every budget, with very affordable accommodation in the mangroves of the eastern part of Railay.
When deciding whether to make Railay your base, bear in mind that you rely solely on boat transport to and from here, shopping and eating options are limited and prices are significantly higher than on the mainland due to its isolation.
Phra Nang is another stunning beach just a short walk to the west of where you are dropped off at Railay. Here you’ll find some very interesting shrines.
Tham Phra Nang Nok (Holy Princess Cave) is where locals believe the spirits reside of two princesses that drowned during a storm at sea during the full moon just off the Phra Nang headland.
Traditionally local fishermen left offerings for good luck at sea however according to the locals, some women nowadays leave offerings in the hope of conceiving.
If you have limited time in Krabi, I highly recommend taking a snorkelling day tour. Yes, I also cringed at the thought of giving in to one of those tours annoyingly touted from every direction along the street but if you go with a reputable tour operator, you’re in for an incredible day.
We booked the Railay + 4 Island Sunset + Night Snorkell Tour with Thalassatour for a semi-private tour with a maximum of 14 per 25-seater boat. You can also splash out for a fully private tour for 17,500THB.
I would definitely recommend going on a semi private or private tour because we saw some extremely uncomfy looking boats pass by with passengers so tightly packed they were almost overflowing.
Our tour guides Kau and Bin were really nice guys who’d been running tours for decades and taught us so much about the islands and the culture.
You will visit a range of different islands, each more beautiful and unique than the last. Picture soft white sand, crystal blue waters, lush jungles, waterfalls and jagged limestone cliff faces so awe inspiring you’ll feel like you’re in Jurassic Park. There are a ridiculous number of postcard-perfect picture taking opportunities, so make sure that your devices are fully charged.
Snorkelling around these gorgeous islands is an unforgettable experience. We even found a little family of ‘Nemo’ fish and ‘Ellen Degeneres’ fish. I was kicking myself for not having a waterproof camera!
We watched the sunset at Railay Beach with a picnic which was super romantic then headed home but not before one final snorkel.
It was a little scary snorkelling in pitch darkness. Matt got into the water first. As I started lowering myself into the water, Matt stood upright announcing it was shallow enough for me to stand up in. Suddenly Kau shouted, “Up, up, sting ray! Manta sting ray, up!”
I have never seen or heard Matt scared before and I will never forget the fear in his voice when he yelled back, “What do I do?!” There was a whole lot of commotion amongst the group until we realised that Kau was telling Matt to stay afloat rather than stand on the bottom where there may have been sting rays!
You're probably wondering what the point is of snorkelling in the dark? Plankton glow in the dark when disrupted so we were waving our hands around wildly and all of a sudden we were surrounded by beautiful green glowing sparkles. Once again it would have been ideal with an underwater camera!
After an amazing day, we went to our favourite restaurant in Ao Nang. Ao Nang Boat Noodle Restaurant is a must if you're staying in the area. It's a bit out of the way, about a 10-15 minute walk from the main strip of but it's definitely worth it. Delicious, simple and very reasonably priced lunches and dinners.
After a wobbly start, we had an absolutely amazing time in Krabi and we are already looking forward to returning.
Have you made a rookie mistake like this when travelling somewhere for the first time?