KRABI IN BRIEF
WHY GO: Krabi has Thailand’s finest sceneries, its vertical limestone peaks being featured in countless postcards. Krabi has a wide range of activities to do amidst the wonderful scenery: snorkeling trips, rock climbing, kayaking and island hopping.
WHY NOT: Krabi is very popular, and its sandy beaches may seem overcrowded to some.
ADVENTURER: Krabi is Thailand’s best destination for an adventure filled holiday. Skip the busy beaches and stay in Krabi Town, instead. You will experience more local life there, the guesthouses are cheaper, and from the town it is easy to travel anywhere in the province.
COUPLES: Krabi’s otherworldly landscape makes a wonderful backdrop for a honeymoon, especially if you choose to stay in Krabi’s most romantic beach, Had Tubkaek.
BACKPACKERS: Krabi has established itself well on the backpackers’ trail. While the majority of Krabi has become a package tour wonderland, the area still has one thoroughbred backpacker beach, Ao Tonsai.
ROCK CLIMBING: Krabi is Asia’s most famous rock climbing spot, and good for both beginners and experienced climbers. Rock climbing is focused on the Railay peninsula.
KAYAKING: Beautiful Phang-Nga Bay, just in front of Krabi, is a perfect place to paddle with its beautiful limestone islets and maze-like mangrove forests.
SNORKELING: Snorkeling is part of most island hopping trips. Krabi has a few dive shops, but if you are really into diving, you better go to nearby Ko Phi Phi Island where most of the province’s dive sites are anyway.
Krabi’s landscape is straight out of fairy-tales. Vertical limestone peaks rise from the jade green sea hundreds of meters in height like some ancient stone monsters.
You could spend days on the beach just wondering the limestone peaks, but Krabi has an endless array of activities to keep you entertained too. You can try out rock climbing to scale the heights, and make excursions to the stalactite caves inside the same mountains, in which Stone Age people have painted their greetings.
You can paddle on a kayak to secret lagoons, and beneath the sea coral reefs are waiting for divers and snorkelers. Beautiful, uninhabited islands are just a short boat ride away, great for day trips or even for an overnight camping adventure.
If you are looking for word-class shopping and culinary experiences, though, you should head somewhere else. Krabi’s busiest beach, Ao Nang, has a decent array of restaurants but nothing that really stands out, and the shopping opportunities are very limited.
Krabi’s views are so spectacular that those small gaps are easily forgiven. These views must be seen at least once in a life!
Orientation: Krabi Town and Krabi’s Best Beaches
Krabi is a name for an entire province. The province contains several popular inland beaches as well as the islands of Koh Phi Phi, Ko Jum, Ko Lanta and Ko Ngai. In general, however, the name Krabi usually refers to the Ao Nang Beach, Railay peninsula and Haad Tubkaek farther away.
Ao Nang is the most popular and accessible beach, whereas Railay peninsula’s beaches are the most beautiful. Haad Tubkaek is a great beach for those looking for quiet natural surroundings and a touch of luxury accommodation.
Krabi Town, also called Krabi Pak Nam, is the administrative center, a half-hour drive from Ao Nang Beach. The town has cheap guesthouses and some long time favorite restaurants as well as a lively night market.
Krabi Town is a good place to stay for those, who are more interested in doing day trips to Krabi’s sights than just lying by the beach. From Krabi town it’s easy to explore the province by motorbike.
Check out hotel deals in Krabi Town.
Ao Nang – Krabi’s Main Beach
Krabi’s busiest beach is Ao Nang, where most of the hotels are, although only a few of the hotels are actually right by the sea. Ao Nang has a lot of restaurants, but shopping is limited to stalls selling pirated clothes.
As of a beach, Ao Nang is far from being one of Thailand’s best: busy street runs between the hotels and the sea, and a concrete wall has been built to protect the beach from erosion. Boat traffic to the nearby islands is heavy and noisy. Ao Nang’s beach is at its most calm on its edges.
To enjoy more serene atmosphere, most holidaymakers make boa-trips from Ao Nang to the beautiful little islands offshore.
Ao Nang is a good place to stay if you are looking for active restaurant life, and want to explore Krabi’s province, since the beach village is well connected by roads to Krabi’s main sights. Hotels also tend to be cheaper than in Railay Peninsula.
If you want to stay right by the beach in Ao Nang, your options are Krabi Resort, Golden Beach Resort and Phra Nang Inn.
Check out hotel deals in Ao Nang.
Long and Peaceful Haad Nopparat Thara
On the western side of Ao Nang, a short taxi ride away, is a long and peaceful Haad Nopparat Thara, a nice beach to relax after the hustle and bustle of Ao Nang.
Haad Nopparat is mostly protected from development as a natural park, at least on paper, and accommodation options are very limited. Haad Nopparat has a few restaurants, some guesthouses, and one gargantuan and tacky hotel.
Check out hotel deals in Haad Nopparat Thara.
Fabulous Railay Peninsula
Railay peninsula is Krabi’s main ticket to fame. The fabulously beautiful peninsula is surrounded by towering limestone cliffs, and only accessible by boat-ride either from Ao Nang Beach or Krabi Town.
Railay has four beaches, all with a very different atmosphere. Keep in mind though that they are all a short walk from each other, except a little bit more isolated Haad Nopparat, so it doesn’t make a big difference, which one you choose for the hotel.
By far Railay’s most beautiful beach and best for swimming is Ao Phra Nang, also known as Princess Bay. Ao Phra Nang is truly a stunning beach, one of Thailand’s most beautiful. Most people visit Ao Phra Nang from Railay’s other beaches, a short walk away, or by boat from Ao Nang, since the beach has only one hotel, the fabulous Rayavadee Resort.
At beginning of Ao Phra Nang is a small cave in a towering limestone cliff, which is filled with wooden phalluses of all sizes. The fertility talismans are donated for the spirit of the mountain, the mystical Princess Phra Nang.
Railay’s next best beach for swimming is beautiful Railay West, which has a lot of mid-price hotels.
Railay East is muddy and partly covered by mangroves and not good for swimming, but it has generally cheaper accommodation than Railay West and some funky beach bars.
A steep path diverges from Railay West and leads to rocky Ao Tonsai Beach, which is ill suited for swimming but popular with rock climbers. At the low tide you can also walk from Railay West to Ao Tonsai along the beach. Ao Ton Sai is like the rest of Krabi some twenty years ago: the beach still has cheap guesthouses with an easy-going hippie vibe.
Check out hotel deals for Railay Peninsula.
Romantic Haad Tubkaek
Twenty kilometers northwest of Ao Nang is Krabi’s most romantic beach, lovely Haad Tubkaek. Picturesque limestone islands dot the horizon, and a jungle starts right behind the beach. Tubkaeks’s resorts are of intimate boutique style.
What about Haad Yao Beach?
Haad Yao Beach lies southeast side of Krabi Town, and has only recently had its first hotels. The reason for the late development is that the long beach is shallow and a bit muddy.
Krabi’s Sights and Activities
Krabi is a paradise for an active holidaymaker. None other destination in Thailand can compare with the range of nature-orientated activities you can do in Krabi. You can kayak and practice rock-climbing amidst Krabi’s beautiful limestone scenery. You can dive and snorkel or try your skills in sport fishing.
You can visit natural hot springs, explore caves, hike in jungles, and climb on top of a mountain to see some of Thailand’s most beautiful sceneries.
You can do day-trips to beautiful small islands or visit the famous Ko Phi Phi Island.
Krabi’s Restaurants and Nightlife
Krabi’s restaurants and nightlife are concentrated in Ao Nang Beach, which has all sorts of restaurants from small family Thai eateries to western restaurants and international fast food chains. One restaurant not to miss in Ao Nang is Lae Lay Grill Restaurant, which serves excellent and well presented seafood. The restaurant is located on a hill above Ao Nang with beautiful views over the area.
Ao Nang has several bars, but it is not really a nightlife destination per se. Some of the liveliest bars like Crazy Gringo’s and Boogie Bar are located on the shopping and restaurant arcade called Krabi Center.
You should also pay a visit to Krabi Town, which has nice choices for restaurants too. The quality of the cooking in Krabi Town is kept high thanks to locals and many long time Western residents, who live here. In Café Europa you can even try out Scandinavian meatballs in the steps of Leonardo di Caprio, who ate here while filming the movie The Beach. Another long standing favorite in Krabi Town is the small and cozy May & Mark, where you can try the owners’ fusion cuisine experiments such as green curry pizzas.
Krabi’s more remote beaches have less variety for choices to dine and drink.
Beside the restaurants, one should try also street food, especially Krabi’s Muslim specialities like roti pancakes and deep fried chicken.
Travel to Krabi
Krabi has plenty of flights from Bangkok. Minibuses run from the airport to the city and the beaches. There is no railway connection, and buses from Bangkok take half a day. From Krabi buses are running all over the Southern Thailand.
The bus station is in Krabi Town, from where shared songthaews take passengers to Ao Nang. Krabi Town’s pier has longtail-boats directly to Ao Railay.
Transportation in Krabi
Shared songthaew taxis run between Krabi Town and Ao Nang every fifteen minutes during the daylight hours.
There are regular boats to Railay’s beaches from Krabi Town. Longtail-boats from Ao Nang leave when they are full.
Next Destination from Krabi
A couple of boats per day leave to Phuket and the party island Ko Phi Phi from Krabi Town’s pier. During the high season from November to April boats also run to family-friendly Ko Lanta, peaceful Ko Jum, and rustic Ko Yao Noi.
From Krabi you can also take a minibus to Ko Lanta. The drive takes about the same time as the boat ride but is slightly cheaper.