It took me 12 years to get to Krabi, which is funny because it was one of the places I most wanted to visit when I first arrived in Thailand. Phuket – with its hordes of hungry sun burnt tourists searching for the remnants of postcard beauty amongst the traffic jams and ever-increasing development – is evidently what most people want. That’s understandable, but in my humble opinion, and after visiting many of Thailand’s exotic gems, I’m a little bit ashamed that I didn’t get to Krabi earlier.
Where to Stay
There are two primary areas in Krabi where most people stay. One is the famous Ao Nang, which was for a while the only place to stay and thus has become the most developed part of Krabi. As such, you cannot walk down the street without being offered a suit, a pizza, countless day tours and a photo with a monkey or a python. But Ao Nang is also still quite peaceful – in spite of recent bad press. There are several soi off the main street that run along the beach where girly bars and loud, tourist-geared clubs can be found, but it’s all relatively tame. For cocktails and BBQ on the beach, be sure to check out The Last Fisherman Bar, a perfect place to watch the sunset.
The other place to stay is the new and rather posh part of Krabi, located along Klong Road, a.k.a. Canal Beach Road. This is where you’ll find all the big resorts, including the Sheraton (amazing place if you can afford around 6,000 – 15,000 baht a night), Sofitel (3,000 – 8,000 baht a night) and many more. This is an up-and-coming area, so while it does include some old standbys, many resorts are still being built. The area is reachable from town, down a mesmerising winding road past giant limestone cliffs. Most of the beachside hotels here provide just about everything, and there’s not much to buy or do in the immediate surroundings other than lounge about, unless you hop in a speedboat. The chilled-out Paddy’s Irish Pub is one of the only nightlife spots in the area.
From Chao Fah Pier:
Chao Fa Pier is one of main Krabi Piers that can be reached by taxi. From here you can go pretty much anywhere, including Koh Phi Phi by boat, though much closer you’ll find the fishing island of Koh Klang. This Muslim settlement is pretty much still in its natural state. There are home-stays, several restaurants, and opportunities to explore the caves and many winding waterways around the mangroves in a kayak.
From Nopparat Pier:
This is everyone’s favourite starting point, where you can either arrange your tour with an agent beforehand, or simply hop onto a longtail or speedboat at the pier. Where to go? Many places are spectacular. Try Koh Yao Noi, Koh Hong, Chicken Island, or spend a night with the monkeys at gorgeous Railay Beach. If you have the money, your captain will take you virtually anywhere. Snorkelling trips can be arranged through any of the various travel agents in Ao Nang.
On the Road:
In addition to your watery adventures, the roads in this area beg to be explored, and I definitely would suggest doing that without a guide if possible. Take a dip in the Emerald Pool, climb the 1,237 steep and winding steps to the top of the Tiger Cave Temple, or just take a road trip, and don’t stop until you’ve taken the main road, Petkasem, from Phuket to Krabi to Pangna. You might also visit Khao Lak or the tranquil seaside province of Trang, where tourism has not yet left its indelible mark.