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Thailand’s Krabi Island – The Caboodle of Sun, Seaside, and You

Krabi – a name that is not well known to the regular traveler – belongs to the southern part of Thailand. When one thinks of Thailand, one immediately associates it with Bangkok, Phuket, and Pattaya with it. But, these places are extremely commercial and would appeal to the shopper in you. For someone looking to find paradise (like the ones shown in movies), you can find it in Krabi. In fact, most movies that include a beach have been shot at Krabi. The beaches are serene, it isn’t very commercial, and the best, it isn’t crowded at all. Krabi Island is also home to some of the highest peaks, calm rivers, hot springs, clear water beaches, and adventure water sports.

Krabi

Krabi – the lesser known but exotic destination of Thailand. Photography by Catherine Careyy

Krabi Island: An Overview

Population 52,867
Preferred mode of travel Road (bike/car)
Main attractions Beaches, Weekend Night Market
Best time to visit June – February



Ao Nang

Ao Nang is one of the primary regions in Krabi. It is relatively commercial and almost all of the popular 5 star resorts can be found in this locality. It has an entire road by the beach that is lined with stores of all kinds. From stores that let you explore Krabi and rent vehicles to tasting a scorpion, this road has it all. However, this particular locality is known to be comparatively pricey due to its popularity. As much as the resorts may claim that they have 5 star or 7 star rating, I found the lesser known resorts to be much, much better.

I remember a particular instance where when I had to check out of a hotel from one end of Ao Nang to Vogue Resort, a 5-star resort, the hotel guys were impressed that I was staying at Vogue and told me instantly that they couldn’t compete with anyone like Vogue. The truth is, if you’re looking for a typical commercial place where rooms are right next to each other with a huge luxurious bed and no further privacy, then a place like Vogue is fine. But, that’s what you find anywhere in the world as a hotel. There’s nothing special about it being a resort. I would suggest staying going by ratings by travellers for places you haven’t heard of. Not only is it a lot easier on the pocket, it’s worth the experience. Also, I found the people in lesser known resorts to be extremely down to earth. Vogue didn’t even offer to help with our bags.

I recommend hiring a car or bike from Ao Nang. The rates are reasonable and to be fair, it’s one of the only populous areas where you can actually hire anything. Most of Krabi is connected by expansive roads and greenery on both sides of the road and no sign of any humans. I managed to hire a Honda CRV – which is an SUV – for just THB 1000 a day. The main road in Ao Nang is lined with restaurants that serve food from food side cuisine to top-class food. I actively avoided the Indian food restaurants simply out of prior experience: never eat Indian food outside India. Most of the ingredients are not commonly used in Thai food and you never know how old the ingredients are. Having previously suffered after eating Indian food in a foreign country, I decided never to repeat it. When in Thailand, be Thai.Having said that, I recommend eating at literally any restaurant that has a crowd even if it’s a street side stall. Most Thai people eat out and the food will be hygienic if the stall has a decent crowd.

I also recommend the beach side shack at the far end of Ao Nang’s beach called Rimlay Cafe. It’s hard to find but they have an amazing view and they serve freshly made burgers. In Ao Nang, I recommend staying at Bliss Resort. Their rooms are cozy and are right by the beach. Poonsiri resort isn’t a bad option either if you’re willing to spend a little more and if you like staying by the side of a river.

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View from the first resort I stayed at in Ao Nang. Credits: Anusha Rao

 

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This is me eating at one of the restaurants in Ao Nang. Credits: Anusha Rao

Koh Lanta

Koh Lanta is a peaceful spot to be and is filled with fun beach activities that one can indulge in. Supposedly with the best coral reef and beach line in the entirety of Thailand itself, Koh Lanta is best known for its scuba diving activity. While I didn’t scuba dive this time, people can literally walk into the beach with the scuba gear and get started.

Other attractions in Koh Lanta as part of Krabi Island is its national park. It’s a sprawling park that is home to several small islands!You can also find the typical and scenic pool within a cave where you can swim – The Khao Mai Kaew Caves.

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Beautiful beach at Koh Lanta. Photography by Amber Rondeau

 

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A picturesque resort near the sea side at Krabi. Photography by Amber Rondeau

 Phang Nga Bay

Phang Nga is one of the main tourist attractions of Krabi Island. Most travel packages take tourists here and so it tends to get quite crowded. Phang Nga is a huge bay; typical packages and activities including taking a speed boat to the main bay area and then letting you kayak around the waters as huge rocks hills and mountains loom above you. A distinctive feature of this famous bay is the number of limestone karsts that vertically jut out of the emerald-green water.
Phang Nga is home to several small islands, one of which is the famous James Bond Island. This iconic limestone formation is famous for have been featured in an old James Bond movie called The Man With The Golden Gun.I signed up for a tour that would take me kayaking through caves and to James Bond Island where you can swim in the clear waters and pose for a ton of photos. But, be prepared to wait if you’re expecting to get a photo without anyone else in the scene. It’s an extremely popular hotspot and the stalls that sell accessories and other small trinkets are quite expensive. You would find better stuff at the Weekend Night Market of Krabi itself.
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Limestone Karsts during twilight at Phang Nga Bay. Photography by Jim Knight

 

Krabi

The Beautiful James Bond Island. Photography by Danny

Khlong Thom

Khlong Thom is a district in Krabi Island that is for the natural hot spring that draws out many tourists. As you drive from Ao Nang towards Krabi main town, you will spot countless sign boards that point to a hot spring, waterfall, or river. It goes by many names but it’s all in the same place. There are timings to the hot spring though and from what I remember, the hot spring closes by 530 PM sharp. The hot spring river – which is a few kilometres away – is part of an eco-park that sources the hot water from the stream and provides hot water pools for anyone to relax in. In fact, the hot spring river itself is semi-naturally designed to hold small pools of water for anyone to jump into and relax.

You’d think, “Hey, how hot can a river be?” Take my word for it: you cannot stay in the waters for more than 15-20 minutes. I was sweating by the time my 15 minutes was done!

When travelling around Krabi, it is recommended to hire your own vehicle (a two wheeler will suffice) since it works out more convenient. The roads are wide and mostly empty and it paves the way for an enjoyable ride. If you can drive, then I highly recommend hiring a car itself. The public transport is infrequent and let’s not even start talking about tuk-tuks. They always charge you a bomb.

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Hot Water Spring Waterfall. Photography by Junhe Mastersarcat

 

Krabi

Emerald Pool at Khlong Thom. Photography by Julia Jung

Weekend Night Market at Krabi

I bumped into the weekend night market at Krabi Island by mistake. While riding back from the hot spring, we rode past Krabi Town and suddenly went past a crowded junction that was teeming with people. A huge stage had also been set up in the middle of field where some guys were playing the guitar and singing some song. At first I thought it was a Thai version of Wicked Game but as I walked through the market, I realized it was the Thai accent-English version of Wicked Game!

In many ways, I liked the weekend night market over Bangkok’s Chatuchak market. Chatuchak has the most extensive collection, no doubt, but I found that the prices of similar items at the weekend market were way cheaper than what I found in Bangkok. I managed to buy a pair of ripped jeans shorts for THB 50 which is roughly just Rs 100!It’s an amazing place to buy clothes such as t-shirts, jeans, simple dresses, and a lot of accessories. Watches, shades, bracelets, and earrings were being sold at throwaway prices. I even found under garments being sold for as little as THB 20 and they looked like good quality!

There are countless food stalls around this market and one can find anything from chicken shawarma to fried scorpions. While I didn’t sample the food except for the shawarma, the sticky mango rice is a delicacy and a must try at the market. A word of advice: make sure you come with a vehicle large enough to leave with the bags you’re going to have on your way out!

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Weekend Night Market at Krabi. Photography by Joey Kim

Krabi Island is filled with fun activities of all kinds. From water sports and sight-seeing to shopping, Krabi can prove to be your one stop destination for everything. Best part is that you’ll have all the fun without a crowd. The prices are nominal and the place is a huge treasure-landmine for people willing to explore on their own. All you need is a medium of transport and a map and you’re good to go. Keep in mind that most road signs are not in English and are inconsistent as well. Asking the locals won’t help much because not many speak English. The ones who do are very helpful. But, it helps to have a map.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anusha Rao is a traveller, blogger, youtuber, journalist, social worker, and activist from Bangalore. She is a feminist who battles for equality – not like some who confuse it with faminazi – and loves discovering the unknown in popular places and finding beauty in underrated and unknown places. She currently stays in Bangalore with her baby: her white Royal Enfield Classic 350. Aside from being a foodie, maggi lover, and buttermilk addict, she has spent her time travelling in luxury and escaping from Naxalites!

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