Krabi, Thailand: Travel/Tourist Information Guide
Krabi is located at the southern region of Thailand. It is an emerald on the Andaman Sea. Krabi is divided into 8 districts; the Amphoe Muang or the Krabi Town, the Khao Panom, the Khlong Thom, the Plai Phraya, the Ko Lanta, the Ao Luk, the Lam Thap, and the Nhua Khlong. The Krabi Town is the main gateway and the capital of the province. Although it is a sleeping capital, it offers authentic Thai cuisine and night market that tourists often visit. Krabi boasts its natural attractions including the white sandy beaches, the coral reefs, the exotic marine life, the sea caves, the waterfalls, the hot springs, the wildlife sanctuary, the limestone cliffs, and the national parks. It is one of the top tourist attractions and one of the most attractive provinces in the country. The province's natural attractions offers activities like diving, sea kayaking, rock climbing, and boat trips to the nearby islands.
Beaches & Attractions
Krabi is blessed with coastal vistas featuring towering limestone cliffs, soft white sand beaches, small coves, and offshore islands. Its attractive coastline is one of the most attractive assets of the province. Krabi's beaches are almost never crowded compare to other coastal destinations in the country. There is always a patch of paradise for locals and foreign visitors in the province. Some of the most beautiful beaches are the Ao Nang Beach, the Railay Beach, the Klong Muang Beach, the Nopparat Thara Beach, the Tubkaak Beach, and the Haad Yao.
Ao Nang Beach & Nopparat Thara Beach
Ao Nang is Krabi's vibrant tourist center. It is the the most westernized beach in Krabi making it the busiest and most tourist-oriented beach town. Ao Nang Beach has a seaside strip of guesthouses, hotels, bars, and restaurants. The east side of the beach is the most scenic and swimmer-friendly area. There is a 10-minute trail that leads to the far east side offering peaceful and serene views and the Centara Grand Beach Resort. Ao Nang also boasts its popular Susan Hoi or the Fossil Shell Beach Cemetery. This is a shell graveyard that was once a large freshwater swamp of snails 35 million years ago and now formed a huge rock of fossilized seashell. If Ao Nang Beach is touristy and Susan Hoi is full of shell fossils, Nopparat Thara Beach could be an escape. It is a national park of a long beach located at the western tip of Ao Nang. The western half of the beach is located at the vicinity of the neighboring Nong Thale sub district and the eastern half belongs to Ao Nang. It is a quieter beach offering visitors to have a nice stroll and watch a sunrise or sunset. During the low tide, tourists can see and walk up to some limestone islands like the Kao Pak Klong.
Due to its beautiful natural attractions, there are plenty of things to do in Ao Nang such as kite boarding at the Nopparat Thara Beach, rock climbing, sea kayaking, and scuba diving. Scuba diving at the Ao Nang Bay and nearby areas like the Phi Phi Marine National Park, the King Cruiser Wreck Site, and the Shark Point Marine Sanctuary is a very popular thing to do. There are also a boat trip to the nearby islands such as the Bamboo Island, the Chicken Island, the Tup Island, the Poda Island, the Hong Island and others. Nightlife in Ao Nang is not that splurge, but there are numerous bars that visitors could hang out. Aside from the bars at the Center Point like the Rocky Bar and Smile Bar, a popular place for a night out is Mr. Cock's street bar; a mobile bar that is parked at the side of the road and has a stand on the sidewalk offering Thai beers and assorted mixed drinks.
Railay Beach is located just at the south of the Ao Nang Beach and it is only accessible by boat. It has white sand beaches, soaring limestone cliffs, viewpoints, caves, and a lagoon hidden inside the cliffs. It is the rock climbing Mecca of Thailand with a great number of high limestone cliffs. Railay is a small peninsula that actually consists of four beaches; the Railay West, the Railay East, the Phra Nang Beach, and the Tonsai Beach.
The Railay West is the main beach and the main port of arrival in the peninsula. It is one of the Southern Thailand's most impressive and beautiful beaches at any time of the day. It is a 600-meter long beach with four hotels that are directly settled on the beachfront; the Rayavadee Resort, the Railay Village Resort & Spa, the Railay Bay Resort & Spa, and the Sand Sea Resort. There are also surrounding cliffs that twist into fantastic shapes that are perfect for rock climbing. The beach has a lot of bars and restaurants at the Railay Walking Street that leads to a pathway directing straight across the peninsula and links Railay West with Railay East.
The Railay East is a narrow beach and a home to mangroves, local fishing boats, and many bird species. It is also a place of nightlife with bars like The Last Bar, Skunk, and Joy's that offer an eclectic mix of fire-twirlers, pumping music, and care-free vibes. Along the pathway that links it to the Railay West are dozens of small bungalows giving the feeling of a small self-contained village with restaurants and convenience stores. There are also accommodation around the north end of Railay East near the nightlife areas. The Diamond Cave and the Hidden Railay Lagoon are some of the main attractions in Railay East. The Diamond Cave or the Tham Phra Nang Nai is a large cave located at the foot of the limestone cliff separating Railay peninsula from Krabi inland. However, the cave belong to the Nopparat Thara Beach – Phi Phi Island National Park. The cave features bats, a very high roof, stalactites, and stalagmites making it a true wonder of nature. On the other hand, the Hidden Railay Lagoon is known as the Sa Phra Nang that means 'Holy Princess Pool'. It is located between Railay East and Phra Nang. The lagoon is tidal so try to ensure that it's high tide when you go. Those who get there at low tide will be very frustrated to find a small muddy pool.
The Phra Nang Beach is the 450-meter long southern strip of sand in Railay. It is more popular than Railay West during the high season; from November to April. It offers duvet-soft sand, clear shallow water that is perfect for swimming, coral reefs, caves, and two small islands of Koh Rang Nok and Nai. Like the Railay West, there are limestone cliffs that provide natural shade from the hot afternoon sun perfect for the rock climbers. One of the main attractions of the Phra Nang Beach is the Princess Cave located at the bottom of the limestone cliffs. The Princess Cave or the Tham Phra Nang Nok is famous for its wonderful stalactites and stalagmites. Since the ancient times, fishermen have made offerings to the symbolic Phallus of Shiva; known as the Siwaleung or Palad Khik in Thai. The fishermen believe that their offerings will bring them success in their fishing and protect them from danger. The cave also contains a large collection of carved wooden phallic symbols with offerings that are believed to help with fertility.
The Tonsai Beach is the lesser known beach in Railay. It is quieter compared to the other beaches. The beach is also housing some of the hotels with name like the Dream Valley Resort, the Tonsai Bay Resort, and the Mountain View Resort. Although this is not a place for snorkeling and swimming because of reefs and rocks right in front of the sand making it dangerous at low tide, water activities that can be enjoyed are sea-kayaking and scuba diving. The main activity here is rock climbing at the the tall limestone cliffs surrounding the beach.
The Klong Muang Beach is the latest beach destination in Krabi. It is a tranquil area that has an untouched natural beauty. Although new, there are shopping areas and few places for nightlife like the Paddy's Pub, the Explorer Bar, the Martinis Bar, the Sabai Ba Bar, and the Little Jamaica. A little further north than the Klong Muang Beach is the Tubkaak Beach. It is a very quiet beach that is really peaceful surrounded by jungle backdrops with Koh Hong and neighboring islands in front of the beach. It is a long sandy beach and there is nothing more to see making it a great place to relax. There are only a few hotels like the Tubkaak Boutique Resort. The Haad Yao or 'Long Beach' in Thai is a 7-kilometer long and pristine beach. Haad Yao offers the perfect place to unwind in a serene and tranquil environment making it a perfect place to escape the touristy parts of the province. The main activities that are offered at Haad Yao are mostly centered around the beach: strolling, sunbathing, and a few nautical activities that are available from some of the hotels.
Other attractions in Krabi can be found at the national parks. There is a lot of natural beauty in the province. The Than Bok Khorani National Park is a home to the mangrove forests, the limestone mountains, the caves, and the islands. The Than Bok Khorani is a group of pools with an emerald green water flowing down from a tall cliff. The national park also boasts its famous caves like the Tham Lot Nua and Tham Lot Tai that feature a great number of amazingly shaped stalactites and stalagmites. The Tham Phi Hua To is also known as the Big-headed Ghost Cave because of the unusually large skulls discovered here. It offers prehistoric paintings on the walls. The Tham Phet, or the Diamond Cave, is also found here with stalactite formations that sparkle like diamond when lit by a lamp. Another national park is the Phanom Bencha National Park that boasts its most beautiful waterfall; the Huay Toh Waterfall. It has eleven levels that originates from the Kao Phanom Mountains in Tambon Tap Prik. Another beautiful attraction in Krabi is the Sramorakod, which is also known as the Emerald Pool. It is one of the unseen highlights in Thailand that offers the best beauty of nature.
Aside from the most beautiful natural attractions that Krabi boasts, there are also temples that reflect its cultural and religious heritage. Some of the most visited temples that Krabi is homing are the Wat Tham Sua, the Wat Kaew Korawaram, the Wat Klong Thom, and the Wat Sai Thai.
The Wat Tham Sua is also known as the Tiger Cave Temple. It is one of the country's finest natural wonders. It is a network of natural caves formed within a jungle that is a home to monks that worship and live in this environment. It is the home of the Buddha's Footprint. There are 1,237 steps to reach the historic site, which could take up to an hour. There are two staircases up to the top and the one which is located close to the Chinese fertility goddess statue is slightly easier. At the lower level before the staircases, there is a lower temple that is surrounded by mountains and a rich tropical forest. It is believed that a tiger once made the main cave his home and still has some tiger footprints on the floor of the lower temple. Another scene in this historical site are the monkey occupants in the temple. Tourists must not get too close to these monkeys because they can bite or scratch. Also, remember to dress respectfully and remove any jewelry or any other valuable items which may be taken by the playful monkeys.
The Wat Kaew Korawaram is a large Buddhist temple dating back to 1887. The temple is hosting The Krabi Contemporary Art Museum. The temple's ordination room is housing a large Buddha image, Buddha relics, and wall paintings. The terrace is the place where the Wat Kaew Holy Amulets & Souvenir Shop can be found.
The Wat Klong Thom is a temple museum that features a collection of ancient stones, bronze tools, coins, pottery, decorations and beads that are believed to be more than 500 years old. On the other hand, the Wat Sai Thai has a reclining Buddha under a cliff and some small golden sitting Buddhas.
There are also boat trips to some of the islands nearby. Ko Phi Phi, also known as the Phi Phi Islands, is small archipelago of six islands in Krabi. It is one of the most beautiful island groups in the world that is easily accessed by visitors. Phi Phi Islands is Thailand's largest Marine National Park offering plenty a good number of bars and clubs for a vibrant nightlife. If Phi Phi Islands is too touristy, an escape would be the Ko Lanta Island, which offers diving and long white beaches. Another escape is Ko Hong, which has beaches with fine talcum powder sand.
The popular way to get in the province is by Krabi Town; its main gateway. If planning to arrive by plane, Krabi International Airport caters flights from Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. Destination Air Shuttle, Thailand's only Seaplane service, is also catered from Phuket to Krabi. Other way to get in is through a bus. There's a direct bus service from Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal to Krabi with approximately 10 hours of travel time and 500 baht fare. VIP buses are also available which cost 250 baht more than the regular buses, but offer a more comfortable 10-hour ride. If travelling by train, the nearest train station is the Trang Station.
Since Krabi is mostly coasts and islands, boats are often used to get around. For shorter hops, long-tail boats are the most common type used. There are other recommended boats for a longer trip, renting a boat is advisable. In getting around by land, local songthaew services are available. Most major attractions are conveniently reached by these. However, trips to other destinations may require taking a taxi or renting a car. There are taxis all around Krabi. Some of them usually cost 200 baht for each ride. For a more economical way, renting a car wouldn't hurt.