Last updated on May 14th, 2020 at 10:39 am
Krabi is known for its karst mountains and beautiful beaches, sitting on the west coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea. It’s across from Phuket and a great alternative since it’s easier to get around its main attractions. I spent four days in Krabi and wish I had longer! While Krabi is smaller than Phuket, there are still several areas and here is all you need to know:
- 1 Essential information for Krabi
- 2 What to do in Krabi and Krabi Attractions
- 3 Day trips from Krabi
- 4 Ao Nang Restaurants
- 5 Where to stay in Krabi
Essential information for Krabi
The region of Krabi includes three main areas for visitors: Ao Nang, Krabi Town, and Railay. Most people opt to stay at Ao Nang as it is the most convenient and close to the beaches.
Krabi Town is the main town but not much to do there except for the weekend night market.
Railay is not an island but is only accessible by longtail boat, 150 baht one way from Krabi Town to Railay east and 100 baht one way from Ao Nang to Railay West; but it is the most scenic.
Getting to Krabi
Krabi has its own international airport that services mostly domestic flights from Bangkok and Chiang Mai, but also from Qatar and other international destinations.
It’s also easy to reach from nearby cities such as Phuket, Khao Sok, and Phang Nga.
Getting around Krabi
For the most part, it’s best to either stick to the beaches, join a day tour, or rent a motorbike to get around Krabi, but there are, of course, options.
Local Bus in Krabi
There is a local bus that operates between 6:30 to 18:30 to various top attractions and even the airport. It’s supposed to run every ten minutes until 18:00 but I had personally never taken it. Here is the bus stop that I saw:
Tuk Tuk in Krabi
The tuk tuk in Krabi is not the same as the ones elsewhere in Thailand. Insead of having a seat at the back, these are sidecars! The prices are more expensive, usually starting at 100 baht even for a short journey and it’s up to your negotiation skills.
It might be easier to get a private car for the day if you are a group of friends who want to visit nearby on-land attractions.
Longtail boat in Krabi
The main mode of transportation to various beaches and islands is the longtail boat. Prices are standardised and tickets can be purchased at the counter at the end of the main street to the left by the beach.
Tickets start at 100 baht per trip to Railay and you can also rent a whole boat for the day to head further afield with friends.
There are shared transfer options in some hostels or tour agencies to some harder to get to attractions. It’s more suited to solo travellers and those who don’t want to join a tour. I stayed at Sleeper Hostel and saw they have shared transfer to the Tiger Temple and the Dragon Crest Mountain.
What to do in Krabi and Krabi Attractions
Out of all the places I’ve visited on the trip, Krabi has one of the most varied activities from beaches to mountains. I’d spend 1 day at the hotel and then the beach, and another full day in Railay.
I’ll be covering the day trips further down, but here are some attractions:
Ao Nang Beach
The main beach in Ao Nang, it’s a busy place with many longtail boats shuffling people back and forth to Railay. The beach is fairly long and easy to find at the end of the main street. It is often fairly crowded, too.
The prettiest beach in my opinion, Railay Beach is one cove south of Ao Nang but only accessible via longtail boat. With towering karst cliffs on both sides, it paints a dramatic scene with white sandy beaches and bobbing longtail boats.
The beach almost disappears during high tide, but during sunset it extends down with little crowd as people either head back to Ao Nang or to their hotel.
Do note that when Railay Beach is mentioned, it’s almost always referred to as the Railay West Beach. The eastern beach is less pretty with a floating pier that service boats from Krabi Town. It’s also popular for rock climbing in its southern cliffside.
Rock climbing in Railay
One of the most popular activities in Railay, rock climbing for both beginners and the experienced is possible in Railay. I did a last minute half day beginner package with Shadowrock Climb and ended up exactly where I saw the rock climbers in Railay East. You can either do it in the morning or afternoon, as during high tide, usually around midday, the water goes right up to the cliff so it’s impossible to not get your feet wet.
You are likely to be able to get 3-5 climbs in, depending on your arm strength and energy levels. I did, at one point, ask myself why am I putting myself through this as I froze several meters off the ground looking like a stuck bat. But it’s not like bouldering since there’s a spotter (not sure of the official term) below so if you did slip up, they got your back. Getting down is also easy since you basically rapple back.
The day-long excursion for the experienced also go to some pretty beautiful places or you can just rent equipment with friends and find somewhere to climb.
A half day tour booked in Ao Nang or Railay costs around 900-1000 baht, similar to online prices.
Phra Nang Cave Beach
The southernmost beach of the three, the beach is accessible by foot from Railay and best go during low tide in early morning or evening. That’s because during the day it’s popular for day trips to visit and you have to walk in water if you visit during high tide. It’s also nicknamed Penis Beach as there are two shrines with penis sculptures of various sizes in the caves.
A little way from Railay East near where rock climbers are is peraculous path that leads up to the best viewpoint in the area: Railay Viewpoint. It does look harder than it is with many successful climbers navigating up in flip flops.
That said, it’s definitely not a good idea to go there after there has been some rain and it is still by no means a challenge. But ropes are installed along the way to aid your ascent and descent. The red mud along this trail also stains, so be sure to wear your least favourite clothings and shoes.
The viewpoint only takes about 20 minutes to reach and gives you a panorama of both Railay East and West, as well as the cliffs beyond. It’s not a very big space, so take your photos and move along for the next batch of hikers.
The trail extends from Railay Viewpoint to the Princess Lagoon, but the trail is way harder with some steep descent. If the trek up to the viewpoint is already difficult for you, I don’t recommend continuing on as it’s basically a one way route in and out with plenty of people.
The lagoon, though pretty, is nothing special. The rocks on the shore are also very pointy so best to have wet shoes and not go barefoot.
About an hour northwest of Ao Nang (and further from Krabi Town) is the Ao Thalane area with mangrove forest and limestone gorges. Most people explore on sea kayak, but I went here on an electric longtail boat, an exclusive excursion by Anana Ecological Resort. It’s much less crowded compared to the other places mentioned and serene.
The area used to be home to many factories but most were destroyed in the 2004 boxing day tsunami and only a few families remained in the area.
Dragon Crest Mountain
A popular hiking trail, the Dragon Crest Mountain is also northwest of Ao Nang but south of Ao Thalane. It offers a splendid view of the jungle with various viewpoints. The average time it takes to hike the entire trail is between 3-5 hours, but be sure to get there early to avoid hiking in the hottest time of the day.
There is no public transport option over, so people either hire a songthaew or taxi together or rent a motorbike. My hostel offers 350 baht drop off and pick up at set time, but unfortunately I didn’t have time to hike this.
Opening times: 8:00 – 15:00
Day trips from Krabi
4 island hop
One of the most popular day trips from Krabi is the 4 islands hop to see:
- Tup Island
- Chicken Island (Koh Gai)
- Poda Island
- Phra Nang Cave Beach
If there is enough of you and you want to have your own schedule, you can rent your own longtail boat by Ao Nang Beach. But if you are solo or want to be on a speedboat with snorkeling gears provided, a day trip is the best option.
I booked this trip leaving from a private pier on a speedboat by Klook and it was good value for money. Especially since it includes lunch. That said, being on a day trip means you will be among the tens of other trips also taking place, but it’s inevitable!
For the speed boat tour, the pickup time is between 8:00 – 8:45. I was finally picked up around 8:30 am and was the first to be picked up. The whole songthaew of us then reached the private pier by the tour operator before 9. We then checked in with the staff and the space has a buffet spread and bathroom. Eventually, we set off at 9:20 on a speed boat. There was enough space for everyone and it was comfortable – and our guide was nice and funny.
First stop is Tup Island with a sand bank linking it to another island and beautiful water. We had just under an hour there to take photos and swim. Then we go past the Chicken Island to a snorkeling spot.
I’m particularly impressed with our individually wrapped snorkel mouthpiece, especially since I was there during the early times of coronavirus. It was a decent snorkeling spot, but the water is a little murky.
Third stop is Poda Island where we had a buffet lunch of curry, rice, and fruit, and free time to tan and swim.
Final stop is Phra Nang Cave Beach, which is a little too busy for my liking. The return to the private pier and transfer back was seamless and overall I would highly recommend it.
Note: Remember the extra 400 baht national park fee, which you can also pay on Klook for convenience. And no drone is allowed in the national park
Another day trip option is Hong Island, which is further from Ao Nang but has better water and more suited for those who want to snorkel.
Phi Phi Island
You can also do a Koh Phi Phi islands day trip from Ao Nang and Krabi, but since I was going there I didn’t do one.
Tiger Cave Temple
Sat atop a mountain northeast of Krabi Town, the Tiger Cave Temple is named after the tiger prints in the cave, though some say that a tiger actually lived there. Visitors must climb a long flight of stairs to reach the top where a huge Buddha statue and the tiger cave awaits. People usually combine a visit here with the Emerald Pool.
As you can gleam from the name, the pools in the forest southeast of Krabi are known for its emerald colours. It’s a hot spring as well and there is another blue pool further up a short walk away.
James Bond Island
The lone hanging limestone island in Phang Nga Bay is made famous by the James Bond movie and a great day trip option as well. It is a little further than the others but the distance from here is closer than from Phuket.
Ao Nang Restaurants
While I hadn’t exactly spend that much time in Ao Nang, here are the ones that I did like:
Tan Hostel & Cafe
They offer some weather style brunch, juices, and coffee. Prices are a bit expensive in Thai standard but it’s good quality and taste. The waiting time for the food is long but there’s free water and WiFi.
Address: 249/3 ม.2 อ่าวนาง เมือง Krabi 81180, Thailand
Opening times: 7:30 – 18:30
D&E’s Jungle Kitchen
As a general rule, the further away from the beach you go, the better value for money the food becomes. D&E’s Jungle Kitchen is one of the best places to find good thai food for cheap and I wasn’t disappointed. I had a thai style stir fry with rice for about 120 baht.
Address: 33 อ่าวนาง เมือง Krabi 81110, Thailand
Opening times: Mon – Sat 11:00 – 14:00, 17:00 – 22:00
Where to stay in Krabi
Depending on how long you have in Krabi and whether you are just visiting as well, Ao Nang is arguably the most convenient choice. You can visit both Krabi Town and Railay easily and most tourist amenities cluster around here.
However, if you are looking to be by a beautiful beach then Railay is the better choice. Bear in mind that the longtail boat ride over requires walking into the ocean and you often get splashed during the 15-20 minutes ride.
Best place to stay in Ao Nang
Budget: if you like aesthetic hostels with great common areas, TAN Hostel x Cafe is perfect. If you like a less crowded dorm and don’t mind walking further from the beach, a friend I met highly recommend @Ao Nang Guesthouse
Note: I stayed at Sleeper Hostel which I didn’t enjoy, however, they have a great range of activities and transfer options if you are looking for those.
Splurge: Anana Ecological Resort is my top choice not only because it’s beautiful and comfortable, but also because it is a sustainable resort. But if you are looking for something even fancier and secluded, try Aonang Fiore Resort
Best place to stay in Railay
Budget: Railay Garden View Resort is a rustic place with a sweeping view and basic amenities, but you do get to stay in a hut in the forest near the monkeys. Note that there is no hot water or air con.
Midrange: Railay Princess Resort & Spa is close to both Railay East and West with many facilities in resort and nearby. Rooms can be a bit dated so check your booking and request.
Splurge: Railay Village Resort is perfect for those looking for a spa room or even private pool villa and faces Railay West.