The Krabi Rundown
When you distill Thailand down to a shortlist of desirable destinations, it becomes abundantly clear that Krabi Province is a tidy compliment and counterweight to both Bangkok and Chiang Mai. The assertion is somewhat crude but, beyond a shadow of a doubt, a week in all three provides a fabulous overview of the country for travellers under severe holiday time constraints.
There are more than a few places in Krabi that elicit hazy, fantastical daydreams of a life free from such modern concerns and limitations. Lush marine parks, clandestine coves, island villages and tropical coasts iridescent with fiery, blood-red sunsets all induce similar questions. Questions like, “Why do I have to go home?” and “How can I live here forever?”. All legitimate, perfectly coherent thoughts in a place like Krabi, where astonishing, achingly picturesque scenery is never far away.
Alas, the province’s singular allure is not under the mainstream radar. As paradisal as Krabi and the Andaman Coast can be, from the Phi Phi Islands to Railay, Than Bokkharani National Park to Khao Phanom Bencha National Park, a flurry of new commercial developments alter the provincial landscape every year. As such, every tourist who decides to visit and mark this pristine part of Southeast Asia with her proverbial footprint has to make a choice and weigh the usual pros and cons. Whatever the case - upscale beach hotel, budget hut, covert island resort - Krabi’s spectacular wow factor is impossible to ignore.
Krabi’s Top 10
10. Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park is under intense pressure from mass tourism but still unfurls some pristine fragments of natural beauty. The park extends from Nopparat Thara Beach on the mainland to the Phi Phi Islands.
5. Khao Phanom Bencha National Park is one of the last bastions of pure, virgin rainforest in Thailand. Trails meander past dramatic waterfalls and, deep within the trees, lurk clouded leopards and black panthers.
9. Ao Lo Da Lam is a beautiful, curvy beach on Ko Phi Phi Don.
4. Shell Cemetery is worth the trek to the edge of Ao Nam Mao. The gastropod graveyard looks like a sci-fi wasteland.
8. Wat Tham Seua, Thailand’s incomparable Tiger Cave Temple, is a marvel. Monastic abodes are carved into cliff walls and a rather arduous climb to the top of a karst crest yields memorable rewards.
3. Ko Lanta Marine National Park covers 134 km<sup>2</sup> of southern Krabi Province and some of the most beautiful coastal scenery in the country.
7. Hammock House takes an ostensibly banal item, hammocks, and transforms them into works of art.
2. Than Bokkharani National Park spans an extraordinary landscape of islands, limestone caves and mangroves in Ao Leuk. For a special thrill, come after the monsoon rains and, preferably, not on a weekend.
6. Tham Phra Nang, Railay’s Diamond Cave, is no diamond in the rough. The intricacy and brilliance of the limestone formations inside is remarkable.
1. Sa Phra Nang is a lagoon oasis of singular beauty in Railay.
- Su San Hoi – Those interested in the history of Krabi must visit this important geological site.
- Tham Chao Le –The early history of Krabi can be seen in these ancient cave paintings.
- Wat Tham Sua – Many historically significant Krabi artifacts were found here, including Buddha’s footprint.
- Koh Pan Yi – This floating Muslim village offers a view of the past and wonderful food.
- Lanta Old Town – A small village near Krabi once an important harbour for Chinese and Arabic shipping vessels.
Krabi Art & Culture
- Chak Phra Festival – In October, Krabi features elaborate images of Buddha.
- Krabi Boek Fa Andaman Festival – Held in November, this Krabi festival starts off the tourist season with water sports and cultural displays.
- Laanta Lanta Festival – In March, this festival is held in the Lanta Old Town in Krabi.
- Krabi Ao Nang Art Gallery— This gallery features work from all over the Asia-Pacific region.
- Wat Klong Thom Museum – Features artefacts from Krabi and the surrounding regions.
- Ao Nang – This Krabi shopping centre is best enjoyed after the sun has started to set to avoid the heat.
- Klong Muang Plaza – Located in Krabi, this plaza has some interesting and unique mom-and-pop stores.
- Nopparat Thana – Mostly for tourists, this area of Krabi offers a decent place to buy beachwear.
- Tonsai Village – An eastern bazaar selling jewellery and exotic clothing.
- Railay Beach – A peaceful shopping experience in Krabi that is free of cars.
Gay & Lesbian Krabi
- Le Passe-Temps – A hotel in Krabi that specializes in romantic getaways for gay and lesbian couples.
- Coco Nori – This bar is the perfect place for gays and lesbians to enjoy their holidays in Krabi.
- Gay Pride Festival – Held annually, this Krabi festival coincides with a larger one in Bangkok.
- Ao Nang Pearl – A guesthouse in Krabi that is a favorite destination for gay and lesbian travellers.
- Green Lemon House – This gay-owned restaurant in Krabi is open to all types of clientele.
- Tham Khonkhao – A popular and beautiful cave for those wishing to see bats in Krabi.
- Mu Ko Lanta National Park – This is known as one of the best diving spots in all of Krabi.
- Than Bok Khorani National Park – A great place in Krabi to take a jungle trek.
- Koh Phi Phi – Phi Phi boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
- Khao Phanom Bencha National Park – Known for its many waterfalls, this is one of many national parks found in Krabi.
- Climb Krabi's beautiful cliffs at Tham Phranang Beach.
- Go rock climbing at Railay Beach is the best in Krabi.
- Play a round of golf at Krabi's Pakasai Country Club.
- Kayak the mangrove channels of Ao Tha Lane while in Krabi.
- Swim with the monkeys at Krabi's Ao Luk.
It is all too facile to lump all of Krabi in one homogeneous box. The truth of the matter is that the province, while nowhere close to the top in area and population terms in Thailand, has a lot of furtive corners and pockets to explore. Krabi covers over 4,700 km<sup>2</sup>, with 8 districts and well over 300 villages.
Krabi is the eponymous provincial capital and popular gateway to the rest of the Andaman Coast. As a national park platform, the town of 30,000 people is a superb stop.
Ao Nang is Krabi’s version of a package holiday beach resort. Alas, the beach itself is no prize but a built-up, mainstream tourism infrastructure means visitors can afford live out the Krabi dream for a week or two. Ao Nang also serves as a good base from which to explore more far-flung, remote islands.
Ko Pu or Jum, for now, offers the priceless promise of some peace and quiet. Almost completely empty from May to November, the island is no-frills and totally built for tropical relaxation.
Ko Si Boya is very much the same as Ko Pu. There is little else to do on this small island than chill out, swim and get a sunburn.
Ko Lanta Yai has gone from backpacker central to mainstream holiday hub over the last two decades. The most popular escape from Krabi town is still a reliable bet, however, and a good compromise between the mainland and Phi Phi Islands. The island measures roughly 180 km<sup>2</sup> and has become virtually synonymous with Ko Lanta District as a whole.
Ko Phi Phi Don was the ultimate Andaman gem before the 2004 tsunami and is finally on the mend. The significant damage wrought by the disaster has yielded some curious results; namely staunch efforts to maintain the beauty of the bellwether Phi Phi island and not let it fall into the hands of over-zealous developers and negligent tourists. Time will tell if this holds but, for the time being, Ko Phi Phi Don’s relative priceyness is a good control on careless exploitation.
Railay could well be the most tropically bucolic spot in all of Thailand. A line of inhospitable cliffs protects this narrow strip of land from the rest of the world and shelters aquamarine waters, golden sand and abstract rock formations.
Krabi Eat & Drink
Krabi Night Markets (Khong Kha and Sukhon) teem with all the requisite flavour bombs on the Thai culinary landscape.
Oasis Sunset (Klong Nin Beach, Ko Lanta) is a terrific beach bar and restaurant that hits all the sweet spots food-wise.
Neng’s (590 Moo 2 Saladan, Ko Lanta) is frequently cited as the best restaurant in Ko Lanta. Unfussy, expertly-made fish and seafood.
Tanta (Ao Nang) is just the place to sate a pizza urge. The restaurant also serves popular Thai and Western staples.
Gajanana’s (197/6 Khlong Muang, Nongtalay, Muang, Krabi Town) menu covers Thai, Indian, Chinese and Nepalese dishes, all prepared with skill and fresh ingredients.
Kiran Kitchen (Ao Nang) could well be the best Indian restaurant on the Andaman Coast.
Del Rocks Restaurant & Bar (Ao Nang) is a solid lunch and dinner bet with straightforward Thai and Western fare.
Papaya (Ko Phi Phi Don) is a convivial hole in the wall with consistently superior Thai cuisine.
Le Grand Blue (Ko Phi Phi Don) proves that yes, you can procure better-than-decent French food in southern Thailand.
Jasmine (Ko Phi Phi Don) has rustic charm and serves excellent Thai classics and cocktails.
Krabi has a quiet events calendar, with a few Buddhist, provincial and tourist festivals of note.
Sat Duean Sip Festival (or Festival of the Tenth Lunar Month) is a time for filial rememberance, ancestor worship and Buddhist temple visits.
Chak Phra Festival involves lengthy processions of Buddha images and some truly colourful pageantry every October.
Loi Ruea Chao Le is a traditional Moken, or sea gypsy, full moon ceremony held in Ko Lanta in the sixth and eleventh lunar calendar month.
Krabi Boek Fa Andaman Festival kicks off the busy tourism season in November with a lineup of watersports events, cultural performances, food stalls and markets.
Laanta Lanta Festival is a vibrant, century-old folk festival held every March in Ko Lonta.
When To Go
Krabi Province has a tropical climate with even temperatures and two seasons: a hot season from January to April and the wet season from May to December. Temperatures range from 77°F to 90°F (25°C to 32°C ) for the year, on average, with annual rainfall well over 2500 mm.
Without question, the dry, hot season is the time to visit Krabi and, indeed, Thailand in general. Yet for all the precipitation between May and December, rain typically falls in short, heavy, predictable bursts.
Violent tropical systems and tsunamis, of course, can flare up on the Andaman Sea coast. The worst storms in Krabi elicit mudslides, severe property damage and do, on occasion, take lives. With bad weather possible anytime of year, it pays to keep tabs on the forecast.
What To Miss
Basic services and transport. Beach-side shops and restaurants. Tour operators. From time to time, all can and do take advantage of vulnerable and naïve strangers to Krabi Province. The phenomenon is not particular to the south of Thailand, of course, but a repercussion of mass tourism to a previously pristine part of the tropics where the economic disparity between new visitors and locals is grave.
The usual tried-and-true travel advice, then, applies. Keep your wits without presumptive cynicism or resentment and source out reliable word-of-mouth references. The vast majority of shop owners, boat operators, tuk-tuk drivers and others connected to the Krabi tourism economy are honest and industrious people. Trust your instincts and look to friendly locals and fellow travellers to point the way.
Krabi, the capital of Krabi Province, is a dominant point of entry for tourists to the Andaman Coast of Thailand. Krabi Airport, a modest hub, is less than 10 km from town and provides service to Bangkok, Koh Samui, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Goa, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Oslo, Stockholm, Gothenburg and Warsaw. The airport handles about 400,000 passenger arrivals and departures every year.
Coach bus service is abundant from Bangkok to Krabi and a popular option. The 10 hour ride is less stressful from the comfort of first or VIP class. A flotilla of long-tail boats ferry visitors to Ko Lanta, Ko Phi Phi and Railay from Chilat and Kha piers in Krabi town throughout the dry season. In the off-season the departure schedule is sporadic and minivans is the sole transport method available for Ko Lanta.
Krabi town is small and easy to explore on foot. For the weary and short on time, tuk-tuks, taxis and minivans, in addition to car and motorcycle rentals, abound. On the islands, transport options range from 4WD and scooter rentals to long-boat and speedboat charters. Suffice to say that the more remote the Krabi Province destination, the fewer transport alternatives exist at your disposal. If you do find yourself on a road-less island, you’re probably in the right place.
Thailand's phenomenal ascent in the sphere of tourism began with rest and relaxation stops by U.S. soldiers at the height of the Vietnam War. Word of a pristine, wild and exotic coast spread like napalm and over time, development to accommodate mass tourism began. From a dribble of foreign visitors four decades ago, Thailand now welcomes just under 15 million international tourists a year. Many pass through the west coast town of Krabi, in the south of Thailand.
Popular has a catalyst to Ko Phi Phi, Phuket, Ao Nang and other spots up and down the coast, there is archaeological evidence to suggest that the capital of Krabi Province was the first place of human settlement in Thailand. A glance at the spectacular landscape that encircles Krabi is enough to convince most. Caves, wildlife reservations and national parks are just some of the gems in store for visitors, with great beaches never more than a short drive away.
Attractions & Activities
- Tiger Cave Temple
- Tup Island
- Bang Kram Wildlife Sanctuary
- Khao Phanom Bencha National Park
- Wat Khlong Thorn Museum
- Krabi Boek Fa Andaman Festival
- Loi Ruea Chao Le Festival
- Ao Nang Beach
- Hat Noppharat Beach
- Phra Nang Beach
Restaurants & Nightlife
- Bai Toey
- Sala Bua
- Cafe Europa
- Mixer Pub
- The Irish Rover
- Last Bar
With a tropical climate, Krabi has two seasons: dry and wet. The average temperature holds steady between 25°C and 30°C the entire year, with highs near 40°C. While monsoon season is generally between May and October, heavy rains can hit anytime.
Krabi - General information
Krabi official guide
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