So you're visiting Krabi... MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHERE YOU'RE HEADED! Krabi Town - Ao Nang - Railay Beach... This massive region of Southern Thailand generally get's described as Krabi (correctly) but most tourists fail to recognize that Krabi actually describes the name of the region, not a small tourist town. If you are looking for the beach resort town, you're looking for Ao Nang. Book a place in Krabi Town and you'll be a 30minute drive away from the beach you packed to strategically for!
Ah Ao Nang. The draw here is the diversity of the region. Before your heart is too set on strolling along a deserted beach as the waves quietly crash ashore, maybe look elsewhere to Koh Lanta or Bali. Ao Nang is a great place to get the best bang-for-your-buck 7-10 day holiday vacation here in Thailand. With elephants, long boat day trips and waterfalls all within reach you're sure to book the vacation of your dreams.
Quick opinion first though...
After months of travel, lifeless Ao Nang disapointed with garbage piles lining the divider between the beach and the sidewalk. That gave genesis to a heavy, hot garbage smell wafting down towards the beach itself. The problem could be fixed with regular garbage cans and trash collection up and down the beach.
Locals in Ao Nang just seemed tired of “dealing” with tourists, rather than being glad to see you. Everywhere else we went in Thailand, we would show up with enthusiasm on our faces and our hosts would return that emotion. In Ao Nang, they welcome you with a disinterested glance up from Candy Crush.
Shortcomings aside, it doesn’t change the fact that the town has a great beachfront and can serve as a hopping off spot to better destinations and some of the best activities within Thailand.
4 Island Tour by Longboat
Phra Nang Cave near Railay beach, Koh Gai (Chicken Head Island), Koh Tup Island, Koh Mawr, and Koh Poda
Price: 570 Baht (370 Baht with booking agent and 200 Baht for Park fees)
For less than $20 you can have a decent time being part of the masses on this tour. Get ready to say “bah” as you quickly herded from one stop to the next. Not the best tour but you can’t argue with the price.
Ao Nang Beach
Great beach overall and extremely walkable from almost anywhere in town. We preferred sticking to the far south side of the beach where it widens out abit and has some more shade from the nearby trees. Water is a bit dingy from all of the boat traffic and gets somewhat gross during low tide.
Nopparat Thara Beach
Further north in Ao Nang, this beach somehow has been cursed with more jellyfish (at least the entire month we were in town). The jellies don’t hurt, but they do cause a bit of itching. Think of them as sea mosquitos. Sounds a bit annoying, right? Thats why when we go to Nopparat Thara Beach, we’d always head far north. There is an island connected by sandbar to the mainland where the water is clear and jellyfish free. Refer to google maps and the island is just NW of Ko Khao.
Elephant Rides and Wash a Baby Elephant!
Price: 600 Baht If you arrange your own transportation for 1 hr. river ride and baby wash.
900 Baht if you want transport from your hotel.
Easily the best experience we had in Thailand! Ride adult elephants and wash a baby elephant at a reputable business that treats all the animals humanely. We did the Half Day Tour (Program C) which was a 1 hour adult elephant ride and 30 minutes of BABY ELEPHANT BATHING TIME.
Huay Toh Waterfall
Price: 100 baht entrance/20 Baht Scooter parking
A great activity to do immediately after your elephant experience. Less than 3 minutes away on scooter and then a 10 minute hike after you’ve parked. Epic waterfalls with natural pools that are begging for your epic Instagram picture.
Price: Taxi 500 Baht
Price: Bus 150 Baht
Ao Nang is just a ~40 minute car ride away from Krabi Airport. Traffic can increase this by 10-15 minutes.
Price: 150 Baht/Day
You can pay up to 200 baht a day(or more) if you want, but if you go in swinging for 150 you’ll get it. There is a motorbike rental place every ten feet. Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. Every 50 baht you save is like some kind stranger handing you a free beer at the end of each day.
This is the kind of town where they take your passport for the duration of the rental, so don’t try to fight it. I rented from 5 different places in town and they all required my passport. Make sure to take pictures of the condition of the scooter when you first get it!
Price: 100-200 Baht
About 100 baht from Nopparat Thara beach pier to the heart of town. Always finalize price before getting into any tuktuk, as you always would.
Island Ferry Transfer
Price: 350 Baht
Don’t play yourself if you’re heading to Lanta or PhiPhi. You can book safe passage for less than 500 baht to either of these islands.
With tears in my eyes from the spicy heat, I turned my back on my lifelong love of pad thai and found a new love in the simple chicken curry with rice from Boat Noodle. Perfectly fair prices and food that is as good as people rave on Tripadvisor.
Their simple chicken curry with rice (60 Baht) was probably the best thing I ate the entire time I was in Thailand. If you’re looking for something delicious that is also InstaGold, get the pineapple fried rice. It tastes even better than it looks (not pictured).
Not a restaurant, but just had to include this convenience store. In a sea of Family Marts and 7-11’s, this mom and pop shop gives tourists the Thai Price. Lower prices on what you need compared to the other shops in town and the owners were incredibly friendly. Stock up on snacks, beers, etc here.
We love Indian food but for some reason every single Indian restaurant in Ao Nang was drastically overpriced. They charged too much for simple Thai food as well. We ate at two different indian restaurants after negotiating a 25% discount on anything ordered and neither of the top two from Tripadvisor offered anything above “meh”.
Indian restaurants get an extra point deducted because of the aggressive reps on the street trying to drag you into their restaurant.
Overall, we were really surprised by how expensive Ao Nang was. Agoda was our goto as they had the most listings of anywhere for Ao Nang. Keep in mind that the prices below represent high season during the middle of Chinese New Year. If you’re visiting at a slower time or off season, you should swing better pricing.
$30/Night Double, $43/Night Triple
Friendly staff and “OMG-the best massages ever” as per Finney at the Number 1 Massage Spa. Con- 5:30AM wake up call for prayer from nearby Mosque. Click here to view hotel
Best for couples who are looking for the cheapest place to stay. Outside the town a bit, you'll need a scooter but THE BEST BREAKFAST we had in Thailand and arguably all of SE Asia. (Breakfast was included in the cheap rate!) Click here to view hotel.
$24/Night Double Bed
Getting a bit far from the beach here, but very clean rooms and close to several shops, restaurants and street food. Con- 5:30AM wake up call for prayer from nearby Mosque. Click here to view hotel.
$24/Night Double Bed
Right across from Nopparat Thara beach. Rooms might be 50 years old. Not romantic for a honeymoon, but great for budget stay. If you’re not picky about rooms this place is a great bet and they have amazing permanent street food restaurant up front and you can hardly get closer to the beach. Click here to view the hotel.
$70/Night Triple Room
If you absolutely have to get out of downtown Ao Nang, you can head out to the country. Very nice rooms and pool, but you’ll need a scooter or you’ll feel like you're stuck on Mars. Makes a good jumping off point between beach, Krabi town, and inland with the waterfalls, hot pools, elephants, etc. Click here to view the hotel.
$45/Night Double Room
Brand spanking new as of Jan 2016 and a 5 minute walk from Nopparat Thara beach. Weird pool that is in the shade most of the day, but super clean rooms with little balconies. Housekeeping leaves a lot of free treats for you each day (i.e. ramen noodles, oreos, Fantas)! If you see a good deal on breakfast during booking grab it - They want close to $10USD/day on site...cray cray. Click here to view the hotel.
Longer Trips: Koh Lanta & Koh Phi phi
Due to their more remote locations its not always feasible to travel too far away from an international airport. BUT if you have the time, definitely catch a ferry down to the much more chill backpacker vibe of Koh Lanta or grab you buddies and head out to Koh Phi Phi for Captain Bob's Booze Cruise. Check out the videos below for more info on the two nearby islands.