We didn’t actually stay in Krabi Town so I can’t really give you any tips on Krabi itself. We stayed in Ao Nang, Krabi (closer to Nopharat Thara beach) and in all honesty, I’d tell you to skip it all together. But I might be biased, don’t forget I am from Portugal, and the beaches there are pretty spectacular so I have pretty high ‘beach standards’.
In my opinion, the only plausible reason to stay in Ao Nang, is that it provides easy (and quick) boat access to other beaches and islands. But even so, I’d say you’d be better off staying in Khao Lak or Koh Lanta, although you won’t be able to reach all the same islands and beaches as easily. If you do choose to stay here’s my advice.
Health warning – Ao Nang Beach and Nopharat Thara beach
The beaches of Ao Nang and Nopharat Thara have beautiful views of the sunset but that’s pretty much it. The water is a bit dirty and it often smells. In Ao Nang, if you walk right to the end you’ll see (and smell) what looks (and smells) like sewage being dumped in the sea. In Nopharat, if you walk all the way till the end, you’ll see a platform dumping some black gooey stuff onto the sea. Anywhere in Europe I’m 100% sure these beaches would be closed to public for sanitary reasons, or at least there would be a ‘no swimming’ sign on.
It may just have been an unfortunate coincidence, and maybe it’s not always like that, but this is what I saw. So readjust your expectations, because you probably won’t be able to chill at the ‘within walking distance’ beach (defo shouldn’t swim there), unless you don’t mind the smell and filth that is.*
Worry not, you will be able to chill at the gorgeous beaches a short long-tail boat ride away though.
As for Ao Nang and Nopharat, well.. you can always sit at at bar, have a nice cold beer and just enjoy the stunning views of the sunset…
*note: Somehow Ao Nang beach has 4.2 stars on Google reviews and Nopharat Thara has 4.1, so it might just have been our very high standards and acute senses of smell… or maybe most people just don’t think of the beach as ‘for swimming’. But for me a non-swimmable beach is a big ‘no-no’.
WHERE TO GO
Railay beach (Rai Leh) – the famous one
Railay beach is one of the closest beaches to Ao Nang, I think it takes something like 15-20 min on the long-tail boat (ticket costs THB200 return=£4.6).
If you enjoy walking, it’s nice to get off at Railay west beach and walk across to Railay east (all the way to the opposite side) then turn right till you reach the rocks/cliffs, and then right again trough the caves and ‘monkey trail’ until you reach the lovely:
Ao Phra Nang beach – the actual one
(If you don’t fancy the walk you can just come straight here, it’s usually the first stop on the boat ride and same price).
This beach is much nicer than Railay beach, even though it’s a bit crowded (the second time we went there it was too crowded). It’s a beautiful beach, with white sand, massive cliffs and stunning caves, and clear Turquoise water (which turns less and less clear towards the end of the day – too many boats). They also have delicious food being cooked and served off long-tail boats. It’s pretty cool.
If you look past the crowds and the one-too-many-boats, it is a lovely beach and quite a unique experience.
My advice? Go early*, really early, and there won’t be as many people.
*note: the problem with many of these islands/beaches is that they’re included in many of the ‘day pack tours’, so from a certain time of the day you’ll start seeing the ‘tour’ boats with the mobs arriving.
Koh Poda – paradise island
Koh Poda was like something out of the Castaway movie or Lost. It was simply gorgeous. Clear turquoise waters white sandy beach, and once you walk a bit further from the boats drop-off point, there is hardly anybody on the beach! (People are way to lazy, which is great!)
*huge tip: there are no restaurants on the island other than this really small hut with corn and crisps. If you want to make a day out of it (and you totally should) bring loads of food!
Cost: this was a bit expensive because the trip is longer (maybe 40min?) but also you have to pay park fees which are TBH400 per person. In total I think we paid TBH700 return, per person (£16).
Koh Tup and Koh Mor – the small islands
Unfortunately due to financial restraints we couldn’t visit these two little gems, but they looked stunning from Koh Poda. It did look like they’re a bit more crowded, but maybe it’s because we could only see the drop off point.
At low tide you can walk to Koh Kai (Chicken Island), 500m away.
If money is no problem, I’d definitely give it a go.
Cost: same as Koh Poda, TBH700 return, per person (£16).
Phi Phi islands
One of the reasons many people chose Krabi is because of how easy it is to get to Phi Phi from there. There are loads of tours everywhere and you won’t find it difficult finding one. The prices are more or less the same depending on boat and services provided.
What I did find difficult was to find a slightly smaller, more ‘boutique’ sort of tour company that would provide smaller speed boats. I hate feeling like cattle and being pushed along with the mobs. So in the end we didn’t visit Phi Phi (mostly because of budget – again). But also I’d heard it’s so crowded these days you can hardly see the beach. I thought back to our trip to Similan, and together with the lack of budget, chose to spend the money elsewhere.
But everyone says it’s beautiful and, you know, it is ‘The Beach’, so if it’s on your bucket list defo go check it out.
My advice? Well obviously I didn’t go, but from what I saw/heard, I’d say don’t do Phi Phi as a day tour. If you can afford it, go to Phi Phi for a couple of days, actually stay there, and explore the island. I bet it will be much nicer that way.
Pai Plong Beach and monkey trail– closer, inexpensive okish beach
If you’re thin on budget and can’t really afford to go on boat rides all the time, but also don’t want to jeopardize your health (I hear you), there’s a nicer beach (not paradise, but quite nice) not too far. And the walk there is fun and sort of adventurous. You basically walk all the way to the end of Ao Nang beach (left side if you’re facing the sea), past the sewage and then you’ll find a little trail (the Monkey Trail) which will lead you to a more hidden beach on the other side. There’s only one restaurant, part of the hotel resort, so you may want to bring snacks.
Four island tours (and other tours)
Once you’re in Krabi/Ao Nang/Phuket/Koh Lanta, you see loads of tour booths, and loads of leaflets and will have loads of people trying to sell you these organised tours. I’ve done two in Thailand, and even though we enjoyed the snorkelling, I find that with these tours you don’t have much time to discover the little islands or just enjoy the paradise beach, you know?
But it’s a good way of seeing everything, if that’s what you want and are struggling for time.
It may also be that you are not really a ‘lying on the beach’ sort of person and prefer the ‘hop-on hop-off’ sort of tour, in that case these are made for you. (Also if you chose to visit the islands this way, you may not need to stay in Krabi for too long which is, in my view, a plus).
LENGTH OF STAY
Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t stay more than two days in Krabi – one to visit Koh Poda and other one to go to An Phra Nang. Oh actually maybe I’d add a third to visit Koh Tup and Koh Mor just because it looks gorge.
So maximum three days, but obviously it depends on how many islands and beaches you’d like to visit.
(honest advice? skip it all together, there are better less crowded places in Thailand)
WHEN TO GO
The dry season is from November to April, and peak season is December/January. We went for New Year’s which was pretty cool, but made it quite expensive. I suggest going in Feb -March. The weather will still be great and the prices will be much better (we couldn’t afford some of the tours because we spent too much money on accommodation due to it being peak-season). But if money is no issue, still pick Feb-March as there won’t be as many crowds. (Although watch out for Chinese New Year as well, sometimes it falls in February).
WHERE TO EAT
There is a nice food market in Nopharat beach, just after the Holiday Inn hotel. Food is good and not too expensive. It’s not as good as Ddee though. (But then again, nothing is).
There is also a more local food market, the Ao Nang Night market, which is not that crowded or touristy but has some nice and really cheap food.
Other than that there are loads of touristy restaurants, some pretty good I am sure, but you’ll find them on Google reviews and TripAdvisor.
WHERE TO STAY
We stayed at a really nice hotel that had just opened in Nopharat beach. Staff was really friendly and the rooms were good, but the thing with Ao Nang and Nopharat is that it smells. Pretty much everywhere it smells of sewage, which made it all a bit unpleasant. I heard there are some really nice resorts closer to Krabi town and even around that area, maybe there it smells better?
(Here’s £15 off on Booking.com when you use this link to book your stay)