Despite the rather substantial political upheaval that has recently taken place within the country, Thailand still remains a must visit destination, and for good reason. The southern peninsula is home to world class beaches, dramatic cliff faces that rise from the ocean, and a great atmosphere. Krabi, situated on the west coast, embodies all of this.
Like transport around the rest of Thailand, getting to Krabi is easy. Either take a bus from Bangkok (approximately 10-12 hours) or fly (1 hour) into Krabi Airport from other regional airports. Both transport options will require a connecting local shuttle bus service, but these are cheap and regular.
The town of Krabi itself doesn’t have too much going for it (if you do find yourself there, stay at Pak-Up Hostel and head to the night market) but the wider Krabi region has a whole lot more to offer.
Instead, make your way directly to Aonang, a beachside suburb about thirty minutes from Krabi town. There are plenty of backpacker options, with the grimiest starting from as little as £4. A good bet is Aonang Backpackers, located about twenty minutes’ walk from the beach- they offer dorm rooms from £7, all with very comfortable beds, and a reception that can offer advice and bookings for most activities the area has to offer.
Once you’re checked in, you’ll probably want to take a look at the local beach so either catch a tuktuk or walk the short distance down the main street. The beach is justifiably crowded during the day but head there at dusk and you’ll be treated to a spectacular sunset.
If you’re keen to get away from the mainland you’ve got some options. Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park, aside from being an absolute tongue twister, is a great place to start, incorporating a whole range of stunning tropical islands. You can book a day trip that takes in three or four islands for about £40, with an additional £8 entry fee to access the park. Not the cheapest day out but you’ll walk away with some pretty special memories (and photos).
If this all seems like a bit too much effort, then head straight over to Railay for some serious paradise vibes. A water taxi costs £4 and, although they wait for it to fill up, most hold seven so you won’t be waiting long. If you’re there for the day, the last taxi back to the mainland is at 6pm. Alternatively, why not stay a few days more? The unspoilt beauty of the place will surely draw you in, as will opportunities for snorkelling, canoeing, and rock climbing. Be warned though, the lack of competition over there means prices are steep. Budget accommodation doesn’t really exist so a night starts at about £25 but can be a lot more in the height of the season, and food/drink is also inflated.
If you can drag yourself away from the numerous islands that litter this stunning coastline, there is a whole lot more to discover. Just further round the coast, beautiful beaches make way for majestic cliff faces, with mangrove forests rising out of intricate waterways and tunnels that lead to secret lagoons; the best way to navigate these waters is by canoe. This calming mode of transport is perfect for discovering the hidden secrets the area has to offer, as well as being small enough to fit through some of those secret tunnels. There are plenty of companies to choose from and they all offer pretty much the same half or full day programme, with lunch included. You shouldn’t pay more than £20-£25.
Following this workout, why not keep the momentum going with a walk up to the Tiger Temple – it’s only 1,272 steps to the top. It’s a little tricky to get there (unless you book a tour) but it’s worth it. Arrive early or late to avoid the heat of the day and climb those steps! At the top, you will be treated to a cool breeze, a spectacular view across the whole Krabi region, and of course a Buddhist temple.
I know what you’re thinking – now it’s time to eat. You will not go hungry in Aonang as there are plenty of restaurants open late. However, for those on a budget, or for those simply wanting to try some great food, the night market offers a whole range of incredible local delights. Finish up the evening with a drink in Roots Rock Reggae Bar on the main road – great drinks, great music and great staff. Sorted.
Much more than a stop off to the party islands on the west coast (although very convenient if you’re heading that way), the region of Krabi has a huge amount to offer in its own right. Idyllic islands, mysterious caves, and a great atmosphere, Krabi’s got a lot going for it. So take a look and visit Krabi.
By Matthew Richards