Since I started working as an Entertainment Manager at Pak Up Hostel in Krabi town, I meet so many backpackers and travelers that just pass through this province and Krabi is just a stop-over for their next destination. When I ask them if they plan on staying in Krabi to explore, the common answer is no. I’ve been living here for nearly a year now and it saddens me that Krabi is sometimes overlooked. More often than not, they don’t really know what to do here. This inspired me to write this article and put together my top 10 things to do in my Thai hometown (in particular order – they’re all my faves!)
#1 Ao Nang
Many people I meet at the hostel in Krabi town has never heard of the place ‘Ao Nang’ until I mention it to them. It’s a town located 30 minutes away from the main town and is home to the beaches you Google when you type in ‘Krabi’. I currently live in Ao Nang and it is admittingly extremely touristy. Well, of course it is! We have some of the best beaches in the whole of Thailand and with easy access to the islands, a reduced language barrier and western food, this place is a paradise dream. HOSTEL: Pop In Hostel or Balcony Party Hostel. FOOD: Cafe 8.98, Lion & Shark and Tandoori Nights for some amazing Indian food!
#2 Railay Beach
Offically the most popular beach in the south of Thailand. Famous for it’s crystal clear blue waters and velvet sand. I remember the first time I went to Railay, I felt like Leo in the movie ‘The Beach’. I felt like I had found my ultimate paradise. From Ao Nang, you can easily get a long tail boat at any time that’ll drop you there in 10 minutes for a price of 100 baht (£2.50) one way. You can kayak, explore caves, play with monkeys and even visit the sacred Phra-nang Princess Cave which houses hundreds of hand-made wooden penises. It is said that the gods of Fertility reside in this cave and believers go to them to pray and request for things related to fertility and sexual organs (I’ll just leave that there for your imagination) and when they’re prayers have been answered, they give a gift back to the gods in the form of a carved willy. There you go. Little history lesson right there.
The island of Tonsai is located right before Railay and is also often often overlooked by the typical backpacker heading to Railay. Tonsai is well known for its rock climbing and its jungle reggae vibe. By day, you can watch expert climbers scour the rock formations or give it the sport a go yourself! By night, the jungle turns into Bob Marley heaven with reggae music pouring out of bamboo huts decorated with dream catchers, signs, beads and anything else they can find to give the island a quirky, hippy vibe. The best spots: Sunset Pirate Bar & Mama’s Chicken for the best drinks, scran and hella good time! Trust me, this island is unique and will not disappoint.
#4 Tiger Cave Temple
This beauty is currently #1 on TripAdvisor and is FREE OF CHARGE!! We backpackers love the word ‘free’. You just need to get there. It’s about 10minutes from Krabi town and easy to get to by bike or taxi if you’re not feeling brave enough. It’s a sacred place so dress appropriately. And smartly because you need to climb 1,237 steps to get to the giant Buddha at the top! You’re rewarded with amazing views of Krabi and sunset time is especially beautiful. On one occasion, I wandered off into the wilderness right by the temple and found monk huts in the forest and got a glimpse into their world and how they live which makes you question the standard of your basic needs and luxuries we have living in the western world, but that’s another article altogether!
#5 Tab Kaak Naga Nature Trail
Who loves hiking? I DO!! One thing Krabi lacks are mountains and hikes so when I first heard about this place, I brushed the dust off my hiking boots and was at the top the next morning. The hike itself is great as you find yourself climbing a wall of tree roots and ducking and climbing tree vines and the views are breathtaking. It takes 1-2 hours to get to the top and is located 30 minutes from the Ao Nang area. Me and a few friends thought it would be a great idea to hike up for sunset. It was only when the sun went down that we realised how useful torches would’ve been. We had no food, no light, no phone reception and no idea how to get down. Thankfully, we found our way down and landed on solid ground around 11pm! TIP: Take torches if you go for sunset!
#6 Krabi Emerald Pool
The Emerald Pool is located in a town called Khlong Thom and is the furthest attractions from the town itself (approz. 1 hour) but funnily, the first attractions I went to as I started my Thai life living there as a teacher before I moved an hour away to Krabi town. It’s set in the middle of the jungle which means a small walk/hike but makes it that much better when it opens up and you find yourself in natural emerald springs in the middle of the jungle. Just saying.
#7 Khong Muang
I only discovered this beach 3 months ago and kicked myself for not exploring sooner. There’s Railay and then there’s Khlong Muang. It’s not touristy at all and only has 3 resorts on the beachfront so it’s very quiet. The water is ridiculously clear and the sand feels like fine-grained flour. I call this place my haven until I got stung by a jellyfish and now it’s become the place I got whipped by a floating lump of goo.
#8 Island Tours
Choosing an island tour package in Krabi is like choosing one flavour of ice cream at Coldstone Creamery. Impossible. It’s been proven that too much choice can leave you feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and even unhappy. So i’ll make it simple. There are four main islands in Krabi that are overwhelmingly beautiful. 3 of them are part of a lot of packages and they are: Poda Island, Paradise Island and Tup Island. The other one is a package by its own right – Hong Islands, which also holds National Park status which means a fee of 300baht (about £6-7).
#9 Koh Phi Phi
I’m going to let the pictures talk for themselves on this one. This island is hands down my favourite and only an hour and half boat ride from Krabi town. I can’t talk this island up enough and send everyone I meet here with a list of the best food places, hostels and hangout bars. If you’re looking for a true island getaway full of parties, good food and happy people – Phi Phi is your place. A true island where there are no motorbikes, no roads and incredible beaches. Also, you can visit the surrounding islands with a boat trip or a booze cruise. The common route is Monkey Beach where you feed them and they have no qualms about perching on your shoulder or head to munch on their snacks; Viking Cave which holds the rarest birds in the world and rangers that will shoot you dead if you dare trespass into the cave; Phi Ley Lagoon for snorkelling anf the famous Maya Bay where they shot the movie ‘The Beach’.
HOSTEL RECOMMENDATION: Ibiza House.
HANGOUT: Banana Bar & the live band place by Banana Bar.
#10 Krabi Town
Last but definitely not least – Krabi town itself. This was my home for 6 months and I fell in love with the place. It’s not so touristy so you’ll get more of an authentic Thai experience than Ao Nang. Markets upon markets, parks, rivers, restaurants, rasta bars… the locals are very welcoming and walking along the river sidewalk during sunset was something I did every night after a long day of teaching where I was filled with huge amounts of gratitude for my life every night.
It also has a beautiful temple which is free to walk around with views of the town itself. You’ll be able to see it from the centre of the town.
HOSTEL RECOMMENDATION: Pak Up Hostel.
FOOD: Bluejuice, May & Marks, Chalita’s Restaurant and of course the local food markets that open everyday.
HANGOUT: Playground Bar (located at the back of Pak-Up) and Arty’s Rasta Bar
See you in Krabi! 😉