Krabi needs no introduction as it is one of the most visited places in Thailand and famous due to the fact that the islands seem to erupt vertically out of the sea. It is around 820 kilometres from Bangkok and those who gets tired of Phuket are recommended to head here instead.
Krabi is located in the southwest of Thailand, facing the Andaman Sea and covering an area of 4,700 square kilometres. What makes Krabi special? Besides the blue sky and crystal clear sea water, Krabi’s beautiful landscape includes limestone peaks, mangrove forests, mountains, untouched natural waterfalls and hot springs, including 83 islands that are rich in folklore, out of which only 13 are inhabited, making it ideal for water activities such as snorkelling, diving and kayaking, while its limestone caves attract climbers from all over the world.
The population largely comprises Buddhists and Muslims, the latter being the majority. As such, Krabi boasts restaurants and eateries that largely serve halal food. They would also come with the Halal signage, making it easier for Muslims to spot them and consume with peace of mind. However, some hotels do not put up halal signages as they also serve alcohol, yet the food served remains halal. It is best for travellers to check first on the status of the food first prior to ordering to avoid confusion.
Good to Know:
1. The best time to snorkel is late February to June, so underwater enthusiasts might want to visit Krabi during that time.
2. Do research on the cheapest island hopping packages along the Ao Nang Street as soon as arrive in Krabi.
3. Prepare some motion sickness pills.
4. Bring waterproof bags (dry bags) to keep your valuable things – waterproof casing for camera/smartphone is A MUST. It is best if you have waterproof camera.
What to do?
Frolic around Ao Nang
Ao Nang is Krabi’s centre for water-based activities with friendly nightlife that begins from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., but not as boisterous compared to Phuket and Koh Samui. There are many types of lodgings, ranging from five-star hotels to backpacker hostels, which can be seen in the area, including various shops that sell almost everything such as swim suits, souvenirs and local products.
Dinner in Ao Nang ranges from pizza to sushi. For Muslims, halal food is abound, especially the spicy tomyam and banana pancake, which is similar to roti canai in Malaysia, except that it is cooked together with slices of banana, Nutella and various other flavours. The locals peddle their food in the evening during weekdays but start much earlier during weekends.
Besides food, in Ao Nang, travellers will also be able to find island-hopping packages, including services that offer extreme sports activities such as rock-climbing, extreme ATV sports, kayak and scuba-diving, great for outdoor lovers and extreme sports enthusiasts. One more must-do activity is to savour value-for-money Thai reflexology and massage that will leave travellers relaxed and invigorated.
Good to Know:
1. Taking photographs of the transvestite cabaret performers that throng the Ao Nang area might cost travellers money, so be mindful when taking their pictures. Also be careful of pickpockets.
2. From Krabi town to Ao Nang, it costs 50 Baht per person by songthaew, more or less similar to the jeepney in Manila. From Ao Nang to the airport, it costs 500 Baht per taxi ride but it costs more from the airport to Ao Nang.
Visit the famous Wat Tham Suea, Tiger Cave Temple
One of the must-visit temples in Krabi is Wat Thum Suea. Located 45 minutes’ drive away from Ao Nang, Wat Tham Suea is one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in the province, famous for the tiger paw prints in the cave, tall Buddha statues and the strenuous flight of stairs to reach the summit. This temple is not only open to Buddhists but also the general public. There are currently 20 to 30 monks – not only from Thailand but also from other parts of the world – who reside and meditate in the temple.
Legend has it that back in 1975, a monk named Jumnean Seelasettho went to meditate under the cave and encountered tigers roaming around the cave, resulting it being named as Wat Tham Suea or The Tiger Cave Temple. It is said that the site of the temple, called Tiger Cave, is thought to be a tiger’s lair, or at least used to be one. Locals said that they used to hear the sound of tiger roar when they went hunting. Mysteriously, no one has ever seen any tiger!
Good To Know:
Travellers are encouraged to climb up the 1,237 steps to get to the top – which might take up to an hour – and admire the priceless view of Krabi from there while being accompanied by a huge golden Buddha statue. As such, wear comfortable sports attire and backpack filled with mineral water and snacks. Remove any jewellery and valuable items, including shades, since they can be easily snatched by naughty stray monkeys. Best to visit early morning for better photography.
For those who have travelled to Krabi before surely will testify to the destination’s mesmerising islands, crystal clear waters and jaw-dropping pristine beaches. Simply search on Krabi by using hashtags (#Krabi) to witness Krabi’s pristine beauty. Gaya Travel team’s trip was made remarkable by getting the chance to visit the islands off coast Ao Nang and hear astounding stories about them such as the Chicken Island (because of a rock that looked like the head of a chicken) that is believed to come from a princess who was cursed into one gigantic island with thousands of rock formations that look like male genitals…
The island hopping package starts early, preferably in the morning. Travellers can choose to ride in traditional long tail boat or the modern speed boat. The latter takes up to 30 minutes to reach the islands while the former usually takes longer but offers extra time for travellers to enjoy the ride! The package includes visit to several islands, snorkel gear, drinking water, fruits and lunch pack. It is a good experience to snorkel around the islands since the water is clear. The islands that travellers might be taken to during the tour are Muko Phi Phi (where the movie called The Beach starring Leonardo de Caprio was filmed), Chicken Island, Poda Island, Maya Island and Tup Island. We were told that during low tide, travellers are able to walk across between some of the islands. The cheapest rate is around 1,200 Baht (RM120) per person. Travel by speedboat is more expensive.
Seek local experiences
To experience local lifestyle, head to Koh Klang which is accessible only by longboat. Travellers can either take the long boat from Chaofa Pier (centre of Krabi Town) or Tara Pier (South of Krabi Town) and the crossings takes less than 15 minutes. Koh Klang is a tiny Muslim fishing village at the mouth of Krabi River that flows into the Andaman Sea with 98% of Muslims and only 2% Buddhist inhabitants. Since the island is very small, locals use motorbikes and small tuk-tuks as mode of transport. Here, I witnessed old ladies painting batik, old men making traditional long boats and teenagers running around to reach in time for the weekly bird beauty contest. To Malaysians, they might find that the village pretty much resembles those in Terengganu, Malaysia. The lifestyle of the residents is very modest and simple: they chat on the street, have coffee with neighbours and meet friends at the Sunday market. They welcome foreigners with a warm smile and genuine “sawadee khap / kha” (which means “hello”). Quaint and peaceful, Koh Klang is definitely the right place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Rising up early in the morning is a must for those who visit Krabi for the first time. Travellers are recommended to proceed to Ban Bor Thor, a small little village about 40-minute bus ride from Krabi and Ao Nang. Famous for its kayaking activity, this village is set in the National Park consisting of complex system of the Thar Phiring River and limestone caves. This wonderful and healthy retreat requires travellers to spend two hours and a half paddling along the narrow channels of Thar Phiring River whilst taking in the pristine tropical nature. As the boats glide silently, travellers will get to see all the wildlife that inhabits the water and the banks, be it colourful birds or otters.
If travellers were to think that the experience of paddling along the river is amazing, wait till they explore the limestone caves, accessible only by kayaking. Going through these caves is a must. Tham Lot is a tunnel right under the cliffs, shimmering with reflections of the water from natural light and replete with stalactites and stalagmites. I actually encountered a stalactite that looks exactly like a mermaid. A cave by the name of Tham Pee Hua Toh is decorated with invaluable cave paintings is believed to be thousands of years old. Another cave worth exploring is the Tham Lot Nua. The echoing sound of dripping water in the caves exudes an eerie yet soothing feeling as travellers continue paddling.
Tha Pom Klong Song Nam might take your breath away with its magically emerald blue and crystal clear salt water running through the mangrove swamp. Located 34 kilometres from Krabi Town, Pa Phru or the peat swamp forest of Tha Pom Canal is where freshwater and seawater meet. The Khlong Song Nam, which literally means “a canal that features two different kinds of water”, originates from Chong Phra Kaeo pool. Though the water looks tempting, travellers are not allowed to swim in it to maintain the pool’s cleanliness. Travellers can however, dip their feet inside the pool. Since the water is so crystal clear, hundreds of fishes underneath can be easily seen!
For more information on Krabi, browse www.tourismthailand.org/About-Thailand/Destination/Krabi. For inspirations, on the other hand, read more of our stories on Krabi here.