Krabi Travel Guide
Buddha in Phutthamonthon © Tevaprapas
The tiny Thai province of Krabi, 500 miles (800km) south of Bangkok, is a magical, as yet unspoilt paradise and one of the country's most enchanting coastal holiday resort destinations. The tranquil Krabi coast is made up of pristine, coral-fringed white beaches, a myriad of caves and waterfalls, and numerous exotic islets washed by the azure sea. Beyond the Krabi beaches lie lush jungles where giant trees trail lianas, and rivers fall over high cliffs or swirl lazily through mangrove forests. Visitors spend their holiday scuba diving in the Andaman Sea, climbing the cliffs above Ao Phranang and Railay beaches, hiking to mountain-top pagodas, discovering hidden temples set in the valleys, exploring caves, seeking out offshore paradise islands, or simply relaxing beneath a palm tree on an unspoiled stretch of white sand.
The small city of Krabi can be flown to direct from Bangkok and a number of other cities, with flights landing at Krabi Airport, which is situated conveniently close to the city.
Krabi town has a good selection of shopping for those who want to sample the wares in the region. Along with the 'same same' merchandise sold in street stalls across Thailand, the typical t-shirts bearing the logos of Heineken, Guinness and the likes, one can also find more unique items in Krabi, including handmade pottery and locally produced home ware. Apart from the street stalls, Krabi has a modernised shopping mall in the centre of town selling high end fashion labels in the top levels of the building and knock off brands on the ground level and in the basement. This mall has an interesting coming together of top end fashion and cheap replicas both in the same store, just be wary, for if the bargain is too good to be true, it usually is the case.
Krabi has many dining options, both for those who want to experience the local cuisine and for those who prefer a 'Western' food menu. From Italian pizza to Greek seafood, Krabi has an abundance of variety for the hungry visitor. For where there is a beach in Thailand, there is inevitably food. In Krabi, one can literally eat with their toes in the sand, as many restaurant are right on the beach, and what better way to round off a day of activities than sitting down to some fresh seafood and a cold beverage while watching the sun go down over the Andaman sea. But if you truly want to eat like a local, Krabi town has a nightly food market which springs to life around 5pm every evening. This is where you will find the cheapest and often the most delicious food in Krabi, and where one can sit side by side with Thais, as they and their families huddle around the food carts for dinner and a beer.
Night time is when Krabi comes alive. Many markets around Krabi set up only at night, when the heat of the day has subsided and locals begin to wander around the streets after hiding from the sun all day. Night markets, especially weekend markets, are a vibrant and colourful meeting place for both visitors and locals. The beautiful sights and smells of the food vendors delight the senses, as strange and wonderful items are dished up for willing buyers. After dark is also the time the beachside bars turn on their fluorescent lights and turn up their music. With so many bars lining the beaches, it is often hard to decide where to go, as visitors begin to slowly drift towards their respective spots to catch the sunset, accompanied by a randomly chosen, multi-coloured cocktail. As the night moves on, a younger crowd often filters into the scene, drawn in by the music, which becomes progressively faster, and the potential of an all night party, signified by the gradual gathering of bodies in the said venue. While Krabi town is not specifically known for big parties, the close by Ao Nang beach is a verified hotspot for all-night revelry, and with many clubs to choose from along the main strip, visitors will have no problem finding a party scene in line with their specific mood.
Activities in Krabi are endless for those who wish to exert some energy. Many tour operators offer day trips, either by speed boat or traditional longtail boat, which tour the islands off of the Krabi coast. From Ao Nang, one can take a four island tour to the likes of Koh Poda, Koh Mawr, Koh Tup and Koh Gai (Chicken Island), named so because of unusual chicken-like shape taken on by the limestone structure, towering above the blue waters in which it lies.
For a small fee, one can often find a kayak to hire along almost any beach in Krabi. This is a great way to explore the archipelago along the Krabi coast, and the best way to get right up close to the beautiful lime stone karsts which jut out so dramatically from the crystal clear waters of the Andaman Sea. Krabi also boasts the best snorkelling and scuba-diving locations in Thailand and the warm, clean and calm waters are a great place to learn if one has never snorkelled or scuba-dived before.
In the jungles of Krabi, there are many hikes which end in stunning viewpoints from which to admire your tropical surrounds. And if you don't want to use your own legs to get there, why not arrange an elephant trek, where one can ride these gentle beasts along a jungle path and possibly even through rivers and mud, all while taking in the beautiful flora and fauna of Krabi province.