As I travelled by road from Phuket to Krabi, which is situated on the mainland of Thailand, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the coastline along which I travelled. The nearer I got to this beautiful resort, the more dramatic the scenery became. I was looking at an untold number of tall limestone rocks which simply rose out of the ground on the side of the road. Two hours later, I was happy to start my Krabi vacation and to enjoy its natural aspects. As well as the rocks, there were pristine tropical forests and mangrove swamps to add to the mix.
Add to this, a recent discovery of the remains of one of humanoid ancestors in a rock shelter makes Krabi the place with the longest known history of continuous human settlement in Thailand. Bits of broken pottery, beads, and coins have been found on archaeological digs here, suggesting that the area was once a thriving port of call on the ancient trade routes across Asia.
Krabi Town – Very Thai
I could start off with a description of the several excellent beaches in and around Krabi, but first, let’s talk about the centre of activity, Krabi Town. This used to be a market town long before the area became a tourist haven. What I liked about it was that it had not succumbed from its former self to the development of tourism. It still retained a charm and casual character.
On your Krabi vacation, you will probably stay at one of the resort hotels on one of the nearby beaches, but do take a little time to explore Krabi Town. There is Wat Kaew, one of the main temples in town. It’s a new building that resembles a shiny white wedding cake. You can have a pleasant stroll down the Krabi Riverside, starting at Chao Fah Park where the Chao Fah Night Market is held every evening, and finish at the southern end of Thara Park, passing by small landscaped gardens. There is also Krabi Contemporary Art Museum, which houses a blend of traditional and contemporary art by local artists.
Just outside the town is the Tiger Cave Temple, one of the most famous temples in Southern Thailand and located on top of a mountain, about 8 kilometres/5 miles northeast of Krabi Town. There is a stairway with 1237 steps to the top, where you visit a tiger’s footprint at the top of the mountain. Once you make it to the top, you will be rewarded with a 360 degree view of the area and the sea.
And Now to the Beaches
Ao Nang Beach is the best known and most developed beach in the area, accessible by road from Krabi. It is not crowded and has a peaceful atmosphere. It is here that you have views of the majestic looking limestone cliffs that rise straight out of the clear waters of the sea. Also, wait until the evening to experience magnificent sunsets. There is a long beach which runs the whole length of the resort. The shallow coastline is very safe for children to swim and play and there are plenty of restaurants and vendors along the beach.
Rai Leh Beach (also known as Railay Beach) is considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world with its pristine, pure white sand and shallow clear water, perfect for swimming. The beach is only accessible by long tail boat, a 10 minute ride from Ao Nang and 30 minutes from Krabi Town. It is actually part of the mainland but is cut off by limestone hills. This certainly gives a secluded feel to the place, especially if you’re looking for romance on your Krabi vacation. There are hotels and resorts on the beach and other attractions are the interesting rock formations, along with some spectacular caves with stalagmites and stalactites.
Pra Nang Beach is connected to Rai Leh by a small path on the outer most point of the headland, backed by a limestone cliff which soars above the beach. It is a great beach to simply relax on. Swimming and snorkeling can be enjoyed off this white sandy beach and it is possible to hike to the top of the headland to get spectacular views of the entire area.
Klong Muang is situated on the far western part of Krabi. This beautiful and natural beach with very crowds is about 3 kilometres/2 miles long. The shallow water makes it safe usually all year round. Along the coastline there are some luxury 5-star resorts, but no shopping, etc. Unlike Ao Nang, it doesn’t have the impressive cliffs immediately towering over the beach.
Just a few hundred metres/yards from Ao Nang is Nopparat Thara Beach, separated from Ao Nang by a big cliff. This beach is almost 5 kilometres/3 miles long. The far southern end of this beach has resorts and some shopping, bars, and restaurants.
What Else is There to Do and See in Krabi?
The Krabi Emerald Pool is a unique attraction in Krabi, and one place that should make your must-see list. It is located in the Thung Teao Forest Natural Park and is rich in bio-diversity and complete with a nature trail and crystal pond. The nature trek is a good place to spot rare animals and plant species, including the Pitta Gurney bird which was once considered extinct. The forest is lush with age-old trees stretching seemingly up to the sky and limestone foothills that open on to a dazzling emerald pool. The emerald waters are wonderfully warm and crystal clear, making them wonderful for swimming in.
The Krabi Hot Springs are unique “hot tubs” built into smooth rock, filled with water from deep rooted thermal springs located in volcanic chambers, and are brimming with natural mineral salts which are claimed to cure all manner of health complaints. The jacuzzi-type baths are perfect for sharing and can be filled right to the top with warm running water supplied fresh from the thermal springs. The hot springs are unusual in that they cascade, forming a waterfall that pours into a stream below.
The Au Luk Mangrove Forest is located approximately 40 kilometres/ 25 miles north of Krabi Town and is an outstandingly preserved natural environment. Tall limestone cliffs dot the hilly lush landscape and along the coast, mangrove forest. The small town of Ao Luk is a genuine southern Thailand village, a charming place in which to have a short visit.
The Koh Hong Archipelago is a group of tiny islands offering breathtaking scenery, soft white sand beaches, coral reefs, and a beautiful lagoon. You can enjoy swimming, kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, sunbathing, hiking, and picnicking. Koh Hong is part of the Than Bok Khorani National Park and is only open for day visits with no overnight stays allowed. What puts Koh Hong on top of many visitors’ lists, on their Krabi vacation, is its spectacular rock formations and breathtaking natural lagoon surrounding by majestic limestone cliffs.
So, if you enjoy outstanding scenery combined with excellent beaches without the usual crowds, then why not consider a Krabi vacation on your next visit to Thailand.
(Main photo courtesy of Tourism Thailand.)