South of Thailand offers numerous options for travelers to enjoy beaches, wilderness, wild parties, water activities, etc. I have researched a number of different websites and tries to find a place, which would be easily accessible, relatively cheap and near the seaside. Koh Samui, Koh Lipe and Koh Phangan were suggested by several people, but staying there would require either expensive flights or using too much time to get there. In terms of easy accessibility and price, flights to Phuket or Krabi provide the best offers. So our main choice lay between these two.
Why Krabi over Phuket?
Our choice was quite easy. For what we wanted, Krabi provided better options for us:
- It is cheaper than Phuket, if you want to stay near the beach.
- It has more beautiful beaches with rocks around.
- The number of tourists visiting Krabi is less than half of those visiting Phuket every year.
- We were not interested in the wild parties with ladyboys, drunk people, etc. Krabi is more laid back, than most of Phuket.
- In addition to all of these, Ao Nang beach is not too far from the Krabi airport with a transport link and it gives easy access to Railey beach, Phra Nang cave and to the islands.
Of course, if you look for more high-end hotels, parties and overall, like more people, only then head to Phuket.
Flights to Krabi and how to get from Krabi airport to Krabi town and Ao Nang
From cheap airlines AirAsia and NokAir fly to Krabi from Bangkok. There are 2 AirAsia flights daily, in the morning and in the evening.
You do have a bus (or mini-bus, depending how many people take them) from Krabi airport to Krabi town and Ao Nang. From what we found out the buses or mini-buses, whatever you find, when you get there, work from 6am to 8pm. We arrived at exactly 8pm and the bus was available.
The bus waits to get full. So, like us, you may have to wait up to half an hour (or maybe more?). From the airport to Krabi town the price is 90 baht, while to Ao Nang, it’s 150 baht. The bus dropped us off at our Ao Nang hotel and took about 1 hour 10 mins.
You also get a voucher for the return journey, which cuts down your price from your Ao Nang hotel to the airport to 100 baht. We arranged this by asking the hotel to call the number on the voucher. The mini-bus arrived exactly on the arranged time and we were at the airport within an hour.
The taxis from the airport to Ao Nang can cost appr. 600 baht, as I heard, but not exactly sure, as we didn’t use them.
Where to stay in Krabi?
There are many options you have for staying in the Krabi province. Some people spend a night in the Krabi town after their flight and then take ferries to one of the islands to spend time there. We didn’t wanna move with our luggage from an island to an island or take a 4-hour ferry and a mini-bus to get to a not easily accessible beach destination on Koh Lanta. So we based ourselves near the Ao Nang beach, which is about an hours drive from the Krabi airport. The place has a number of accommodation options from high-end hotels to hostels. We chose a mid-range hotel 10-15 mins walk to the seaside for appr. 50 USD a night, which for the New Year season was quite ok.
Ao Nang beach: a gateway
I wasn’t a great fan of this beach, taking into account the amazing beaches that are just next door. But Ao Nang is quite nice, it is beautiful (especially, its rocky side) and a great spot to base yourself. There are also numerous food places and bars here. You have tons of travel agents here. We asked many sellers for prices to get better price for our activities.
Either way, the beach is not that clean. But we discovered a wooden path across to the Poi Plong beach, which is I believe a private area, but free. After about 10 minute walk you can get to this beautiful spot with clean water.
Ao Nang is great for watching sunset as well. You get amazing reflection on water and can watch the longtail boats basking in the beautiful colors of the setting sun.
The best itinerary suggestions
We suggest to stay at Ao Nang 4 days. You can, of course, extend this time, move to the islands to stay and relax there head even more South from here. Either way Ao Nang is a great spot for getting around.
Day 1 – explore Ao Nang beach. Go with a wooden path across to Pia Plong beach, which was very beautiful and far cleaner than Ao Nang itself. Watch the sunset.
Day 2 – head to Railey beach by a longtail boat. Explore both sides of Railey beach and the Phra Nang cave beach, which was my favourate place. Read the details here.
Day 3 – you can either book one of the many day tours going to Phi Phi islands (they are rather expensive at 1800-2200 per person) or get a ferry ticket to go to Phi Phi Don (this costs 700 per person for the return trip). We didn’t wanna run around different spots with the tour and it was also extremely expensive, so we opted for going to Phi Phi Don (from where you can hire a longtail boat to take you to Phi Phi Leh to see Maya bay and Pileh Lagoon). On Phi Phi Don the main interesting spot is the Viewpoint. Viewpoint 2 has the best views.
Day 4 – you can relax at the beach in the morning and then head to the Tiger cave. The tourist booths have a number of options, for joint tours, they ask for 350 baht per person, however, we hired a car for the two of us for 900 baht (just ask around). If you are 3 people, it would end up cheaper, than the tour with other people. Allocate at least 1.5 hours to spend at the tiger cave, as walking up 1260 steps (some of them very steep) took us about 40 mins, while going down probably about 20 mins, and we are not too out of shape 😊 Here you will find the detailed info about visiting the Tiger cave.