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 tried 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. For the first time visit, in terms of easy accessibility and price, flights to Phuket or Krabi provide the best offers.
Why Choose Krabi?
For what we wanted, Krabi provided good options for us:
- The area is easily accessible. 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.
- It is cheaper than Phuket, if you want to stay near the beach.
- It has beautiful beaches with rocks around.
- The number of tourists visiting Krabi is quite huge, but 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, compared to Phuket, although not too quiet either.
Of course, if you look for more high-end hotels, parties and more people, Phuket would be a better option for your first time visit.
On the other hand, if you are less limited with time and resources, and prefer quieter places, you may want to explore, Koh Samui, Koh Lanta or Koh Phangan.
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 hour’s drive from the Krabi airport.
Ao Nang 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. So we were able to ask many sellers for prices to get better price for our activities.
The bad side is that the beach is polluted by what looks like sewage system (it may not be that, but it clearly has some strange smell).
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.
4-day Itinerary for Visiting Krabi
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.
Day 3 – you can either book one of the many day tours going to Phi Phi islands (they are rather expensive starting from 2000 baht per person) or get a ferry ticket to go to Phi Phi Don (we paid 700 per person for the return trip in 2020). 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. 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 😊