Less busy than Phuket and arguably more beautiful than Surat Thani, Krabi is well on the way to establishing itself as the go-to province in southern Thailand. Here are 11 reasons why it should be top of your Thailand travel itinerary.
That’s right, Thailand’s most talked-about island is located in Krabi province, a mere 90-minute ferry ride away from the mainland. As well as having the stunning Maya Bay, Phi Phi is also famous for its wild beach parties, numerous bars and restaurants and stunning natural features. There’s even several beaches, nature treks and top-class diving adventures to be had for those whose day begins at eight in the morning, not the evening. Beaches, bars and buckets — what more could you want from a stay on an island paradise?
Phi Phi’s charms not enough for you? Here’s another gorgeous island to be found in Krabi. Koh Lanta is almost the polar opposite to Koh Phi Phi, being a big island that’s largely peaceful as opposed to a small one that’s hectic. But that’s the beauty of Krabi; it has something for everyone. From peaceful beaches to swathes of rugged green jungle, Lanta is a nature lover’s paradise — but don’t worry, there are also plenty of cozy beach bars to keep yourself entertained.
There are plenty of activities and tours to keep you busy on a trip to Krabi. Whether it’s making new friends below the waves on a diving excursion, making your Instagram followers jealous on a four-island tour, or even learning how to cook your favourite meal, Krabi has enough to keep you busy no matter how long your visit.
Markets are a great way to experience authentic slices of local culture, and Krabi has more than a few to delve right into. The best in the province is Krabi Town’s Walking Street Market, a weekend night market that runs from 5-10pm every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Not only is it home to delicious, freshly-cooked food, it’s also a shopping haven, with plenty of stalls selling locally-made crafts, accessories and clothing, and also features nightly entertainment on its stage.
Located between the major hubs of Ao Nang and Krabi Town is the stunning peninsula of Railay. Whilst it isn’t an island, the fact that it’s cut off from the mainland by sheer limestone cliffs means it’s only accessible by boat — and its these cliffs that have helped put Railay on the map. Regarded as one of the top places for rock climbing in the country, its cliffs host both beginner and advanced routes, and each rewards climbers with stunning views of the bay. Not a climber? Railay’s also home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the country that might be more up your alley.
Spicy food and curry lovers will feel right at home in Krabi. Southern Thai food is among the fieriest and most delicious in the country, and Krabi is a great place to try it all. From red-hot curries such as gaeng som and gaeng tai pla, to the biryani-esque khao mok gai, Krabi is a culinary hotspot, and each of these can be found at local markets for less than 50 baht a portion.
If climbing up mountains sounds like the last thing you want to do on your holiday, you might want to stop reading now. Krabi is famed for its breathtaking karst landscape, and Tiger Cave Temple, or Wat Tham Suea in Thai, is a series of temples that includes a stunning Buddha statue just a mere 1,247 steps up to the summit of a mountain. A gruelling climb in Krabi’s tropical climate, it’s well worth the effort as those who reach the top are treated with stunning views out over the province and several beautiful statues.
The most popular place for tourists to stay in Krabi, Ao Nang is a bustling resort town just 20 minutes away from Krabi Town itself. Not only does it have a large number of great hotels, from the luxurious to the low-cost, it’s also chock-full of welcoming bars and restaurants. The main attraction? Ao Nang beach. A gorgeous strip of soft sand with mountain and karst views, it’s the perfect place in mainland Krabi to soak up the sun and go for a swim, just a stone’s throw away from all the action.
A stay in Krabi is one of the few stays in paradise that’s sure not to break the bank. Despite being popular with tourists, Krabi has remained much cheaper than nearby tourist hubs Phuket and Koh Samui. In terms of accomodation, the sheer number of choices available means bargains can be found without the need to compromise quality or stay in a hostel, and food from local joints and night markets aren’t subject to the farang “double-pricing” that you may have encountered elsewhere, leaving you with more cash to splash on tours and excursions.
Just as much as it has serene beaches to relax on, Krabi’s also got plenty of reasons to get your trekking boots on. Whether it’s trekking to waterfalls near to Tiger Cave Temple, or kayaking around the mangroves in Ao Thalane, there’s plenty to do for those who like to be active while travelling. The best trekking route is found in Nong Thale; the Khao Ngon Nak trail is a tough climb up a mountain, made worth it with stunning views for miles at the top.
Despite a rapid growth in tourism, Krabi still has a level of authenticity that feels lost in other provinces. Local eating spots look like they haven’t changed in years, while it’s heartening to see the fishermen still going out their daily lives bringing in their catches in the early hours. Krabi Town’s laid-back, nostalgic feel will make you never want to leave, so make sure to visit before the charm is lost forever and it becomes another Phuket.