A Traveller's Guide to Krabi, Thailand

Tiger Cave Temple in Krabi is surrounded by scenic mountains
Tiger Cave Temple in Krabi is surrounded by scenic mountains | © Dorin Marius Balate / Alamy Stock Photo
Kyle Hulme

With its plentiful beaches, bars and stunning natural scenes, there’s little wonder why Krabi is one of the must-visit places in Southeast Asia. Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or a newbie, here’s a guide to this wonderful corner of the world.

If you’d like to discover Krabi through the eyes of a local insider – and get fast-tracked to some of the most beautiful islands in Southern Thailand – join Culture Trip’s 10-day adventure with like-minded travellers.

Where to stay

With so many great places to stay in Krabi, it’s definitely a place you’ll want to spend more than just a couple of nights in. From party islands like Koh Phi Phi to more laid-back ones like Koh Lanta, there’s something for everyone in this province. On the mainland, Krabi Town is home to the best markets in the province and offers a glimpse into authentic city life in Thailand. Nearby Ao Nang offers a sumptuous mix of beaches and bars, while Railay boasts arguably the best beaches in the province.

Stay at Pak Up Hostel in Krabi

What to eat

Kua Kling is a popular southern Thai dish

Located in southern Thailand, Krabi is a dream destination if you’re a fan of fiery curries. Local specialities such as gaeng tai pla might look unappetising due to their appearance but prove to be a fiery-hot dish with a depth of flavour that’s unlike anything you might be used to. Gaeng som is another spicy curry speciality in the region, but there’s also more to Krabi than soupy curries. Kua kling is a hot, dry type of curry that’s an 11 on the heat scale, while khao mok gai is a biryani-esque dish that might just become your new favourite. Keep an eye out for hoi chak teen. The shellfish is famous in Krabi, and it’s the perfect finger food to be eaten alongside an ice-cold beer.

Where to eat

Sample seafood at the Walking Street Market in Krabi

If you’re a fan of bustling night markets, you’re in luck. While the islands might have their own local markets, if there’s one you should visit in Krabi, it’s undoubtedly the Walking Street Market. Held on Fridays to Sundays, this weekend night market is well worth rearranging your schedule for when you’re in Krabi to make sure you don’t miss it. Held in Krabi Town, this market in the centre of the city comes alive at night, where the usual sois and shops are transformed into row after row of freshly cooked food, hand-crafted souvenirs and the latest in Thai fashion. Of course, there are local eateries that are worth checking out, too, as well as heaps of Western restaurants all over Krabi, but the night market is the number one culinary experience in the province. We promise you won’t be disappointed.

What to do

Mainland

The Tiger Cave Temple is surrounded by ridges of limestone mountains

As we’ve already mentioned, the night market is the big one, but Krabi Town has much more to offer than just that. The Tiger Cave Temple, located a few minutes away from the centre of town, is a 1,247-step climb up a mountain that rewards those who make the effort with stunning views of the town and the river. Visitors might also be interested in taking the 2-minute ferry across to Koh Klang, a Muslim-populated island just a short hop from scenic Thara Park. With its rustic setting, agricultural spaces and lack of development, it makes for an interesting look at Thai rural life that’s a far cry from what you may have already seen on your trip.

Away from Krabi Town, Ao Nang is probably the best place to base yourself for beach-related activities. As well as the gorgeous Ao Nang Beach, others such as Nopparat Thara Beach and the beaches at Railay are just minutes away, meaning you’re sure to find one that’s just right for you. As well as bars and restaurants, Ao Nang is also a great place to book tours and excursions, such as diving trips and island tours that are well worth your time.

Islands

Maya Bay is one of the most famous beaches in Thailand

Arguably the most famous of all of Thailand’s islands, there’s plenty to see and do at Phi Phi. The big one is Maya Bay, which was made famous thanks to Leonardo DiCaprio’s Hollywood flick The Beach. It’s a gorgeous bay surrounded by sheer limestone cliffs and home to a gorgeous stretch of soft, white-sand beach. There are plenty of beaches, bars and clubs to keep you busy on Phi Phi, and it’s probably the best place to party in the province, too. Try a night at the Reggae Bar, famed for its boxing ring in the centre of the bar – brave punters can enter the ring and trade blows for glory, a medal and that all-important free cocktail bucket.

For a more calming island experience, try Koh Lanta. Much larger than Phi Phi and with more beaches and natural spaces to explore, it has a bit of a reputation of being a “hippy” place, so you’re bound to have a relaxing time. That said, there’s still a vibrant nightlife scene here, too, as well as plenty of cultural experiences to be found. Take a trip to the districts of Sala Dan and Lanta Old Town; the teakwood shophouses are a throwback to a forgotten time and host a range of souvenir shops and restaurants serving fine fare.

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