Situated beside the Andaman Sea and nestled perfectly between the tourist hot spots of Phuket and Surat Thani, Krabi province is in a prime location for out-of-towners who wish to make their way from one of Thailand’s seaboards to the other. Krabi has a bit of everything: world-class beaches like the famous Maya Bay, beautiful trekking options such as the Dragon Crest Mountain, and bustling markets selling anything you could want. But with these attractions also comes something else – tourists by the boat full. Thankfully, there are ways to avoid them, so read ahead to find out how.
If you’re heading to Krabi in the middle of peak season, there’s little you can do in terms of avoiding the crowds. However, arriving at a quieter time is a great way to ensure that you’re not fighting for a table or a spot on the beach. While rainy season might not sound so appealing, it’s often not quite as bad as it sounds. It’s a gamble for sure – some days will be as dry as a bone, yet on others a torrent of water will come down for hours – but it’s one that might be worth taking as the beaches will be emptier, the markets and restaurants less crowded, and the prices much more reasonable.
With Culture Trip, you can discover some of southern Thailand’s most alluring but less-trodden areas with a small group of like-minded, culturally curious travellers. Hong Island, just 15 minutes away from Krabi by speedboat (or 40 minutes by long-tail boat), is an archipelago comprising several small islands in the Than Bok Khorani National Park, characterised by white sandy beaches, limestone cliffs and a secluded turquoise lagoon. The calm, shallow water is ideal for swimming, snorkeling and kayaking among shoals of colourful fish – and there isn’t a single human settlement there. It’s one of the many off-the-beaten track destinations featured on our southern Thailand trip, along with Koh Yao Yai, a larger island situated half-way between Krabi and Phuket – perfect for switching off and relaxing in a tranquil, secluded setting.
Krabi has plenty of things to do, so if you’re planning to visit a popular destination such as the Emerald Pool, then going during the day when locals are working or at school will give you a better chance of not having your personal space violated. Conversely, if you head there later in the day or on a public holiday it will be more crowded than you could possibly imagine. When it comes to famous attractions such as Maya Bay, waking up any other time than in the early morning will result in you sharing the beach with a tonne of people and boats. Some companies specialise in early morning tours of Maya Bay, when it will be much quieter, so ask around if this is something you’re keen to do.
While places such as Maya Bay and Ao Nang Beach are beautiful and popular for a reason, there are plenty of other visually stunning, less-crowded destinations that you can visit. Krabi has an abundance of lovely beaches, some of which are popular with tourists and others that are less so. Beaches such as Tub Kaek might not offer quite the same ‘wow factor’ as Maya Bay, but they are still undeniably gorgeous and offer the same sea and sunbathing opportunities. Similarly, you might have more joy when it comes to food if you do a little research. A restaurant may have a five-star rating on TripAdvisor, but you’ve got to consider the fact that this will attract more tourists and may not be the locals’ choice – and who do you think knows best when it comes to Thai food?
Booking a hotel in the heart of Ao Nang will only ever result in you being surrounded by tourists and all they bring – loud music, street hawkers and a less-than-peaceful atmosphere. Staying in a more secluded area, then, is much better if avoiding fellow tourists is something you’re passionate about. Instead of Ao Nang Beach, consider a homestay or hotel in the Ao Thalane, Klong Muang or Tub Kaek areas if you’re after a little more peace and quiet, or even Krabi Town if you want something that’s both lively and authentic. Each one is much less popular than Ao Nang but still has plenty to do, from trekking to kayaking through mangrove forests. All of these places are still only a short journey to bustling Ao Nang, but staying in them will make it feel like a completely different experience.