Sitting in the Andaman Sea between the tourist hotspots of Phuket and Surat Thani, Krabi province is a prime spot for out-of-towners heading from one coast of Thailand to the other. Relax on Maya Bay beach, hike the Dragon Crest Mountain, and shop for handmade gifts at the market – and with our help, do it all without the crowds.
Discover other less-visited spots, with our Local Insider leading the way, on TRIPS by Culture Trip’s epic 10-day small-group adventure around southern Thailand.
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.
Hong Island, 15 minutes from Krabi by speedboat (or 40 minutes by long-tail boat), is an archipelago of several small islands in the Than Bok Khorani National Park, characterised by white-sand beaches, limestone cliffs and a secluded turquoise lagoon. The shallow water is ideal for swimming, snorkelling and kayaking among shoals of tropical fish – and there isn’t a single human settlement here. 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 halfway 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 the Emerald Pool, then going during the day when locals are working or at school will give you a better chance of finding some space. When it comes to attractions such as Maya Bay, you’ll need to come very early if you want to avoid sharing the beach with a lot of people and boats. Some companies specialise in early-morning tours of Maya Bay, when it’s 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 such as Tub Kaek. 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 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 is 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 peace and quiet, or even Krabi Town if you want something that’s both lively and authentic. Each 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.