Like all beach towns, Krabi has a very easy-going vibe. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot you can do here. Even as my 80-minute Thai Smile flight from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport was approaching the runway here, I got a sense of the tropical treats that lay ahead. Row upon row of coconut palms, dark green and shiny in their fecundity, broken only by ribbons of smooth road with barely any vehicles on them and surrounded by a scalloped seashore, sandy and serene. Krabi lies on the shore of Southern Thailand, edged by the emerald-turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea (yes, the Indian Andaman and Nicobar Islands are not far West from here!).
“The combination of tall limestone cliffs, tropical forests protected by national reserves, a 150-kms long coast line and more than a hundred islands fringed with white sand beaches, makes for a lot of secluded spots that you can explore.”
The main activities include island-hopping, snorkelling, scuba-diving, kayaking, rock-climbing and rappelling, and trekking in the forests. At Rayavadee, the resort I was staying in, they arranged all of these excursions to perfection. For rock-climbing I didn’t even need to go very far – the limestone karsts that edged the property made for an adventurous afternoon with an expert showing me the ropes. Literally!
There are many ways to enjoy Krabi. Here are a few suggestions. And while I’ve categorised them in my own special way for this article, do feel free to do them with whomever and however you please!
Going solo in the sea
Communing with nature was never so easy. Be it relaxing in a rock pool, or basking by the beatific bay on a beach. Snorkelling or scuba diving can be an effective way to ‘meet the locals’, albeit the marine life, and can be enjoyed at many locations. I enjoyed being ferried by luxury speedboat from my resort (the Rayavadee) to Hong Island for a spot of snorkelling in a very safe environment, replete with an experienced guide, great service from the boat staff, cool towels and chilled drinking water at every step. They even took pictures of me all through the day so I would have memories from my time there! Before that, a dip in the translucent lagoon on the other side of the escarpment, surrounded by lush foliage, felt like a scene from a film. Not surprising, because movies like The Beach and The Man With The Golden Gun have been filmed in the vicinity near Koh Phi Phi, and even winning Koh Tapu the name of James Bond Island after its appearance in the thriller!
An amazing adventure for two
Slip into a tandem kayak at Ao Thalane that will transport two of you into a sea of tranquillity that’s guaranteed to send you over the moon! But, be warned, it’s not just about meandering through the mangroves on auto-pilot. You have to put in a bit of labour that’s going to test your upper body strength and teamwork to navigate between the stunning limestone gorges and over-hanging mangroves. There are some places where the current allows you to rest your paddles and just soak in the serenity.
Another way to feel the romance of Krabi is to trek together in the tropical rainforests, appreciating the rare flora and fauna around you. An easy nature trail is in the national park at Khao Phanom Bencha, where you can visit an elephant camp in the foothills of the mountains and a beautiful seven-level waterfall at Huay Toh. The Khao Phra Bang Khram nature reserve in Krabi’s lush interior, has hot springs and an emerald pool which are easily accessed too. Experienced trekkers can enjoy an exciting overnight camping trip to the summit cloud forest of Phanom Bencha mountain.
Living it up locally with friends
Surely temple: There’s some fascinating local sightseeing if you’re interested in understanding Thai culture. Wat Tham Sua or the Buddhist Tiger Cave Temple at the top of a tall hill that can be reached by a flight of stairs is a must-visit. You can see the cave where a Vipassana monk who was meditating saw tigers walking around him. While the temple is not old (built in 1975), several ancient artefacts have been excavated from this site. Besides, the giant golden statues and panoramic views make the uphill climb worth the effort. Khao Kanab Nam, made up of two hills slanting out of the sea, is another interesting local landmark. The unique cave shrine at Phranang Beach, a short stroll from the Rayavadee resort, is also worth a dekko as most of the offerings in the hope of fertility are in the shape of a phallus or lingam. Stacked up in all sizes and colours, they make for quite a dramatic picture (and some naughty jokes)!
Beach surfing: Day trips to Koh Lanta Yai, Koh Phi Phi and other islands can be a lot of fun, whether you choose a luxury speedboat like I did, a bumpy motorboat or a long-tail boat. Each comes at a different cost and has pros and cons in terms of speed and access to various islands. My resort planned the perfect picnic for us on a private beach. Each of us got a bespoke bento box filled with a delicious lunch that we ate as we contemplated the blue as blue can be water in front of us and the powder-white sand between our toes.
Grin and bar it: For a taste of the fun side of Krabi, find a daytime hangout at the Walking Street near Railay Beach for music, food, drinks and a lot of interesting people. As the shadows lengthen, take your long-tail boat back to Ao Nang’s vibrant night club scene.
214 Moo 2, Tumbon Ao-Nang
Amphur Muang 81000 Krabi Thailand
Phone: +66 2 301 1861-3
Note– The critic was invited by the Rayavadee, Krabi Thailand. But all the opinions expressed herewith are her own.