You have read that I live in Krabi, but you might wonder where exactly it is and why would someone live in such an unknown place (that is if you have never been to Thailand).
Well, Krabi is a spectacular province in the South-west of Thailand, boarding the Andaman Sea. Although Krabi doesn’t make headlines as some of the most famous tourist destinations in the country, like Koh Samui, Phuket and Chiang Mai, thousands of visitors come to visit the area all year round, but especially in dry season, from November until April.
Why so? Because Krabi has some of the best beaches and islands in Thailand and many other natural attractions like the karst mountains and peaks jutting out of the turquoise sea, or the mangrove forests, waterfalls and hot springs.
The first time I travelled to Thailand in the early Nineties, I didn’t go to Krabi but, as most European tourists, I only visited Bangkok and Phuket, with a day trip to Phi Phi Islands. My family and I immediately fell in love with Phi Phi, and when the tour guide told us that the islands belonged to Krabi Province, we made up our mind to go exploring Krabi Province, the following time we would be in Thailand. And we did it.
In all truth, Krabi should be on every Thai bucket list because its scenery is unique and the province full of surprises.
After travelling to Krabi for several years, on solo travels or holidays with friends and family, two years ago I decided to move here for good. Since then, I explored the province regularly, visiting the most touristic attractions as well as the less known places.
To help you planning your next trip, here are some of the best things to see and do in Krabi, Thailand.
Ao Nang is the most popular tourist destination in Krabi Province. It’s a laid back village about 20 minute drive from Krabi Town, where you will find plenty of hotels and renting accommodation, restaurants, shops, and the most popular beach in Krabi, Ao Nang beach.
The village is far from being fancy, instead it appeals to visitors that like an informal atmosphere and plenty of facilities, from Starbucks and McDonald’s venues to simple café and local restaurants where you can eat a Pad Thai or Mango and Sticky rice for less than a hundred bath.
At night Ao Nang is lively with cabaret shows, live music and performances, and a few soi (little alleys) where locals and tourists play pool and darts or drink a beer with bar girls. Boogie Bar and Booze are among the most popular bars, while the Slumber Party bar and hostel is the favorite among young travellers and backpackers.
Upscale Italian restaurants like Umberto or Azzurra will make pasta lovers happy, while Kodam Kitchen or Ton Ma Yom offer the best local Thai cuisine. Indian restaurants are everywhere, and Japanese and Chinese venues are doubling by the year, so there’s really something for everybody in this small beach town.
During the day, roasting in the sun and visiting the nearby islands are the visitors’ favorite activities: a boat ride from Ao Nang Beach to Poda and Chicken Islands only takes 20 minutes, and the local long-tail boats are waiting for passengers right in front of the beach.
Snorkelling and diving trips can be booked from travel agencies and diving shops in central Ao Nang. Same for kayaking trips or jungle tours.
The Railay Peninsula
Ao Nang beach is not the only lovely strip of sand along the coast and near Ao Nang Village: Railay, Ton Sai and Phra Nang are even more beautiful than Ao Nang. However, there are no roads to reach these three destinations and the only way to visit them is by boat.
The closest to Ao Nang is Ton Sai, then there is Railay, and the last one is Phra Nang. These three sisters are the top areas for rock climbing in Krabi, with several climbing schools operating all year 'round.
If you’ve never climbed before, you might want to take lessons, and there is a variety of half day, full day or multi day courses available. Even children can learn the basic techniques, and there are cliffs for every levels, from beginner to advance.
One popular option is Deep Water Solo: after practicing rock climbing, enjoy jumping into the emerald waters from different cliffs.
The limestone cliffs of Krabi are amazing to see from a distance, imagine how stunning they are up close!
Once you are in Railay, and even if rock climbing is not your thing, there is so much to see and do: hiking paths and jungle trails, swimming, snorkelling, kayaking options, and several bars and restaurants for chill out from morning until late at night.
To avoid the crowds, go in the early morning or late afternoon, or, even better, book a hostel or hotel in Railay and spend the night there.
Phra Nang beach is located on the southern Railay peninsula, and you can walk there through an easy and beautiful path from Railay East.
The sea is turquoise and shallow, the sand is soft and white, and the cliffs provide some shade during the day: it’s a kids paradise.
One attraction you shouldn’t miss is the Princess Cave where locals worship the goddess of fertility by bringing flowers, offers and…. phallic wooden objects which make this place really unique.
Sunsets are mesmerising in Railay West and Phra Nang beach, and you can enjoy the show each evening with a cold beer and a Thai snack. It’s Thailand at its best!
Krabi Town & the Night Market
A 20 minute drive from Ao Nang lies Krabi Town, the provincial capital.
It’s a laid-back little city that offers cultural experiences and close encounters with Thai people.
Art lovers should visit the Krabi Contemporary Art Museum for exhibits of local and foreign artists.
In Krabi Town you will also find many restaurants, shops and cafes, and a river promenade with a scenic view of Khao Khanab Nam, two limestone mountains that are the landmark of Krabi.
By joining a boat tour nearby the Khao Khanab Nam, you will see some interesting caves with prehistoric remains, the mangrove forest and the Muslim fishermen community that lives in Koh Klang, on the opposite side of the river, in front of Krabi.
Krabi Night Market
Night markets are ubiquitous in Thailand, in small villages and big cities, and Krabi is not different. Thais love to buy food and goods at the market, and they love shopping even more at evening, when the heat of the day is replaced by a gentle breeze and a dropping in the temperature.
Night markets are always busy and lively, colourful and cheap. If you’re looking for authentic Thai street food and souvenirs in Krabi Town, the Krabi Night Market is a must-visit.
The night market, which is also known as Walking Street, is open at weekends from 6 PM until 10 PM. It’s just behind the Vogue Shopping Center where you can buy designer and international clothing brands (don’t expect an Icon Siam though, or you’ll be disappointed! This is just an average department store).
The variety of items you will find at the Night Market is large: from local artefacts and clothing to leather handbags, street food and gardening tools. Visitors love coming to the market to enjoy live music and performances, too.
The best time to visit the market is around sunset: grab some local street food snacks, chat with the friendly vendors, enjoy the live music and street art performances before going for a beer in one of the bars downtown.
The Emerald Pool & Klong Thom Hot Springs
From Krabi you can visit the Emerald Pool and the Klong Thom Hot Springs.
The Emerald Pool consists of several natural pools of fresh water located in the jungle. Only the biggest pool, whose name refers to the turquoise color of the water, is suitable for swimming, while the Blue Pool is great for photos, but you are not allowed to dive in.
The Klong Thom Hot Springs are thermal underground springs with a temperature around 35-42 degrees Celsius. To refresh when it gets too hot, you can jump in the river below.
Some locals believe that the springs contain minerals which are healthy and can heal some disease, but even if there’s no proof of that, Klong Thom is perfect to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Avoid going there at weekends and National Holidays, because the place is very popular with locals and you will likely meet lots of people.
Explore the temples: Wat Tham Seua and Wat Kaew Korawaram
Besides the beach life, Thailand is famous for the thousands of temples that cover the country.
Not far from Krabi Town, Wat Tham Sua (the Tiger Cave Temple) is the most popular among visitors, and for a good reason: it consists of different buildings built into and around a cave in a limestone cliff. It takes its name from a wild tiger that used to live in the area when the first monks came to build the temple.
The most spectacular part of the complex is atop the cliff, but the hike to the very top of the mountain requires good legs and lungs, and some courage, since it takes 1260 steps on very steep staircases to conquer the peak.
From there, there’s an impressive 360 degree panoramic view above Krabi Province: on clear days, you can see as far as Lanta Island.
The Tiger Cave Temple is one of the most popular attractions in the province, so plan your visit early in the morning (as early as sunrise) or in the late afternoon to avoid tourist groups.
Don’t forget to cover your shoulders and legs, since this is a religious site, and be aware of the monkeys who are great thieves of cell phones, hats and food!
Wat Kaew Korawaram
In downtown Krabi, there’s another Buddhist temple that you shouldn’t miss, the Wat Kaew Korawaram, also called the “White Temple” because of the white exterior walls.
The large, white staircase leading to the temple can't be missed if you are walking or driving in downtown Krabi: you'll have to climb it to reach the main building which is perched on a small hill, but don't worry, it's nothing compared to the Tiger Cave Temple long staircase!
Once inside, check out the wall drawings showing important episodes of the Buddha’s life. Despite being an important temple in Krabi, and housing a monastery, the Wat Kaew is not as popular as the Wat Tham Suea, and you should be able to explore it without massive crowds.
All nature: explore Ao Thalane and the islands
The fishing village of Ao Thalane is not as touristy as other places in and around Krabi Town, and it’s a great idea for a day trip. Once in Ao Thalane, rent a kayak to explore the mangrove forest and canyons and observe the lush jungle and the creatures who inhabit it.
Locals are pretty serious about protecting the environment of Ao Thalane, and knowledgeable about the mangrove eco-system, so you will learn a lot about it during a kayak trip.
A few villas and beach resorts can be found in Ao Thalane, but if you don’t want to sleep there, this is an easy day trip from Krabi and Ao Nang.
Visit the islands
There are 52 islands off the coast of Krabi Province, and plenty of amazing tour opportunities for island hopping, many of them starting from Krabi Town or Ao Nang. The closest islands are ideal for half day tours by long tail boats, while others require a full day tour by speed boat, or a multi-day package.
One of the biggest and most beautiful islands where you should overnight is Koh Lanta Yai, a heaven for beach life, snorkelling and diving. It’s a laid back, relaxing place to spend a week, ideal for families with your children, yoga lovers, digital nomads and anyone who don’t miss the night life.
You’ll see some fantastic sunsets from Koh Lanta’s west coast beaches. Moreover, Lanta is easy to navigate: most of the roads are paved and scooters are affordable.
For a day trip from Ao Nang and Krabi, one of the most impressive islands is Koh Hong, boasting a long white sandy beach, a lagoon and, since recently, a phenomenal view point that can be reached in about 20 minutes, climbing an easy staircase.
Most join and private tours include a picnic lunch on the beach, anyway there is a simple restaurant where you can buy some fried rice, chips and ice-cream. It’s forbidden to sleep in Koh Hong, and the island closes at 5 pm. The boat trips to Koh Hong usually stop in two more islands: Lao Ladin (Paradise Island) and Pakbia.
The 4 island day trip is another tour that can be easily arranged from Ao Nang, Krabi Town and nearby locations.
Hop on a long tail or speed boat and spend your day basking in the sun, swimming, snorkelling or kayaking in the Andaman sea. Poda, Chicken, Tup and Mor islands are very close to each other: at low tide you can even walk on the sandbar connecting the tiny Tup island to Mor, feeling like Moses.
Poda Island is the one with the longest and whitest beach, it’s usually very crowded but if you walk to the southern part of the beach you might find a tranquil corner. It takes only 20 minutes by boat from Ao Nang to Poda and Chicken, and they are both stunning.
Hike the highest peaks
Krabi Province houses several National Parks, one of them is the Khao Phanom Bencha Park that takes its name from Khao Phanom Bencha, the highest mountain in the province.
If you are fit and healthy, you can climb it, but you should hire a guide and plan to overnight, since it takes about 7 hrs to reach the top, and the sun sets early in Thailand.
Another lovely (but challenging) hiking trail is the Dragon Crest (Khao Ngon Nak) which starts nearby Tubkaak Beach, a 15 minute drive from Ao Nang, and takes about 2 hours per way.
Start very early in the morning if you want to ascend slowly and enjoy some time at the top, taking in one of the most epic views in all of Thailand, because the National Park closest at 3 pm: after this time you won't be allowed to enter and climb.
What about my favorite activities as a resident?
As somebody who lives in Krabi all year long, I don’t visit the most touristic islands often, since I have been there many times in the past.
Mostly, I like to spend my free time eating brunch at a beach or panoramic café, enjoying a day at the spa, hopping on a public boat to Railay or taking long walks in Klong Muang or Tubkaak beach.
One thing I never get tired of is watching the phenomenal sunsets that happen so often in Krabi.
If you come to this part of Thailand, drop me a line and I’ll whisper some of my favorite secret places, so that you won’t miss out on all the natural beauties that Krabi has to offer.
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Hi, how are you doing, today? The weather is cloudy and rainy here in Krabi, so there's not so much to do besides cooking, reading and binge-watching Netflix.
These days I’m enjoying a serie called The Serpent, the true story of a merciless French-Vietnamese assassin & thief targeting travellers on the Hippy trail during the Seventies. The locations shown are fantastic, and I love the way Bangkok of those days is portrayed.
But to open the chapter of Netflix series would be like opening the Pandora's box, and I’m not ready yet: so today I’m just going to write about 5 of my favorite Asian movies, by which I mean movies filmed in an Asian country.
I’ve been a movie addict since after taking a course called History and Critic of Cinema at University, when I fell in love with the Nouvelle Vague and the Surrealism of Luis Bunuel.
Living abroad without a chance to go to the cinema (here in Krabi there are no foreign movies in English or even with English subtitles except for the occasional Avengers or superhero saga, a genre I despise with all my heart), I mostly rely on Netflix.
I wish I could sign up to all the film streaming platforms on earth, but I’m not rich enough. So I’m going by with Netflix plus a few other websites, the downside effect of such restricted choice being that I have to close about a hundred pop up pages and porn advertising each time I try to watch something.
It’s a gruesome business, keeping up with the movies.
The list of films I love and I never get tired of watching is very long, but today I’ll focus on 5 great movies set in Asia; movies that might inspire you to travel and discover new countries or itineraries, but that also tell amazing stories and portrait the culture and lifestyle of those places in vivid traits.
If you haven't seen these movies yet, and you're craving a trip to Asia after having being stuck at home for more than a year, they are a great way to spend a few hours of your time.
Let me know what you think, if you liked them, or what would be on your list of 5 movies to dream- travel in Asia.
Let’s start by saying that I tried very hard to make a list of 10 things, but I couldn’t find so many. And that's the reason for the weird number 8.
1- Road safety : there’s none, unfortunately. Thais drive super fast or super slow, and are often distracted and careless behind the wheel.
It’s common to see an entire family squeezed on a motorbike: father, mother and two or three young kids, and nobody’s wearing a helmet. People travel as passengers in the trunk of pick up trucks, or transport their forniture or live stocks without any safety precaution.
Roads are poorly lit at night, and wild life and street dogs are abundant, which adds to the dangers of driving in the Kingdom. Thailand has one of the world’s deadliest rate of road accidents, and the number has been decreasing in the past year only because of Covid restrictions: lockdowns meant less people on the road, therefore the dropping in deadly accidents.
2- Bureaucracy: applying for a visa, renewing a visa, getting a Thai ID or a driving license can be a very painful and long process in Thailand.
The rules are endless, and more often than not different from one province to the other, sometimes from one office to the other or depending on the employee you have to deal with.
The more you try to comply to the rules, the more the rules get confused or absurd. It’s the price to pay to live in paradise, I guess.
What I learnt from dealing with Thai bureaucracy is: dress neatly, be polite, never rise your voice, and always be prepared for the worst.
3- Traffic. When I was working in Bangkok, it took me 2 to 3 hours to travel from my house in On Nut to Minburi, less than 15 km apart, every day. 2 to 3 hours per way.
I had to wake up at 4.45 every morning and get on the bus by 5.30 if I wanted to reach my work place by 7:30.
The same in the late afternoon, with a commuting that required the combination of a songthaew, a bus, a ferry-boat, another songthaew and a 15 minute walk past construction sites and underpasses per trip.
Traffic in Bangkok is madness, despite the improvement that is coming with the building of more BTS and MRT lines. And it’s not only Bangkok: try driving in Phuket and Nakhon or even in Ao Nang at peak hour in high season, and you’ll see.
No surprise that in 2016 Thailand ranked first as the world’s most congested country for traffic!
l4- Fish sauce. I don’t eat fish nor seafood so I’m already suspicious of anything from the sea coming in my plate. However, the reason I don’t like fish sauce -nam pla in Thai language- is not as noble as you may think, but purely “olfactory”: fish sauce smells terrible.
If you only eat at restaurants or take away food, you might not have noticed it, but try to pour it into a hot pan, like Thais do for most of their recipes, and smell the air.
To me that smell is way worst than Durian. Of course I eat fish sauce (it would be a hard life trying to survive in Thailand avoiding it at all cost, since it is actually used in most Thai soups, noodles, curries, stir-frays dishes even when it’s not listed on the menu), but only when it’s already cooked and mixed with the other ingredients, and only if it’s in reasonable amount.
But what is fish sauce? The basic ingredients are fish, water and salt. The fish is usually anchovies, but it can also be shrimp or mackerel.
The fermentation process for a good fish sauce can last two years. To me it tastes extremely fishy and salty, but sometimes it’s diluted with lime juice and other ingredients that balance the flavour.
Surprisingly, Thailand is not the leading consumer of fish sauce in the world: the first place goes to Vietnam, with Phu Quoc Island being one of the main producers of fish sauce in all Asia.
5- Snakes, snakes, and more snakes. There are over 200 species of reptiles in Thailand, many poisonous, and they don’t live only in the jungle, as you may think.
Have a look at social media platforms like Facebook, Youtube, Instagram and TikTok: it’ full of videos of snakes trespassing into properties, in Bangkok almost as often as in smaller cities and country villages.
Humans invaded their space, cutting trees and building villages and cities where it used to be forest, so snakes now live among us. You can see them crossing the road (or smashed on the road after being hit by vehicles), inside shops and restaurants, at the beach, in the water.
And you hear scary stories from friends, like the guy who was showering inside his bathroom when he realised that, in a corner, a few feet away, a king cobra was staring at him. Some other friends had their dog killed by Malayan pit vipers or banded kraits or cobras in their garden.
Given that I have an irrational, absolute repulsion of snakes, I chose the wrong country to settle down, guaranteed.
If, unlike me, you are fascinated by snakes, join an online communities such as the “All About Thailand Snakes” group on Facebook, there are several expert members who seem to now a lot about the snakes of Thailand.
6-The environmental abuse and waste: despite the recent campaigns and bans on plastic bags, Thais use an enormous amount of plastic.
Everything is wrapped in plastic, then packed in a second plastic bag, and if you buy a drink in a supermarket a plastic straw (often 2) is placed in your bag without you even asking for it.
Plus, it’s quite common to see families gathering for picnic at parks and beaches, then leaving all their garbage behind, or throwing it in a corner so that street dogs and various animals will have an easy job scattering everything around.
The result is that waste from plastic use (but not only plastic) is a serious problem in the country and a threat to the natural environment and fragile co-system.
Add that in some provinces, especially in the North, the air is so polluted at certain times of the year that people have to leave for other regions, or stay inside their homes all day with filtered air. Chiang Mai won the infamous award for most polluted city in the world. I mean, CHIANG MAI, MOST POLLUTED city in the world. That’s crazy!
7- Dual pricing standards for foreigners and Thais. This is something that affects many countries, but I experienced it in Thailand more than anywhere else.
As a faràng, the Thai word for foreigner, you are considered rich, privileged and somehow a villain, and they’ll make you pay for it. I would accept a slight difference, but in many places (the more touristic the place, the higher the dual pricing applied) it is more than 2 or 3 times the normal price, even if you explain that you live in the country, earn a Thai salary and pay tax.
I understand that Thailand having not experienced the multiculturalism of Europe and the US, it still has a “Thai way” of doing things, however it is sometimes sad and frustrating to be treated so differently when you have been living in the country for a long time, and you are trying your best to blend in and feel welcomed.
Speaking the local language can help, but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t. But in a way, I always try to remind myself that this dual pricing policy is also connected with one of the characteristics which is so fascinating about Thailand: Thais feel a profound national pride, patriotism and self-identification with the flag and the country.
So, no matter what price you pay as a foreigner living in Thailand, you are and will always be perceived as an alien. Deal with it, or go home.
8-Animal exploitation: elephants, monkeys and other wild life are used as forced employment in palm and coconut plantation, trunk transportation and tourist attractions. Some live their whole life in chains and cages, some are beaten and mistreated, and even though things are changing, and several animal welfare associations and volunteers are fighting for the health and freedom of the animals, animal exploitation is still happening.
Around 6,500 elephants live in Thailand today, with around 2,500 of them being caught from the wild.
When you travel to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, or visit the tropical islands, choose your excursions and tours carefully, do inquire about how animals are treated, and never, ever go to an “Elephant park” or “Sanctuary” that offers elephant rides, or “boxing elephants, painter elephants”, “monkey dance” and so on.
These animals are not painters and dancers in nature, so how do you think they learnt those “funny” tricks? You can still have an opportunity to see elephants and monkeys, just visit a rehabilitation center or take part in an eco-tour that brings you to the jungle to observe them in the wild.
Although I have always hated animal parks, zoo or going to the Circus, I confess that on my first holidays in South East Asia in the Nineties I did ride elephants, and I even visited a Chiang Mai park where you can pet tiger cubs and giant, old tigers, and have your photo taken with them.
I didn’t know, or I didn’t want to know, how those places worked. I was young, stupid, naive. And I regret it. It was several years ago, animal exploitation wasn’t even in the news, but I did learn from my mistakes and I’m determined not to repeat them, and to help other travellers not to fall in the traps.
Animal abandonment, illegal hunting, animal fighting are another face of the same coin, all still happening in Thailand.
Cock fighting is still permitted under the recent "Prevention of Animal Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act" of 2014, and quite common in villages and during religious festivals.
Here’s a list of Animal welfare organisations operating in Thailand, have a look or contact them if you want to know more about their work, or even donate to the cause.
And here they are, my main reasons for not always liking Thailand. What about yours, if you do have any?
How to start a Blog? No idea. This is my first attempt at blogging. However, I have to start somewhere, and since this whole thing is supposed to be about travels and places, Thailand seems to be the right topic to begin with. I've been living in the Kingdom for a little over two years now, the first 8 months in Bangkok, the rest in Krabi. And here are the 10 reasons why I love life in Thailand.
What about you? What are the things you like most about the country you live in? Should I also make a list about what I DON'T like about Thailand?