Krabi and the South is what I always pictured Thailand to be from everything I know from Leonardo DiCaprio and other assorted movies and Instagram photos – and it did not disappoint. I stayed in the beach town of Ao Nang, about 30 minutes from the city center of Krabi. It had all the feels of a miniature two-street Cabo, complete with loudspeaker-topped vans advertising DJ clubs and drink specials. There’s not much to do and feels super touristy, but it is a really central hub for getting to the Islands. And from what I’ve heard about the more popular destination, Phuket, which is about a 2 hour van ride, 8 hour ferry with a stop at Koh Phi Phi, or a 2 hour speed boat away – Krabi was better suited for my travel style. BUT, the beach was beautiful with crystal blue waters and pillow soft sand, all under the watchful gaze of monkeys astride the grand limestone cliffs looming overhead. The sunsets were epic, the view of the islands in the distance were stunning, and I had the second best Indian food of my life. Oh, and I also hung out with the special effects crew filming Fast and Furious 9 and got to take a peek all the behind the scenes tricks on how they blow up cars and make people’s faces melt off. No big deal.
If I could do it over again and had the same exact amount of time (5 days 4 nights), I would fly into Krabi, stay 2 nights in Ao Nang with one day in Railay Bay and one day on the tour. Then I would ferry to Koh Phi Phi and spend a night, then take the ferry to Phuket and spend 1 night there, then fly out of Phuket.
And, in case you missed it, check out my story all about the path that led me to overcome my fear of snorkeling in Krabi, and what I was doing there, in my post: Reclaiming My Childhood Dreams: A Path to Thailand
I took a GRAB from the Airport to Ao Nang for 600 Baht, but I think you can take a shuttle for cheaper from one of the airport kiosks. Inside AoNang you can walk everywhere, or get a scooter!
It’s such a small town with not a ton of cars on the road, so scooting around is an amazing way to zip around. I’m pretty scooter obsessed after living in Bali, and Ao Nang was even more fun to scoot around than Canggu. Be careful where you rent, I read a lot of reviews with some tire scams where the inner tire tube is busted and then the place blames you for it and makes you pay extra. My tire was very flat but I didn’t notice until later on, I tried to get it filled but it wouldn’t fill, so I just dealt with it since I was going less than .5km at a time and so I didn’t get roped into paying extra for something I didn’t do! So really check your tires before driving off. Also the helmets you get are NOT great, so drive carefully. They give you the scooter with one liter in it, and that was enough for me to get around the town for 4 days. 200 Baht per day, leave your passport for the deposit.
Where to stay
The town of Ao Nang is TINY, so you really can’t go wrong on location, especially if you have a scooter. I stayed about a 10 minute walk from the beach and I was on the far end of the main drag.
Ao Nang Fisherman’s Village
This boutique hotel/Aribnb was a REALLY good deal, even with the upgrade to the cliff view room (totally worth it, so beautiful). If I did it again, I would definitely get the breakfast included room because the food in the area is not great and the hotel food was great and convenient. The pool was beautiful, the staff friendly, and the room was modern, clean, and really comfy. There was a really loud (but stunning! It even lit up at night) PINK mosque next door, so if you’re a light sleeper bring ear plugs!
Must eat and drink
I literally ate at the same place for every single meal for 4 days. Party because it was tough to find purely vegetarian food and mostly because every single restaurant tried to aggressively hustle you in off the street as you walked by and would not stop until you kept walking.
Govinda’s was an oasis from the hustle, tucked away up a set of stairs on the other side of the main drag. Specializing in Indian and Thai food, the vibe was so chill, the decor was beautiful, service was warm and welcoming, and the food EXCELLENT. Most of the patrons were Indian, with a few tourists mixed in, which says a lot about the quality and authenticity of the food. They have a delicious all you can eat buffet for 300 baht (about $10) that has a mix of mostly Indian and a little Thai, with dessert, fruit, and naan. The a la carte menu had some of the best Indian I’ve had so far – especially the Paneer Tikka Masala and their naans. The papaya salad was also excellent!
Lion & Shark
A really cute coffee shop attached to an all-women’s hostel with great wifi, cool very un Ao Nang vibes, amazing smoothie bowls, and excellent coffee. Best part? You have to climb this really cool metal ladder to enter. I loved working here for the day!
I only popped in, but this off the beaten path bar close to the beach was the only bar I found that didn’t scream tourist or wasn’t a complete ghost town. Great decor, indoor/outdoor space, relaxed non-crowded but actually populated atmosphere, pool tables in the back, and really good chill and not crazy loud deep house music.
I can’t believe a place like this is on my list, but this hidden spot had the best live music I found on my trip. The male/female duo killed it on an intimate stage, the dude crushed an electric guitar Carlos Santana style and the woman had a voice that could be on the radio. The owner is from New Jersey and has a loud infectious personality that you can tell drives the great vibes of the spot, We only had a couple beers there so I can’t vouch for the food, but it was a great chill spot to sit and hang.
A rock climbing mecca and quick longtail boat ride from Ao Nang beach, a perfect day trip to go explore and chill. You’ll land on the West Beach, then you can walk through the path to get to the East side where all the rock climbing and trails are. I would start by going over to the viewpoint climb (it’s easy to miss because you literally just go climb up the side of the mountain, it will be on your left side of the paved path). Make sure you bring some solid sneakers so you can climb the nearly 90 degree vertical cliff path to the viewpoint and lagoon and not have to go barefoot like I did! It has really well worn path with ropes and handholds, as long as you are fit and brave you don’t need any climbing experience! After the climb, continue along the path to go chill and swim at Princess Cave Beach, it is STUNNING.
Govinda’s has a beach stall there back on the West side where you can get some great sandwiches and ice cream at the end of the day, and the Thai crepe place right when you enter the little street is AMAZING.
Phi Phi Tour
I wanted to beat the crowds and experience the islands in a more low key way, so I booked an “early bird” tour to Phi Phis and 5 surrounding islands that advertised exactly that. What I didn’t realize was that Koh Phi Phi, the main island that everyone talks about was not included. But it was cool, because the islands we did go to were gorgeous and peaceful. The tour I went on by Krabi EZ Trails was EXCELLENT and all inclusive with transportation (they’ll pick you up at and drop you off at your hotel) and food, and the boat was really nice. The guides were really friendly, they gave us a great balance of solo time relaxing on beaches and swimming and island hopping, fed us fresh fruits, snacks, water, juices, sodas, and an incredible island lunch! We saw where The Beach was filmed, watched baby monkeys swimming, and snorkeled with the fishies. I highly recommend them and it was worth the price.
If you want to go to the main island, Koh Phi Phi, I would recommend doing this tour one day, and another day take the cheap ferry over, spend a night or two, and then ferry back!