Krabi Sailing & Travel Guide

Krabi Vacations, Tours & Beaches



Limestone Karst-Speckled Seascape

Spanning across 1,800 miles of Thailand’s mainland and a collection of pristine archipelagos, Krabi’s crowning jewels are its natural attractions. The province is home to an abundance of idyllic beaches and bays, a profusion of tropical islands and spectacular national parks.

The geography of Krabi is what set this province apart from other regions of the country. The province is marked by numerous vertical limestone cliffs, rocks and karsts both on land and at sea. The natural limestone structures dot the mainland’s rice paddies, create spectacular waterfalls in the national parks and provide exceptional scuba diving opportunities in the Andaman Sea.

Situated in southern Thailand, around 500 miles south of Bangkok, historians believe Krabi to be Thailand’s oldest continually settled community. The province today attracts visitors from all corners of the world, luring them in with tales of natural majesty. The main beach resort areas are Ao Pra Nang, colloquially known as Ao Nang, and nearby Railay Beach, the latter accessible only via boat.

The stunning limestone Karst dotted seascape of Krabi

Lively Town Lovely People

Positioned along the Mae Nam Krabi River a short hop from the Andaman Coast, the motto of Krabi city is, “Lively town, lovely people”, and the provincial capital certainly lives up to this reputation. Krabi city provides a convenient base for visitors exploring the region, and foodies will be delighted with the culinary offerings found here including southern curries and Muslim food such as ubiquitous roti pancakes.

A short longtail boat ride north of Krabi will take visitors to the two limestone karsts that have come to be regarded as symbols of the city. Despite the influx of tourists to the region in past decades, Krabi has managed to retain a great deal of its local charm, which when combined with the life-inspiring seascapes, makes for pretty convincing arguments to pay this area a visit.

Crab statue adorning the banks of the Krabi River which flows through Krabi town


Archaeological Gems and Rich Culture

Archaeological discoveries make for convincing arguments that Krabi is one of the oldest communities in Thailand, and dates all the way back to the prehistoric period. It is widely believed that the town may have taken its name from the Thai word meaning “sword”, one of which, as legend has it, was unearthed in the area prior to the founding of the city.

Visitors seeking to immerse themselves in Thailand’s rich spiritual culture should take a trip to Wat Tham Seua, one of the most famous temples in Southern Thailand. Perched atop a hill five miles north of Krabi town, the journey to the site, also known as Tiger Cave Temple, presents an adventure in itself. Visitors have to make it up a total of 1,237 steps, but once the grueling climb is over, they are rewarded with stunning vistas of the surrounding area. The peak is also home to an impressive statue of the Buddha and a golden stupa. The temple itself is nestled in lush forest that is home to a great many monkeys that swarm through the trees, and the cave features tiger prints that are marked into the stone. In the area surrounding the temple, ancient pottery fragments and a mould for making Buddha footprints have been unearthed.

The temple known as Wat Tham Seua perched atop a hill 5 miles north of Krabi town

Prehistoric Natural Treasures

Similarly, the Wat Khlong Tom Museum and temple showcases exhibits that were unearthed from the Khuan Luk Pat archaeological site behind the temple. Artifacts on show include beads, stone tools and clay figures that are approximately 5000 years old.

Travelers that can’t get enough of the region’s plentiful history may also enjoy a visit to Fossil Shells Beach and Tham Sadet. Susaan Hoi, also known as Fossil Shells Beach, is situated around 10 miles to the southwest of Krabi town. During the prehistoric age 40 million years ago, the beach was a freshwater swamp that was home to many types of mollusk. The mollusk fossils are now embedded in the colossal sheets of lignite littered on the shores. Tham Sadet, or Sadet Cave, is situated not too far away, and comprises a number of uniquely shaped stalactites and stalagmites.

Visitors more interested in Krabi’s natural treasures may prefer a visit to Krabi Horticultural Centre, which displays large exhibits of the area’s fruits, flora and fauna. Situated 12 miles from Krabi town, the centre promotes research and the economic development of Thai agriculture.

You never know what you'll find on Fossil Shell Beach


Nature

As well as being blessed with a rich cultural history, Krabi also has plenty of natural treasures for visitors to discover, both on land and at sea.

The abundant land and seascape of Krabi province is home to a selection of national parks, which provide a true haven for nature lovers. Hat Noppharat Thara – Mu Koh Phi Phi National Park encompasses a large portion of Krabi’s coastline, and an archipelago of around 80 islands, that are blanketed in evergreen and mangrove forests. 12 miles from Krabi is Khao Phanom Bencha National Park, which includes rugged mountain scenery, stunning craggy coastline; highlights include the tri-level Namtok Huai waterfalls and numerous hiking trails. Than Bok Khorani National Park, famed for its network of caves, is situated approximately 28 miles from Krabi town, and visitors often enjoy a refreshing dip in one of the park’s many shaded pools.

Mangrove forested shorelines are popular with day trip kayakers

Marine Life

The Khao Pra-Bang Khram Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in Krabi’s Khlong Thom district, and offers visitors an excellent opportunity to revel in Thailand’s natural beauty. The park is home to rare birds like Gurney’s pitta and the black hornbill, making the sanctuary something of a paradise for bird watchers. Two stunning pools, the Emerald Pool and the Blue Pool, offer nature lovers stunning trails that are punctuated with information signs on the area’s plants and wildlife. Krabi is popular for scuba divers and as a snorkeling destination your sure to see interesting marine life. 

Tiger shark paying a visit? Be careful what you wish for

Beaches

Many visitors come to Krabi in search of sandy white beaches, lined with swaying coconut palms and crystal blue seas. Railay Beach, one of the region’s most popular beaches, is only accessible by boat, and boasts Thailand’s signature soft white sand, pristine shallow waters and a range of seaside restaurants and bars. Situated on the same peninsula as Railay, Hat Tham Phra Nang Beach, also know as Ao Nang Beach, is ranked as one of the most stunning beaches in the world, where sheer limestone cliffs frame a long stretch of silky white sand.

Relaxation awaits on Hat Tham Phra Nang Beach also known as Ao Nang Beach

Rock Climbing

Due to the craggy limestone cliffs that punctuate Krabi’s coastline, the province has become something of a haven for rock climbers from all over the world. Nowadays, there are over 650 different routes for climbers to challenge themselves with, that traverse steep limestone crags, pocketed walls, overhangs and hanging stalactites. The peninsula between Tham Phra Nang Cave and Rai Le East is home to some popular spots, with climbing routes suitable for both beginners and more experienced climbers. If this is your kind of adventure, it is best to book onto a rock climbing tour with a reputable agency that is accredited by the ACGA.

An exciting playground for rock climbers

Island Hopping

Estimates say that there are approximately 200 islands interspersed along Krabi’s coastline, that encompass everything from small rocky outcrops that protrude from the ocean, to large uninhabited islands. Island hopping is a great way to explore the treasures of Krabi’s splendid coastline, and it is possible to rent a boat from Krabi Town, Ao Nang or Railay. Travelers that don’t feel so confident exploring the Andaman Sea on their own can hire a guide who can guide them to the best snorkeling and kayaking spots in the area.

Exploring local islands and the many ins and outs around Krabi makes a perfect day trip


Retail Amenities

In addition to its charming beaches and stunning scenery, Krabi has a lively retail landscape. If you have come to enjoy the region’s beaches, you needn’t worry about shopping interrupting your sunbathing time, as a number of vendors will come straight to you, bringing their collection of wares with them. Beach vendors sell everything from suntan lotion to beer, so you can enjoy sipping on an ice cold Chang without even having to give up your sun lounger.

For serious shoppers, Krabi has large air-conditioned shopping malls to meet the demand of visitors to the area. The largest is Vogue Department Store on Maharat Road, which is the most traditional in the retail sense of the word. There is also an Outlet Mall, featuring heavily discounted goods from some 100 brands including the likes of Adidas and Lacoste. Big C and Tesco Lotus shopping centers are also present, with the latter also housing a box office theater.

Krabi town while not a shopping mecca will delight you with its night markets

Night Markets, Early Morning Markets and Walking Streets

Smaller shops are sprinkled in abundance throughout the centre of Krabi, selling a diverse array of goods that ranges from motorbike parts to children’s toys. Similar to many other street side stalls in Thailand, it helps if you have a knack for bargaining, as vendors will fully expect you to haggle over their initial price.

In addition to its beachfront stalls, such as those along the vibrant Ao Nang Beach Road, Krabi is home to permanent markets. Maharaj Market is the busiest in the town, and teems with exotic spices, a rainbow of fruit and vegetables, tropical fish, homeware and clothes. The busy atmosphere of Maharaj is everything a visitor would expect from a bustling market in Asia – even before the sun rises, the traditional market is a hive of activity with life, with vendors setting up around 3 or 4 a.m. If mornings are not your thing, try the daily night markets in Krabi Town (namely the market on Maharaj Road), but best to go on an empty stomach due to the wide range of culinary delights on offer.

The town is also home to a selection of lively night markets, the most popular of which is Krabi Walking Street Market, which is held thrice weekly on Fridays to Sundays behind Vogue Department Store, from around sunset to 10 p.m.There is a similar, but smaller, walking street held mid-week in Klong Haeng village.


Seafood and Street Food

Unsurprisingly, seafood features prominently on the list of ingredients that make up Krabi’s signature dishes. Krabi is also an ideal destination for visitors that want to sample cuisine traditional to Southern Thailand, which draws influences from Indian and Malaysian food. Since Krabi’s tourism industry has boomed, it is also possible for travellers to get their hands on a range of international cuisines in many of the province’s resort towns.

Like most other locations in Thailand, dining on Krabi’s street food is one of the best ways to satisfy a hungry stomach. Not only is the cost of street food very affordable, but it gives visitors a chance to explore the bustling markets areas where the best dishes are available. To get your street food fix in Krabi town, head to one of the markets on Maharaj Soi 10, Krabi Walking Street or Chao Fah Night Market. Stalls usually begin trading at about 5:00pm. There are also a selection of longtail boat vendors camped out off the beach in front of Phra Nang Cave at Railay that cook up a selection of luscious dishes.

Krabi's Walking Street features many opportunities for delicious fresh seafood

Dining Out

While Krabi is not renowned as a fine dining destination, the province also boasts a selection of restaurants that rarely fail to hit the spot with holiday-makers. Naturally, most accommodation providers will have an on-site restaurant, so if you see one along the beach that catches your fancy, just plop yourself down and peruse the menu.

A number of restaurants can also be found in Krabi Town. The Takola restaurant, situated two kilometers out of Krabi town on Utarakit Road, is a great place for visitors in search of exquisite Thai and Chinese food in a sit-down restaurant. Popular restaurants on Ao Nang include Carnivore Steak and Grill, Bombay Palace, and Massaman Restaurant serving western, Indian, and Thai cuisine respectively.

Traditional food beautifully presented at Takola Restaurant

Nightlife

While its nightlife may not be as vibrant as that of Bangkok or Patong, Krabi’s evening scene has its own unique character. Railay and Tonsai Beaches are the most popular places to be during peak season, where visitors can take pleasure in fire dancing, full moon parties, live music, Thai boxing and drinks specials. Visitors in the mood for a more relaxed evening lazing on beach cushions listening to Bob Marley gravitate towards Railay East.

The vicinity surrounding Chao Fah Road in Krabi Town is also gaining popularity with foreign travellers, and is home to a number of guesthouses that double up as bars and cafés. Room 69 and Room Garden is a popular spot for visitors, and both venues, run by the same team, feature DJs and live music. In recent years, the venues have earned a reputation as a hub for Krabi’s young Thai nightlife. Chilling Bar in town is also a popular watering hole, complete with requisite large projector televisions, pool table, and an interesting mix of patrons.


From the Airport

Upon arrival at Krabi Airport, there are a few choices of how to get out of the airport. There's the self drive option, with Avis, Budget, and other car rental companies on-site.

There are also taxis, which operate on a fixed rate system, of THB600 (~US$20) to Ao Nang. There is al the official white-colored Krabi Airport shuttle buses, which depart five times per day to Ao Nang and Krabi Town for a maximum fare of THB 150 (~US$5) per person.

Around Krabi

If you want get round Krabi city in the same way as the locals, hop onto a songtaew to get where you want to go. Songtaews are pick-up truck vehicles with covered seating areas on the back, and they depart from the Vogue Department Store on the city’s Maha Rat Road.

Overland trips to destinations further afield can be made by taxis or rental cars. Taxis can be thought of as chauffeured cars, and visitors should either negotiate a flat fee with the driver for the trip.

Krabi Town is also home to motorcycle sidecar taxis which are suitable for short jaunts in town.

However, due to the nature of Krabi as a province made up of coastal lands and islands, it is often necessary to use boats to get around. To cover shorter distances, the most commonly used boat is the reua hang yao, or longtail boat. The propeller at the end of the boat’s long tail makes them extremely maneuverable, even in shallow waters. As with taxis, fares should be agreed beforehand.

Krabi ferries frequently ply the route between Krabi, Phuket , Phi Phi and Koh Lanta


Getting In and Out

Air

Due to its international airport, it is relatively easy for visitors who don’t enjoy long bus and train journeys to get to Krabi. Krabi International Airport is located approximately 10km from the city limits, and 15km from the city centre.

Thai Airways operate daily direct flights between Bangkok and Krabi, as do Air Asia from Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, a journey of just over an hour. Bangkok Airways also links Krabi to the Thai capital as well as another tropical destination – Koh Samui.

Tiger Airways also operates a direct flight from Singapore with a flight time of less than two hours.

Train

Travelers that prefer to make their way to Krabi via train should note that the city does not have a train station. However, it is simple to reach Krabi by rail by catching a train from Bangkok to Surat Thani, and then catching an air-conditioned bus for the last leg of the journey.

Passengers can purchase a bus and train combination ticket that includes the overnight sleeper train from Bangkok, and the bus from Surat Thani Station to Krabi. The combined bus and train fare in a first class sleeper is approximately THB 1,500 (~US$48) while the second class sleepers fare is under THB 1,000 (~US$32).

The train journey to Surat Thani takes between nine and 12 hours (depending on which train you catch), and the bus connection from Surat Thani takes around three hours.

Bus

Regular direct bus services operate between Krabi and Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal. However, passengers willing to pay extra for a more comfortable 10-hour journey can pay a fare of approximately THB1,055 (US$33) for a VIP bus.

First class buses may take a little longer, but passengers only pay THB680 (US$21) for a seat and for the second class bus that leaves several times a day, passengers only pay around THB378 (US$12) per person.