Located on Thailand’s picturesque Andaman coast is the province of Krabi. A relatively unspoiled destination, Krabi is a locale renowned for its scenic beauty and features a landscape littered with hidden sea caves, sheltered bays and coves, live coral reefs and beautiful isles that teem with marine life. Records indicate that the area has played host to pirates, the sea gypsies (Chao Leh) and trading merchants for centuries past.
Krabi town is today home to a sizeable population, which features a significant Muslim-Thai component. As a result, in addition to indigenous Thai cuisine the many small hotels and restaurants, which dot Krabi’s dining arena, offer various Muslim specialties like biryani and spicy curries as well.
Attractions and activities
For a rather laid-back destination, Krabi offers a wide selection of attractions and activities. In fact, there is something for everybody in stunning Krabi.
Like various other Thai beach resort destinations, Krabi too hosts a locale that is a center of commercial tourism. Ao Nang Bay located approximately 20 km from Krabi town is the main tourist hub in Krabi.
The stretch of beach at Ao Nang Bay hosts several restaurants, bars and hotels, dive and souvenir shops. This famed resort town is also a jump off point for the many island hopping tours offered by tour operators based in Krabi.
These boat tours are usually conducted aboard long tail boats. These long tail boats transport tourists on tours of the more than 130 islands of the Krabi archipelago. Popular excursions include destinations as Koh Lanta, the islands of Mu Koh Phi Phi National Park and the secluded beaches of Phra Nang Cape, home to the one time hippie haven, Railey Beach.
Noppharat Thara, located six km from Ao Nang Bay is another famous beachfront in Krabi. This casuarina and coconut palms littered white-sand beachfront is a sight to behold. Noppaharat Thara forms a part of the Phi Phi National Park and hence is not as overrun by tourist interests as is Ao Nang Bay.
Railay Bay located at the southern tip on the southern tip of Ao Nang Bay is accessible only by long tail boats from Ao Nang Bay. The bay features to main sections namely, Railay West and Railay East. Tourists usually head to Railay West, an area known for its azure seas, powder sand beaches and several luxury hotels. Rock climbing, scuba diving, sailing and fishing are some of the popular activities offered on Railay West. Much of Railay East is overrun by an impenetrable mangrove forest and offers limited scope for swimming and other beach activities. However, the eastern half of the bay also hosts budget accommodation options along with many nightclubs and restaurants.
Another favored tourist haunt is Mu Koh Poda, a gorgeous tropical isle located 8 km off the coast of Ao Nang Bay. This island features pristine white sand beaches and stunning coral reefs and is frequented by diving and fishing enthusiasts year round as it doesn’t have a ‘wet season.'
Phi Phi Island National Park
The renowned Phi Phi Islands are famous throughout the world for their natural beauty. Immortalized forever in the Hollywood blockbuster, ‘The Beach,' the attraction of the Phi Phi island national park consists of two main islands, Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Le Island. The islands can be accessed via boat trips from Krabi town as well as Phuket.
Phi Phi Don Island is the larger of the two islands and is home to the Krabi’s famous Chao Ley or Sea Gipsy village. This village is located on the northern end of the island at Cape Tong (LeamTong) and is a popular tourist attraction.
Phi Pho Le island features a dramatic landscape of steep limestone cliffs, which seem to emerge from the depths of the ocean. The island is known for its many beautiful bays and coves like Pileh Bay, Maya and Loh Samah. Maya Bay is the most popular attraction on Phi Phi Island for it featured as the setting for the Leonardo di Caprio film ‘the Beach'. Another famed spot on the island is the Wiking Cave located on the island’s northeast coast. This cave is the nesting ground for swifts and locals seek to collect their nests for it features as the main ingredient of the much-desired Chinese delicacy, ‘bird's nest soup.'
Phi Phi viewpoint
The conduit to this attraction is a steep vertical 300 meter climb that includes numerous steep steps and narrow winding paths. However, the effort is well worth it for once you reach the top jaw-dropping views of the surrounding seas and beyond await you in the form of a vast expanse of water in varying shades of blue and green.
Aside from sightseeing and boat tourneys, tourists also head to the Phi Phi islands for various recreational pursuits like scuba diving and snorkeling, bird watching and rock climbing,
Khao Khanap Nam
Often referred to as the symbol of Krabi, the attraction of Khao Khanap Nam features two mountains rising to a height of 100 meters that flank both sides of the Maenam Krabi River. These pinnacles are located at the entrance of Krabi town and enclose complex cave systems adorned with fascinating karst formations in the form of stalactites and stalagmites. Aside from cave explorations, the tour operators at Khao Khanap Nam also offer trekking expeditions to mangrove forests and to Klang Village, a traditional fishing village.
Situated to the south of Krabi town, Koh Lanta is today a major attraction of the area. The island is accessible via a two-hour ferry journey from Krabi town and offers a range of accommodation options catering to all budgets. The island offers a variety of natural and man-made attractions such as Lanta Old Town, a quaint locale, which has much to offer for the culture-loving tourist.
As for natural attractions, Koh Lanta is home to the Koh Lanta national park, which extends over 152 square kilometers. The Park boundaries include various coral reef ringed islands like Koh Ha, Koh Rok and Koh Hai. The area of the park is rugged and hilly and features gravelly and sandy beaches. The park is also home to the Koh Lanta lighthouse, which is located on its western coast and is a prominent attraction of the park.
The Khao Mai Kaew caves constitute another natural attraction of Koh Lanta and are situated in the center of the island. This cave system hosts various different sized caverns littered with fantastical limestone formations in the form of stalactites and stalagmites. Visitors have to trek through jungle terrain to get to the caves but once there, they do enjoy exploring their many attractions including an underground pool, which is suitable for swimming.
The Lanta Community Museum, which showcases the lives of the Chao Leh (Sea Gypsies) and the Lanta Butterfly Park are other much frequented attractions on Koh Lanta.