Krabi, a coastal province, abounds with countless natural attractions that never fail to impress tourists. Such attractions include white sandy beaches, crystal clear water, fascinating coral reefs, caves and waterfalls, as well as numerous islands.
The distinguishing feature of both Krabi and neighboring Phang Nga is the massive limestone karsts, rising vertiginously out of the flat rice paddies on land and as islands from the sea. Add in some gorgeous beaches and excellent scuba diving and rock climbing, and it’s little wonder that tourism in the area has been booming. While less commercialized than neighboring Phuket, Krabi Province cannot be described as undiscovered: it receives two million visitors a year, and the major tourist areas cater extensively for foreigners.
Beaches in Krabi
- Ao Nang — Krabi’s most developed beach, a long beach fringed by palm trees
- Had Yao (Long Beach) — the last untouched beach in Krabi Province, and perhaps the most spectacular with its views of Jum Mountain and Ao Nang’s cliff walls.
- Ko Jum — peace & quiet for those looking for solitude
- Ko Lanta — sleepy island, the new escape for those who find Ao Nang/Rai Leh too touristy
- Ko Ngai — part of Krabi Province, but easier to reach from Trang
- Ko Phi Phi — Thailand’s largest Marine National Park and backpacker favorite where The Beach was filmed
- Ko Siboya — rural Thailand with a difference
- Rai Leh (Railay) — Thailand’s rock climbing Mecca, a craggy peninsula with several small beaches
- Ton Sai — Cheapest bungalows in the area. Preferred by backpackers away from the hordes of tourists and an easy walk to Rai Leh.
The best time to visit Krabi is between the months November to April when the area’s climate is less hot than usual. During this period the island gets a lot of dry North Easterly winds, so giving dry blue skies and starry nights. Then, down on the beaches one can enjoy nice sea breezes. From June to November the area gets a lot of rainfall, more on average than the rest of the country. During this period the island gets a lot of moist South Westerly winds, so giving a mixture of dry days and wet ones. The sea stays at a warm 29°C all year round. Visitors however, coming in this period will find it cheaper.
Bordering the Andaman Sea, Krabi is located 814 kilometers south of Bangkok and covers an area of 4,708 square kilometers. Its mountainous physical geography is broken by highlands and plains, covering more than 130 large and small islands, and abounding with mangrove forests. The Krabi River flows 5 kilometers through the town and into the Andaman Sea at Tambon Pak Nam. There are also klongs (canals) such as Klong Pakasai, Klong Krabi Yai, and Klong Krabi Noi, which all originate from Krabi’s highest mountain Mount Phanom Bencha.
- North: borders with Phang-nga and Surat Thani
- South: borders with Trang and the Andaman Sea
- East: borders with Nakhon Si Thammarat
- West: borders with Phang-nga and the Andaman Sea
The most popular way to enter this province is via its capital, Krabi.
Krabi International Airport (KBV) is about 10 km from the city limits, 15 km from the city centre, 40km from Ao Nang and 23km from Had Yao. Thai Airways operates daily direct flights to/from Bangkok, likewise Air Asia from Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. Bangkok Airway flies to Ko Samui nearly every day of the week. Nok Air operates daily flights to Krabi from Bangkok (Don Muang). Destination Air Shuttle, Thailand’s only Seaplane service also routinely flies in and out of Krabi (Ko Lanta) from Phuket and to the numerous outer islands.
Krabi is on Highway 4. Shared songthaews (pickup truck taxis) from Ao Nang to Krabi are frequent and cost Bt 40. Originating in Phang-nga province, Highway 4 links many of the province’s districts. Other main routes include:
- Highway 4035 to Plai Phraya district (Krabi) & Phra Saeng district (Surat Thani)
- Highway 4034 links Ao Nang and Nopparat beaches
- Highway 4037 to Khao Phanom district (towards Surat Thani)
- Highway 4038 links Klong Thom and Lam Thap districts
- Highway 4206 links Klong Thom to Koh Lanta
- Proceed along Highway No. 4, passing Phetchaburi – Prachuap Khiri Khan – Chumphon – Ranong – Phang-nga, to Krabi. The total distance is 946 kilometers.
- Travel along Highway No. 4 onto Highway No. 41 at Chumphon via Amphoe Lang Suan and Amphoe Chaiya, Surat Thani. Proceed towards Amphoe Wiang Sa, change to Highway No. 4035 for Amphoe Ao Luek, and switch back to Highway No. 4 again to Krabi. This route is 814 kilometers.
From Phuket: Proceed along Highways No. 402 and No. 4. The total distance is 176 kilometers.
The nearest train stations are:
- Trang – 2-2.5 hours away from Krabi by bus
The nearest train station to Krabi is in Trang province just south of Krabi. From there, there are trains to and from Bangkok. Distances
- From Bangkok
The distance from Bangkok to Krabi is approx 950 km or about 12 hrs by car.
- Route 1: Phetburi – Prachuabkirikhan – Chumporn – Phang Nga – Krabi = 946 km.
- Route 2: Phetburi – Prachuabkirikhan – Chumporn (Highway No 41) to Chaiya (Suratthani) – Krabi (Viangsra) – Highway No 4035 – Krabi (Ao Luk) and along Highway 4 again = 814 km.
- Surat Thani – 3-4 hours away from Krabi by bus
Songthaew (public passenger pick-up vehicles)
Various tourist attractions can be conveniently reached by local Songthaew. Such attractions include Ban Huai To, Ban Nong Thale, Ban Khao Thong, Hat Noppharat Thara, Susan Hoi, Ao Nang, Ban Khlong Muang, Ban Nai Sa, Amphoe Khao Phanom, Amphoe Nuea Khlong, Amphoe Khlong Thom, Ban Bo Muang, Ban Hua Hin, Ban Khlong Phon, Amphoe Lam Thap, Amphoe Ao Luek, and Amphoe Plai Phraya. The local Songthaews depart from the Vogue Department Store on Maha Rat Road. Trips to other destinations can be made by taxi and rental car.
Krabi is mostly coast and islands, so you’ll be spending quite some time on boats when getting around.
The most common boat type for shorter hops is the long-tail boat (reua hang yao), which true to the name has the propeller at the end of a long ‘tail’ stretching from the boat. This makes them supremely manoeuvrable even in shallow waters, but they’re a little underpowered for longer trips and you’ll get wet if it’s even a little choppy.
Food in Krabi
At night there is a charming night market close to the promenade next to the piers. Food is good and cheap, with Muslim influences. From time to time the town organizes shows on a small stage next to the market.
An even better market can be found on Maharat Soi (Lane) 10 in the centre of town. This market has plenty of fresh fruit and lots of authentic cooked food. Only a few places have menus, otherwise point and enjoy. This market does not sell alcohol.
Not to be missed is the covered morning market (the biggest in South Thailand) on Maharaj Soi 9 (behind the Shell station). For early birds only. After 8am all the action is subsiding. Exactly at that time you can watch a show of national pride: the national anthem is playing and almost everyone comes to a standstill for a minute. The best place to get all kinds of fresh fruit and vegetable, khao njao (sticky rice), PatongKhoo, ChaRaawn (sweetened Thai-Tea) or fresh hot soymilk. The section of fresh fish and meat sellers is for hardened stomachs only.
There are several Italian restaurants of varying degrees of authenticity. Viva has Italian management and probably the best food.
RuenMai restaurant, about 2km from the center on Marharat road, has very nice atmosphere and very good local dishes from 100 TB. open every day but closing between 3pm and 5pm.
You can get the best breakfast in town (and maybe even the best coffee) at Relax Coffee near the pier. Arun is a good breakfast place too (same roadside as Relax, more colourful atmosphere here, including a house-Gekko (thuk-gaee in Thai) which utters its unique sounds occasionally), just what they call Cappuccino doesn’t deserve this name. closed during low season.