Travel

Krabi: The Perfect Island Getaway

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Beautiful beaches, amazing rock formations, scrumptious Thai cuisine and all the serenity in the world. Spend a few days in Krabi and discover that life on an island truly is as blissful and carefree as it appears to be.

Krabi, located on the west coast of southern Thailand, is a heavenly tourist destination. Think white sandy beaches, the beautiful Andaman Sea, gorgeous reefs and corals, and mouthwatering food. Though many tourists prefer the bustling streets of Bangkok and Phuket or the charm of one of the nearby islands such as Koh Lipe and Koh Samui, but we decided on Ao Nang, a popular tourist town in Krabi.

Ao Nang Street can be a busy one, but most people here seem to adopt a slow, almost languid attitude, especially when the sun sets. But just because it’s quiet doesn’t mean that there is not much to do. Here’s a look at what this delightful coastal town has to offer:

Island Hopping

Island hopping is the most popular activity in Krabi. The majority of hotels work closely with local tour operators and are more than happy to help you pick a tour. On the first morning of our trip, we decided on a half day tour to Phi Phi Island, which included stopovers at Maya Bay and Loh Samah Bay, both of which are beyond beautiful and left us torn – should we take more pictures or submerge ourselves in the crystal-clear waters? Life is all about balance, so we enjoyed a bit of both! The tour also included two snorkelling stops, providing the perfect chance to catch a glimpse of the amazing marine life.

On our second day, we decided to go on the famous James Bond Island Tour, despite warnings from friends that the island is overrated and crowded. The island, locally known as Koh Tapu, was the location for the 1974 Bond movie, The Man with the Golden Gun. Our longtail boat ride to James Bond Island took us across the beautiful Phang Nga Bay, famous for its gorgeous rock formations, islands and caves. The island itself did not disappoint, as the view was nothing short of spectacular.

Rock Climbing

Rock climbing is another popular activity in Krabi and most climbers can be seen tackling the rocks at Rai Leh (or Railay). Known as a popular rock climbing area thanks to its magnificent towering lime stones, Rai Leh can be accessed from Ao Nang by a 10-minute long tail boat ride.Another popular rock climbing spot is Ton Sai beach, which is a mere five minutes by long tail boat from Rai Leh.

Scuba Diving

Scuba diving is another option to consider. There are many dive shops in Ao Nang offering diving courses and dive trips to popular spots such as Ao Nang Bay, Phi Phi Marine National Park, King Cruise Wreck Site, and Shark Point Marine Sanctuary are available at competitive prices.

Tiger Cave Temple

The Tiger Cave Temple is a Buddhist temple and one of the most sacred in Krabi. The temple is well known for the tiger paw prints in the cave, tall statues of Buddha and the backbreaking flight of stairs you need to tackle to reach the summit. But once you reach, the panoramic view of Krabi, as well as an up close look at the huge golden Buddha statue (278 meters tall), is well worth the hike.

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Hot Springs and Emerald Pool

If submerging in a splendid pool of water is all you want to do, make a trip to the popular Hot Springs and Emerald Pool. The Emerald Pool is located within a rainforest and the water changes colour during the day, depending on the light. There’s also a Blue Pool in the same area and since no swimming is allowed, take as many pictures as possible. You can also submerge yourself in the hot springs and relax all those tense muscles.

Scrumptious Thai Cuisine

Indulging in yummy Thai cuisine was something we couldn’t get enough of during our time in Krabi. Aside from the usual Thai fare of tom yam and fresh seafood, Krabi, and especially Ao Nang, is packed with restaurants offering delicious Indian, Western, Italian, Chinese and fusion cuisines. Prices are affordable and the servings are enough to put one in a state of food coma!

Walking the Streets

As a popular tourist area, it is no surprise that the streets of Ao Nang are kept clean. Most hotels offer a free ride to town and back, but we found that the best way to soak up the ambiance (as well as burn off the calories from the yummy food) was to walk the streets.

Budget hotels, bars, restaurants, souvenir shops, art galleries, tattoo and beauty parlours, tailors, money changers, and pharmacies pepper the sidewalk, and as you meander your way down the path, you are bound to come across mini street bars offering take-away cocktails for 100 baht. I could not resist the refreshing taste of a piña colada – heaven in a glass!

On one of our walks, we came across a night market, akin to Malaysia’s pasar malam, selling a variety of local food, clothes, and souvenirs. One of the most exciting finds though was a cute art gallery called Casa de Art Works. The small place has various oil paintings adorning the walls and is situated next to an old and dusty second-hand bookshop on Ao Nang Street. At night, hippie-looking artists can be seen sitting outside the gallery, enjoying a smoke while strumming their guitars. The works displayed here are breathtaking, and the artists are only too excited to tell you about their paintings.

Spas

Most hotels and resorts have spa facilities, but there are quite a few places offering spa services in Ao Nang. We picked up a pamphlet for Boossabakorn Spa, located in Ao Nang itself, and decided to check it out. The traditional Thai massage we settled for was not particularly relaxing for me, but luckily the pain, along with the other aches and pains I had before that, were gone once the session was over.

It is easy to say that Krabi has something for everyone, but you have to experience this scenic town and discover its hidden gems to truly appreciate its beauty, culture and the feeling of utter bliss as you live out your fantasy of island life – if only for a short time.

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Getting There

Both Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia fly to and from Krabi International Airport.

A Word of Advice

  • Tourists on motorcycles are a common sight here and it is a good way to take in the town. But it is best to be careful while walking as some vehicles can to get a little too close for comfort.
  • Souvenir shopping on James Bond Island can be really expensive. It is cheaper to shop along the streets of Ao Nang.
  • If you book a snorkelling trip, or if your island hopping tour includes a snorkelling trip, it might be best to bring your own mask. Tour operators will provide you with life jackets and snorkelling gear, but a lot of the snorkelling masks looked a little worse for wear.

 

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Source: The Expat May 2014

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