Last update:December 2019
Krabi is a province in the South of Thailand. The province capital is also named Krabi, as is the river that runs through it.
In my opinion there aren’t many destinations in South East Asia that can top Krabi. Call it presumptuous, but it’s still true. Krabi has everything from white sand beaches to turquoise seas and incredible scenery. It has ample nature, great nightlife and access to some of the most beautiful tropical Islands. The list goes on.
So, it’s no surprise that Krabi is popular with package tours and independent travelers alike. Above all, Krabi is versatile and able to cater to any type of traveler’s need. Here’s my list of fun things to do in Krabi.
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Khao Khanab Nam Rocks and Caves
The riverfront along the Pak Nam Krabi river in Krabi Town certainly makes for an enjoyable stroll. Catch the river breeze and views of the mangroves. There’s even a 600m elevated walkway through the mangroves.
Towering 100m high above the river the two massive limestone rocks that go by the name Khao Khanab Nam are easily visible from just about anywhere on the river front. For a close up look you can charter a boat at the Chao Fah Park pier.
It’s just a 5 min boat ride and you can also explore the caves under the rocks. While the caves are interesting enough, the boat ride can be rather expensive. A boat is rented for a fixed price, regardless of the amount of people, so the trick is to find a group to share the cost with. Cave admission is THB30 p/p.
Another way to get more out of your buck is to combine the above cave trip with a visit to Ko Klang, since you’re paying for the boat already. Alternatively, you can get to Ko Klang by jumping on one of the long tail ferries at the Chao Fah Park Pier. Expect a price anywhere between THB20 and THB80 depending on how full (or empty) the boat is.
Ko Klang is a car free, Thai Muslim community Island in the Krabi river just across from Krabi Town. Although within earshot from hedonistic icons such as Ao Nang and Koh Phi Phi, rural Ko Klang still manages to preserve the traditional Thai Muslim culture. Here, you can experience authentic Southern village life at its best with only a handful of tourists around.
As said, there a no cars, but once off the boat you can charter a tuk-tuk to take you around. Going rate seems to be around THB200 per hour. Your driver will know the best artisanal places to visit, such as wood carvers, fishing farms, fabric painters and bee keepers.
Make sure to dress modestly with covered shoulders and knees as Ko Klang is a Muslim community.
Andaman Art Museum & Cultural Centre
This venue will surprise you. I certainly didn’t expect such a wonderful display of Thai contemporary art in Krabi. Paintings, carvings and many other fascinating art works by (Southern) Thai artists can be found in the Art Museum section.
Another part of the cultural center houses the Klong Thom Beads Museum. The history and special significance of the “Klong Thom” beads in Krabi society is explained in this museum, along with displays of ancient and colorful examples.
The Andaman Art Museum & Cultural Centre is well worth a visit for those willing to look beyond beach and sunshine. Best part is that there is no entrance fee. Yes folks, it’s free!
Wat Kaew Korawaram
Wat Kaew is situated near the center of Krabi Town, perched on top of a small hill. It’s the largest and most important Buddhist temple in Krabi Town. The white colored temple with an unusual blue tiled roof is quite beautiful and peaceful. A gold painted naga stairway leads up to the main temple and is definitely an instagrammer’s dream. Mural paintings depict the life of Buddha from birth to enlightenment in 7 steps.
The temple is open to the public from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10am to 5pm. Entrance is free.
Markets are a thing in Thailand and Krabi markets are no exception. Always lively and full of local charm, the markets are good to spend a few interesting hours.
Talad Maharaj at Maharaj road, soi 7 is probably the most authentic (and most popular). All kinds of fresh produce, some of which I’m sure you have never seen before. Come early, there’s some great authentic breakfast to be had at the market and most vendors are out of there by 11am. Best time to visit is probably between 7am-8am. By 10am the market starts to empty and finally closes at 12pm. Be forewarned though, the pungent smells and uncensored sights of bloody meat cuts might put you off breakfast altogether.
Continue your market adventures at the City Market (Talad Sod) just off Maharaj soi 10. Fresh fruits, tropical smoothies and the best Thai curry this side of the Mississippi. It opens at 10am, but things don’t really get going until 4pm. Closing time is around 9pm.
Next! Yes, you can keep on going. Head for the Chao Fah Night Market at the Chao Fah pier. This is a local food market that features some of the most delicious barbecued seafood and meats. The market starts at 5pm when the day starts to cool down and continues until late at night.
And of course there’s the inevitable night market or “Krabi Walking Street” at Maharaj soi 8, this is Thailand after all. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening the market draws a crowd from as far as Ao Nang. T-shirt and souvenir stands, comfort street food and beer bars all make this Chiang Mai Night Markt lookalike into an entertaining place.
How to get to Krabi
Krabi has its own airport with flights coming in from Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Australia. Use the Skyscanner website to find the full schedule and ticket prices. Sometimes flying is cheaper than bus or train and the fares from Bangkok to Krabi might surprise you. Of course you’ll miss out on all the nice scenery.
Multiple buses depart from Bangkok to Krabi every day. Don’t buy your ticket at one of the Khaosan road travel agencies though, there have been several reports of scams. Especially combined bus/ferry tickets to Krabi/Koh Phi Phi are known for leaving travelers with invalid ferry tickets at the pier.
Instead, use the transport planning tool below from 12Go.com to book online. Especially during high season and public holidays it makes sense to book ahead to secure your seat(s). Book instantly.
Around Krabi Province
Ao Nang Night Life
Ao Nang is the package tour beach destination on the mainland in Krabi province. As a result there are abundant restaurants and bars that are all well visited. Not quite the notorious and rowdy party scene like on Koh Phi Phi or Patong on Phuket, but nevertheless, night crawlers will not be bored in Ao Nang.
Ao Nang Centerpoint is a multi-story entertainment complex good for drinking and late night dining. Night markets for some pre- or after shopping are nearby. The Chang bar is most popular with Ao Nang party-goers.
Soi RCA is more or less the smaller equivalent of the soi’s at Bangla road in Patong and Soi Cowboy in Bangkok. Numerous girlie bars, but on a much smaller scale, as is the level of raunchiness. I would say that RCA is a perfectly good place to have a few drinks and laughs with the locals. The overlapping music from the different bars can be eardrum ripping loud, but the atmosphere is lively and friendly.
Khao Phanom Bencha National Park
A mere 30km North of Krabi Town, this national park with the 1350m high namesake peak has everything to satisfy your nature desires. For starters there’s the 11-tiered Huay Toh waterfall, cascading over 80m. Several tiers have natural pools so it’s an excellent opportunity to cool down from the Thai heat.
Khao Pheung is a large cave with beautiful stalagmites and stalactites. To get to the cave requires a 2km (easy) hike from the visitor center. Not mandatory, but advisable is to make use of a guide.
The visitor center is also the starting point for several circular trails in the park. Some of the trails require some mild climbing, but they are never long, as the whole park is only 50kmsq. Don’t underestimate it though, you can still get lost. Always let someone know that you’re hiking in the park and bring plenty of water and snacks.
Visit the park on a day trip or stay the night in a tent (THB250) on the camping grounds. Aircon or fan bungalows are also available, but with THB2000 resp. THB1200 these are way overpriced.
The park opens every day from 8:30am to 4:30pm. Entrance fee is THB100 for adults and THB50 for children. If you arrive by car they will charge you another THB30 for the parking.
Dragon Crest Mountain Viewpoint
Just north of Tup Kaek beach is the entrance to Hang Nak Hill. This is the start of a trail that will lead you up the hill, past two viewpoints and a waterfall. Entrance is free, but you have to register with the rangers since they would like to keep track of who is up there.
The trail goes uphill for just under 4km and most trekkers take a little over an hour to reach it. At the peak there are multiple viewpoints, including an overhanging platform with photo opportunities that will blow the roof off your instagram.
Either drive up to the entrance at Tup Kaek with a rental motorbike or charter a tuk-tuk. The latter will probably cost you an arm and a leg. After you come down from the hill don’t leave just yet. Collect your well deserved reward by taking a refreshing dip in the ocean at the stunning Tup Kaek beach.
I have to admit, sadly I never got to make a nice photo on the platform as at the time of my visit they closed it off for safety reasons. I wonder if they opened it up again. Let us know in the comments if you know.
Wat Tham Seua – Tiger cave temple
No tigers anymore, but the low level now holds a shrine in a cave and a Chinese pagoda. A golden chedi, a giant golden Buddha and….Buddha’s footprint are set atop a hill on the higher levels with views over Krabi province as far as Koh Phi Phi.
Wat Tham Seua is a cultural highlight in Krabi and definitely a must-see. To reach the top you’ll have to manage a challenging 1237 steps up and dodge the monkey troop. Also, don’t forget that this is a temple, so you should cover your shoulders and knees.
You can get to the temple by rented motorbike or chartered tuk-tuk. I’m not sure about the tuk-tuk fare, but the temple is just 8km from Krabi Town. Of course joining a tour is also possible, whether with a group or private. Entrance is free, but donations are welcome.
Krabi 4 Islands
The Iconic Krabi 4 Islands tour. A longtail boat will take you to Tup Island, Chicken Island, Poda Island and Mor Island. Each of the Islands has its own specific attraction, but sunbathing/swimming/snorkeling is the common denominator of this tour.
Some tours also make a stop at the Phra Nang Cave Beach, which technically is on a peninsula, preventing operators from naming the tour “5 Islands tour”, duh.
You won’t be alone, as this is a popular tour, and so it should be. However, despite the possible crowds the tour nevertheless offers beautiful sights and lot’s of fun. Any of the travel agencies in Krabi Town, Ao Nang and Railay is able to offer this tour for around THB500-800 p/p.
Rock climbing at Railay
Railay is a Peninsula near Ao Nang. Steep hills and dense jungle prevent Railay from being accessible by land, so boat transport is the only way to go. It’s that same difficult access that ensures that Railay has remained tranquil and serene. Ah well, traffic wise that is. In the tourism department, Railay is anything but tranquil, although it’s nothing like nearby Ao Nang.
The 4 beaches and the natural beauty of Railay ensure a steady flow of visitors. The main draw however is the adventurous rock climbing. Beginner and professional rock climbers alike will find challenging rock climbing routes among the impressive and steep limestone cliffs that surround Railay.
Unless you are very experienced it’s not a good idea to go climbing by yourself. Instead, find one of the many operators that offer supervised climbing on secured routes with quality equipment.
Kayaking at Ao Thalane
Similar to Railay that is known for the world class rock climbing, Ao Thalane to the North of Tup Kaek has the reputation for adventurous sea kayaking. The area is still undeveloped and boasts spectacular scenery with more limestone canyons and a network of canals through the mangroves. Be careful though, don’t go in without a guide. You could get lost in the maze and at low tide it’s possible to get stuck in the mangroves with your kayak.
The unique and vulnerable eco-system is still untouched and the absolute serenity of the area really made me feel one with nature. Fortunately most tour agencies at Ao Thalane understand the importance of sustainability and run their operations accordingly.
You don’t necessarily need an organized tour for the activities mentioned. It’s perfectly possible to do it by yourself, but think about it. While you’re trying to save a buck you’ll be dishing out serious dollars for transport. Renting a longtail boat all by your lonesome is a lot more expensive than sharing it with a group. Likewise, renting a motorbike, buying gasoline and arranging a decent lunch by yourself can add up in the end of the day.
Visit one of the Krabi Beaches (or more)
I know, you’re here for the beaches. While the Islands around Krabi boast some of the best beaches that Thailand has to offer, don’t be too quick to dismiss the mainland beaches just yet. There are plenty and most of them are also quite the find.
The mother of all Krabi mainland beaches. Honestly, it’s not the best, because some parts can be rather dirty and in high season it’s extremely crowded. However, Ao Nang sunsets are spectacular plus you have the notorious nightlife and shopping at your feet. Ao Nang is also where you’ll find boats to Railay.
Similar to Ao Nang, Railay is a destination in itself. It’s actually a small peninsula, only accessible by boat and it has four stunning beaches: Tonsai, Railay West, Railay East and Phra Nang. Next to beach bumming and beach night life, rock climbing is the main activity on Railay.
Ao Nopparat Thara
Right next to Ao Nang, but without the crowds. In fact, the 3km stretch of beach is quiet and laid back with plenty of shade from casuarina trees. At low tide you can walk from the beach to the small Island of Koh Kao Pak Klong.
This is where it starts to get more interesting. Situated 10km East of Nopparat Thara, this is a low key beach and for the life of me, I have no idea why. It’s a picture perfect beach near to some of the busiest tourist hubs of Thailand! But ok, don’t ask questions, just enjoy. No shopping and no rowdy nightlife here. Instead, expect modest facilities and tranquility.
Yes, now we’re talking! Tup Kaek is one of those gorgeous beaches with stunning views that earned Krabi its name as a top beach destination. About 8km North of Klong Muang this beach is quiet, but not remote. There are a few upscale resorts, as well as a few independent bars and restaurants.
Had Yao (Long Beach)
There’s just no end to the beautiful beaches in Krabi. Had Yao, to the South East of Krabi Town is next on our list. There are no major developments here yet, which makes it the perfect getaway for tranquility seeking beach lovers. Contrary to most other Krabi beaches, Had Yao lacks the spectacular karst formations, but makes up for it with pristine mangrove forest and a peek into traditional local life. Two Muslim fishing villages are located at either side of Had Yao.
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There’s enough to see and do in Krabi to keep you busy for quite a while and you probably won’t feel the need to go beyond. However, you are so close to some of Thailand’s other wonders it would be a shame to not take a peek.
Phang Nga Bay
Visiting Phang Nga Bay was a dream. Thinking back I’m still in awe by it the overwhelming beauty of it. Seeing the green clad, sharp pointed karst formations popping out of the turquoise waters is everything I hoped it would be.
I have to admit that my visit to Phang Nga Bay was not from Krabi, but from Phuket. Although it’s a long day it’s possible to visit from Krabi on a day trip. You’ll see the bay, the floating village Koh Pan Yee and the famous James Bond Island as a bonus. If ever you get the chance, go for it!
Krabi is the main jump off point for some of the most beautiful Islands in Thailand. Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta and Koh Jum are all in the Krabi province and easily reachable by ferry and/or speedboat from Krabi.
Day trips from Krabi to the Islands are certainly possible. Koh Lanta is just an hour away by ferry while Koh Phi Phi will take approximately 2h. Book your ferry ticket here.
No, no, no, don’t skip this part, even if you think that travel insurance is boring. You should know that health care in Thailand is hopelessly underdeveloped. Any serious injury or ailment will almost certainly involve costly medical transport to Bangkok.
Always make sure to travel with the right insurance that covers medical costs abroad, evacuation and repatriation. Don’t just assume you are covered under your usual policy, but double check. Especially if you plan to engage in any adventurous activities like scuba diving or trekking, which are often excluded.
Read more about travel insurance here, or get an instant (non-committal) quote here.
So, are you warming up to Krabi already? Any other destinations in Thailand that we should know of? Let us know in the comments below.