oh, where to begin?!
i guess the first thing i should point out before even discussing krabi is the whole issue of getting to thailand. because we wanted to maximize our time in the country, we thought it would be best to opt for as few flights as possible. not only was this more expensive, but it was absolutely exhausting. we flew fourteen hours from atlanta to seoul, then two hours later we flew another six hours to chiang mai. our flight didn’t land until 11:00pm, and we made it through customs after midnight. our flight to krabi was at 6:00am, so we opted to stay overnight in the airport, thus bringing us to close to thirty-six hours of travel by the time we got to our hotel.
as of late, flights from los angeles to bangkok are around $700. find an easy fare to LA and opt for the cheaper route. if you don’t want to stay long in bangkok, just spend the night, catch up on sleep, and fly to krabi the next day. your brain and your wallet will thank you
okay, back to krabi! our first day consisted of a couples massage, a little bit of walking around and exploring ao nang (the beach where we stayed), and a lot of sleeping. it was quite uneventful and much needed. once we felt more rejuvenated, the exploring began, and these were the main things we took away from our short stay in krabi.
- the south of thailand is full of tourists. i know this is a blanket statement since we were really only in one town, but we met enough people who had been to other areas nearby to consider this the consensus. it isn’t a bad thing at all, but it is something to be aware of before going. i’m pretty sure we encountered more australians and europeans than we did thai people during our time in krabi. based on what we heard from others, koh lanta, ko phi phi, phuket, and the other southern beach towns are pretty much the same. tourism drives the economy, and it has helped rebuild the economy following the devestating effect of 2004’s tsunami. if you are looking for an undiscovered beach town that still looks like it’s from a james bond film, it will be tough to find. embrace the touristy nature of the town and appreciate that you don’t have to struggle much through a language barrier or other cultural differences.
- krabi is perfect for adventure. while we aren’t quite skilled enough to scale the massive rock walls on railay beach, we found plenty of opportunity to explore the stunning scenery. we really enjoyed our four island boat tour, and we loved that we had opportunities to swim and snorkel during this experience. we also encountered the prettiest waters during this time since we stopped at national parks and reefs that were far offshore (though our boat definitely anchored itself on coral, and i’m pretty sure a small part of my soul died).we also spent a couple days at railay beach (a fifteen minute boat ride from ao nang), and we swam, hiked, and almost climbed all the way to the lagoon off the path between railay west and railay east. we knew the climb to the lagoon was muddy and difficult on a sunny day, and we were trying to do it in the rain; we surrendered, ankle deep in mud, at the sign that told us the lagoon was ten meters away, which was essentially ten meters straight down rock walls. by the time we got back to the beach, we were covered in mud.
while railay west was lovely and had more shops and restaurants for a beachin’ experience, we actually enjoyed swimming and hiking on the far side of railay east, down the beach from phra nang cave (which is, in fact, filled with all the wooden penises you could ever hope to see).
- the street food is better than the restaurants. bonus points if you find a vendor that doesn’t have a menu written in english. double bonus points if they don’t have a menu and you just have to point. expect to pay about 70% more in the touristy areas (especially on railay). or just walk up a side street and find a similar vendor that charges half the price of the others. i was especially fond of the halal roti pancakes (i opt out of my gluten freedom while traveling and just prepare for the consequences) which start as a tiny ball of dough and are smashed and spread into the thinnest of crepes. absolute heaven.
- a few days should suffice. unless you are wanting to go to thailand to be around a lot of non-thai people and to do nothing more than hang out on beaches, just plan for a few days. you’ll get your fix, relax (we recommend starting each day with a massage for around $6USD), and be refreshed for your next destination.
well, there you have it! i am sure we only skimmed the surface of what krabi’s beach towns have to offer, but i hope it helps you feel more prepared if you are planning a trip to the south of thailand. next up: chiang mai!