‘Thailand… Too touristy!’ some say. I always disagree. For me Thailand is still one the most beautiful, diverse and travel friendliest destinations in the world. Two Thai island towns that I have yet to visit are Ao Nang and Krabi. Fortunately, world traveler and writer Mari did have a chance to visit and she explains why you should add Ao Nang and Krabi to your Thailand itinerary. Read her ‘Top things to do in Ao Nang and Krabi’!
This post is part of the ‘This pretty place…‘ series. In this serie we share the most beautiful and unique places with you.
Written by Mari Bunkova.
When I first arrived at roaring Bangkok, which was full of sounds and people, of delicious smells
and smiling faces I wasn’t sure which places in the country I wanted to visit. All I knew about
Thailand I learnt from one really long article, about an adventurer, who set out to Koh Samui in
search of the perfect beach.
As I was walking nervously back and forth at the train platform in the middle of Bangkok, I knew
that there was more to Thailand than Koh Samui, beaches and parties. Or at least I was promised
that, when I planned and booked my whole stay, with the help of the workers at the Thailand
And I have to be honest, if it wasn’t for these guys, I was going to end up not visiting Krabi. But
instead I fell in love with the tranquil provinces of southern Thailand and I kept coming back to its
natural beauty, rich cultural landscape and kind people.
Continue reading if you have a hard time thinking of a reason why you should visit the picturesque
Krabi and Ao Nang (and even if you don’t, continue reading to find interesting suggestions of what
I had the opportunity to experience elephant riding both in Chang Mai and in Krabi and I must say
that the better experience was the one in Krabi. Before you rush into making any conclusions about
me, I am an animal lover and I would never participate in anything that promote or is cruel against
There is a lot of controversy going on around about the various companies that work with elephants
in Thailand. But the Huay Tho Waterfall Safari in Krabi, part of the Asian Elephant Foundation of
Thailand is one of the few that actually work towards their preservation.
The safari camp is situated at Huay Tho, which is a short drive away from Ao Nang. Here you can
enjoy a long trek through the dense jungle, follow a stream and take a refreshing bath with the
elephants. Besides this you will learn interesting facts about these gentle animals and what it is
like to be a mahout.
Let’s face it, Ao Nang is not the best beach that you will see in your life. Fret not, as there are
many great options only a short longtail boat ride away.
Koh Hong ‘The hollow island’
If you have enough time to spend, make sure to visit Koh Hong, the hollow island. The center of the
island is an enclosed lagoon with shallow, crystal clear waters. During the high tide, the longtail
boats can enter the lagoon to go further inside, revealing a magnificent view of white sand
beaches, lush greenery and exotic birds.
If islands are not your thing, but you still want to visit some of them, go for the closer islands like
the Chicken Island, Koh Poda or Railay (the last one is not actually an island.)
Koh Poda is the largest island among a formation of four small islands -Koh Poda, Koh Kai, Koh
Thab and Koh Mo. It was endless stretches of white sand beaches and beautiful turquoise waters. It
is only twenty minutes away from Ao Nang, but the atmosphere is nothing like it.
Once you see the Chicken Island, there is no question where the name is coming from. The place is also
ideal for snorkeling but if you already have snorkeling experience, the variety you get
there can be a little disappointing. However, snorkeling novices will have a memorable experience swimming
among the colourful corals and fishes.
Railay is located between the city of Krabi and Ao Nang. It is accessible only by boat due to the
high limestone cliffs that cuts off the mainland access. Railay is famous for its beautiful beaches,
longtail boat vendors and massive overhanging caves. It can get quite overcrowded, but if you
walk a little further from the rock formations you will find almost untouched stretches of
beach. As a bonus, the visitors of Railay get to meet wild long-tailed macaques, one of the local
visitors to the beach.
One of the best places for seashells lovers I have seen is the …beach at Ao Nang. The beach can be
accessed only during the low tide and makes for an unforgettable experience (digging into the sand,
stepping on sharp shells and getting a headache while staring into the sand for too long.) Ok, all of
the listed can be experienced only if you are REALLY obsessed with sea shells.
There is nothing better (and cheaper) than taking home a beautiful shell. Be advised to always make
sure that the shells you are collecting are empty as sometimes there can be hermit crabs living
inside of them.
A visit to Ao Nang will be nothing without some adrenaline bumping encounters with the local wildlife.
You don’t need to go all the way to Railay to meet the native long-tailed macaques. All you need
to do is to buy a bunch of bananas (probably not the best advise) and to go for a walk (to read:
climb) on the Monkey Trail from Ao Nang to Centara resort. The steep way up the mountain
features narrow wooden steps and it gets nuclear hot during the day.
The best thing however is you won’t have to climb back across the monkey trail if you return in the
afternoon. During the low tide, the path between Centara beach and Ao Nang is cleared and this path offers a more pleasurable walk in the heat.
Hiking up Hang Nak Mountain
Krabi province had a number of great hikes with Hang Nak being one of the most famous. Hang
Nak or Ngorn Nak, offers a strenuous hike, but you don’t need to be a professional hiker to
complete it. It is a 3.7 kilometers hike up to the summit, from where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the forest and the beach lagoons.
About the author
Mari Bunkova is a travel blogger and native Bulgarian. She quit her job in 2011, at age 21, and decided to travel the world. She went to Aarhus Denmark to pursue her bachelor degree, but quickly realized that she wasn’t happy with losing all feeling in her face during the long and cold winter. Last year she won National Geographic Best Travel Award for her travel stories about Cambodia and Hong Kong. You can follow her adventures on her blog Lifeswanderlust.You can also connect with her on Facebook.
Do you have additional tips for Ao Nang and Krabi?