Krabi was the highlight of our Thailand trip – It’s miles from the crowds in Phuket, way more family friendly and has tons of unique tourist attractions. Everyone knows about Railay beach and the 4 Islands tour, but what about the mainland?
Here are our 5 favourite things to do in Krabi that you might not have heard about!
Rent a car:
First things first, we found out pretty early that seeing anything worthwhile (other than Ao Nang and Railay Beach) in Krabi meant taking a deep breath and renting a car.
As it turns out, driving isn’t too bad in Thailand – the roads are great and if you can go with the flow and expect the unexpected, it all becomes second nature pretty quickly. FYI they drive on the left.
We tried taking public transport to the Tiger Cave Temple, and although it was fine, it was kind of a ball-ache and we always had that niggling feeling that we were on our way to the middle of nowhere. Rent a car (or scooter) and breathe a sigh of relief.
Warning – Don’t rent a car if you don’t have GPS or cell service (kind of important!)
So let’s assume you’ve rented a car. Where are you going first?
1. Emerald Pool and Blue Pool
These are in the same park and about 2 hours drive from Ao Nang. Worth the drive? Definitely.
We’d heard this place becomes a zoo once the tour buses arrive so we got the jump on them and headed off well before sunrise.
We got there around 8.15am and arrived at small village with a few restaurants scattered around. Everything here is designed to charge tourists, so we paid for parking, paid the “farang” (foreigner) entry rate to the national park, and wandered into the forest. I would guess it was probably a kilometer or so before we reached the first bright blue lake – Emerald Pool.
Having set off at sunrise, we were just about the first people there. We probably had about five minutes of serenity before the hoards of tourists started piling in. Definitely a ‘get up before the sun rises’ kind of place if you’re after some peace and quiet.
Also worth noting, much like the famous Thai fish foot spas, the fish in this pool like to nibble toes 😉
Next up, follow the boardwalk along to the blue pool and into the muddy jungle. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the comforting sign about venomous snakes. So. Many. Snakes… (fortunately we didn’t see any).
Anyway, if you manage to push your way through the boggy snakey jungle, you’ll eventually reconnect with a new boardwalk and the practically fluorescent Blue Pool. The Blue Pool is as accurate as it is blunt and is just stunning to look at. Definitely look but don’t touch at this one!
2. Krabi Hot Springs – Nam Tok Rawn
Another one to wake up early for, unless you like sitting in people soup. Get there before the springs officially open and you’ll even skip having to pay an entry fee.
We did the Krabi hot springs at the same time as the Blue Pool and Emerald Pool as they’re all kind of in the same area.
These hot springs are awesome, especially if you go on a cooler wetter day; not sure I’d want to go on a hot day (another reason to go early in the morning). Nonetheless, these springs are relaxing and idyllic af.
3. Pa Phru Tha Pom Khlong Song Nam – The Mangrove Boardwalk
This one is a bit of a mouthful but something we just stumbled upon.
The great thing about driving around Krabi is that there are a ton of tourist signs with photos. It makes it far easier to make snap decisions when there’s an enticing photo involved.
So Pa Phru Tha Pom Khlong Song Nam is a boardwalk over a mangrove swamp. Yep, they seem to love their boardwalks in Thailand!
It’s a different experience and you might see some interesting wildlife along the way too. Top tip – save the best for last and go anticlockwise around the loop.
4. Tiger Cave Temple
This is the one we took a bus to, and it wasn’t exactly the easiest journey. The buses we took ended up dropping us at a busy road intersection while the driver yelled at us in Thail and pointed up the hill at the temple. There were a few tuk tuk drivers waiting for us, who drove us to the temple for 20BHT.
Take the tuktuk…. Remember, you’re about to hike up a mountain..
The Tiger Cave Temple
Once you get to the temple you’re going to have to head through the grounds at the bottom. If you’re a lady I’m sorry to tell you that you’re going to have to cover your legs. There’s a pretty serious security guard at the bottom that’s going to make you one way or another.
Once you’re at the foot of the staircase, I think we counted 36 flights of stairs between you and the top. Maybe it’s all the altitude hiking we do in Canada, but to be honest, the stairs aren’t too bad. There are lots of monkeys along the way up to take your mind off the hike it’s over pretty quickly!
The views of Krabi from the top are unparalleled and it’s something I don’t regret getting sweaty for, and believe me, you will be sweaty.
5. Ban Bor Thor Caves:
It was a wet day, and we had about 4 hours to kill before a transfer to the Airport, so we took a road trip out to the Ban Bor Thor Caves. The options were to take a kayak tour or a speedboat tour. We opted for the speedboat option as time was against us.
The rain didn’t really bother us (bring umbrellas) and I think to be honest, on a wet day, the long tail boat option is the best deal. Our guide sped us up the river to the Ban Bor Thor Caves and then slowly guided us around the caves with a torch.
We weren’t expecting to see any cave art, but the guide eagerly pointed it all out for us. Not something I’ve seen before and something we’re rarely allowed near in more restricted countries.
Where to stay in Krabi:
Ao Nang is the main tourist town in Krabi. If you’ve been to Patong in Phuket, it’s kind of like that, only without the sex tourism aspect. It has plenty of bars and restaurants along the main street and everything you’ll need is easily within walking distance. Restaurants on the main street tend to be overpriced, so don’t be afraid to wander a little further afield in search of quality.
We stayed in the “Red Ginger Chic Hotel” in Ao Nang, which was decently clean and had a good sized pool. It’s probably a ten minute walk from the main beach, so if you’re feeling lazy you might want to be a little closer. Check here for Red Ginger Chic rates (usually approx $80 per night)!
If you’re looking for somewhere closer to Ao Nang Beach (or beachfront), there are plenty of options but the price tends to go up sharply. Here’s a link to some of the other options in Ao Nang Beach.
If you’re looking for the budget option, a few people in our group stayed at the Slumber Party Hostel. It was about a ten minute walk from Ao Nang Beach, so a little out of the way, but it had a great atmosphere full of partying travellers. Check here for current rates – currently around $28.
Railay is the most expensive spot in Krabi for a number of reasons, but for the most part it’s because it’s accessible only by boat and it has the best beach in the area (Railay Beach). It’s where you’ll find the most expensive and exclusive 5 star hotels, so expect to be forking out if you plan to stay here (prices range from approx $100 to $600 per night – a full list of Railay hotels can be found here). The downside of it being the best beach is that it’s teeming with tourists and is fairly chaotic for most of the day.
If you’re going to stay on Railay Beach, your best bet is to stay in a hotel that’s slightly off the main beach – that way, you can still have access to the main beach outside of the peak hours, but during the middle of the day you can retire to the relative quiet of your resort.
If you really want the ultimate Railay experience, the Rayavadee hotel (most expensive at approx $500 per night – check today’s rates here) has an exclusive cave restaurant where you can watch the sun go down on the beach from your very own cave. We tried to eat there but were told that it’s guests only!
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So there you have it, 5 things to do in Krabi that don’t involve beaches or island hopping. There’s nothing I’d recommend more than doing all the coastal things in Krabi, but if you do feel like doing something different, these are a great place to start!
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Great Blog! My sister and I plan to head there around late March 2018. These are definitely places I would like to visit. Early morning tips is a good suggestion. Now I have two questions for you; How many days did it take you to complete these five visits? And would a Moped/Scooter be a good transportation for visiting these areas? Especially the Emerald Pool and Blue pool?
Hi Janine, thanks for your comment! We were there for 5 days, but we did most of it in one day. We rented a car for 2 days I think and basically drove to the hot springs and blue pool/emerald pools one after the other in one day (it was probably 4 or 5 hours driving total). We also stumbled across the mangroves on the way there and did the Ban Bor Thor caves on the last day before leaving for the airport. The only one we didn’t use the car for was the Tiger Cave Temple, which we used a public bus followed by a rickshaw to get to. It wasn’t too bad but considering how cheap a cab was and how sweaty we were afterwards, we decided to take a cab back. Much easier. We were in Krabi for 5 days in total and used another day to do Railay beach and the various islands in that area. There’s so much to do there but I would say you could probably do most things in 2-3 days.
I’ve driven mopeds in Thailand before and would say they’re best suited for shorter journeys around smallish cities, like Pattaya. I’ve done longer journeys in Phuket and found it to be a little scarier/riskier. To get to the hot springs from Ao Nang you’re going to be driving about 2 hours each way I believe, and that’s quite far by scooter standards, especially if it decides it’s going to rain.
Other things to bear in mind: I’ve also been pulled over by Thai police and given a ticket for not having the correct license (might have just been a tourist trap).. only about $8, but still a scary experience because I was separated from Louise and driven away on a police moped. The other English guy in the line had a much heftier fine than I did because he also didn’t have a helmet.
Mopeds also don’t have huge gas tanks, so you might need to refuel along the way. Look out for stands at the side of the road with glass coke bottles filled with what looks like ginger beer or syrup. They’re full of gasoline and designed for scooter riders that need a quick top up. Buy one or two and you’re good to go (rather than filling up at a gas station).
My recommendation is to go to the tourist office in Ao Nang and inquire about renting a car, because it’s not hugely expensive. I suppose it is by Thai standards but it’s about what you’d pay to rent in the US or Canada when converted. I felt a lot safer driving than I ever have on a scooter, and driving is pretty straightforward. For the amount of stress it relieves, it was really worth its weight in gold. Especially driving at night or during heavy rain storms.
Hope that helps!
Krabi is indeed a hidden gem. Railay beach is one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen, they also got the emerald pool, blue lagoon and hot spring. What I like the most about Krabi is that the locals and also the tourist are able to preserve the cleanliness and the beauty of the place