Krabi ProvinceSouthern Thailand.
- — Krabi's most developed beach, a long beach fringed by palm trees
- (Long Beach) — the last untouched beach in Krabi Province, and perhaps the most spectacular with its views of Jum Mountain and Ao Nang's cliff walls
- — the administrative capital and a common entry point into the region by boat or plane
- — Thailand's rock climbing mecca, a craggy peninsula with several small beaches
- — cheapest bungalows in the area, preferred by backpackers away from the hordes of tourists and an easy walk to Rai Leh
- - some caves here well worth a visit.
- - group of islands between Krabi and Ko Yao, with the main island being popular for kayaking due to its picturesque lagoon
- — peace & quiet for those looking for solitude
- — sleepy island, the new escape for those who find Ao Nang/Rai Leh too touristy
- — part of Krabi Province, but easier to reach from Trang
- — Thailand's largest marine national park where The Beach was filmed
- - known by tourists as "4 islands", it is an archipelago nearby Ao Nang and Rai Leh
- — an eco-tourism place near the island of Ko Lanta
- — rural Thailand with a difference
Krabi, a coastal province, abounds with countless natural attractions that never fail to impress tourists. Such attractions include white sandy beaches, crystal clear water, fascinating coral reefs, caves and waterfalls, as well as numerous islands.
The distinguishing feature of both Krabi and neighboring Phang Nga is the massive limestone karsts, rising vertiginously out of the flat rice paddies on land and as islands from the sea. Add in some gorgeous beaches, excellent scuba diving, and rock climbing, and it's little wonder that tourism in the area has been booming.
While less commercialized than neighboring Phuket, Krabi Province cannot be described as undiscovered: it receives two million visitors a year, and the major tourist areas cater to foreigners. The upside of Krabi, when compared to Phuket, is that many of the most beautiful beaches can only be accessed by boat, such that their coastal villages are far less urbanised and more laid back, a relief for those who do not want to see McDonalds / Starbucks and open air prostitution. The downside is the massive traffic of boats to these beaches, especially in high season, affecting both the environment and the tranquility, to the point that it sometimes may be hard to find a spot in the beach to swim.
HistoryFrom archaeological discoveries, it is believed that Krabi was one of the oldest communities in Thailand dating back to the prehistoric period. It is believed that this town may have taken its name after the meaning of Krabi, which means "sword". This may have stemmed from a legend that an ancient sword was unearthed prior to the city’s founding.
2004 tsunamiKrabi Province was badly hit by the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004. Now, several years on, signs of the damage are hard to find.
ClimateThe best time to visit Krabi is between the months Nov-Apr when the area's climate is cooler. During this period the island gets a lot of dry northeasterly winds, delivering blue skies and starry nights. Down on the beaches one can enjoy nice sea breezes. From Jun-Nov the area gets a lot of rainfall, more on average than the rest of the country. During this period the island gets a lot of moist southwesterly winds, resulting in a mix of dry and wet days. The sea stays at a warm 29°C all year round. Off-setting the less favourable weather, visitors during this period will find it cheaper.
GeographyBordering the Andaman Sea, Krabi is 814 km south of Bangkok and covers an area of 4,708 square kilometres. Its mountainous physical geography is broken by highlands and plains, covering more than 130 large and small islands, and abounding with mangrove forests. The Krabi River flows 5 km through the town and into the Andaman Sea at Tambon Pak Nam. There are also klongs (canals) such as Klong Pakasai, Klong Krabi Yai, and Klong Krabi Noi, which all originate from Krabi's highest mountain, Mount Phanom Bencha.
- North: borders Phang Nga and Surat Thani
- South: borders Trang and the Andaman Sea
- East: borders Nakhon Si Thammarat
- West: borders Phang Nga and the Andaman Sea
Krabi International Airport (KBV) is about 10 km from the city limits, 15 km from the city centre, 40 km from Ao Nang, and 23 km from Had Yao. Thai Airways operates daily direct flights to/from Bangkok, as does Air Asia from Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. Bangkok Airway flies to Ko Samui nearly every day of the week. Destination Air Shuttle, Thailand's only seaplane service, also routinely flies in and out of Krabi (Ko Lanta) from Phuket and to the numerous outer islands.
By carKrabi is on Hwy 4. Shared songthaews from Ao Nang to Krabi are frequent and cost 60 baht. Originating in Bangkok, Hwy 4 links many of the province's districts. Other main routes include:
- Hwy 4035 to Plai Phraya District (Krabi) and Phra Saeng district (Surat Thani)
- Hwy 4034 links Ao Nang and Nopparat Beaches
- Hwy 4037 to Khao Phanom District (towards Surat Thani)
- Hwy 4038 links Klong Thom and Lam Thap Districts
- Hwy 4206 links Klong Thom to Ko Lanta
- Proceed along Hwy 4, passing Phetchaburi–Prachuap Khiri Khan–Chumphon–Ranong–Phang Nga to Krabi. The distance is 946 km.
- Travel along Hwy 4 to Hwy 41 at Chumphon via Lang Suan and Chaiya, Surat Thani. Proceed towards Wiang Sa, change to Hwy 4035 for Baan Ao Luek, and switch back to Hwy 4 again to Krabi. This route is 814 km.
From Phuket: Proceed along Hwy 402 and 4. The distance is 176 km.
By busKrabi Province's bus terminal is in Krabi town.
Krabi Bus TerminalIn Krabi buses use the bus terminal at Talad Kao, about 5 km north of town centre. It is one of Thailand's better bus stations: it's clean, has bilingual signage, a good cafe, many local transport options (motorbike taxi, songthaew, taxi, minivan), and free Wi-Fi.
There are regular direct bus services between Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal and Krabi (~500 baht), but probably the best option is to take a VIP bus, which for 250 baht more makes the 10 hour ride much more comfortable.
Buses from Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal (Tel. +66 2 4351199) to Krabi take about 12 hours and depart as follows:
- VIP bus - 07:20 - 1,055 baht
- First class bus - 19:00 - 680 baht
- Second class bus - 07:30, 19:00, 19:30, 21:00 - 378 baht
By trainThe nearest train stations are in Surat Thani and in Trang.
SongthaewVarious tourist attractions can be conveniently reached by local songthaew. Destinations include Ban Huai To, Ban Nong Thale, Ban Khao Thong, Hat Noppharat Thara, Susan Hoi, Ao Nang, Ban Khlong Muang, Ban Nai Sa, Khao Phanom, Nuea Khlong, Khlong Thom, Ban Bo Muang, Ban Hua Hin, Ban Khlong Phon, Lam Thap, Baan Ao Luek, and Plai Phraya. Songthaews depart from the Vogue Department Store on Maha Rat Rd. Trips to other destinations can be made by taxi and rental car.
By boatKrabi is mostly coast and islands, so you'll be spending quite some time on boats when getting around. The most common boat type for shorter hops is the longtail boat (reua hang yao), which true to its name has the propeller at the end of a long drive shaft stretching from the boat. This makes them supremely manoeuvrable even in shallow waters, but they're a little underpowered for longer trips and you'll get wet if it's even a little choppy.
Hat Noppharat Thara - Mu Ko Phi Phi National ParkHat Noppharat Thara–Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park has an area of 242,437 rai (38,790 ha) of which 200,849 rai (32,136 ha) is sea. There are three distinctive kinds of forest here: moist evergreen forests, mangrove forests, and peat swamp forests.
- Mu Ko Phi Phi (หมู่เกาะพีพี) Forty-two kilometres from the provincial town of Krabi, Mu Ko Phi Phi (Phi Phi Islands) are an archipelago, formerly called Pulao Piah Pi. The surrounding sea is home to a variety of underwater anemones, coral reefs, and marine life. The area is a popular destination for snorkelling. Attractions of Mu Ko Phi Phi:
;*Ko Phi Phi Don (เกาะพีพีดอน) Covers an area of 28 square km. Popular attractions are the twin bays with curving beaches of Ao Ton Sai and Ao Lo Da Lam.
;*Ko Phi Phi Lee (เกาะพีพีเล) Occupying an area of only 6.6 square kilometres, Phi Phi Lee Island is surrounded by limestone mountains and sheer cliffs plunging hundreds of metres to the sea. The sea is 20 meters deep and the deepest point in the south of the island is around 34 meters. Ko Phi Phi Lee has bays such as Ao Pi Le, Ao Maya, and Ao Lo Sa Ma. In the northeast is a large cave called Tham Viking.
Su-san Hoi (Shell Cemetery)Once a large freshwater swamp, the habitat of diverse mollusks of about 2 cm in size, Su-san Hoi features a slab formed from a huge number of embedded mollusks which can be dated to approximately 40 million years ago. With changes on the surface of the earth, seawater flooded the freshwater swamp and the limestone elements in the seawater enveloped the submerged mollusks resulting in a homogeneous layer of fossilized shells 40 cm thick known as Shelley limestone. With geographical upheavals, the limestone layer is now distributed in great broken sheets of impressive magnitude on the seashore.
- Ao Nang (อ่าวนาง) Ao Nang Beach is Krabi's most developed beach. Fringed by palms, the long beach is backed by a wide range of accommodation including resorts, bungalows, and guesthouses. A large selection of bars, restaurants, and Western fast food chains can also be found here.
- Hat Rai Leh (Rai Leh Beach East/West) Hat Rai Leh is bounded on two sides by limestone cliffs, thus isolating it from the mainland. It is only accessible by boat. Rai Leh West has a white sand beach and is the longest of the beaches in this area. Rai Leh East is popular backpacker hang-out and offers cheaper accommodation than the west side. Rai Leh East's beach has extensive stands of mangroves, making it less suitable for beach activities.
- Pra Nang Beach (Princess Cave Beach) Adjacent to Rai Leh, has a good beach and is the site of a luxury resort.
- Hat Ton Sai (Ton Sai Beach) Neighbouring Rai Leh West, popular with backpackers and climbers.
Than Bok Khorani National Parkhe park covers an area of 121 km 2 . The landscape is dominated by a series of limestone mountains, evergreen forests, mangrove forests, and numerous islands. The main flora is evergreen forest, peat swamp forest, strand forest, and mangrove forest, as well as various types of marine flora. Other attractions include: Than Bokkhorani (ธารโบกขรณี) which is home to various flowing streams and numerous pools of different cascades among a shady forested area and two caves, Tham Lot and Tham Phi Hua To (ถ้ำลอดและถ้ำผีหัวโต).
Namtok Ron Khlong ThomAn area of hot springs in a shady forest. The temperature is at 40-50 degrees Celsius. The hot springs and cool streams converge on a slope to form cascades of warm water.
- Khao Pra–Bang Khram Wildlife Sanctuary (เขตรักษาพันธุ์สัตว์ป่าเขาประ–บางคราม) At Tambon Khlong Thom Nuea. Composed of lowland forest, this area features the Emerald Pool or Sa Morakot, which are three hot springs with a temperature of 30–50 degrees Celsius. The forest is home to varied flora and rare birds like Gurney's pitta, rufous-collared kingfisher, and black hornbill. There is a 2.7 km nature trail known as the Tina Jollife (Thung Tiao) Trail, named after an English conservationist.
Mu Ko Lanta National ParkCovering a total area of 152 km 2 , Mu Ko Lanta National Park is in Amphoe Ko Lanta and consists of many islands. Some major islands are Ko Lanta Yai, Ko Lanta Noi, Ko Taleng Beng, as well as, other surrounding islands like Mu Ko Ha, Mu Ko Rok, and Ko Ngai.
- Pa Phru Tha Pom Khlong Song Nam Pa Phru or peat swamp forest of the canal of Tha Pom features a number of water sources, which originate from the Chong Phra Kaeo pool. Tha Pom is called "khlong song nam" by locals, which in Thai literally means "two water canal". Here, clear freshwater, in which the pool's floor and the roots of Lumphi the palm (Eleiodoxa conferta) are visible, meets seawater from the mangrove forest.
Folk entertainmentLike Pa (ลิเกป่า) An adapted play, Like Pa follows the adventures of an Indian merchant from Calcutta who married a local girl named Yayi. The story is then followed by other plays. Like Pa is accompanied by the music of folk instruments such as various kinds of drums, cymbals, and gongs. The lyrics are a mixture of traditional Manora and Buranyawa songs. With its long history of popularity in Krabi, Like Pa performers are abundant here. It is believed that the play originated in this province.
Shadow Plays (หนังตะลุง) This is Indian influenced. There are many shadow play or nang talung companies in Krabi.
Manora (มโนราห์) The performance is native to southern Thailand.
Rong Ngeng (รองเง็ง) and Phleng Tanyong (เพลงตันหยง) A Malaysian adaptation, which is of Portuguese origin, rong ngeng is a traditional folk dance and music customarily performed in noble houses. It was later performed by locals with Thai lyrics called phleng tanyong.
- Krabi Boek Fa Andaman Festival (งานกระบี่เบิกฟ้าอันดามัน) This is annually held in November to inaugurate the province's tourist season. Water sport competitions and cultural shows are on the agenda.
- Laanta Lanta Festival (เทศกาลลานตา ลันตา) The festival is usually held in March every year in Lanta Old Town, which has a 100-year history. Ancient Chinese-style houses can be seen here. In this festival, tourists can see the traditional culture, previously unseen ceremonial demonstrations, local performances, folk games, water sports competitions, and taste foods provided by prestigious hotels on the island.
- Sat Duean Sip Festival or Festival of the Tenth Lunar Month (งานประเพณีสารทเดือนสิบ) This is the traditional southern merit-making occasion to honour one's ancestors. Food such as khanom la, khanom chohu, khanom phong, khanom ba, and khanom kong or khai pla, are offered up to Buddhist monks.
- Chak Phra Festival (งานประเพณีชักพระ) Traditionally, a waterborne procession, where Buddha images are put on elaborately decorated pulpits on boats pulled along the river. This has been replaced by a land procession. The festival was formerly accompanied by a performance of traditional boat songs, but the traditional waterborne songs have since disappeared.
- Loi Ruea Chao Le Festival (ประเพณีลอยเรือชาวเล) This old ritualistic tradition takes place on Ko Lanta during the full moon of the sixth and eleventh month in the lunar calendar. This is a religious rite performed by the sea gypsies of Ko Lanta and neighbouring areas, who gather on the beach near Sala Dan Village. They dance their famous "rong ngeng" round the boats of misfortune to be set adrift. Ceremonies feature singing and dancing. This festival is expected to bring prosperity and happiness to the participants.
The wing shell (หอยชักตีน) is Krabi's best-known dish. In addition, stir-fried spotted Babylon (หอยหวาน) with chilies and basil is also noteworthy.
- Ko Samui - the paradise islands on the gulf coast, about 6 hours away by bus + ferry
- Phang Nga - yet more beaches and strange limestone formations
- Phuket - the original southern Thai beach resort island, two hours away
- Surat Thani - mainland port serving tourist islands, wet forests, and Srivijaya Empire. 3 hours by bus.