Fingers of rock towering from land and sea provide some of the world’s best climbing and spectacular scenery.
Krabi has some of the most spectacular scenery in Thailand. The terrain is peppered with dark fingers of rock towering from land and sea. It can be eerie and strange, at first sight an alien landscape, but it is stunningly beautiful.
It’s magical just to hang out here, and many people come just for that – to lie on the sands, watch the sunset, drink beer and party till late. The beach bars play reggae and hip hop, while jugglers throw patterns of flame into a night sky filled with stars.
But this craggy scenery also provides some of the world’s best climbing. Visitors come from around the globe, hire ropes and climb for days, sometimes at cliff faces rising from the middle of the ocean.
There are national parks with waterfalls, leopards and bears, and a cave with its own ghost. For gentler pursuits take a sea kayak to a quiet bay for moonlit dinner on the beach.
The best time is November to February, for sunny skies, low humidity and little rain.
Nationals from most countries are granted a visa on arrival which is valid from 15-90 days. Details can be found at the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Singapore nationals are entitled to 30 days. All foreign nationals need six months' validity on their passports. Sixty-day tourist visas are available from Thai embassies before leaving. All can be extended by 30 days at the immigration office.
The baht is the principal Thai monetary unit.
Airport taxis take 30 minutes to Krabi Town (about B400; B650-750 to the beaches). Fares are listed in the Arrival Hall.
Tuk-tuks and non-metered taxis are available in Krabi Town and the beaches. Bargain a fare between B200-400 for a half-hour taxi or tuk-tuk ride. Motorcycle taxis are cheaper. Car and motorcycle rentals are common in Krabi Town and the beach road.
Longtail boats take 45 minutes from Krabi Town to the Railay beaches (15 minutes from Ao Nang) for a fixed rate of B150 per person each way (B100 from Ao Nang). But they only leave when they have six people. You can also hire boats for the day at a negotiated rate.
No vaccinations are required to enter Thailand. Hospitals are good, but there are no reciprocal agreements with other countries, so arrange health insurance. Tap water is not safe to drink, but ice is generally fine in reputable restaurants.
|How are you?||Bpehn yahng-ngi?|
|Fine, thanks||Sah-bie dee korp-kuhn|
|Excuse-me! (to get attention, to get past)||Kor-toet|
|What's your name?||Kuhn chuee ah-ri?|
|My name is…||Pom/chahn chuee…|
|Nice to meet you||Yihn dee tee die roo-jahk|
|Are you on Facebook/Twitter?||Kuhn l`ehn fes-buhk/tah-wiht-ter mi?|
|Where’s an internet café?||Ihn-dter-neht kar-fe yoo tee-ni?|
|Where can I get a taxi?||Pom/chahn jah reark tak-see die tee-ni?|
|Where is the bus/train station?||Sah-tar-nee kon-song/rot-fi yoo tee-ni?|
|A one-way/return ticket to…||Dtoar teaw deaw/bpi glahp bpi…|
|Do you have a room for one/two?||Kuhn mee hohng sahm-rahp kon deaw/sorng kon mi?|
|When's check out?||Dtorng chehk-ou gee moeng?|
|Can you recommend a good restaurant/bar?||Kuhn choary na-nahm rarn ar-harn/bar dee dee hi nohy di mi?|
|A table for two, please||Kor dto sahm-rahp sorng kon|
|A menu, please||Kor me-noo nohy|
|The bill, please||Chehk bihn doary|
|Where's the toilet?||Hohng-narm bpi tarng ni?|
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Khao Phanom Bencha National Park
A mere 20km north of Krabi Town, Khao Phanom Bencha National Park contains a dramatic 1,397-metre karst called Khao Phanom Bencha, or 'Five-Point Prostration Mountain'. A perfect habitat for wildlife, spot the Asian tapirs, Sumatran serows among many mammal bird species. The main waterfall is Huay Toh Falls, with 11 tiers at heights up to 80 metres. All falls are best seen during or just after the rainy season.
Than Bok Khorani National Park
A highlight of Thanboke Koranee National Park, 45km northwest of Krabi Town, is Phi Hua Kalok. This cave in a hill surrounded by water and mangroves is accessed by boat from Bo Tho Pier, 7km south of Ao Luk. On the walls are paintings and prehistoric drawings estimated to be 2,000 to 3,000 years old. Locals believe a ghost lives in the cave, the owner of a human skull found here over half a century ago. It gives the place its name: pee is Thai for ghost, hua means head and kalok is skull.
Tiger Cave Temple
Wat Tham Seua, or 'Tiger Cave Temple', is located amid forests and cliffs 9km from Krabi Town, but is easily reached by car or motorbike. Behind the temple a staircase leads 600 metres to the cliff peak, where a Buddha footprint shrine lies in a flat rock at the top. The hour-long ascent is tough, but the reward is a fantastic view of the surrounding countryside.
Tha Pom, 34km north of Krabi Town, is a canal with an unusual feature. Stroll along the 700-metre boardwalk past mangrove and forest to see this stream of water with two distinct colours – turquoise-blue and emerald-green. The phenomenon is caused during high tide when seawater meets fresh spring water running off the mountainside. It’s only apparent on clear days, though, when the sun’s rays penetrate the surface.
Hot Springs Waterfall
Head to the Hot Springs Waterfall, where an underground spring leaks warm water through the earth’s surface. As it cascades down the smooth boulders, people let it wash over them before dipping into the cool stream: a natural jungle hydrotherapy. This picturesque spot can get crowded around lunchtime, so early morning is best. A 10-minute drive east lies the Khao Nor Chu Chi Wildlife Sanctuary, the last lowland rainforest in Thailand and one of the few habitats globally of the endangered bird Gurney’s Pitta.
With its glorious limestone cliffs it’s no surprise that Krabi is one of the world’s most favoured climbing destinations. A half-day course with Hot Rock Climbing School (Bobo Plaza, Hat Railay West, tel: 66 7566 2245) will acclimatise you, ready for longer trips. There’s something to suit people of all ages and fitness levels within the area’s 150 pegged routes. You can even try deep-water climbing at the offshore karsts in Phra Nang Bay, possibly with Thailand’s top woman climber, who runs Railay Rock Climbing Shop (Hat Railay West). Equipment rentals, instruction and guides are available.
Fill the afternoon on a boat with Me Mee Fishing Tours (49/1 Moo 2 Ao Nang, tel: 66 81 1091 6091). They have a choice of longtail or large boats, with snorkelling as an option. If you’d rather rest in the afternoon, they also offer night fishing. The price includes insurance and hotel transfer.
There are several outstanding dive sites close to Ao Nang and Railay beaches which are another great way to fill a day. Dive shops along the Ao Nang and Railay beaches have day trips, plus live-aboards to dive sites further out in the Andaman Sea.Kon-Tiki (161/1 Moo 2, Ao Nang, tel: 66 7563 7826), a company with 30-years’ experience in the area, offer a full range of PADI courses. Snorkelling trips to nearby islands, such as Ko Poda and Ko Kai, can be booked with tour agents along the beach front.
Krabi’s limestone cliffs and beautiful bays are a stunning backdrop for sea-canoeing. Mr Kayak (52/2 Ao Nang-Chongplee, tel: 66 7563 7165) goes to one of the prime areas, around the Railay peninsula. Koh Hong and Koh Bileh are favoured spots. A well-paced two-island visit takes in lagoons, mangrove swamps, hidden caves, monkey colonies and other wildlife. Phranang Full Moon Kayaking (Moo 5 Ao Nang, tel: 66 8 6593 3441) organises sunrise and sunset excursions. The night trip includes a romantic dinner on the beach, an ideal opportunity for a proposal.
Alternatively, you could contemplate the idea of eternal love at secluded Shell Fossil Beach, where there’s an accumulation of shell fossils deposited over 75 million years. It’s one of only three sites in the world to see the phenomenon. Take a taxi or boat there from Krabi Town.
Hat Tham Phra Nang (Princess Cave Beach) in Railay makes for a great afternoon excursion. Locals believe a princess lived here, and leave phallic offerings ask her to grant fertility. This is one of Thailand’s prettiest bays – one reason it’s a favoured destination for beach marriages at the Rayavadee Resort.
Follow the pathway in the cliff above the cave and veer left where it splits to find spectacular views of east and west Railay bays. The other path goes down into Sa Phra Nang (Princess Lagoon), where you can swim. Later, watch the sunset from Railay West beach, enjoy a romantic dinner then join the party on the beach.