As mentioned in my previous post ‘Travelling Thailand’, Ao Nang Krabi was one of my favourite places in Thailand. If you forgive its initial ‘unchecked development’ look, there is plenty to love here. Although it hosts a large stretch of golden sand, it is best known as a gateway and base for an abundance of adventures on the surrounding islands. Let me first state that Ao Nang is not a quiet and secluded part of Thailand. It is an extremely popular tourist area that boasts a Starbucks and McDonald’s. Nobody likes the intrusion of these arrogant western chains that overpower what was once an authentic little Thai town. However, few places in Thailand are left without this influence which is a sad reality. Most of Thailand is now very touristy, commercial and developed and that’s just how it has become. That doesn’t mean you can’t look past this and still enjoy its beauty. Thailand is popular but it is still incredibly fun, beautiful and full of adventure. Fortunately there are still islands here that have managed to keep its underdeveloped charm such as Ko Lanta and ko Mak (which I’m dying to visit next time!). The reason I loved Ao Nang so much is because we managed to see and do so much here, beyond its touristy town.
Things to Do
In the dry season the beach is bustling and the sea glows a turquoise tone. However the monsoon can sometimes stir up a cloudy hue, making snorkelling a little difficult. But FEAR NOT you can easily escape to clearer waters by taking a trip to any of the little islands that dot the horizon.
Four Island Tour
I am a huge fan of Island tours, they are the perfect way to explore a range of nearby islands (like the INCREDIBLE ones I went on in the Philippines) in a short space of time. The ‘Four Island Tour’ is Ao Nang’s most popular tour and as a result can be quite touristy. However most of these tours will be, especially during the peak season. The tour costs 1000baht (€25) per person but can be negotiated depending on the number of people on your boat. We actually booked this tour through the Klook app which I mentioned in my posts before and managed to get it for €12, winning! Be aware that some of these tours do not include the park fees within the price which is around 400baht. The four islands are Koh Gai (Chicken Island), Koh Tub, Koh Poda and Phra Nang Cave Beach on the Railay peninsula. You will be whisked away to these beautiful limestone islands by a traditional long tail boat or speedboat.
Stop 1: Koh Gai (Chicken Island)
The island is named “Chicken Island” due to the large rock that resembles a chicken head which juts out at one end of the island. If you squint really hard you might be able to make out this resemblance?! This is a stunning little island and during low tide, you can actually stroll across the sweeping three-pronged sandbar that connects all three islands together. The tide was unfortunately too high when we were there, so we opted to go swimming in the sea instead. You can also go snorkelling here but I believe it is fairly average due to the heavy boat traffic. However this trip is more about the beaches with plenty of white sand, swaying palm trees and multiple photo opportunities. We decided to roam around the island ourselves and came across a really nice quiet rock area at the side of the island. The water was a lot clearer here and there was so many colourful fish swimming about!
Stop 2: Koh Tub
Next up was Koh Tub Island. Again, this was a beautiful little island with dreamy white powdery sand and crystal clear water. We were lucky in the fact that when we arrived, we were the only boat there so we had the whole island to enjoy for ourselves. It was the perfect place to just chill out and enjoy a spot of sunbathing.
Stop 3: Poda Island
This was my favourite Island on the tour. The beach is much wider than the other islands and the water here is a perfect shade of turquoise blue. This was the ideal spot to have our picnic lunch which included a rice/noodle chicken dish with fresh fruit and water. In total, we had 45minutes to explore the island, which for us meant laying down our beach towels and topping up that tan! The huge limestone rock in front of the island is iconic to Koh Poda and has featured in various postcards, photographs and tourist brochures. The island is also home to wild monkeys so be careful with your belongings! Some monkeys aren’t so friendly as I once experienced in China.
Stop 4: Phra Nang Cave Beach at Railay
The last stop of the day before heading back to Ao Nang was Phra Nang Cave beach on Railay. Although crowded, the scenery was breath-taking with beautiful limestone cliffs surrounding us. We had 40 minutes here and wasted no time exploring the island. You can actually stay directly on Railay but it comes at a price! The beach was bustling with activity with everyone swimming in the waves and soaking up the sun. If you walk further down you will come to the cave itself. This was really interesting to see actually as it contains two shrines within it. The first is a normal shrine typical of the other shrines you see throughout Asia, however the second was in fact a Penis shrine. Yes, you heard correct… penis. Hundreds of penis’s in different shapes, colours and sizes! I believe this was built to worship the fertility gods. Which actually explains why you see so many penis keyrings, bottle opens and other souvenirs throughout Asia! The monkeys on Railay are a lot friendlier so you don’t have to worry about these guys too much, just protect your sunglasses. You can actually spend a whole day in Railay and take a boat over directly from Ao Nang, which a lot of people tend to do.
The whole tour was from 9am to 3pm but including hotel pickups, you can expect it to be more like 8am to 4pm. Island tours like this are somewhat dependant on the people on your boat too. If they are young and good fun then your day is likely to be more enjoyable than if they were old and reserved. So with that in mind, you can also rent a private boat if you have a large group of friends. I think the cost is about 6000baht but if you split that between five people it’s actually quite reasonable… and I believe you can negotiate that price down even further!
Tab Kak-Hang Nak Hill Nature Hike
If you are going to do one trek in Thailand, make it this one! The Tab Kak Hang Nak Nature trail offers the most INCREDIBLE views of the entire Krabi province. The hike can take up to two hours and is quite tough, but the reward at the top is simply breath-taking. Karst limestone peaks and surrounding bays stretch as far as the eye can go. At the top, there is slab of smooth stone that juts out over the cliff were you can get “THE” photo, that’s recently become “Insta-famous”. It’s actually quite terrifying trying to get this photo as it feels as if you are going to slide straight off the edge! Hence why I’m not as far out as I wanted to be in my pictures haha.
How To Get There
The best way to get here is by renting a scooter for the day which will cost about 200baht. It will take about 45 minutes to get to the start of the trek from Ao Nang. If you are not that confident driving a moped then a tuk-tuk or taxi will bring you for about 400 baht.
Best Time To Hike
I would recommend starting the trek early in the morning. It will give you plenty of time to complete the trek and enjoy the views. The hike itself took us a total of four hours (two up and two down). However we started the trek around 2:30pm and found that we were rushing to get back down before it got dark. We spent too long wandering around the top, taking in the views and before we knew it the sun had gone down! We ended up dodging flying bats on the way down which was just a traumatic experience for me haha I hate bats!! Save yourself the stress, take your time and start early. There are so many amazing viewpoints to stop at on the way up that you will need plenty of time to take it in.
How Much Does It Cost?
It’s absolutely FREE! Woohoo. There is however, a small box at the entrance where you can make a donation if you enjoyed the trek. This will go towards the maintenance of this beautiful Park.
- Bring plenty of water and even a little snack to give yourself an extra boast of energy.
- Wear very light gym/sports gear because it will be HOT.
- Bring a face towel because you are going to sweat A LOT during this hike!
- Be very careful taking “THE” instagram pic because it’s a long way to the bottom and you reaaaaallly don’t want to fall off a cliff. The things we do for an Instagram and all that….
- Give yourself plenty of time so you don’t end up hiking in the dark with the bats.
Overall this trek is a must do in my opinion. It was a welcomed break from all the sunbathing and island tours. It felt SO good to get out and work off some of those spring rolls we had been binge eating on a daily basis. The views really are spectacular and I’ll let the pictures be the evidence of that.
Where To Stay in Ao Nang
We stayed in the Anyavee Ban Ao Nang Resort hotel and it was really nice. In fact it was a decent upgrade from our usual accommodation choices… it had a pool! The room was really clean, spacious and comfortable and we had our own private bathroom. The hotel is extremely central and located right around the corner from the main strip. It cost around €13 a night (This was during the off season, so it may vary during peak months).
There are so many nice restaurants and bars located all along the beachfront strip. I loved wandering around all the little souvenir shops after dinner along the strip every night.
So that concludes my Ao Nang travel guide. Despite its touristy exterior, Ao Nang really was one of my Thailand highlights. The island hopping tours and hikes just completely won me over and hope they will win you over too.
Thank you for much for reading!