Krabi is postcard perfect. Seriously. With its majestic limestone karsts forming the incredible coastline and jutting out of the sea, its perfect white beaches – it’s an amazing place to spend days that turn into weeks that turn into months…
We came to Krabi as a last minute change of plans. With Mike heading into a three week swing at work and our trip to India following immediately after, we felt that somewhere where we could totally relax was on the cards. We decided on Krabi – Thailand is one of our favourite countries, is easy to get to and cheap to travel, and it was still a new part that we were yet to explore.
Explore the beaches that is – that was the one and only thing on our ‘to-do’ list whilst in Krabi, which has made a welcome change to the pressure of feeling like we need to tick off one sight after the other in other places we’ve visited.
We’ve listed information below on all the beaches we’ve visited – how to get there, how they rate and which ones are the best, so you can head straight to your preferred location!
Ao Nang is generally the first stop for those headed to Krabi, being the last major town still connected by road to the mainland before venturing to the other beaches further out. The township is typically made up of souvenir shops, bars and restaurants – nothing to particularly rave about – but it’s stunning golden beach and million dollar sunset views more than make up for what the town might lack in character.
As you head toward the beach, turn left for a long strip of beachside cafes and massages – these are better priced than those on the main road.
Ao Nang is also a departure point for Railay Beach and the local islands – buy your tickets at the counter on the corner of the main road, opposite the beach.
If arriving in Krabi by air, you can get to Ao Nang from the airport for a fixed price taxi of 600 baht. We stayed at Ao Nang Cliff Resort – which whilst a distance from the main road and beach, has free hourly shuttles to and from town which made exploring the area a breeze.
Probably the most famed beach of them all, Railay is actually a peninsular with a number of beaches – none of which can be accessed by road due to the limestone karsts that surround it.
Hat Ton Sai
The closest beach to Ao Nang, Ton Sai is the hub for rock climbing in the area, and is very popular for backpackers with a number of places to stay and drink. The beach itself is small, and drops off quite sharply and deeply as you head into the ocean – a lot of sharp coral and shells wash up on this beach also.
You can reach Ton Sai via long tail boat from Ao Nang for 100 baht, though most stop at Hat Railay West. You can kayak here from the nearby beaches easily enough, and can also walk to it via a trail from the other side of the peninsular.
Hat Railay West
Railay West has been voted Thailand’s most beautiful beach a number of times, and it’s easy to see why. With its beautiful crescent shaped golden beach – that surprisingly enough, has not been encroached on by commercial trade – framed by majestic limestone karsts, this beach is a popular choice for many visiting the area.
The water temperature is perfect, with little to no shells washing up on the beach, making the walk into the ocean unbelievably smooth – Railay West really does set the bar for all other beaches.
You can rent kayaks on the beach, or dine at one of the beachside restaurants – accommodation options are also available. Cheaper establishments can be found down the ‘Walking Street’ – including tour counters, souvenirs, mini marts and ATM’s. You can also walk to Railay East via this street.
You can reach Railay West via long tail boat from Ao Nang for 100 baht, and rent a kayak for an hour from 200 baht. Try the Phad Thai at Skunk House (further down Walking Street) – it’s actually the best I’ve EVER eaten.
Hat Railay East
The beach at Railay East is un-swimmable – that is, if you could call it a beach. The shoreline is more of a swamp, full of mangroves and rocks without a speck of golden sand to be found. That’s not to say it shouldn’t be visited – it’s actually the main hub for any tours in the area, ferries or transport to Krabi Town. It also has the highest concentration of accommodation and restaurants on Railay, and for a substantially less price than those found on Railay West.
You can access an incredible view point over the peninsular via a steep ascent towards the right of Railay East – unfortunately due to the amount of rain we had in the last few days, this was too muddy for us to attempt this time around.
Railay East can be reached via long tail boat from Ao Nang for 100 baht. If you’re dropped off at Railay West, take the path via the walking street to access Railay East – this takes just five minutes. Our favourite restaurant on Railay East was Rapala – incredible food at great prices, great wifi, amazing cocktails (100 baht during happy hour) and great service – worth a visit!
Hat Phra Nang
Probably more beautiful than Railay West, simply for the fact it is less crowded and touristed – in fact, there is only one exclusive resort on this beach and the only food for sale is from the floating long tail boats. Phra Nang is a LOVELY beach to swim at, with beautiful temperatures, silky smooth sand and has quite a gradual drop off. Grab a kayak from Railay West and paddle over – it takes about 10 to 15 minutes – and pull up on the beach for a few hours and soak up the sun.
Phra Nang can be accessed via long tail boat from Ao Nang for 100 baht, or rent a kayak to make the trip. It can also be accessed via trail, but we’ve read this is quite arduous.
Seen from Ao Nang and all the beaches on Railay, there are a group of islands in the Andaman Sea referred to as the ‘local islands’ – Chicken Island, Si Island, Tup Islands, Taming Island and Poda Island. These islands are normally packaged together as part of tours offered by agencies in the Krabi area, but they can be visited separately.
Referred to as Chicken Island by the shape of a rock that resembles a chicken jutting out towards the sea (funny looking chicken if you ask me), this is the largest of the local islands. It has a number of very tiny beaches, but the main reason to come here is for the snorkelling – the coral and abundance of marine life is beautiful!
Tup Islands are actually a group of three small islands, that, when the tide goes out, can actually be walked between via a sand bank that appears – very, very cool! When the tide is yet to go out, there is a small but beautiful beach concentrated around one of the islands – with a bar!
Poda Island has the largest beach of the local islands, with a few facilities including food, a bar and a toilet. This particular beach is the best spot for watching the sun set, with the nearby Taming Island (not really an island but a solitary limestone karst in the ocean) helping to frame a picture perfect view.
Each one of the above islands can be accessed from Ao Nang via a long tail boat for 300 Baht ONE WAY per person, and takes 20 – 25 minutes. This is quite good value if you know where you want to spend your trip. We visited all three islands as part of a sunset tour for 1200 baht per person – this was from 2PM – 8PM, including snorkelling gear, drinking water, dinner, transport via a larger boat (instead of a long tail) and a few other spots – well worth the money!
Ko Phi Phi Don
A trip to the region is incomplete without a visit to the famous Phi Phi Islands. We didn’t visit this time around, but visited on one of our last trips to Thailand. Phi Phi Don is the main hub, offering accommodation, an amazing viewpoint, diving, snorkelling and rock climbing. The beaches here are stunning.
You can catch the public ferry ‘Ao Nang Princess’ to Phi Phi Don every day, departing at 9.30AM for 400 baht one way per person from Railay East. Book the return trip from an agent once you get to Phi Phi Don – the prices there are lower than on the mainland.
Ko Phi Phi Leh
The smaller of the Phi Phi islands, Phi Phi Leh’s popularity soared after Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie The Beach was filmed on Maya Bay, located on the island. Whilst incredibly beautiful, the reality is this island is completely overcrowded by tourists. It would be beautiful to swim at – if you could actually get into the water – as long tails and speed boats pull up along the entire length of the beach. If Phi Phi Leh is a destination as part of a tour, then by all means come, explore, take the obligatory selfie and leave – but don’t make a special trip here otherwise.
Phi Phi Leh can be reached via long tail from Phi Phi Don for approximately 800 baht per person.
Our visit to Krabi was absolutely what we needed before we head into a busy few months of travel. We are so glad we made the decision to come and explore this beautiful part of Thailand – we’ll definitely be back again to explore Thailand’s most beautiful beaches.
Have you been to Krabi? What is your favourite beach, or where would you like to visit the most?