I felt in love for this region when I watched for the first time “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio. I do not think I am exaggerating if I say it is one of the most beautiful areas in the word.
One thing I did not realize on my first trip was that there are many places to stay in Krabi and honestly it’s hard to suggest the best one.
Because surprisingly enough, they all offer a different lifestyle. They all offer something different, rock climbing or canoeing, island hopping or trekking, isolation or nightlife, relaxation or sunbathing, and so much more.
I have tried to build this guide highlighting 8 areas of Krabi with all you can find there. In this way, you have more of a picture
I would personally suggest to create an itinerary and visit a few of these places (a few options are listed below, in the itinerary section)
The different areas of Krabi can keep you busy easily for a 2 weeks itinerary, or even more
Some of the places are reachable by bus, others only by boat. There are parties spots as well as villages catered more for families or again for adventures and action sports.
Moving around is easy and cheap.
But let’s dig down to the best areas to stay in Krabi. The below map helps to visualize the region.
Ao Nang, also known as “Ao Phra Nang”, is the area that has been influenced the most by the western culture (read plenty of bars and pubs). It is located about 18 km away from the main town of Krabi.
The place is well known for its beautiful shoreline, the evergreen flora and fauna, and the great nightlife. It’s also the perfect starting point for an island hopping experience.
From Ao Nang, you can easily visit most of the famous locations in and around Krabi, as Fossil Shell beach, Khao Ngon Nak National Park, Nopparat Thara Beach, Maya Bay, Railay Bay, and the Phi Phi islands.
The town layout is pretty simple. There is one main street with the beach on one side and the restaurants, clubs and shops on the other side. And unfortunately, the traffic is part of the Ao Nang experience (not as bad as Kuta/Bali though)
Apart from the beaches, in Ao Nang, you can also book day trips for rock climbing (more on this later), snorkelling and jungle zip lining. Of course, spa-massages are everywhere (you will need it after a long night).
Ao Nang is most definitely a great place to stay in Krabi for nightlife and some beach time too. You can find any kind of hotel, catering for any age and budget.
The Aonang Cliff Beach Resort is one of the best accommodation, especially for couples (check out the infinity pool). Right in the middle of the action however very quiet once inside, and just steps away from the beach. The service and the breakfast are amazing.
The Cliff View Resort is one of the best budget accommodations in Ao Nang. It’s not as close to the beach however its location is fantastic, you will feel in the middle of a peaceful jungle, at the base of a huge cliff. They provide complimentary lifts to the beach.
There are plenty of options of course. These are three places that I would suggest, either for the experience or the type of food:
Jenna’s Bistro: one of the finest international dining experiences in town with live music playing in the background. Although a bit costly, the steaks and Tapas served here are an absolute treat. For a special night.
Diver’s Inn: it is a German restaurant which is known for serving a great collection of beers. Greatly cooked steaks and salad buffets. The place also offers gluten-free meals.
Jungle Kitchen: a tiny boutique local restaurants famous for serving shrimp cakes, crab curry, Thai iced green tea, jungle curry, and basil fried beef. The best place to eat when you stay at the Cliff View Resort.
Railay Beach, also commonly known as Rai Leh, has one of the most beautiful scenery of the Andaman coast of Thailand. The place is surrounded by high cliffs and amazing white beaches.
The best is that both Railay and Tonsa can only be reached by boat and ferries, which means you will forget about any kind of traffic and you will find yourself in a small heaven.
Railay is well known for places as:
All of the above can be visited and experienced on your own or with the help of a local agency.
Railay is the perfect place to stay in Krabi for people looking for an adventure holiday (diving, snorkelling, hiking, kayaking and trekking).
The Avatar Railay Resort is one of the best value places in all of Krabi. Right at the beach with a private pool that you can access directly from your bedroom. It’s a bit of a boutique, a bit of a designed accommodation at a great value price.
If you are after a basic accommodation at a budget price that the Sun Bungalows is a great option, however, you will not be that close to the beach (~3km)
Tonsai is a beach village located between Ao Nang and Railay, also reachable only by boat.
The beaches around here are surrounded by high cliffs and have rough sands. Rock climbing is the main to-do activity in Tonsai. Go to the Rock Shop to organise a day trip, you will remember it for a long while.
The walls along the footpath in Tonsai have been beautifully graffitied by the local travellers giving that nice hippie feeling to an otherwise brownish landscape.
Nopparat Thara is a beach town located about 18kms from Krabi town and next to Ao Nang. It has a 3km long shoreline which is surrounded by hills in the east and a National Park in the west.
It is a great place for long walks, a swim and some time off. The promenade is the centre for the bars, restaurants, and shops.
It’s a quiet area but there are a few construction sites undergoing. The town is expanding, although at a low pace
Nopparat Thara is a great place to stay for families, especially if looking for a quiet shallow beach to play with the kids. It tends to be also cheaper than other areas too.
The Holiday Inn is a fantastic resort with plenty of activities for kids. Its location is also perfect, at the beginning of the long Nopparat beach and a stone away from Ao Nang, ideal if you want a bit of both, quiet one day, busy the next. Such a lovely breakfast too.
This is the area of Krabi with the most affordable accommodations. Great if you are on a budget, however you will be far from the beach (a tuk-tuk to Ao Nang is anyway so cheap).
The Link Hostel Aonang (adults only) has to be one of the cheapest accommodations in the area but still offering a clean place to stay.
Klong Muang is a tiny coastal town located about 45 minutes away from Krabi.
Also in this case, the main road divides the town into two sections. The beachside with resorts and the inland side with restaurants and bars.
Klong Muang is another quiet area, great for couples looking for a romantic getaway, possibly in a boutique resort.
The main beach is about 2 kilometres long and it is surrounded by casuarina trees and coconuts all along, a real peaceful environment.
In Klong Muang, you can find a variety of accommodations, from luxury style to cheap bungalows.
The Bliss is a lovely boutique resort which is perfect for a romantic stay, with a few rooms that have a beach view. I still can’t believe it is so inexpensive, I wonder for how long.
The White Sand House is another great option, right on the beach with a lovely swimming pool.
Tubkaek is a tiny beach town, just north of Klong Muang, mostly catered for the luxury market.
The beach features clear waters, fine sands and an exquisite view of the islands. A variety of grandeur hotels, as well as private resorts, are found across the shoreline.
The north part of this area is reserved by the Khao-Ngon Nak National Park, a fantastic place for a walk, some trekking and a unique view of Krabi.
Actually, you may have already seen Tubkaek in a famous movie, “Hangover 2”, filmed in the luxurious Ritz Carlton complex.
Some of the finest places to dine here are:
The Krabi town is more of a commercial hub than a resort area. There are a few attractions like the Wat Kaew, the Khao Khanab Nam Caves and the Weekend Night Market, however, they can all be visited with a simple trip from Ao Nang or any other town.
It has to be said that prices are more local-friendly in Krabi town with cheaper malls and department stores.
There are few local art galleries around that sell the own pieces of art. Worth having a check. You may find the same work at your resort at 4 times the price.
The Phi-Phi islands are one of the most renowned places in south-eastern Asia, and for a good reason, they are absolutely spectacular.
The Phi-Phi are divided into two main islands Phi Phi Leh (only day stay) and Phi Phi Don as well as 6 more small islands.
Both the main islands are a part of Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu ko National park.
The Phi Phi Leh island boasts the popular Maya Bay where the famous movie “The Beach” with a young Leonardo DiCaprio was filmed
It is as beautiful as it looks in the video, unfortunately, it’s also very popular, which means you will share it with LOTS of people.
My suggestion here is to rent a private boat and make it there by 7:30am at least you will have it almost for yourself till 9am, when most of the morning tours arrive.
Phi Phi Don island is packed with a variety of guesthouses, luxury hotels, tailors, restaurants, tattoo shops, banks, mini-malls, clothing markets, and jewellery shops.
It’s an amazing island, it can be overcrowded in high-season, however, you can always find a boutique place to stay far from the hustle and bustle, if you book well in advance.
For its beauty, I recommend it for a honeymoon stay, even for just a few days.
The Zeavola is the most amazing resort on the island, a secluded destination, far from the crowd, with a lovely private beach and a great dining experience. It comes at a price, however for a honeymoon should not be missed.
A more affordable accommodation, actually a great value if you consider the amazing view, is the Papaya Resort, facing the Loh Dalum beach. It’s a bit of a climb to arrive there, however, again, the view is the best reward.
The Phi Phi islands are easily reachable with private and tour boats from both Krabi and Ao Nang.
Ko Lanta is quite a big island located south of Krabi, famous for its vast beaches, mangrove forests, a protected national park and the waterfalls.
While the west coast of Ko Lanta is popular with tourists all around the year, the east coast is mostly populated by the Urak Lawoi, aboriginal Malay people, and the Chinese-Malay Muslim communities.
I still remember like yesterday my day spent exploring with a scooter the inland and the east coast. Definitely a different experience from the typical Thai world.
Ko Lanta also has an ancient lighthouse located in the southern-most point of the island. Every local tends to suggest a visit there, which I did, but honestly nothing spectacular.
Ko Ngai is one of the small islands located in the middle of the Andaman sea. It is a perfect getaway for young couples looking for romantic destinations. It is well known for its golden sandy beaches.
Ko Ngai, also known as Hai, is a part of the Mu ko National Marine Park. It is famous for several recreational activities like snorkelling and open sea diving.
It is an expensive destination and lacks proper dining facilities and that’s possibly part of the local experience.
Ko Ngai is reachable by boat from Ko Lant.
You can now fly directly to the Krabi Airport with either domestic or international flights.
The airport is located about 15 km from the Krabi town. Upon landing, you can easily take a taxi or save some money and jump on a songathews (the typical shared vehicle you find in Thailand) from the airport into the city.
There are no direct trains to Krabi. You would need to go to Surat Thani and from there either a 2-hour taxi ride (expensive option) or a bus.
I have personally not tried the train. The main reason is the length (you should budget in almost a day, considering that the bus may not leave when you arrive at Surat Thani.
My suggestion here is to either take a direct flight, inexpensive if you book well in advance, or a bus.
If you are in Phuket then you have two options, by boat or by bus. Both direct and inexpensive.
You have a few options:
I would not consider renting a car, especially if in Ao Nang where you will be likely to be stuck in traffic.
Stef Ferro is the founder and editor of MEL365, a travel & photography website made to enhance the travelling experience and improve the photography work.
Stef is a professional travel photographer with past experience in the cycling and film industry.
Stef runs travel photography workshops in Melbourne and around the world.