While planning our Southeast Asia trip, my travel buddy and I decided to extend the duration that we have allocated to Southern Thailand and to go beyond Phuket. After doing some research on several beach destinations in the region (Koh Samui, Pattaya etc), Ao Nang Beach in Krabi was our champion for two reasons. First, we could get to the islands that we wanted to see from Ao Nang within just 45 minutes. Second, it would be easy for us to get to our next stop, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from Krabi Airport.
The destination guides that I had read while planning the trip, only made sense once I actually got to the region. I’ll do my best to explain everything we have done in Ao Nang in detail, so that you have some useful information before going there.
Where is Ao Nang Beach?
Ao Nang Beach, which lies on the opposite coast of the bay from Phuket, is a small resort town in Thailand’s Krabi region.
How can I get to Krabi and Ao Nang Beach?
You have 3 options: Plane, bus, and ferry.
- Plane: Krabi has a small airport, probably the smallest I’ve seen, which has flights from major cities in Southeast Asia. After arriving at Krabi Airport, you can either take a cab or Krabi – Ao Nang Transfer Vehicles to get to Ao Nang Beach.
- Bus: It takes a 3-hour drive to get to Krabi from Phuket. After arriving at the central bus station, you’ll have two choices: taxi and Krabi – Ao Nang Transfer Vehicles.
- Ferry: There are daily voyages to Ao Nang Beach from Phuket. It directly arrives in Ao Nang , instead of Krabi, however its timetable was inconvenient for us as the voyages were at 8 AM.
Who lives in Ao Nang?
The largest group in the population is Thai Muslims. The region is known to be influenced by Malaysian culture. There are also several Buddhist temples and churches in Ao Nang. The daily life and the great culinary culture totally reflect this diversity.
Islands Close to Ao Nang Beach
The large number of nearby islands was one of the main reasons why we decided to stay in Ao Nang. Among those islands are popular tourist attractions, as well as locally known islets. You can arrange the island tours from any of the agencies in downtown. Almost all of them have pick-up service from your hotel to Ao Nang Pier.
Phi Phi Islands
Phi Phi Islands constitute an island complex near Krabi and they are home to the popular Maya Bay that attracts thousands of tourists every year. Regardless of the season, you will find Maya Bay replete with hundreds of people swimming and taking photographs. I can almost feel that you are dreaming of deserted islands and relaxing on tranquil beaches. However, I would save that dream for other islands in the region because Phi Phi will be full of action every time of the season.
For photographs? You have chosen the right place. There are several bays around Phi Phi, including the ones that you can swim in and the ones you can only photograph. In the latter ones, swimming is restricted by the government to preserve the natural surroundings.
One of my favorite islands in Thailand. It takes only 30 minutes to get to the island from Ao Nang Pier.
It is not just the beaches that is beautiful about Bamboo Island, it also has a large national park.
Hong is a large island in the northern part of the bay. It is home to the incredible Hong’s Lagoon.
The tours almost always get there by long-tail boat.
A true paradise with tall palm trees and a considerably crowded cat population. It has a small beach surrounded by the forest and cliffs. If you want to follow the pathway into the forest you might need your insect repellent gel.
James Bond Island
It is the most popular one and it’s good for photographs, but you cannot swim around it. In my opinion, it isn’t worth the hype, but it’s still considered as a must-see location.
It’s an island group that consists of Chicken Island, Poda Island, Tub Islands and Mawr Island. They are the four closest islands to Ao Nang Beach in the region. The name “Four Islands” is a name given by the local tour agencies.
The Four Islands tours generally stop by at the Phra Nang Cave in addition to the islands.
Speed Boat or Long-Tail Boat
We only went to Phi Phi Islands by speed boat because it takes 45 minutes longer to get there with long-tail boat.
Besides Phi Phi, you can book a long-tail boat for all your journeys around Ao Nang. It takes around the same time, it is definitely more photogenic, and it is cheaper.
Railay Beach can only be accessed from the sea by long-tail boat. The boats take off from the small pier close to Thanon Nopparat Thara Road, behind Wangsai Seafood. You can also ask any local for directions. It’s important to watch out for the tide, which sometimes gets as wide as 100 meters, and prevents long-tail boats from approaching to the pier.
Railay is famous for its sunsets and surroundings suitable for rock climbing. The seawater was really hot when compared with Mediterranean beaches, but it was just fine after a long day of walking.
It costs about 100 THB to go to Railay Beach, and 150 THB to return (Yes, I know, Thai service standards).
The food stalls on Thanon Nopparat Thara Road is where you can find the best food in Ao Nang. At those food stalls you can eat any type of seafood, marinated and cooked the way you want.
By the way, I can say that Southern Thailand is one of the best places to try seafood in the world thanks to its environment.
How long should I stay in Ao Nang?
If you are planning to visit all the islands nearby, go to Railay Beach, and maybe to join a diving class, 5 days will be OK. I believe it should be at least 5 days, because there is so much to do around Ao Nang.