Krabi is known for being a destination spot for many travelers as there are so many things you can do around this town and the beaches of Krabi are amazing. It is located on the on the opposite side of Thailand from where I’d just left and is just south of Phuket. It’s proximity on the coast is ideal as a hopping point to many popular islands in Thailand such as Ko Phi Phi and Ko Lanta though there are hundreds if not thousands of other islands dotting the sea in this area. And if you have ever seen the James Bond film ” The Man With the Golden Gun” you may recognize the memorable limestone cliffs just off the shore that were very similar to ones they shot nearby at an island near the beaches of Krabi.
If I were to compare the beaches in Ko Tao and Ko Phanghan to the beaches of Krabi, I would say there isn’t much difference in the color or clarity of the water – both have areas of crystal clear blue waters – but the temperature of the water in the Andaman Sea was noticeably warmer than that in the Gulf of Thailand where we had just come from. And of course, the limestone cliffs lining the shore gave an almost surreal experience while at the beach.
As mentioned before, there are almost too many things you can do in and around the beaches of Krabi, it was almost hard deciding just what to do with ourselves for the next few days. Just to name a few things you can do while here include scuba diving, rock climbing, trekking, an elephant safari, snorkeling, mountain biking and kayaking as well as trips to nearby islands. With several small islands scattered right off the beach, we ended up taking a 4 island day trip on a large long tail boat. And you probably recognize these long tail boats as being characteristic of Thailand but you may not realize just how these things are propelled through the water. By using a V-8 engine propped and balanced on the back of the boat, the boat’s ‘captain’ cranks up the engine and dips the propeller down into the water from the end of the drive shaft. To turn, he swings the engine from left to right on its pendulum.
The main problem with this? Well aside from the fact that the propeller sits a good eight feet out from the back of the boat, on the larger boats, visibility can be an issue because the driver has to face the engine looking back to turn but then turn around and look through a crowd of people to steer. So on our boat, there would be a guy on the bow of the boat yelling to the guy in the rear to steer left or right when pulling in to dock up.
The first island we visited, named Poda Island, was amazing. Turquoise waters surrounded the small island and just off the beach sat an enormous limestone rock that seemed to be set right on top of the water. We walked as far around the island as we could to escape the tourists littering the beach where we landed on shore and swam around in what seemed a fitting scene for a tropical paradise. To me, this was the real Thailand I had pictured in my mind.
From there, we headed to Chicken Head Island which was really just a photo opportunity more than anything. How many pictures can you take of an island that looks like a chicken head? Well everyone on the boat seemed to take at least five photos each. Why? I’m not really sure…
Making it back around the island, we anchored just off the shore and got suited up for some snorkeling right off the boat. The snorkeling was great and actually seemed a bit better than that in Ko Tao. The fish were a bit different and there seemed to be a lot more corals in these waters than in the Gulf though I’m sure it is all just dependent on what part of the waters you are in.
Later we ate an early lunch and sailed up to the shore from where we were to land on another beach with the option to either swim, snorkel or just hike around between two islands as the tide was down enough that there was a sand bar that connected the two. And I can only assume that the monkey we found on the small island was either brought here by boat or had come from the larger island because he seemed so out of place being miles off the mainland. While we were there swimming, we thought it would be interesting to try and feed the fish that were constantly swimming around us. Maybe this wasn’t a good idea but we were going to give it a go anyway. Grabbing a delicious slice of whole wheat, we tore off bits of the bread and tossed them in the waters in front of us. Within a few seconds, this was the scene….
After we got back on our boat, we had but one stop left, Phra Nang Cave off Railay Beach. Needless to say, this beach spot was something spectacular and unique. There were limestone cliffs and caves at each end of the bay and at one end, you could walk waist deep in the turquoise waters to climb the rocks into the cave that eventually dumped you on the other side of the beach. Luckily, our stop here was the longest and we spent as much time as possible exploring every inch of it.
That night, we took on the night market in the center of Krabi town. Its a popular spot for the locals as I think they go there more for chatting than they do to buy but it’s also a great place to go for dinner. I think I tried at least five different things that night which included coconut corn waffles, crab filled pancakes, some type of dessert filled with coconut milk and shavings, and some tiny fried bird eggs that are sandwiched into pancake batter. I also had one of the best strawberry shakes of my life. With a cup full of strawberries, a dash of sugar, a bit of syrup and a good bit of ice, I decided this slice of heaven that had been put in a plastic cup was like your first experience as a kid when you discovered a Cherry flavored Icee at 7-Eleven on a hot summer day.
The next day we went kayaking not too far from Krabi at a place called Ao Thalane. It was an organized kayak tour so there was a large group of us making up about 12 kayaks. The route we took snaked through rock canyons and canals and the river eventually ended up dumping into the Indian Ocean though we didn’t go quite that far of course.
We covered a good bit of distance and it lasted about two hours. There were definitely some shallow areas where you’d almost be stuck and have to push yourself off the rocks but the highlight of the morning was when we got stormed by ‘monkey pirates’.
OK, so these monkeys weren’t from Somalia but they came out of nowhere, jumped on board and took whatever they could find whether it was a bottle of water or just some food. I wasn’t too thrilled to have one in the kayak with us as I was just imagining it stealing my bag holding my wallet and camera but my friend thought it was just the coolest thing to have a monkey along for the ride down the river. We rode with it for about ten minutes then dropped it off on one of the river tree branches overhanging the water.
After kayaking, we finished the afternoon back on the beach but our run ins with monkeys wasn’t over. Since the beach was so crowded, we walked to the far end by the cliffs to find a beach spot but as soon as we got near the cliffs, we walked up on hundreds of more monkeys. This was definitely not a place to throw out your towel along the beach. The monkeys were everywhere as were the tourists and just like everywhere else, those tourists that don’t know to hide belongings were getting monkeys crawling up their back and taking their stuff. I ended up finding a hiking path over the cliffs to get to another section of the beach where it was more secluded and only accessed by hiking or by boat. And although there were monkeys on the hike to get there, there were none on this stretch of beach…
The last thing we visited before leaving town was the Tiger Cave temple which sits atop a mountain cliff and overlooks Krabi, the ocean, and the hills and valleys to the opposite side. The mountain itself is no easy hike either.
There were 1,237 steps to make it to the top and these were not your normal steps either as they were extremely steep and were about 16-20 inches in height.
It took about forty five minutes to make it to the top and I was hoping for a cold shower when I arrived since I looked like I just stepped out of a hot sauna. However, the view was amazing even though it was hazy that morning. And of course, how good could a temple be without a clan of monkeys at the top? Of course everyone was thrilled to see these monkeys here but one of the baby monkeys ended up getting its head stuck in the fence and that is when the funny monkey business ended. When it started screaming, one of the older monkeys came shooting over threatening to bite. Everyone scattered quickly including myself. I was not in the mood to get bit by a monkey in south Thailand…
After the temple we headed to a hot spring which was located about an hour from Krabi near the Khao Phra Bang Khram Nature Reserve. After swimming around a bit, which you can only do for about twenty minutes before your heads starts to boil, we headed to the ‘Emerald Pool’ which wasn’t far from the hot springs. The walk through the forest to get to the Emerald Pool was actually nicer than the pool itself. Unfortunately it was a Saturday while we were there so when we made it to the pool it was overrun with locals and tourists and a whole slew of kids. One practically jumped on my head from the edge of the pool. Luckily there was one other spot to check out in this area called the Blue Pool. When you see the picture below, I think you’ll know why they call it that. It took us about thirty minutes on the most worn out boardwalk to get there but when we made it there, it was definitely the bluest colored freshwater I had ever seen.
After this day in Krabi, it would mark the end of my time in south Thailand. I was headed north to Chiang Mai and though I’d miss the beaches of Krabi, it will nice to get away from the heat and humidity of the south…