Things to See and Do in Krabi, Thailand

Where to go kayaking in Krabi?
Kayaking along the river in the Bothor area.

Ok, first things first. I have to apologize to the city of Krabi. You see, when we were first planning our trip and I was researching places we’d want to visit, Krabi ended up on the “do not visit list”. Between personal friends and other travel blogs, Krabi was getting a bad reputation. In fact, if you google “Krabi is crappy” you’ll see lots of posts related to this. But a couple of our friends had planned a trip to Thailand and wanted to use Krabi as their home base. We were reluctant to change our minds about the city, but really wanted to see familiar faces during our travels, so we decided to give Krabi a go anyways. And boy am I thankful we did! Krabi was calm, relaxing, wonderful, and provided a lot of opportunities of things to do with our time. We want to spread the love for Krabi and change the minds of travelers and thus, have compiled a list of things to see and do in the city.

Tiger Cave Temple

What to see in Krabi Thailand
The large Buddha overlooks the surrounding area.

Located about 3km northeast of Krabi, Wat Tham Suea (more commonly known as Tiger Cave Temple) is nestled in the Ao Luk Thanu mountain range. Contrary to the name, there are no tigers found at Tiger Cave Temple, but legend has it the animals used to find refuge within the networks of caves in the area. Still used today as a meditation centre, the main hall is set within a small limestone cave. Within this hall is a smaller cave that houses a beautiful jade Buddha.

The main draw, however, is the 360-degree view from the top of the mountain, some 1,237 steps up from the main hall. A fitness guru’s challenge, the climb is steep and provides extra challenges along the way; like the local monkeys who can be quite aggressive, especially if you’re holding a bottle of water. But the view from the top is worth the physical pain. There’s a large Buddha statue at the top, but the panoramic scenery is stunning.

Entrance is free. Wear comfortable shoes, pack lots of water, and beware of the cheeky monkeys!

Visit a Beach

What are the beaches in Krabi Thailand?
Ao Nang Beach

Krabi is ideally located close to three beautiful beaches, Ao Nang, Railay, and Tonsai, but far enough away from the touristy hot spots so you don’t feel like you’re in the middle of it all. Ao Nang is best reached by one of the local tuk-tuk style buses (a converted flat-bed trunk with benches for seats in the back) that will take about 20 minutes to drive. The bus will have its route written on the side and will cost 50baht per person, one-way (more coming back after the sun goes down). Railay is best reached by longtail boat, which you can pick up from the pier in the city. It will cost you anywhere between 100-150baht per person, one-way, so make sure to bargain. There’s no set schedule, so the boat will likely wait until it’s filled up a bit before it sets off. Although it might seem to be more of a hassle to get to Railay, it’s considered to be the best one. Tonsai is a quick longtail boat ride away from Ao Nang beach.

Spend a Day Kayaking

Kayaking through a cave
Kayaking through a cave in Thanboke Koranee National Park.

The options for kayaking in and around Krabi are endless. Due to its location along the Andaman coast and the surrounding topography, there are so many little nooks and crannies to be explored. We booked a ½ day tour kayaking through the Borthor area. Paddling up a shallow saltwater river, we had mangroves lining the banks and limestone mountains looming over us. Our tour took us into Thanboke Koranee National Park, where we first kayaked through a cave tunnel, with stalagmites and stalactites surrounding us. It was incredibly peaceful, with only the sounds of our voices and paddles filling the air. We even got to witness a weird fish species that seemed to have arms for fins, crawling along the sandy shoreline.

Next, we paddled up river a little bit more and came to another cave, this time only accessible by foot. Once inside, we were given a glimpse into Thailand’s ancient past. Interesting figures were painted on the walls that have remained a mystery even until today. The most famous painting is that of a human figure with what looks like an animal head, but it’s somewhat alien-like and eerie to look at.

Even though we only booked a half-day tour, lunch was waiting for us when we returned to the riverside terrace. We were pleasantly surprised! Our tour guides were very knowledgeable about the area and able to answer any of our questions. We had such a great experience.

The ½ day tour cost us 900baht each and included transportation to and from our guesthouse in Krabi in an air-conditioned mini-van.

Take a Day Trip to the Surrounding Islands

The beaches of Thailand
The crowds check out the stunning Maya Bay.

If you don’t want to spend the money staying on Koh Phi Phi Island (and we’re here to strongly recommend you don’t), taking a day trip from Krabi is your next best bet to see these famed islands. However, depending on the time of year you go, this can be either an enjoyable or very disappointing experience. Since the movie “The Beach” was filmed there, tourists have been arriving by the thousands to see these beaches, resulting in an over-commercialized area that’s far removed from what made them so famous to begin with.

Almost all of the tour companies offer the same package: speed boat transportation to Kah Nok Island, snorkeling at Koh Phi Phi Ley, relaxing on Maya Bay Beach, lunch on Koh Phi Phi, a visit to Monkey Beach, and a pass-by of Viking Cave. But shopping around with the tour agents is a must as we found quite a substantial price difference between companies for the same packaged tour.

If it wasn’t for the beauty of the location, these day trips would be a bust, as you’re more than likely to be on an over-booked tour and sharing the tour spots with dozens and dozens of other speed boats. Its not quite paradise when you’ve got Guido in his white Speedo doing muscle poses on Maya Bay beach.

But with that being said, there are still other day trips that are less crowded including the Hong Island Tour and another island hopping tour that takes you to Chicken Island, Bamboo Island, and even the other famed island where the James Bond movie, “The Man with the Golden Gun,” was filmed.

If you’re interested in doing the Koh Phi Phi day tour, we recommend doing it any other time than high and peak season. And once again, shop around. We paid 1000baht each, and that included transfers, transportation, snorkel gear, and lunch.

What do the beaches look like in Thailand?
Relaxing on Kah Nok island.

Krabi is a great place for those who enjoy a quieter setting while traveling. There isn’t a huge party scene, though there are a number of well-visited bars in the area, some of which even have live music. The main downtown core of Krabi Town is worth an afternoon stroll and there’s a night market that sells all kinds of nick-nacks and interesting looking grub along the main road, and a smaller collection of food stalls that set up every night by the pier. But the main activities lie around the city. There’s a lot more things to do that we didn’t get the time to try, including the Klong Thom hot springs, a collection of natural water springs that cascade down the mountain creating natural “jacuzzis” you can bathe in. And if you’re into rock climbing, the area around Krabi is known for having some of the best climbs in the world.

So don’t believe what some of the haters might say. Krabi is a great city to settle into with a ton of activities to keep you busy for at least a week.

 

  • http://www.uneventoast.com/ Nigel

    I was quite fortunate when I got to Krabi. There was some sort of festival on so there was live music great food etc. I spent a couple nights on Phi Phi and only saw what the fuss was about when I took a walk away from the town centre and explored the south east of the island. Railway was nice. Tons not so much. It had a slightly gritty feel due to some construction work that was going on.

  • Cindy

    Hi there. I enjoyed your post, very informative. I’m going to Krabi in June with a couple of friends. May I know which tour agent did you use for all your activities. It sounds like you got a great package: guides, transportation and lunches.

    Cheers!
    Cindy

    • http://www.seeyousoon.ca Arienne

      Hi Cindy! Thanks for the lovely comment. I’m so sorry, but I honestly cannot remember the name of the tour companies we used for our Phi Phi day trip and our 1/2 day kayaking trip. What I do remember though was many companies offering almost essentially the same packages. Just shop around and compare prices. Once you’re in Krabi, talk to some of the other tourists as well and see who they went with and what their experience was. Sorry, I wish I had the names to give you!

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  • Surin Beach Phuket

    Woww!!! nice trip. If you can’t decide for your next trip…Phuket is the best choice for you!!

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  • Anonymous

    Glad you have put in a good word for Krabi. I did not realise that it had been much maligned by travellers. I have been to Thailand twice and both times spent the majority of my time in that region. There is certainly a lot to see and do around Krabi and it is also the gateway to some beautiful and unspoilt habitable islands (Koh Jum, Koh Lanta, Koh Ngai, Koh Kradan, Koh Muuk and many, many more).

    As you hinted: Koh Phi Phi Don, although picturesque, is now overdeveloped and too busy (think ‘party central’). ‘The Beach’ setting of Maya Bay on nearby Koh Phi Phi Ley is quite often pack with tour boats. Get there early and leave early!

    Likewise, ‘James Bond Island’ (Khao Phing Kan and Ko Tapu) is also a very popular destination for day trippers and can get very busy in high season. This was the setting of Scaramanga’s island lair in ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’. (Dr No was filmed in Jamaica).

    • Tristan

       Thanks so much for your comment and the correction. We have updated the article. Thanks also for mentioning the other, less touristed islands. We didn’t get a chance to make it over to them, but a person working in our guesthouse in Krabi specifically highlighted Koh Muuk as a nice place to visit. Hopefully next time!

      • Anonymous

        Hi, Koh Muk (I actually misspelt it myself – can be spelt Koh Muk, Koh Mook, Ko Muk, Koh Mook, etc. – every island has several spellings!), is a very relaxing island. Quite small with a backpacker zone around Had Farang (‘foreigner’s beach’) on the west coast or more upmarket resorts on the east coast. Easily reachable by ferry via Krabi, Koh Phi Phi andKoh Lanta, etc. Pretty laid back and cheap.

        I was there when the tsunami hit in 2004. Luckily not much damage, and remarkably few lives lost. Suprisingly it was the east coast that suffered most even though it faces the mainland, not the west which faces open sea.

        Koh Muk is not spectacular for snorkellers so I would suggest day trips to nearby Koh Kradan, Koh Ngai (both habitable) or the best…Koh Rok (unihabited heaven!).

  • Bruce

    Hi there… We have never met and, until just a few moments ago, you were total strangers. Regardless, I just wanted to write a short note to say a BIG thanks! We are Makyla’s parents, back home here in Guelph, Ontario. She explained, in her most recent email home, that you were very helpful in her search to sort out some important banking stuff. These stories sure do continue to maintain our faith in the spirit of world travel and the trust that, indeed, it will all work out fine!
    Cheers and safe travels to you both,
    Bruce and Jennifer
    PS. Great blog, wonderful stories and beautiful pics. 

    • Tristan

       Hey Bruce,

      After being helped out by so many other people on our trip, it was nice for us to get the opportunity to lend a hand. Interestingly enough, it turns out I had the same issue that Makyla did, and while she went first and handled it like a pro, I bungled my security questions and almost blew the whole thing. Fortunately it all worked out, and it was a tremendous pleasure for Arienne and I to meet her. Thanks for your kind words and checking out our site. It was a nice surprise reading your comment this morning.
      Give Canada a big warm hug for us!
      Tristan & Arienne