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There's no place on earth quite like Krabi, one of Thailand's tourist jewels. With its jagged karst limestone islands rising from the azure sea, pure white beaches, and exotic temples on land, Krabi is an enthralling place to visit.
Scenery is the star attraction in this corner of southern Thailand, but it has plenty of co-stars jostling for attention. From ancient Buddhist caves and seafront restaurants to water sports, golf, and vibrant nightlife, the coast around Krabi has a little bit of everything.
Throw in tropical sunshine and friendly locals, and you can easily see why this beautiful region of Thailand is so instantly lovable.
Krabi's calling card is obvious: the dramatic, soaring limestone islands that dot the region's coastline. Formed by millennia of chemical erosion, these islands hide idyllic beaches and some of the world's best rock climbing locations, and you can take cruises to the most scenic spots, like Koh Phi Phi and Koh Poda.
The islands and the coast are also lined with some of the softest, purest sand you'll find anywhere in Southeast Asia (and the world). Locations like Railay have warm water, tranquil neighborhoods, and stunning rock formations, bays like Klong Muang offer conventional resort experiences, while the remoteness of sites like Phra Nang Cave Beach make them the perfect place to unwind.
The coastline around Krabi Town is one of Thailand's most exciting vacation destinations, and it has the nightlife to prove it (although it's a little more laid-back than alternatives like Pattaya). Don't miss the bars of pumping Koh Phi Phi, the relaxed beach bars of Railay, and the dazzling lights and all-night DJ events at Ao Nang.
Krabi is more than just beaches and dramatic scenery - it's also a major Buddhist center. That means one thing in Thailand: multicolored, gorgeously decorated temples and shrines. Climb to the Tiger Cave Temple to see the golden Buddha and the jaw-dropping views, and wander the 2,700-yard-long patio at Wat Kaew Korawaram, which looms above Krabi Town.
If you want to enjoy sporting activities or get close to nature, Krabi is a superb place to do so. From bungee jumping at Ao Nang, mountain biking to Huay Toh Waterfall, elephant rides in Krabi Town and hiring fishing boats to cruise the islands, you'll never be at a loss for something to do in Krabi.
The thing to remember about Krabi is that it's a tropical destination, so the four seasons of North America go out the window. Try to schedule a visit during the least humid time of year, which generally lasts from around November to March (whenever you go, expect temperatures of over 80 degrees). If you fancy a cultural adventure, be there in April for Thai New Year - the city's major festival.
Most visitors to Krabi choose to fly into Bangkok, then take a connecting flight to Krabi Airport (KBV). When you touch down, you'll be able to catch an air-conditioned shuttle bus to the major resorts (฿90), or you can take a Songthaew (open-backed taxi) for around ฿40. Car rental outlets like National also offer a handy option if you intend to self-drive during your stay.
Although you can't travel by train straight to Krabi, you can get from Bangkok to nearby Surat Thani (for around ฿600). From there, you can take a public bus to Krabi (฿140), book a taxi (around ฿250), or a take a shuttle (around ฿200). Expect the journey from Surat Thani to take a couple of hours.
If you choose to rent a car from Krabi Airport, the fastest route to the coastal resorts is to take Highway 4 northbound for around five miles, then to turn left towards the coast, which will get you to major resorts like Ao Nang and Krabi Town.
Anyone traveling by bus to Krabi from Bangkok can choose from second-class, first-class, and VIP services, all of which depart from the capital's Southern Bus Terminal. Expect to pay around ฿600 for the trip, or ฿120 from Phuket.
Most people who visit Krabi look for accommodation in the lively coastal resorts, which offer luxury hotels within a stone's throw of the beach. Ao Nang may have the best selection, including the Cliff Beach Resort and the L Resort, but Railay also has some fine resorts like the Railay Bay Resort and Spa. If you'd like to be near the temples of Krabi Town, there are plenty of comfortable (generally 3-star) hotels like Thai Hotel or the River Scene, but the most luxurious places are along the coast at Ao Nang.
Krabi Town - small and strung along the road from the airport to the coast, Krabi Town isn't as beautiful as the nearby resorts (how could it be?), but it compensates with life and cultural attractions like the impressive Wat Kaew temple and the mountaintop Tiger Cave Temple.
Ao Nang - a few miles along the coast from Krabi Town, Ao Nang is completely different. This slick, modern resort has wonderful views of the karst islands. It's the ideal jumping off point for cruises to some of the area's best beaches and is also a nightlife nexus, with a lively central drag (that doesn't ruin the ambiance of the resorts).
Railay - tucked away a short distance from Ao Nang, Railay is more exclusive and quieter, and possibly more beautiful. The main attraction is the heart-stoppingly gorgeous beach, bookended by a steep limestone rock, but the caves underneath are also open for exploration, and water sports are always available on the beach.
There aren't really any public transportation options in Krabi Town, or the surrounding region, but the bus station is well connected to nearby spots and cities.
The main transportation option for many visitors are the open-backed Songthaew cabs or conventional taxis, and prices of both are extremely reasonable. Rates will vary, but examples include ฿200 for a taxi to the Tiger Cave Temple or ฿50 for a Songthaew from Krabi Town to Ao Nang.
Renting a car is another extremely practical and popular way to get around in Krabi, and you can rent from National, Sixt, or Budget at the airport. With a car, you can get to Phuket in a few hours, or hop between beaches with ease, so it's a major bonus. Rates will be around ฿250 per day.
If you want to buy Thai souvenirs like colorfully dyed textiles, meditation bowls, or essential oils, Krabi Town is the place to do so. There are stores in all of the resorts, but prices are far lower in Krabi. Check out malls like the Tesco Lotus Shopping Mall or Big C, or have a walk along the Vatchara Road in the city center to find plenty of clothing stores and craft outlets.
If you need to shop for basic groceries during your stay, try local supermarkets like Mother Marche, which has five locations in the area, Makro, or the Big C mall. Wherever you shop, expect relatively low prices, with a gallon of milk costing around ฿185 and 12 eggs about ฿50.
Seafood and fiery curries are the norm in Krabi, where there are some exceptional places to eat. In Ao Nang, try the Crab Company or Lae Lay Grill, while Diamond Cave in Railay has beautiful wooden furnishings, a seafront terrace and, most importantly, serves wonderful massaman curries and deep fried squid. If you are in Krabi Town, check out the Indian cuisine at Taj Palace or Ruan Thip, the best bet for a traditional Thai banquet. Meals will be very affordable, at around ฿200 for most main courses, and ฿500 (max) for a three course meal.