Krabi (Thailand), especially Ao Nang, is the perfect holiday destination if you are adventurous and looking for a place to relax. It is one of the places that my family frequented the most as there is a never-ending list of activities to do. Of course, there is also the fact that the location is blessed with aesthetic landscapes and exotic sceneries.
The most convenient way to reach Krabi from Kuala Lumpur is by flight, a journey which takes only 1 hour and 30 minutes. However, it is also a common sight to see cars with Malaysian number plates across the sprawling Andaman coast. So, if you prefer an up close and personal experience with the beauty of nature, the 10-hour drive down would probably entice you.
In terms of accomodation, there are countless hotels, resorts or homestays in Ao Nang with different price ranges to suit your budget. My family personally favours the Mercure Krabi Deevana hotel.
Now, considering that most people have limited time to explore everything that Krabi can offer, here is a listicle of my top 5 recommendations – things that you must do when visiting Krabi.
1) Emerald Pool
This place is a must if you are an outdoor person or if you fancy cool pictures for your Instagram feed.
There are two main forms of transport to get to the emerald pool, either by renting a bike or hiring a driver. Usually, there are a lot of travel agencies that offer packages inclusive of drivers at a reasonable price.
During my trip, we hired a personal driver. It was a nice surprise to find that the car we got was a fancy van with disco balls and decorations. Even better, (and much more essential in the tropical weather!) the air-conditioning functioned perfectly.
The journey there is pretty straightforward, too! There are two routes; the first is a 1.4 KM hike up a boardwalk, while the other is a 800 metre hike up a dirt road.
As is the case with most tourist attractions, there is an admission fee in order to enter the pool, and an ineluctable crowd. However, this is a small price to pay for an incredible experience.
The water in the emerald pool come from thermal hot springs that are rooted underground. This gives its visitors very cooling and refreshing sensations that urges one to swim in the pool for the whole day – which is exactly what my brother and cousins did!
2) Island hopping
What’s a tropical vacation without some island views?
For those on a tighter budget, packages offered by travel agencies are your best bet. However, this recommendation may not play out as well if you’re not willing to spend a few extra greens.
Here’s what I mean: during my family’s first trip to Krabi, we followed a tour agency that crammed about 25 people on a boat that is fairly small. It was stuffy, and some of the snorkelling gears were faulty. But he second time we went, we chose to get a private boat instead, which means that the whole boat would be catered to one’s own family. The snorkelling equipment were in perfect condition this time and they even served light refreshments such as fruits together with chilled canned drinks.
So of course, the decision is yours. But I’d say don’t be afraid to put in a little extra, because the high reward is always worth the small investment.
Back to bussiness, the islands my family and I visited were Hong Island, Phra Nang Island, Phi Phi Island, Bamboo Island and Koh Hua Guan “Axe Island”. A little random fun fact about Koh Hua Guan – it is infamously known as the Chicken Island because its tip is the shape of a chicken head. But, I digress.
It is recommended that one allocates a whole day for island hopping. This way, there is minimum rush and maximum opportunities to soak up some tropical beauty. I found it best to show up prepared in swimming attire, and to always keep some sunblock at hand.
For those worried about your cameras and phones getting wet, fret not! There are plenty of waterproof bags sold along the roadsides at Ao Nang beach. A pro tip would be to bargain about 10% from the original price. Trust me, sellers would definitely agree to this.
3) ATV tour
This is a MUST if you are the adventurous type.
Unconventional but unmissable, there are plenty of packages to choose from depending on your taste for adventure. The range goes from the ATV tour with elephant trekking or the ATV tour with rafting. My family and I had to take a minivan to Phang Nga which took us about an hour from Ao Nang to enjoy some of this nitty gritty action.
One person gets an ATV each, so no one misses out on enjoying the thrill of riding it. For the more timid, you can always ride in pairs. The first time I went, I rode with my brother.
However, on my second experience, I challenged myself and rode on my own. On that particular day, I wore a new white shirt and guess what? Right before we entered the forest terrain, I lost control and did a wheelie. The ATV flipped and the tyres almost hit my head. But that was not the worst part. Out of all the dry places I could have landed in, I fell instead into a puddle of mud. Needless to say, my white top was not so pristine after that.
Lesson learnt is that if you are feeling uncertain about your ATV riding skills, it’s best to sit this one out. You could always put your faith in a partner instead. However, keep in mind that the trail is about 3 KM and riders are not allowed to turn back once they’ve enter the forest.
Attire wise, NEVER wear white. It would also be more practical to wear full-length pants, unless you’re interested in thigh burn from the heat of an ATV’s engine. All in all, this will surely be an unforgettable experience and I would highly recommended it as a bonding activity between family members.
4) Water rafting
An easy family favourite.
Water rafting is my personal favourite activity. The package that my family and I took whilst at Krabi involved 5 kilometres of water rafting and 3 kilometres of the ATV tour. Lunch was also provided. Most of the time, the driver or guide will bring groups for the ATV ride and then the water rafting. However, if one prefers to go for the water rafting first, it is always available upon request. My personal view is that it is better to go for the ATV ride and sweat it out before enjoying the chill of rapid waters while rafting.
We were very lucky that all of the paddlers in our raft were very friendly. Each raft is equipped with two paddlers in charge of steering. Additionally, protective gears such as helmets and life jackets are provided. If you are worried about your camera getting wet, you can leave it behind in the minivan. Luckily enough, the attraction has its own cameramen throughout the terrain to take pictures.
Of course, you WILL get wet, so prepare some towels. Plus, it is best to wear appropriate attire such sandals, and not slippers, because slippers are easier to slip off.
For food lovers who seek tempting food with ample choices, Krabi is the go-to place.
Being a Muslim myself, I found that Krabi was a Muslim-friendly country in terms of cuisine. Majority of the food sold are halal. Be it stalls along the roadside, restaurants or the night market. One can easily get halal food for a reasonable price. In fact, the price of foods are relatively cheap as compared to Kuala Lumpur’s restaurants. Even more so, the quality of the food is so satisfying that you will always want more!
A stall called ‘Pink Lady’ is my favourite. Only a 3-minute walk from the Mercure Krabi Deevana hotel, the dishes served hit all the right taste buds. Despite being provided a hotel breakfast, the aunty selling mouth-watering chicken rice with sweet sauce, delicacies and pancakes was always worth the 10 minute walk to the main road.
If you’ve reached the end of this list and you’re still not sold, consider this line by Gustav Flaubert: “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny space you occupy in this world.”
In simpler terms, travelling acts as a therapy for the cluttered mind and soul. So, why deny yourself some well deserved zen? Pack your bags and prepare to have some wonderful Krabi experiences of your own!
Written by Masturah Merican.