Zooming in on Thailand, just a couple of hours of ferry ride away from the party beaches of Phuket and Pattaya, is Krabi, a quaint little town with its vivid and eclectic mix of seafood! Boasting of crystal clear emerald green waters and towering cliffs. It has an old-world charm and a laidback atmosphere that almost obscures its adventurous spirit.
Emperor Swing in Hollow Mountain, Krabi
Being one of the extreme sports in the whole of South East Asia, Emperor swing is just what you need to keep the adrenaline rush throughout the day. Imagine free falling and flying over the top of trees surrounded by looming cliffs and caves all the while feeling insignificant!
It is the most popular thrill ride of the Hollow Mountain.
The hollow mountain itself is really impressive – both the mountain itself and the all the work that has gone into making it a top-notch extreme adventure park. Hike up the mountain through the jungle, zip line through the dense forests and culminate it with the terrifying Emperor Swing.
From the launch platform, twin 40-meter ropes extend horizontally to the anchor at the opposite side of the main cave. The swinger jumps off the launch platform, freefalls 30 meters and is then catapulted at high speed outside of the main cave entrance.
Cost – 3000 THB
A video of the extreme adventure park for reference.
So do you dare?
PS – I had no clue about this one when I was in Krabi. Although, without a doubt, it would have been the scariest extreme sports experience of my life if I had the courage to do so!
Rock climbing in Krabi
Cliff jumping in Krabi
Cliff jumping is certainly scary and exhilarating at the same time. The seven island tour offers just enough thrill for the novice cliff divers.
Did you know?
Here’s the video of some of Thailand’s dives from Red Bull Cliff diving World Series finale of 2013. Exhilarating, isn’t it?
Snorkeling and diving are top island activities and can be enjoyed most of the year. Coral reefs harbor a variety of dolphins, sharks, eels, and rays in the Andaman Sea. However, February to May is known to have the best conditions for visibility and water temperature.
Exploring the underwater world through scuba diving in Krabi
For scuba diving fanatics like me, a visit to any beach town is incomplete without exploring the underwater world. The bountiful and vivid marine life of the Andaman Sea makes it a great preference for scuba diving. Apart from Krabi, nearby islands like Phi Phi and Similan islands also offer great scuba diving opportunities. It sets you back by around 3500 THB.
Albeit, if taking a scuba diving course is on your itinerary, head to Koh Tao, which is a crowd favorite.
Snorkeling with the legions of colorful fishes in Krabi
If you don’t want to go through the hassle of going underwater with all the gears or if you are tight on budget, then try snorkeling. You can try it on your own or you can do it as part of the four island and seven island tours (tours provide snorkel masks).
Kayaking adventures in Krabi
Kayaking is one of my favorite sports. And Krabi has plenty of options – be it shallow water kayaking or beach kayaking. The popular ones include Ao Thalane mangrove forests and Ban Bor Thor caves (with prehistoric paintings).
Ao Thalane: 400 THB
Ban Bor Thor caves: 650 THB
For beach kayaking, head out to Railay beach and rent out a kayak on an hourly basis for one or two people for 100 baht. An entirely different challenge from shallow water kayaking.
Tab Kak Hang Nak Hill Nature Trail in Krabi
Krabi has something up its sleeve for hikers too. This hike can be challenging at times with steep inclines, passes through forests and offers panoramic vistas at various vantage points.
Hiking tip: Carry good shoes! The trail opens at 8 AM.
Experience the bioluminescence magic in Krabi
The shimmering organisms on the beach water forge a magical setup. To witness this phenomenal brilliance, Railay beach(the most popular beach in Krabi and favorite sunset spot) and Ton Sai would be ideal. The best way to watch the scintillating phytoplanktons would be to take the seven island tour which includes night snorkeling surrounded by phytoplankton. Alternatively, shell out extra bucks and hire a private boat to take you the phytoplankton spot.
Krabi is one of the 15 locations where you can to see bioluminescence.
The four island snorkel tour from Krabi includes a visit to Poda Island, Chicken Island, Phra Nang Cave, and so on. It costs about 500 THB. Starts at 9:00 AM and goes on for about 6 hours.
For those who prefer a later start to their day, the seven island tour offers a similar itinerary, but with the added attraction of a sunset over the islands, and the chance of swimming with bioluminescent plankton.
Activities – snorkeling, cliff jumping and bioluminescence sighting. I would recommend the seven island tour. It is totally worth it! It costs about 950 THB. Starts at 2:00 PM and goes on for about 7 hours.
NOTE: Since 2015, customers on island-hopping tours that stop at beaches are subject to pay National Park entry fees. These must be paid in cash on the day of travel at the rate of 400 THB per adult.
Take a dip in the hot water springs and emerald pool of Krabi
Nature’s own hot-tub jacuzzis, the water here comes from thermal springs, originating deep underground in volcanic chambers.
Hot springs is an interesting option, but may not be an ideal keeping in mind the blistering heat situation as is usually the case in this tropical paradise. As an alternative, you can take a dip in the pure spring water of the astonishingly hued emerald pool lying in the vicinity.
A beautiful island called Koh Hong in Krabi
Koh Hong is a magnificent island with crystal blue waters which warranted a mention in this list. The boat can only enter this place during high tide since it is shallow inside. Nice place to swim as there are hardly any waves. It is reachable by longtail boat or speedboat. Also part of some full day tour packages from Krabi which includes a visit to James Bond island, Koh Panyee islands, and so on.
Caving in Khao Khanap Nam, Krabi
An hour, long-tail boat ride away from Krabi Town takes you to this magnificent thousand-year-old limestone cave. Gaze at the impressive rock formations and maybe you would spot a bat too!
Costs around THB300 per person for the long tail boat taking you through the mangroves, fish farm and finally the cave and takes about an hour.
Cave entrance fee: THB30.
Going offbeat at Tha Pom Klong Song Nam, Krabi
Approximately 34 km from Krabi and mostly offbeat. You will hardly find foreigners here.
It is called Two Water Canal because of its special feature location where freshwater meets seawater during the high-tide periods, resulting in a mixture of seawater and freshwater in the canal. The nature trail along the peat swamp forest with crystal clear, emerald-green water is shaded by trees and is quite peaceful.
Entrance fee: THB50 per person. Carpark: THB20
Located 95 km north-west of Krabi, Similan islands comprises of nine densely wooded islands fringed with rocky outcrops and turquoise blue waters with fine talcum-powder-like sandbanks that forms the Similan Islands National Park.
Especially on the map for the whale sharks(that can grow up to 12 meters) and manta rays. You have a better chance of spotting the whale sharks between the months of January and March. Overall, Similan islands are accessible between November and April. The best time to visit is from February to April during the summer months(least amount of rain, better water clarity).
The tours depart from Khao Lak, which is about ninety minutes drive from Ao Nang. It takes about an hour to reach Similan islands from Khao Lak. Book one or two-day tours to Similan islands from Krabi or Phuket(closer to Khao Lak).
Note that Similan islands tours can get pretty crowded during season time so much so that you might not find a place to click pictures without people or the boat in the background. Be sure to check with your tour operators regarding the number of people(so that there are enough seats for everyone) and the availability beforehand.
Phi Phi islands
The six-island Koh Phi Phi archipelago made the 2012 National Geographic list of the top 10 islands in the world, and its marine life is a leading reason.
One of the top reasons to visit Phi Phi would be to check out Maya Bay – a stunningly beautiful bay that’s sheltered by 100-meter high cliffs on three sides. It gained traction after it was featured on The Beach(2000) movie starring the one and only Leonardo DiCaprio. Apart from the gorgeous beaches, Phi Phi is a well-known party island among the young crowd. The nightlife here is pretty wild and crazy with fire shows and beer games.
Phuket is one of the mainstream locations of Thailand, famous mostly among the honeymooners or wild party goes. However, you can still explore Phuket offbeat going beyond the tourist trail.
Also, Krabi town has tons of accommodation options. However, there isn’t much to do nearby. It is better to head out to Railay or Ao Nang beach for accommodations. Visit the Krabi market when you are in town.
Railay beach has very few and upscale accommodations available. On the other hand, Ao Nang beach has plenty of choices for stays and is usually the home base for many travellers moving around. (15 minutes away from Railay).
Slumber Party Hostel – One of the top rated hostels in Krabi. It is a party hostel known for its bar crawls. Nice and comfortable rooms, friendly staff and great value for money. Prefer higher floor rooms as it is not so loud and you will still get a good amount of sleep in a party hostel. Ideal for a budget stay and solo travel. Book it now.
Usually, the hostels or hotels have conducted tours to islands and other activities. Alternatively, roam around Ao Nang beach and you will find plenty of tour operators. Almost all of the tours provide transfers from and to your stays, sometimes lunch or dinner included. Book the tours of your choice at least a day prior.
Getting to Krabi
Krabi International Airport is the direct and fastest mode of transport to Krabi. It is about 40 minutes away by car. The local airport limo monopoly charges a fairly steep THB600+ for a transfer (up to four persons). Many hotels will arrange a pickup at similar prices on request. Travel time is about half an hour. However, expect a layover at Bangkok while heading to Krabi in which case make sure you have at least two hours transit from Bangkok if you are opting for Visa On Arrival.
There is an air-conditioned bus service from the airport to Ao Nang. Services throughout the day and travels from the airport to Krabi Town, the ferry terminal, then on to Ao Nang and Nopparat Thara. Good for some sight-seeing. Rates are 150 baht per person and travel time to Ao Nang is one hour. The best part is, however, the bus can drop you off at the doorstep of most hotels in Krabi Town, Ao Nang, and Nopparat Thara.
On the other hand, owing to fewer flights flying to Krabi, many opt for Phuket International Airport.
The easiest option to Krabi from Phuket or Phi Phi islands is through local ferries. Check with your accommodation to arrange a ferry for you or you can directly book with the tour operators available in Krabi at least a day prior. The ferries drop you either at AoNang Pier or Krabi town Pier. It is usually available throughout the year at multiple times during the day. However, it may not be guaranteed during the off-season.
The nearest inter-provincial bus station is in Krabi Town. Direct buses to Krabi operate daily from the Southern Bus Terminal of Bangkok and take up to 10 hours to reach Krabi(THB600 – THB900). There are also daily buses flying from Phuket(THB155) and Koh Samui(THB400 via Surat Thani) and take up to 3-4 hours to reach. Options include air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned, deluxe and luxury coaches.
One can rent cars to travel between Krabi and other parts of Thailand such as Bangkok and Phuket and also for traveling within Krabi. Thailand is a left-hand drive country and it is also a must to have an international driving license to drive in Thailand. Renting motorbikes is another good way to explore Krabi. Bikes are available for hire on a daily basis; however, one has to pay for gasoline.
Thailand provides Visa On Arrival option for many countries including India.
Following documents are required while applying for a visa at a VFS center or upon arrival. More information on the official VFS website.
- Passport has to be valid for 6 months or more from the date of entry.
- Visa Application form needs to be properly and fully filled, with the original signature of the passenger, with 2 photographs (Size 3.5 X 4.5cm)
- A photocopy of the return confirmed ticket needs to be attached.
- Only recent credit card copy OR FOREX receipt copy will act as a financial proof when applying for Thai Visa. (Individual 20.000 baht or 700 USD & Family 40.000 baht or 1400 USD)
- Now, endorsement in the passport is not required. But traveler needs to carry money as mentioned below. (Individual 20.000 baht or 700 USD & Family 40.000 baht or 1400 USD)
- Proof of hotel accommodation is MUST for every traveler Visa and in some cases, to clear immigration
- Passport photocopy (1 & last page)
It is usually around 1000 TBH for Indians.
Getting around Krabi
Get around Krabi beaches through the ubiquitous long tail boats.
From Ao Nang beach, longtail boats depart when full from 08:00 and cost 100 baht per person(one way), 200 baht per person(two way) until 18:00 and 150 baht thereafter. These can drop you at Railay West, Ao Tonsai or Haad Phra Nang. Tickets can be purchased at a booth near Ao Nang beach.
Koh Phi Phi: A year-round ferry departs Railay at 09:45 and costs 400 baht. From Phi Phi, it returns to Railay at 15:30.
Phuket: A year-round ferry departs Railay at 15:00 and costs 650 baht. In high season, a speedboat departs at 10:30 and costs 1,200 baht. From Phuket, the year-round boat returns to Railay at 08:30.
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