- Accommodation: KL House (1,000 baht/night for a triple) – Although our room had no windows (except for some that looked into the interior hallway?) we really enjoyed KL House. Our room was very clean and had A/C, wifi, and hot water, and they operate a café next door that serves good, inexpensive breakfasts. The brother and sister that run the guesthouse are so friendly and welcoming. We ate dinner with Hong (the sister) one night and despite much protesting she even paid for our meals! And then on our last day she insisted on driving us to Krabi Town so we could catch our bus back to Bangkok, which was at least a 30 minute drive. She is the epitome of Thai hospitality!
- Restaurants: Unfortunately I don’t remember the names of any of the restaurants we ate at, but I do remember their locations. We went with Hong, the girl from the guesthouse, to her favorite local Thai restaurant diagonally across the street from the guesthouse (it’s all outdoor seating). The food was good and inexpensive. I know we got slices of pizza one night at a place not far from the Ao Nang beach inside a little alley with a bunch of other restaurants in it. There are a lot of different restaurants in Ao Nang and you can find a wide variety of food. Try to ask the people at your hostel for their favorite restaurants because most of the ones on the main street are really touristy and over-priced.
We originally wanted to stay in Railay, the picturesque, secluded peninsula in Krabi, just south of Ao Nang. However, we had difficulty finding cheap accommodations with availability, and it’s only accessible by boat so it’s a little difficult to get there. We heard that a lot of budget travelers opt to stay in Ao Nang instead and just take long-tail boats to Railay during the day. This arrangement worked out perfectly. We were able to stay in a nice, affordable guesthouse with a lot of nearby restaurants in Ao Nang, and by taking a short, and very beautiful, long-tail boat ride we could be in Railay in less than 15 minutes. Ao Nang is very touristy and parts are quite tacky, but it’s convenient, inexpensive and has more things to do. While the Railay beaches may be more beautiful, you can still see AMAZING sunsets from the Ao Nang beach.
There are 4 beaches in Railay: Ton Sai, Railay East, Railay West and Phra Nang. We never made it to Ton Sai and there isn’t much of a beach in East Railay, it’s mostly mangroves and a very narrow strip of sand. There are a few restaurants, shops and budget hostels in East Railay, but most people head to Phra Nang or West Railay to go to the beach. Phra Nang is a beautiful beach with big limestone cliffs and a cave on the far side. It was extremely crowded when we were there with a bunch of middle eastern tourists packed on the beach. It was quite a strange feeling to be walking along in our bathing suits while all these other women are sitting on the beach fully dressed in burqas. It also started to rain while we were there so that kind of took away from the experience. As a side note, there is no way to walk from Phra Nang to West Railay – you have to go back around towards East Railay. We learned this lesson the hard way after wading in water holding our backpacks over our heads in the pouring rain only to realize that there’s a resort blocking the way, so we had to turn back around.
West Railay was my favorite beach because it wasn’t very crowded when we were there and it’s fairly big so you have more room to lay out. The juxtaposition of huge, mossy limestone cliffs jutting out from turquoise sea water is truly spectacular. There are several places to get food and drinks and there are some higher end resorts there as well. Some people complain about the noise from the ever present stream of long-tail boats coming and going, but it didn’t bother me. The last long-tail boats back to Ao Nang from West Railay leave approximately around sunset every day, so make sure you catch one or else you’ll have to pay a lot more to get back!
With its beautiful limestone cliffs it’s no wonder that Railay is renowned for rock-climbing. We decided to do a half-day rock climbing excursion which we booked through our guesthouse. The office for the rock-climbing place is just up the street from the guesthouse so we went there in the morning and they fitted us with harnesses and shoes etc. Then we took a boat to East Railay, which is where most of the rock-climbing is done. There were a lot of other groups there as well, but we managed to find some space to ourselves. Our guide showed us how to tie the knots on our harnesses and gave us some basic instructions and then we were ready to go! It was quite a work-out, by my third or fourth climb I could barely keep going. Rosie is a little afraid of heights, but she said after her first climb she felt much better and not as nervous. When we were done with climbing we were all kind of tired and ready to hit the beach. We grabbed a quick lunch at one of the restaurants in between East & West Railay and then headed to West Railay to soak up the last beach day of our entire trip.
Our last day in Krabi we just hung out at the beach in Ao Nang because we had to catch a 5pm bus back to Bangkok. They have pick-up trucks that can take you to Krabi Town or you can get a taxi for the 30 minute drive to the bus station. As I mentioned earlier, the girl from the guesthouse offered to drive us to Krabi town, which was so thoughtful and saved us a lot of time (the pick-up trucks make a lot of stops, picking up and dropping off people). We got back to Bangkok around 4-4:30am. I was sound asleep when we arrived but I quickly woke up to a throng of tuk-tuk drivers and hagglers screaming, “Lady, lady, where you go?”. We were one of the only farangs on the bus so of course they targeted us. Four o’clock in the morning is much too early to haggle! We eventually were able to grab our packs, politely say “No thank you” and walked towards the taxi stand. One upside to arriving so early is that we missed the heavy rush-hour traffic. We got to Sivarin guesthouse and thankfully they had a room open so we were able to sleep some more. We spent the day in Bangkok just getting organized (going to a market to buy more granola bars etc) and then we went to see the Hunger Games! I had just finished reading the series so I wanted to see it while it was fresh in my mind. After they showed the previews suddenly everybody in the theater stood up and a song started playing while a montage of the King appeared on the screen. At first I was really confused, but then I remembered somebody telling us that before every movie they honor the King while playing the national anthem.
The next morning we had an early flight for Chiang Mai on Bangkok Airways (I think it cost around $80 USD one way). We probably didn’t need to take a flight, but Songkran is the biggest travel weekend in the year, and Chiang Mai is renowned for its Songkran celebrations, so I was afraid that all of the bus tickets would be sold out. In retrospect I’m sure we could have found a bus with availability, but since we were on a semi-tight schedule I didn’t want to chance it.