My Roaming Spirit
Kushal Jhunjhunwala (@KushalJ2w)
Traveler | Photographer | Co-founder of myroamingspirit
On a lazy afternoon, you just lie by the side of a secluded little beach island listening to the sounds of the sea along with a few other enthusiastic souls around you. Sounds soothing? Well, that’s Krabi for You!
In the daily grind of life, we all seek to steal away a few moments of silent happiness and store its memories under our pillows. The rewind which plays in our dreams does not always reduce the pain of the daily grind, but it surely makes it all very easy to tackle as you wait for your next beautiful encounter with mother nature. If you are the midst of such a situation, it’s time that you take a break from your daily grind. And what better place to unwind than the beautiful sand beaches of Krabi...! Here’s 6 reasons why Krabi should be your next best escape along with all other details that you need to know before you plan:
1. Beautiful white sand beaches on hidden islands: Krabi is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The soft white sand adored by the tall palm trees and fascinating limestone walls that surround most beaches take your mind and heart to a world of fantasy. You can see the varied marine life and their beautiful colours without even dipping your head into the water; it is that clear! You need to be there to feel the magic that these beaches create… It’s a beach lover’s paradise and the heavenly warmth it offers can be so addictive that you start disliking any beach which doesn’t live up to the ‘Krabi standard’. Though there are numerous beaches scattered along the coast line and most offer the same fabulous feeling, here are some of my personal favorites.
a. Wang Long bay: If you are looking for a semi-private beach to spend some romantic lazy time with bae, nothing comes close to this beach located in the south of Koh Phi Phi Don. This hidden gem is not known to most tourists as it is situated as a thin channel between enormous limestone cliffs making it virtually invisible. Due to the thin entrance, not more than 3-4 boats can stop at this bay at once and hence most operators avoid it. Some operators (mentioned later in my article) do stop at this serene beach depending on weather conditions.
b. Koh Tup Island (also known as Tub, Thap and Tap): Unlike Wang Long, this beach is quite popular as it is one of the islands covered in the famous 4 island day tour. An ideal site for snorkelling, this picturesque beach is also unique for another reason. ‘Talay Waek’ which means ‘divided sea’ is a common occurrence here during low tide. A sandbar is accessible during low tide which connects Koh Tup and Koh Mor (another adjacent islet) to the Koh Kai (Chicken island) situated about 500 metres away. Despite this being a common phenomenon, it is quite an unbelievable sight for someone visiting the first time. However, do carry good water shoes as the sharp corals/shells beneath the water may hurt you.
c. Nui beach: Just like Wang Long, Nui beach is desolated by most tourists in the fervour for more popular beaches. But it’s best to keep this secret to yourself, else this beautiful abode of heavens will soon become another haven, flocked by tourists. The black rocky walls of the beach are an ideal contrast to the white sands and the big rocks in front stand out magnificently on the clear turquoise water. Its a sight you will cherish for a long time.
d. Phra Nang Beach, Railay: Visiting Railey or Rai Leh, as it is called, will make you believe that you are in the middle of an adventure fantasy film – its fantastically spectacular. Though part of the mainland (and not an island as such), Railey is accessible only by sea due to high cliffs which cut off this peninsula from the rest of Krabi (only a 15 minutes ride from Ao Nang). Railey has 4 beaches namely Railey east, west, Tonsai and the most beautiful of all, the Phra Nang Beach. All beaches are connected by jungle paths and everything is at a walking distance. Though not as developed as Koh Phi Phi, Phra nang is a perfect mix of relaxation and adventure. The limestone cliffs provide natural shade from the hot sun for your relaxation and are also sought after by adventure junkies looking to climb up the rocks. The clear waters are ideal for light swimming and snorkelling while the caves with lingams (offerings in the shape of ‘penis’ for the fertility goddess) arouse a lot of curiosity and can be a bizarre sight for many. It’s a complete experience that no other beach can offer.
e. Koh Poda beach: Part of the 4-island day tour, Koh Poda is quite popular amongst tourists. However, you will not find it very crowded as the white sands cover almost all the sides of the island ensuring that the crowd is well scattered. The island is part of the Phi Phi national park and offers stunning scenery with an even fabulous marine life to explore. The island is lined with tall palm and pine trees which dance happily with the warm breeze, as if wanting to tell you their story on this island. It is also a popular choice amongst sea kayakers and snorkelers. This one must be on your dream list of islands.
2. The ‘Cross-Cultural’ Boat tours: There are broadly 2 modes of travel when you are on the sea in Krabi. – the traditional long tail boats or the modern speed boats. While long tail boats are slow and can accommodate less people, these photo perfect boats must be experienced at least once, for they are much more relaxing, cheaper and often exciting when tides get a little violent (though not as safe). The speed boats on the other hand will save you a lot of time, but for an extra cost. Despite the differences, one thing is common in both – You share the boat with other travellers from different parts of the world and that’s the most beautiful thing. This is the most ‘social’ time of the tour when you can interact with your fellow travellers, share your experiences and learn from theirs.During my tour, I had the best cross-cultural interactions on these boat tours – I met an Australian couple who were visiting for the 4th time, a British lady with her adopted daughter and a big fan of Bollywood Movies, a Canadian guy with his girlfriend from China, and many more. We shared some great time together. One of the best experience was meeting my tour guide Emma from Spain. She works part time for Thallasa tours, loves the sea, is extremely passionate about her work and is one of the most helpful people I have ever come across.
3. Exotic marine life and corals: Krabi has 32 dive sites and numerous snorkelling spots, all of which feature an abundance of corals (both hard and soft) and brilliant rock formations. You will come across a diverse marine life at each site. While creatures like the elusive ghost pipefish, schooling reef fish, leopard sharks, groupers or even manta are common around the local islands in Ao Nang, you will need to visit distant sites like bida nok or anemone reef to see sea snakes, lazy hawksbill turtles, anemone fish, butterflyfish, trumpet fish, scorpion fish, moray eels and many more. In most sites, you can see rock walls and reefs blooming with life in vibrant colours of the sea which make the dive one of the most memorable experiences in Krabi.
Some of the recommended diving sites and operators are mentioned below to help you decide your best pick based on your requirements.
Recommended diving centres – The Dive Ao Nang; The Adventure Club (Phi Phi Island); Flip Flop Divers (Koh Lanta) (Tip – Check for a PADI certified diving centre always!)
Best Diving Spots – Bida Nok; King Cruiser Wreck; Anemone reef; Hin Bida (Shark Point); Hin Daeng
4. Mountain climbing: Rope climbing is one of the most unique aspects about Krabi. Though the massive limestone rocks can be spotted all around Krabi, Railay and Ton Sai (not be confused with Tonsai in Phi Phi) are the most popular sites for climbing. It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or a serious climber, this adventure activity can be customised for all, even for children.There are multiple climbing schools and most offer similar programmes ranging from half day tasters to 3 day courses which cost in the range of THB 1000-6000. You can take a course depending on your interest. These programs include insurance, equipment and refreshments. Even with so many tourists lining up for this fun activity, there is never an issue with space. Krabi has over 700 routes graded according to the difficulty level (f4 being easy and f8c for pros).
Deep Water Soloing is the latest hit attracting serious climbers from around the globe. Soloing involves climbing onto a bare overhand rock in the middle of the sea, straight from the boat without any rope or bolts. Even if you fall, the water will take care. Some therefore prefer to fall intentionally, for the adrenaline rush it provides is unparalleled.
Recommended Climbing schools: Krabi Rock Climbing and Real Rocks Climbing School
5. Stress buster Thai massage: After a long day at the beach, swimming, diving or climbing mountains, the body needs rest. And what better way to relax and rejuvenate than an authentic thai massage. Thai massage or Nuat thai as it is formally called, uses no oil or lotions. However, most centres offer you a range of different massage including the traditional thai massage. The krabi township is mushroomed with massage centres all over – infact every alternate shop seems to offer massage. Though most do a decent job, only the best hands can give you that perfect satisfaction you so long for after a tiring day. My personal recommendations are listed below – try out any one and I assure that you won’t be disappointed. Tip – Try the foot massage at Krabi; it is better than any other in Thailand.
Recommended Centres: Massage Corner, Aonang Haven Massage and Savanna Massage & Spa.
6. Vegan food: Don’t just stare at the screen in astonishment. Yes, you can have pure Vegan/Vegetarian food in Krabi. There are many restaurants in the town and but hardly any place where you can feel like home and enjoy pure Vegetarian food which most Indians prefer, including me. Even the ones that do offer veg food, the taste is sub-standard. Infact, that’s one reason most Indians dread going overseas.In my quest for a Vegetarian restaurant, I stumbled upon this Vegan café & restaurant called Govinda’s. The restaurant is run by a couple who are firm followers of Lord Krishna and part of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKON). I met the family; the kids (they have four) are just so adorable. Sudama (Lord Krishna’s friend as per mythology) hails from Canada and is married to Lila, who is from Chile – both have stayed in Mayapur, India for 6 long years in the ISKON temple premises and can speak fluent Bengali. Isn’t that awesome! It was truly a great find for me. Though the food options are not exactly Indian, you can be sure of the fact that it is 100% vegan. #Food Sorted
Extra Tip just for u – Sofitel Krabi Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort has a dedicated restaurant for Vegetarians. If you can afford the luxuries of a 5 star hotel, this one should be rank 1 on your list.
If you ask me, I was sold off for the very first reason listed above – the beaches. I don’t need any other reason to convince myself or stop me from visiting Krabi again. If you are looking for a place to truly leave the madness of your world behind, this paradise island is a must visit.
And if you have already decided and are ready to pack your bags… wait… read these other important things before you plan your stay.
Best time to visit: November to March (Avg temp 24o C – 32o C)
Krabi witnesses tropical weather and is warm throughout the year. Avoid monsoons (August to October) if you want to enjoy sea tours and marine life. Otherwise monsoon is a good non-touristy period to relax at some the exotic islands accessible during that period. Summers (April to June) are hot and humid and should be avoided.
Top Things to Do: Phi-Phi island full day tour, 4 island tour, Scuba diving, Snorkelling, Cliff climbing; Relaxing at the Emerald Pool, Foot / body Massage, Street shopping.
Recommended Tour Operators: Thalassa Boat Tours (https://thalassatour.com); Andaman Camp and Cruise (www.andamancampandcruise.com)
Recommended Hotels (all budget categories): Sofitel Krabi Phokeethra Golf & Spa (5 Star); Peace Laguna Resort & Spa (4 star); Amari Vogue (4 Star); Aonang Cliff Beach Resort (4 Star); Krabi Apartment Hotel (3 Star); Ao Nang Home Stay (2 Star)
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