I once had a friend who commented about me doing nothing when I am in the middle of paradise. “What paradise” I quipped “It was nothing but work when you are in Singapore.” That was when he (or was that a she?) says, “You have beautiful beaches throughout South East Asia whereas we Europeans have to fly down to where you are to enjoy the same thing.” I would guess the cold did get to him then where anything with heat is a paradise.
But I must agree. There’s so much to see in and around South East Asia. Although we all share the same tropical weather, even when one is in the same country, the culture can differ greatly. That is when I try to refocus my trip in and around this region more often.
The past couple of years I was doing a bit of travelling to Malaysia because of Kedah International Photography Awards and George Town Festival so was thinking going a bit further. One of the plans was to document shark conversation at Lombok but that was scuttled because budget airlines don’t fly there anymore (I won’t give up Kathy!!).
When one of the deals website got a promotion to go Krabi, a beach resort town, at a very very attractive price, we found ourselves in the plane very quickly.
The limestone hills in and around Krabi. This is the road towards Ao Nang.
Krabi is actually a very simple place. Simple as in there is a tourist town called Ao Nang next to the sea and the resorts are mainly in or around the town. The town is sat amongst huge limestone cliffs and hills so when you take the 40 minute ride (600THB per car from the airport), you will pass by them. If you have been to Ipoh, it is the same geographical landscape you will see here but with beautiful beaches.
We reached our hotel, the Centara Anda Dhevi Resort & Spa only to be met with a huge torrential tropical downpour. Hmmm..what a start but I think we have a really good deal. There are more luxurious and bigger resorts such as Mercure just further down the road that Centara sits on and the Holiday Day Inn Resort just around the corner next to the beach BUT after visiting the two more up market property, I appreciate Centara’s more homely feel and perhaps felt even more upmarket than the others.
Centara is not huge, perhaps as big as a football pitch spread out into two blocks with a small swimming pool perfect for the kids but not for lapse. What it lacks in space, the experience more than make it up for it. Love the room and a very good internet connection via Wi-Fi. If you do need some snacks, drinks and what have you, a 7 Eleven is just around the corner among a few massage parlours and tour agencies (more on that later). I can never be happier with such a great deal.
The area has two main beaches, with a hill that sits smack in the middle. The town is located next to the smaller beach with the majority of beach resorts housed on the longer beach. So getting into the small town from the resorts may take anywhere from 20-30min by foot depending where your resort is. As for Centara, it is just behind the town so it is a short 10-15 walk to the beach front. Convenient.
Being a tourist place, it is very easy to communicate and get things done though the things you see will be replicated every other few meters or so with souvenirs everywhere and small little shops taking tour bookings to the outlying islands.
Just outside on the main road that connects the service road to the hotel is a row of 4 to 5 street food. There was the Papaya salad stall, fruit stall and the grilled chicken amongst others.
Just look at the size of the chicken ‘cutlet’. Using the bamboo as a BBQ utensil is a good idea. Yes it is very delicious.
Yes. It is banana Roti Prata.
The beach front of Ao Nang. 4 Islands is just at the horizon where you can shoot that famous Limestone stave seen on travel brochures.
Yup a day passed very fast when you have fun. Shot this in between two buildings.
Having monkey thoughts? There’s a little art village just outside Holiday Inn Resort. Not a lot of business as it is the lull season at the moment. The peak will be October till January.
A shot that came quite unexpectedly. The red hue is basically cause by the street lamp and then reflected by the tree. Was attempting a milky way shot but on the horizons are dozens of fishing trawlers with green light (hence the green hue on the right side of the frame). So no milky way from this trip unfortunately.
So the thing about these small little tour agencies is that they are really agents for the major boat tours to the surrounding islands. There are also tours that go to Ko (Island) Phi Phi and James Bond Island and the nearest is the 4 islands tour followed by the Hong Island.
One of the many ‘Tourist Information Counter’ you will see at Ao Nang. Yes information on tours is not really ‘help’. There is of course the Tourist police which is also just outside the hotel too so the area’s pretty safe.
Do shop around as the price for the tours varies from shop to shop so it really boils down to price and then how you feel about the person selling you the package. For us? Well she is just opposite our hotel and if there’s anything we can literally bang table there! LOL! But she is a very helpful and am glad we made acquaintance.
From my research using the Opera Mini browser, Phi Phi will be the busiest (since Phuket island tours include it too and also it is far), James Bond is overated (well if you need to pull in the name of a movie just to attract people to go, then it may not seem to be that great), 4 Islands will be near hence short and that leaves only Hong Island.
Hong Island covers 4 main islands (Ko Hong, Ko Pakbia, Ko Rai and Ko Lahding) which has the most nature amongst the 4 options. The reason why I choose Krabi is because Phuket is basically tourist filled so going to another island that will be full of people is definitely not enticing at all. So Hong Island it is!
We got picked up by these super colourful buses or retrofitted truck right at the hotel door step.
Decked out for the trip. Great weather! After the rain the previous day and then it rained heavily the next day too. There’s no such thing as luck.
The bus brings us to a processing ‘centre’ right smack in front of the beach. Just go to the table where you should go. Remember to keep the receipt you paid for the trip so they can reference it. Once done they herded us like sheep to the bus again to head out to the boats. I kinda feel like I was a product going through a factory
On the way to the boats.
The traditional Long tail boat
We got ourselves the speed boat instead. As Hong Island is further away, getting a speed boat is a better choice over the traditional long tails as they reach the destination faster and waste less time (not to mention sea sickness etc).
The sign says it: Ko Pakbia. We have to give Ko Rai a miss because of choppy waters so no go for snorkeling. I will be back for diving definitely! The panoramic shot at the start of the blog post is shot at Ko Pakbia.
Wow…luxury boat for the little ones. It has a roof too!
Floating around to take a shot of our ride with the GoPro. Courtesy of 360Creatif.
Aptly named Paradise Island, Ko Lahding has a small lagoon where we stayed for lunch. Pristine waters, food and cool wind breeze. Paradise indeed only if you are not in Survivor mode (think Survivor reality show. Scary thought.). Good thing we have superbly cooked ‘buffet’ spread for us to savour on the beach.
Just to the left side of the beach is a small area where schools of fishes are lurking. Time to take the mask and snorkel and do some hunting. Enjoy the video!
Islands and cats are seriously match made in heaven. This is the umpteenth island that has lots of cats. Koh Lahbing has about 7 cats wandering about.
Hong Island. Can imagine this is already quite crowded. Phi Phi would be worse. After Paradise, Hong just seemed so ‘Sentosa’ and the wobbly pontoon pier is not helping things either. If you are adventurous enough, you can rent the canoe and row to the Hong Island Lagoon via the narrow strait above. Once through you will see a pristine emerald waters in an enclosed bay. Beautiful!
Wefies are the rage right now. DSLRs seemed so out of place. LOL.
The merry men of the Hong Island trip. Yup is tight and it is definitely more comfortable than the long tail.
The sun sets again for Ao Nang. Long tails berthed in low tide in the small river.
Dinner at Wangsai Seafood. It is located between the two beach fronts. Lots of tourists too. It is really fresh and worth every penny. Just need to wait a bit. Yes that’s the deep fried grouper with 3 taste sauce.
After doing up what most people would be doing in Ao Nang, time to do more research using the Opera browser on my Xiaomi Redmi and find some shopping options. The result was a factory outlet (not worth the time), Tesco Lotus and for dinner we are going to the Hill Top (more on that later).
Interesting user interface but the only thing found missing was the inability to have full sized webpage as I need it to administer my Facebook groups. I can see potential that this is the right direction to make Internet information more accessible.
Interesting traffic lights in Krabi Town. Not much to see at Krabi Town perhaps when you want to paint the town red then I think that’s when the action heats up. Then again, to really heat things up, one should be at Phuket. Krabi is definitely way more family friendly.
There’s a white wat beside the main thoroughfare of Krabi town. Worth to have a quick look. The students there actually kow tow to me because of my botak head (maybe they think I am a monk).
Lunch at Tesco Lotus’ MK Restaurant. Thanks to Danny Teo, I got to know how good their roast meat is. Definitely a must eat on top of their steamboat.
We got a free ride up to the Hill Top restaurant. Just ask the hotel reception to give them a call and they will pick you up at a certain time. To me best to be at the top just before sunset. The view is spectacular.
The view from the hill top with the sun set. Beautiful.
Time Lapse shot over the Limestone Hills with rolling clouds and setting sun.
A nice romantic end to the trip on the Hill Top restaurant.
All in Krabi can be said to be a more sanitised place than some of the more touristy beach resorts I have visited. Yes it is tourist trap but if one is careful enough to check around, the price of staying in Krabi is pretty ok.
Key places I would avoid to do anything would be the beach front where you would have to pay top dollars for the view but sub-standard stuff in terms of meals (they can’t even do Thai dishes right!) The only exception is Wongsai and Hill Top.
If you can handle a two wheel vehicle, scooters can be easily rented and do a short tours around the area. I didn’t get to go to Tiger Temple and the hot spring pools as it cost quite a bit (and time) to get to those places. Krabi itself is good for a 2 to 3 night stay definitely.
As for watersports, the best time to come is really towards Jan-Feb where the sun should set over the water and the monsoon is ravaging the South China Seas so diving would be great. I got a good deal because June-July is the low period. Still there is a sizable amount of tourist. The islands would look like Disneyland during the peak periods.
Transport around Krabi can be easily had with the drivers at the various taxi huts dotting the town. Do haggle a bit and if you are happy with their service, keep their numbers so you can have a driver for your transfer back to the airport at 100THB cheaper (500THB in total). We got a driver to bring us around for 1200THB (SGD40 thereabouts) to visit the town.
Is Krabi worth another trip? Yes if you want a bit of R&R without much shopping involved. That worked just fine for me.