Ao Nang Krabi Travel Guide & Budget Tips
Krabi is one of Thailand’s most popular tourist destinations for its lush national parks, pristine beaches, and massive limestone cliffs. It is frequented by locals, leisurely beach-goers and adventure travelers alike, whether it be for rock climbing, island hopping, snorkeling/diving, waterfalls, kayaking, sailing and so much more. There is often a bit of debate for those visiting Thailand’s beaches for the first time – Krabi vs Phuket? For us, it is no competition. Krabi wins hands down. I’m sure you picked up on that after our last post on Phuket. The stunningly beautiful Krabi province just has so much to offer and a trip to Thailand really wouldn’t be complete without a visit. While the prices in Phuket have been driven up by huge increases in tourism, we find that its still possible to get by in Ao Nang on moderate budget.
Getting into Ao Nang
Krabi has its own airport with domestic and international flights flying in and out daily, including direct flights from Chiang Mai which is great for us! From the airport, you can opt for a private taxi but you are looking at 600 baht. If you have a group of 4 people then this would be the way to go, otherwise, the most efficient route would be to take the 150 baht/person bus from the airport to Ao Nang. Tickets can be purchased after you exit baggage claim. The journey takes about 45 min-1 hour. Return tickets can be purchased at any tour office in Ao Nang – they are everywhere! A third option would be to take a songthaew, however, you would have to first shuttle to Krabi town and then transfer which ends up taking close to 2 hours for 100 baht and the ride is much less comfortable…
Getting Around Ao Nang
Although we are usually a fan of renting a motorbike and having our own transportation, Ao Nang is small enough that you really don’t need it. In fact, you probably won’t need to worry about any sort of transportation other than to/from the airport or the ferry terminal. Its a very walkable beach town with spacious sidewalks (not like anywhere else in Thailand!) and the shops and restaurants are packed in fairly close together. In the event that you want to forego the walking, tuk tuks can be found all over town and typically charge a standard 20-40 baht/person. Also, check with your hotel to see if they provide any complimentary shuttling services.
Ao Nang Hotels & Accommodations
Ao Nang has a very wide range of resorts, guest houses and hostels to fit every budget. To get more value for your dollar, plan your trip outside of the peak season (peak season is between November and April). We visited Ao Nang last May (beginning of low season) and stayed in a great hotel, the Ao Nang Orchid, for $45/night. When we went back in February (high season), the same hotel was $100/night! We ended up finding a lovely hotel for $40/night but it was further from town and required a lot more walking and use of the hotels complimentary shuttle. Just keep in mind, the prices fluctuate greatly. That being said, the weather will be much more unpredictable in low season. While we didn’t have any issues with rain in May, its the very beginning of the monsoon season and there are never any guarantees. See our post on the best time to visit Thailand for more on the weather. Airbnb is always worth checking out as well. You might get the chance to stay with a local which would be a great experience. Side note* if you sign up through this link you will receive $30 Airbnb dollars which will go far in Thailand!
Dining Out in Ao Nang
The one thing we loved about Ao Nang in comparison with Phuket was the amount of street food still available. While its still much less compared to the likes of Chiang Mai or Bangkok, you can still get by on dinner for 50 baht (less than $2). There are plenty of restaurants and delicious eateries to check out on the strip as well, but if you are looking to cut back on your spending, take comfort in knowing you can. We managed to find wide variety of street eats in front of the large Mosque and across from the Ibis Hotel. We stuffed ourselves with 30 baht chicken kebabs, mouth-watering BBQ chicken and pork skewers for 10 baht each, Brittany’s favorite potato swirls for 20 baht, and too many trips to Mr. Roti man for a nutella pancake. Yeah…so maybe not the healthiest of meals but so cheap and so DELICIOUS!
Drinking Cheap in Ao Nang
What’s a vacation without a fruity cocktail? The problem is those fruity cocktails can cost twice what your dinner alone would. Our best advice to drink on the cheap is to avoid buying beer and cocktails from the beach bars and snazzy restaurants lining the beach. Instead, purchase your beer from the 7-11 or local mom and pop shops or get a bottle of whatever you heart desires from the liquor store. You can order endless fruit shakes or Coca-Colas and pay a fraction of the price by mixing up your own cocktail.
Longtail Boats & Island Hopping
The beach on Ao Nang really isn’t the greatest beach for swimming and hanging out, but its a great base for jumping off to the many beautiful islands nearby. You have so many options to choose from, you could spend days exploring the islands and still not cover them all. Head down to the pier and you’ll see the longtail boats lined up all the way down the beach. There is a ticket booth where you can purchase your ticket, depending on where you want to go and what you want to do. You can purchase just a one-way ticket or with a return or you can also opt to hire a private boat and go island hopping for the day. We chose to head to West Railay Beach, a 100 baht and 15 minute boat ride away. This is still one of my favorite beaches in the world! From West Railay Beach, you can also stroll over to Phra Nang (Cave Beach) and East Railay for some exploring. Phra Nang is also stunning and draws a large crowd for its rock climbing activities. When you are ready to return, find a longtail boat and pay your 100 baht. They will wait until the boat is full – sometimes 15 minutes or so – and return you back to Ao Nang. Be sure to check with them to find out when the last boat departs so you don’t miss it – the times vary for each beach. Also be sure to wear some shoes you can easily slip off or don’t mind getting wet because you will have to walk out into the water a bit to get into the boat. Same goes for your clothes!
Budget tip: Avoid the pricey restaurants on Railay beach and hit up the longtail boats on the Phra Nang side serving all kinds of delicious foods and beverages right out of their boat.
For those heading to Koh Lanta, Koh Phi Phi, Phuket or some of the other islands further out, you can purchase ferry tickets from any of the tour offices in town and the ferry port is just a few minutes from the strip. The ferries are pretty comfortable and most have inside seating with air conditioning. However, be aware during low season some routes will be cancelled frequently due to rain, wind and high seas. Additionally, there have been some sketchy situations with these ferries in the past – like all Thai transportation – leaving us a little nervous to take the ferries. Most recently, one ferry off the coast of Ao Nang caught fire with 1 little girl losing her life 🙁 We had our own horrifying experience almost 4 years ago on a ferry from Koh Phi Phi to Koh Lanta and swore we’d never get on a ferry again. While we did indeed get on a ferry to Phuket this time, it was not without much anxiety.
The beaches of Thailand are simply beautiful and you are sure to have an amazing time wherever you go. Everyone has their own opinion on what makes a perfect holiday or the most stunning beach in the world. Check out our video to see why we love Krabi so much and let us know in the comments if you think its somewhere you would want to visit! 😉
Take a tour with us through Krabi and see why we love it so much!