As far as urban outposts go, Krabi Town and Ao Nang are the province’s busiest commercial centres
KRABI TOWN: The provincial capital of Krabi province is named, fittingly, Krabi Town. Located at the mouth of the equally aptly named Krabi River, it is a small but typically Thai bustling market town. Fishing in both the river and sea used to be the main industry here, but now commerce, government, and tourism play a larger role. There are a large number of hotels and guesthouses in Krabi, ranging from five-star resorts to the most basic ‘CheapCharlie’ backpacker dorm rooms. The town has no beach, so kayaking in the mangrove forests, visiting the caves at Khao Kanab Nam are popular options for outings. On the weekend there’s a Walking Street night market, with its handicrafts, clothing and souvenir stalls, while Chao Fah Pier is the place to go for authentic street food (open nightly from 6pm till 11pm). The town also has some interesting public art, including traffic light sculptures along the main roads of the town featuring: an elephant holding and raising a sword with its trunk; a flying hawk; and a prehistoric apeman. But the most popular spot for selfies has to be the giant Black Crab Monument (left) that sits along the Krabi River banks. It not only symbolizes the local reverence for the mangrove forests—the natural habitat of the black crabs—but it also offers a glimpse into the resident’s traditional sea-based culture.
AO NANG: The fact that it has a lovely beach makes Ao Nang a popular mainland destination for people vacationing in Krabi province, although most visitors spend just a minimum amount of time here, and use the town mainly as a departure point for visits to neighbouring islands that offer cleaner water and finer sand. And while it does have many of the drawbacks you’d associate with a beachfront town catering to an endless stream of transient tourists—overpriced food, tacky souvenirs, and aggressive touts—it’s also large enough so that savvy visitors can pick and choose what suits them best. So whether you want an expensive resort and a bit of fine dining, or a cheap guesthouse and some beachfront street food, it’s all there. And every day at dusk, hordes of tourists and locals alike gather on the beach to patiently watch the spectacular sunsets, congregating mostly on the wide cement steps leading down to the beach (near the Ao Nang Walking Street).