Thailand’s Andaman Beauty
From Krabi to Koh Phi Phi, the scenic landscapes, crystal-clear waters and lush islands of southern Thailand are a tourist’s dream.
by Morgan JT
Fishing used to be the primary industry here, but commerce, government and tourism have been influencing significant changes. Today resorts, hotels, guest houses and hostels of all sizes and styles populate the town. Since the town has no beach, popular activities in the area include kayaking in the mangrove forests and exploring caves at Khao Kanab Nam.
Weekends belong to the Walking Street night market, which is strewn with an array of handicrafts, beautiful clothing, souvenirs and street food stalls that line the Chao Fah Pier. The Walking Street night market opens every Friday- Sunday from 6 pm-11 pm.
There are also intriguing public art installations, including traffic light sculptures strategically placed on the streets featuring pieces like a flying hawk, a prehistoric apeman, an elephant raising a sword with its trunk and the giant Black Crab Monument along the Krabi River banks, which symbolises local reverence for the mangrove forests.
AO NANG BEACH
Ao Nang beach is a popular mainland destination. It is one of the busiest hop-off points to famous offshore islands including Koh Hong, Koh Poda, Koh Kai (Chicken Island), Koh Phak Bia and many more.
The beach is vast, and the expansive area is populated with resorts, hotels, guesthouses and hostels of all sizes. There is a wide variety of dining choices here, from local street food stalls to food markets to fine-dining restaurants on both sides of the roads towards the Ao Nang Walking Street. The night market opens daily from 5 pm-11 pm.
Some of the most popular activities in the area include sailing, snorkelling and kayaking. There are many eco-tours and trekking excursions available in the national parks farther inland such as rock climbing at Railay Beach.
PHI PHI ISLANDS
The Phi Phi Islands are a group of islands dotted between Phuket and the Straits of Malacca. The islands were registered as a national park under Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi in 1983 by the Department of National Park Thailand (DNP) covering 387sqkm of land and ocean.
There are six islets in the Phi Phi Islands, the most visited being Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Le. Phi Phi Don is the larger and more popular of the two, with beautiful Ton Sai Bay and Lodalam Bay.
Phi Phi Le has no beaches and is uninhabited, though the scenic coves are favourites among snorkelers and divers.
One of the most surveyed locations is the beautiful Maya Bay. During normal times, over 4,000 visitors flock to this pristine strip of white sandy beach daily. This is why Maya Bay is typically closed to tourists and boats for 120 days a year, from June to September, to allow the corals and other sea life to recover and regenerate.
Visitors can travel by boat from Chao Fah Pier or Khlong Jilad Pier to the Phi Phi Islands. It takes about 1.5 hours to 2.5 hours from the pier to the islands.
THAN BOK KHORANI NATIONAL PARK
Around 50km north of Krabi Town is Than Bok Khorani National Park, which encompasses over 100sqkm of majestic and jagged limestone mountain ridges and coastal mangrove forests. The area is famous for its breathtaking scenery and is suitable for kayaking. A nature trail from Ao Luek visitor centre leads to the Than Bok Khorani Waterfall, which is the park’s main attraction. Both locals and visitors stop by this location for both relaxation and a good swim in pools that are believed to offer therapeutic qualities.
Baan Bor Thor is a small village located a few kilometres south of Krabi Town, with the local economy focusing on taking visitors on longtail boat rides or guided kayaking trips in the surrounding mangrove forests.
The main attraction here is the Tham Phi Hua To or “Ghost Head Cave.” Prehistoric human remains were excavated in the 1950s along with 238 cave-wall paintings found throughout the complex. The only known fact is that cave dwellers inhabited these parts about 3,000 years ago.
One wall features Khun Lai Sen, a kangaroo-like horned figure with a striped body. The painting most likely depicts a shaman wearing a costume and conducting rituals of some sort. The cave is believed to be an ancient cathedral used mainly for religious purposes. The mystic figure can be seen throughout this area of Krabi province and has become something of an unofficial mascot for the city. Other cave painting subjects include birds, lizards, fish and a pair of human hands—one of them with six fingers.
The park opens daily from 8:30 am-4:30 pm and has no accommodation. However, there are small resorts and homestays nearby with a few floating seafood restaurants close to the kayak rental offices.
THA POM KHLONG SONG NAM
These coastal areas in Krabi province are populated with a network of winding waterways. One of the most popular is Tha Pom Khlong Song Nam or “Two Water Canal.” It is on the southern side of the Than Bok Khorani National Park, which is covered with mangrove forests and banyan trees. The main feature is the freshwater that pours off a nearby limestone mountain, mixing with saltwater as it flows towards the ocean and creating crystal clear, emerald-tinged water flowing through a course of twisted tree roots.
Visitors can walk along the raised wooden walkway through the park and take a break by dipping their feet in the clear water. There is a small natural pool in the middle of a peaceful oasis of greenery – perfect for a swim.
This pool is located in Khlong Thom to the south of Krabi Town near the Khao Phra Bang Khram Nature Reserve. The main draw here is a series of thermal hot springs emerging from underground volcanic chambers, perfect for taking a dip. It can be quite crowded.
Khlong Thom Hot Springs is another popular site in the area, with a series of hallowed-out bathtubs naturally formed in the smooth stone. These “bathtubs” are filled with fresh running spring water at a temperature of 35-42 degrees Celsius.
The nature reserve opens daily from 8:30 am-5 pm and the admission is 200 baht per person.
- Khao Phanom Bencha National Park
- Namtok Huai To
- PhanomBencha Mountain
- Khaopra-Bangkhram Wildlife Sanctuary
- Emerald Pool hot spring and mineral bath
- Tiger Cave Temple
- Than Bok Khorani National Park
- ThaPomKhlongSong Nam
- Maya Bay
- Phi Phi Viewpoint
- Ban Si Raya
- Hat Tham Pra Nang
- Hat Nopparat
- Phi Phi Islands
- Lanta Islands
- Wat Tham Suea
- Tham Khao Maikaew
- Viking Cave
- Sa Phra Nang