We visited Ao Nang in the Krabi province as part of our two week trip to Thailand. We chose Ao Nang for its proximity to Railay Beach and other beautiful islands in the Andaman Sea, including Koh Lanta (See 5 Reasons to Visit Koh Lanta).
1. Visit Railay Beach
Visiting Railay Beach was number one on my list and the whole reason we booked a trip to Ao Nang. As soon as we stepped off the longtail boat, we were in awe of the beautiful white sand beach framed by steep limestone cliffs. We found a nice shady spot under the trees to lay out our towels and immediately jumped in the calm clear blue water. Floating in waters off of this perfect paradise, we could not believe how lucky we were to be there.
We had arrived at West Railay around 9:30am before the beach was too crowded but by noon it was nearly impossible to find a shady refuge from the intense mid-day sun. We realized it was time to explore beyond West Railay Beach and find ourselves some lunch. There was no shortage of restaurants, bars and coffee shops on the main walking street in Railay. We settled on a small restaurant with an upstairs patio that had a lunch special for 75 baht (seemed like a good deal for Railay although pricey by Bangkok standards). We sat down for lunch at the right time as a huge torrential downpour started just as we placed our order.
The rain was short-lived, however, and we set off to explore beyond the main walking street and over to East Railay Beach. The tide was out and this beach is quite muddy so we kept moving stopping only to watch a group of rock climbers. Then we followed the path past some caves and the entrance to the hike to the viewpoint. We decided to pass on the hike as it was quite steep and muddy. We had also heard the trail to the viewpoint and the lagoon can be quite treacherous with plenty of vertical climbs up the rocks with only ropes to help you up. We saw several hikers returning from the viewpoint who were completely covered in mud.
The path took us to Phra Nang Beach followed along closely by a family of hungry monkeys. This beach was just as beautiful as Railay West but quite a bit smaller. There is an interesting cave next to the beach filled with offerings believed to help with fertility.
How to Get There: Longtail boats from Ao Nang beach are available from two stands on either end of the beach. Each stand is run by two different companies but the price is fixed. Boat drivers will be wearing either blue or green shirts depending on which company you choose. The longtail boats fit about 8 people and you may need to wait a little until the boats are full. However, we never had to wait longer than 5 minutes.
Price: 100 baht one-way or 200 baht round trip from Ao Nang to Railay West beach which takes about 10 minutes. Boats are also available to Tonsai Beach and Phra Nang Beach from Ao Nang Beach.
2. Monkey trail to Pai Plong Beach
We didn’t actually see any monkeys on this trail but we did find a beautiful beach set between steep limestone cliffs in front of the Centara Grand Beach Resort. The trail was a short but steep hike which seemed much more strenuous due to the heat of the day. This beach was quieter, cleaner and more scenic than the main beach at Ao Nang. However, the water wasn’t as clear at the water at Railay Beach (not as crowded either).
How to Get There: If you walk all the way to the far end of Ao Nang beach, you will see a small wooden bridge that leads to a path up and over the cliff to Pai Plong Beach. This beach is in front of the Centara Grand Beach Resort but you don’t need to be a guest to visit this beach. You will need to sign in with the security guard at the end of the trail.
3. Day trip to Hong Island
We decided to join an excursion to Hong Island in search of some beautiful white sand beaches that Thailand is supposedly famous for. The first stop, Pakbia Island, was pretty but nothing to write home about. We went for a quick swim and took a few pictures but didn’t stay here long. The second location, Laolading Island, had a very small beautiful beach with some of the softest white sand I have ever experienced. However, as this was also where all the tour groups stop for lunch, it was incredibly crowded. Our next destination was Hong Lagoon where our boat made its way through the narrow passage to the lagoon, made a quick turn of the lagoon to allow us to take pictures before we made our way to the beach on Hong Island. The beach at Hong Island did not disappoint as it had a long white sand beach next to a beautiful crescent shaped beach surrounded by limestone cliffs. We spent almost 2 hours at this location and thoroughly enjoyed our time here swimming and relaxing on the beach.
How to Get There: We were picked up directly from our hotel at around 8:30am in an air conditioned minivan with about 10 other tourists. It was about a 40 minute drive from Ao Nang to the pier where we boarded the speedboat. The speedboat fit about 20 or so people and was a short scenic ride to the first of 4 stops.
You may want to consider booking a private long-tail boat to take you to Hong Island as you can arrange with your boat driver to avoid the peak tour boat times and get more of a private deserted island feel. Remember to pack your own lunch and water if you do this option as there are no restaurants or stores to purchase food and drinks on these islands.
Price: We paid about 1,000 baht per person (including park fees) for our Hong Island day tour by speedboat. We purchased the tour from one of the stands along the main road in Ao Nang. Don’t forget to negotiate! Our tour package included lunch which was a rice and green curry with a delicious fried chicken, along with pineapple and fruit punch.
4. Relax by the pool
We stayed at the Pakasai Resort in Ao Nang and we thoroughly enjoyed the 5 nights we spent at this hotel. The hotel had a beautiful, large rooftop pool with loungers, umbrellas and pool bar serving blended tropical drinks, smoothies, juices and our favourite, Thai Iced Tea. Our routine was to spend the morning and early afternoon at the beach or off on excursions and the late afternoons relaxing at the pool just in time for happy hour at the pool bar (buy one get one free drinks!). Our afternoons at the pool also coincided with the daily visits of some local dusky leaf monkeys that would feast on the leaves of one of the trees by the pool.
Although our hotel pool wasn’t right on the beach and it didn’t have an incredibly stunning view, but based on our room, the amenities of the hotel and the service provided by all the hotel employees, we felt like the Pakasai Resort was an incredible deal. We would definitely recommend this hotel to our family and friends. An added bonus is that the hotel is focused on being environmentally sustainable and makes use of reusable water bottles and other eco-friendly materials. We stayed in one of their “Green” Chalets which is considered Krabi’s first low carbon accommodations.
Price: We booked our Green Chalet Room at Pakasai Resort for about Cdn$67 per night (US$50 per night) for 5 nights in mid-November 2019.
5. Other things to do in Ao Nang
- 4 Island Tour – boat trip to Koh Poda, Koh Gai (Chicken Island), Koh Tub and Koh Mor.
- Krabi Town and Night Market – about 30 minutes from Ao Nang Beach to the night market for tasty street food and bargain hunting.
- Tonsai Beach – less developed beach near Railay Beach which can be reached by boat from Ao Nang or on foot at low tide from Railay West.
- Emerald Pool – Turquoise blue water fed by natural stream surrounded by jungle in the Thung Teao Forest Natural Park.
- Wat Tham Seua (Tiger Cave Temple) – Buddhist temple known for a cave with tiger paw prints and its gold Buddha statue. However, be prepared for a strenuous climb up 1,260 stairs to the summit. Bring extra water and best not to attempt during the hottest part of the day.
- Mangrove Kayak Trip – kayak through inlets, caves and lagoons of Thalane Bay.
Where to Eat In Ao Nang
KoDam Kitchen – This was our absolute favourite place to eat in Ao Nang. We returned for lunch and dinner several times and the employees were so welcoming each time we returned. Some of our favourite dishes were the Roasted Duck red curry, Laab Moo (minced pork salad with Thai herbs) and Pla Tub Tim Chu-Chi (whole fried tilapia with red curry sauce).
Located a short walk from the Pakasai Resort on a small side street off the main road.
How to Get to Ao Nang
The closest airport to Ao Nang is Krabi Airport.
Drive: From Krabi Airport, it is possible to reach Ao Nang by car by driving west on Route 4. If you don’t want to rent a car, you can also reach Ao Nang via:
- Songthaew – This method of public transport is the cheapest option to get to Ao Nang. Cross the street from the Krabi Airport and wave down a songthaew to Krabi Town. From Krabi Town (outside a 7-11 in town centre), transfer to a white songthaew to Ao Nang. Cost: 80 baht per person. Duration: More than 1 hour.
- Shuttle bus – air conditioned minivan making stops at other hotels to drop off other tourists. Cost: about 150 baht per person. Duration: 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Private taxi – private minivan or taxi that would be suitable for larger groups or families with more luggage. Cost: 600 baht for a taxi for 4 people or 1,080 baht for an 8 person van. Duration: about 30 minutes.
Passenger Ferry: The passenger ferries are a pleasant way to arrive at Ao Nang (Nopparat Thara Pier) via neighbouring destinations including Phuket, Koh Lanta, Koh Yao Noi/Yai and Koh Phi Phi. Ferries to/from Koh Lanta only operate between November and April. Cost: ranges between 400 to 1,000 baht depending on starting point. Durations: between 1 and 6 hours depending on starting point.
Speedboats: Faster and more expensive than the passenger ferry but a more convenient way to arrive in Ao Nang from the islands. Cost: generally starts at 800 baht per person and up. Duration: between 30 minutes and 2 hours depending on starting point.