Tips For Travelling To Ao Nang, Krabi

I can’t stay away from Thailand. Last week was my third visit, but it was my first time to the region of Krabi. Ao Nang is the main beach resort in Krabi and a great base from which to explore the surrounding region. There’s not as much written about it online as there is for places like Ko Samui or Phi Phi, so I thought I would collate some useful tips for travelling there based on my recent experience.

Getting There

The nearest airport to Ao Nang is Krabi and this is served by several airlines including Thai, Bangkok, Malaysia (who we flew with), Qantas and Air Asia. Taxis to Ao Nang are charged at a flat rate of 600 baht for a minivan, which takes up to 4 people. There’s only one taxi company so don’t waste your time haggling! Tickets are bought inside the arrivals hall and your van will come right up to the door. Some hotels and taxi companies offer the pick up for slightly less (i.e. 500 to 550 baht) if you are organised enough to arrange it with them in advance.

The journey takes approx. 40 minutes depending on traffic.

Ao Nang Beach - more about the boats than bathing

Ao Nang Beach – more about the boats than bathing

Getting Around

Whilst Ao Nang beach has plenty of amenities it is not the prettiest beach in the region. (It’s by no means ugly but relatively speaking is not the best in the area). Instead, people spend their days taking long-tail boat taxis to surrounding secluded bays and islands. For the closest destinations (i.e. Railay Bay, Tonsai Beach and Centara Grand Beach Resort) the price is just 100 baht per person each way. The boats won’t leave, however, until they have sold all 8 seats so it actually works in your favour to travel during busier times – much less waiting around!

Long-tail boats are the main source of transport in Krabi

Long-tail boats are the main source of transport in Krabi

There are 2 main long-tail taxi offices situated on either end of Ao Nang beach, neither have piers so expect to get your clothes/feet wet. Both offices also offer half and full day trips that take to you a number of islands – including Ko Poda and Ko Hong – but it is a set itinerary and not very easy to plan your own route. Alternatively you can arrange a private boat with your hotel/tour office directly.

There are also numerous tuk tuks that can take you around town for approx. 60 baht per journey.

Railay Bay

The big draw in this region (for me, at least) is Railay Bay. It’s one of those picture perfect beaches you see in Thailand holiday brochures and it looks just as good in real life as it does in the pictures. There is accommodation and a sprinkling of shops and restaurants on Railay but it can only be reached by boat so consider how comfortable you are with doing a long-tail boat transfer with all your luggage before arranging to stay there. We preferred to visit just for a day and found it was much prettier in the morning before the tide goes out.

O Railay..

O Railay..

The waters are warm and shallow and perfect for bathing. Railay is also really popular for rock climbers – just look at those limestone cliffs! – as well as kayaking. Prices are slightly higher on Railay because of its isolation but a fresh coconut will set you back just 85 baht whilst a foot scrub administered while you lounge in the sand is 200.

Fresh coconut on the beach at Railay cost 85 baht (approx £1.60)

Fresh coconut on the beach at Railay cost 85 baht (approx £1.60)

Massage

There is a whole section of Ao Nang beach dedicated to massage. 10 beach huts in a row offer a range of Thai and oil massage, plus will throw in a sun lounger and coffee for the day if you purchase their services! We decided to have a massage in the wooden pavilion set slightly back from the beach (mainly because we saw it in the Australian version of Amazing Race!) They lured us in with the offer of a 1 hour Thai massage for 300 baht and then upsold us to the oil/Thai combination massage for 450. It was still a bargain though, and a bloody good (if slightly painful) experience.

Thai massage - like passive yoga

Thai massage – like passive yoga

Food

I’m going to state the obvious here and say avoid the main strip on the beach front when it comes to finding restaurants. We got a bit desperate on the first day and went for a cute wooden looking place that served what I would call ‘the only bad Pad Thai in Thailand’. (Seriously I thought it was impossible to get it wrong in Thailand but it turns out not so – too much sauce and not enough substance kills it.) After scouring Foursquare for decent reviews we took a tuk tuk to Boat Noodle Aonang Restaurant the next night and were not disappointed. Amazing curry, fresh fruit, cold beer and good service = win.

Eating ALL the food at Boat Noodle Aonang (sign is not in English but you'll see the boat outside)

Eating ALL the food at Boat Noodle Aonang (sign is not in English but you’ll see the boat outside)

There was also a small street food market near our hotel (on the road towards Nopparat Thara Beach) which served great local food all day for a fraction of the restaurant prices. There are a few plastic chairs and tables behind the stalls so don’t be afraid to pull up a seat and get stuck in – especially to the mango and sticky rice combination.

In terms of nightlife Ao Nang is a fairly family-friendly resort with a focus on restaurants and sunset cocktails (apparently the Hilltop is good) rather than nightclubs (excluding the hostess bars on ‘entertainment street’ which are easily, and best, avoided.) There are a couple of bars with live music on the waterfront but we stumbled upon the Reggae Roots Rock Bar after dining at Boat Noodle and this was where we had the best banter. Live music from the Thai Bob Marley and fire throwers in the street meant this place was packed all night. Staff keep the cold beers coming until you wave a tuk tuk to take you home.

Street eats - 100 baht a meal

Street eats – 100 baht a meal

There’s also a few options in terms of cafes (I’m excluding Starbucks for obvious reasons). Family Mart does a decent take away coffee if you need a caffeine fix or you can head to Black Canyon who do a decent Western-style frappe and have free Wi-Fi (you may want to avoid the toilets though!)

Shop

There are heaps of market stalls and tourist shops around Ao Nang, largely selling the same things so you are in a good position to barter for the best prices. I couldn’t help but buy the same beach dress I had worn to death since buying it in Thailand in 2007. It cost me 400 baht (the same price I paid in Phi Phi in 2007) and knowing the last one lasted me 7 years I’m pretty confident I’ll get my money’s worth.

Stay

I spent hours researching properties to stay at Ao Nang. We wanted somewhere boutique rather than a resort, that was modern yet had Thai character, close to the restaurants but not too noisy and good value for money (don’t ask for much do I?!) Luckily we struck gold (or red?) when I came across the Red Ginger Chic Resort, a boutique hotel about 10 minutes walk from the beach. We’d booked a regular double room (approx £60 per night) but when we arrived I asked if we could upgrade to a pool access room after seeing pictures of them on Instagram. This we were able to do for an extra £20 a night, plus the room was ready for us to check into at 10am in the morning.

Private plunge pool and patio at Red Ginger Chic Resort

Private plunge pool and patio at Red Ginger Chic Resort

So for the very first time I stayed in a room where it was possible to check in, swim out the door and take up a seat at the pool bar! Every day at 3pm the barman would lure us over from the patio with his calls of ‘Happy Hour! Buy 1 Get 1 Free’ and when I arrived at just past 4 one day he kindly said, ‘Don’t worry I can be late. For you it is still Happy Hour.’ (Joyous words.)

Red Ginger Chic Resort

Swimming from our room (top right) to bar (bottom left)

Swimming from our room (top right) to bar (bottom left)

The décor of the room was how we imagined; small characterful touches combined with convenience and cleanliness. I particularly liked the kimono style dressing gowns, and wicker basket and rattan mats provided free of charge for using at the beach. A/C, Wi-Fi, bottled water and breakfast were also included in the price. I can’t recommend it enough.

(Note: I spoke to other guests who had rooms at the back of the hotel and said they overlooked a construction site next door, so ask for a pool view room to get a similar experience to mine!)

So that’s my lowdown on Ao Nang, Krabi. We only stayed for 2 nights/3 days but as a base for seeing more of the area it worked really well. Have you been? Got anything to add?



Booking.com

36 Comments

  • Elizabeth says:

    I’m saving this for my wishful future trip to Thailand!

  • Sophie Manning says:

    I loved reading this! I went to Ao Nang this November after a visit to Koh Lanta (we caught a ferry). I actually stayed in the Small Hotel which was on the same road as the Red Ginger. Similar to you we preferred to stray away from the main high street. We found a lovely bar on the Nopparat Thara beach side called the Hippies Bar, really good cocktails! Congratulations on your engagement.

    • Jayne Gorman says:

      Wish we’d had time to head to Nopparat Thara now, the more I read about the area the more it seems there were some bars hidden near the beach which we missed. I guess there is always next time!

      And thank you 🙂

  • We stayed in Krabi last year (for our honeymoon) just up the coast around the headland at The Sheraton Resort and had a fantastic time – I love Thailand too! We found a fab local cafe/restaurant on the beach not charging resort prices, did the massage and took a boat trip to Ho Kong which was a blissful little island – real castaway island dreaming. Can’t really go wrong with Thailand and great tips in your post.

    • Jayne Gorman says:

      Ho Kong sounds awesome! There were so many choices for island trips we couldn’t decide which one. It’s nice to leave somewhere knowing there is more to see though, as opposed to feeling you over-did it all!

  • Renuka says:

    Looks like such a carefree place. Great options to stay and eat, too!

  • Jayne Gorman says:

    Chic but cheap! I love it 😉

  • I’ve only ever been to Bangkok in Thailand, but I’ve always wanted to explore the beaches. Railay Bay looks amazing, and I would definitely want to get a massage!

    • Jayne Gorman says:

      I’ve been lucky enough to visit a few of the different beach resorts and definitely think Railay is among my favourite. Hope you get to see it in 2015 🙂

  • I wish you had posted this a month earlier! I arrived in Ao Nang early December and felt hugely disappointed, the rain probably didn’t help but it was much busier and far less pretty than I’d hoped. We really struggled to find accommodation too and I wish I’d pre-booked something before we arrived. We ended up getting the last available private room at a hostel just off the main road which was fine (clean and central) and as it was only cheap we were able to splash out on an amazing meal at a nearby restaurant called Jenna’s (highly recommended). We got a longtail to Railay the next morning and finally I got to see the Thailand I’d been dreaming of! Thanks for a great post but I think you summed it up when you said that Ao Nang is great as a base for exploring other areas, perhaps if I’d found a hotel as nice as Red Ginger I would have stayed longer! Rachel x

  • Karolina says:

    Thanks for the tips, very helpful!

    Karolina
    http://www.praguevacations.info

  • Kelly says:

    Love this! I’ll be moving to Thailand in a few months. I’ll definitely have to make a trip 🙂

  • Lucy says:

    So happy you posted this! Have just been trying to research Krabi and Ao Nang last night. Visiting in November/December and trying to decide what islands to visit. So difficult as they all look so beautiful!

    • Jayne Gorman says:

      They are all gorgeous – you can’t really go wrong! Ao Nang is a great affordable base to discover them all but let me know if you have any questions at all.

  • Chaitali Das says:

    Hi,

    I will be going to Krabi next month and want to know if you did snorkling or scuba when you were there. If yes, where and how much did it cost you?

  • Vijay Mannur says:

    A great blog giving insights about Krabi.. I am travelling to Krabi with my wife in January… We are ther for 4 nights and 5 days. I hope there is enough to do around to keep ourselves interested for the whole time…

  • Great post, we have been to Ao Nang 4 times now and like you say it is a great base. Our favourite place we stayed at was Ao Nang Villa great spot on the left side of the beach road. We had some great fun at the Boogie Bar on walking street, live music most nights, and we have seen the best sunsets at the Fishermans Bar on the beach. A trip to the hippy backpacker Tonsai beach is worth it great vibe and place to spend the day. We are Thailand addicts and I am sure we will be back at some point!

  • Yvonne says:

    Jayne, thanks so much for the tips. I’m a solo new yorker traveling in Thailand who came across your blog last week while in Bangkok scrambling to plan a few days in Krabi region at end of my bike tour. You seemed so stylish yet practical I went ahead and copied you! Booked a pool facing room at the Red Ginger and actually just had a massage in the same spot as you pictured. Excellent recommendations saved me hours of scouring trip advisor.

    • Jayne Gorman says:

      This is so lovely to hear Yvonne! It’s comments like these that remind my why I blog. So happy to hear you had a good trip. Hope you enjoyed that massage and swim up bar 🙂

  • Thank you for putting this post together. A couple tips:

    My driver for our holiday villa will pick up 9 with luggage from the airport for 600thb.But, like Jayne said it has to be organized beforehand. If you traveling with one or two you can haggle with the taxis out front. My friend got one for 200thb.

    Phra Nang (next to Railey) is one of the most beautiful. Especially in low season with no people. The cool thing about low tide is you have a chance to go walk through the caves on the left side of the beach.

    A great way to save money with a group is to rent a house. I rent a 140sm villa for the price of two rooms at Red Ginger.

    If you want to stay with a professional Thai host, check me out. Thanks. Tukta
    https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/2107140

  • Gale says:

    Excellent post on Ao Nang. You’re totally right – there really isn’t that much out there about Ao Nang. We stayed at the Ibis Styles which is even more budget friendly than the Holiday Inn. Railay was definitely my fave too. We also went snorkelling around all the islands. I’ve got tips on this and more for anyone visiting for the first time here: http://www.tripchow.com/first-time-to-krabi-what-you-must-know/

  • Cynthia says:

    Hi!

    Have you been to Ko Phi Phi? I am traveling to Thailand in December and we were thinking of spending three nights in Phuket, then going to Ko Phi Phi for two nights and ending in Krabi for 2 or 3 nights so that we can fly back to Bangkok from there. If you have been to Ko Phi Phi, what is your opinion on spending two nights there and another two in Krabi? We were supposed to go to Ko Samui but unfortunately the weather is unpredictable in December 🙁
    Thanks!!

    • Jayne Gorman says:

      Hi Cynthia, I have been to all 3 places although my last visit to Phi Phi was a few years ago now. To be very truthful Phi Phi Leh is beautiful but Phi Phi Don has got very crowded over recent years and the beaches can get very busy. It has quite a young vibe with a lot of dive schools based there so depending on the type of holiday you are looking for I would maybe consider spending more time in Phuket or Krabi and then taking a day trip to Phi Phi which, depending on where you stay, can be done from both locations. I hope this helps. Best, Jayne

      • Cynthia says:

        Hi Jayne,
        Thanks for your reply! Would you say 4 nights in Phuket and 3 in Krabi would be a better option (and we can do day trips to the other islands from there). I was just worried that 4 nights in Phuket would be too much.

        • Jayne Gorman says:

          Hi Cynthia I think that is a good balance. You can do Phi Phi and James Bond Island from Phuket and Railay from Krabi and hopefully have some time to just chill by the pool in-between 🙂

  • cj says:

    Hi! Going to Ao Nang now… did you have any stomach issues with the food there? There seems to be a lot of people getting sick eating there on Reddit. A little scared but can’t wait to see it!

    • Jayne Gorman says:

      We didn’t have any problems at all. We mainly ate at the street food market and places that were highly rated on TripAdvisor. I guess it’s a bit like travelling to Bali or India though, if your stomach is not used to the food there may be a little unrest 😉

  • Joshua says:

    I booked our travel on tripmasters, we are going to stay at Aonang Cliff Beach Resort. Thank you for the pointers, we will be there in for 3 nights in the last week of december

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