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Krabi (กระบี่), the capital of Krabi Province, sits a little upstream from the mouth of the Krabi River and is mainly visited en routeto the nearby beaches of Had Yao, Ao Nang or Rai Leh (aka Railay). Krabi is 784 km south of Bangkok by road.
Krabi Town is, in reality, two towns. There is the dusty strip-mall of a town that borders Rte 4. And then there is the quite congenial and pleasant town of Krabi proper. The town's 50,000+ inhabitants see few of the droves of tourists that pass through on their way to the beaches. This is unfortunate, as those who stay find it a relaxed place that is worth exploring for a day or two, where they experience "the real Thailand", more so than in beach resorts.
Much of the province has been given over to several national parks. Top destinations are Hat Noppharat Thara - Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park, Ao Nang, Railay, and Ko Phi Phi. The province includes over 80 smaller islands such as Ko Lanta and Phi Phi, well-known to adventurers, yachtsmen, scuba-divers, snorkelers, and day-trippers from Phuket. Krabi's beaches attract both native Thai people and foreigners alike.
Ko Lanta National Park, also in Krabi Province, includes several coral-fringed islands with well-known diving sites. The largest island, Ko Lanta Yai, is the site of park headquarters, and is also home to "Chao Le", or sea gypsies, who sustain themselves largely through fishing. The islands are best visited during the drier months of October through April.
Kayaking, sailing, bird watching, snorkeling are also among top activities. In the interior, two predominantly mainland national parks, Khao Phanom Bencha National Park and Than Bokkhorani, offer inland scenic attractions including waterfalls and caves, and opportunities for trekking, bird watching, and eco-tours.
The rock faces at Railay Beach near Ao Nang have attracted climbers from all over the world and each year are the venue for the Rock and Fire Festival. There are several rock climbing schools at Railay Beach. The rock is limestone and has characteristic pockets, overhangs and faces. Railay has numerous multi-pitch areas most of which start from the beach itself. A famous example is "Humanality". In addition, deep water soloing is popular on the numerous nearby rocky islands accessible by long-tail boat.
At the start of the Rattanakosin or Bangkok period in the late eighteenth century, when the capital was finally settled at Bangkok, an elephant kraal was established in Krabi by order of Chao Phraya Nakorn (Noi), the governor of Nakhon Si Thammarat, which was by then a part of the Thai Kingdom. He sent his vizier, the Phra Palad, to oversee this task, which was to ensure a regular supply of elephants for the larger town. So many followers immigrated in the steps of the Phra Palad that soon Krabi had a large community in three different boroughs: Pakasai, Khlong Pon, and Pak Lao. In 1872, King Chulalongkorn elevated these to town status, called Krabi, a word that preserves in its meaning the monkey symbolism of the old standard. The town's first governor was Luang Thep Sena, though it continued for a while as a dependency of Nakhon Si Thammarat. This was changed in 1875, when Krabi was raised to a fourth-level town in the old system of Thai government. Administrators then reported directly to the central government in Bangkok, and Krabi's history as an entity separate from other provinces had begun.
Facing the Andaman Sea, like Phuket, Krabi is subject to a six-month rainy season between May and November, often with sustained heavy rains for days at a time during the monsoons. Krabi's highest ever recorded temperature was 39.1° C on 26 March 1998. Its lowest temperature was recorded on 11 January 2009: 15.3° C.
The town covers the tambon Paknam and Krabi Yai of Krabi district, and is subdivided into 10 communities.
Thailand Post (Uttrakit Rd, about a block south of Chao Fa Rd). All the usual services. Sell boxes and limited packing supplies.
Prices in Krabi
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$1.45|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||$12.00|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||$|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||$18.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||$|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||$4.30|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||$2.80|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$1.60|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||$|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||$|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||$0.05|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||$2.75|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||$|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||$60.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||$35.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||$82.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||$|
32 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
72 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
Given its importance as a tourist hub, there are many direct connections by air, road and sea, but the nearest railway station is at Surat Thani.
Krabi International Airport (KBV) is about 15 km from city centre, 40 km from Ao Nang and 23 km from Had Yao. Both domestic and international departure taxes are included in the price of the flight and should not be payable at the airport.
Air conditioned buses link the airport with the town (90 baht), and also with Ao Nang and Noppharat Thara beaches (150 baht). Buses meet all arriving flights and will drop you off in front of the Krabi Provincial Court. The schedule to the airport is listed on the Ao Nang page.
Songthaews run from the town to the airport (30-50 baht). Going to the airport, they will drop you at the departure terminal. From the airport, you will have to walk about 400 m and catch them on the main road to Krabi.
Motorcycle taxis are available outside the terminal.
Krabi Limousine (tel. +66 75 692073) has a desk inside the terminal and provides "limousine taxi" (using large air conditioned sedans) transport to Krabi for 500 baht; Ao Nang for 800 baht; Phuket for 2,500 baht. Krabi Airport Transfers and Krabi Transfers offers luxury taxi and minibus (vans) for less. Travellers may have to make deposit payments on-line via credit card for longer rides.
National Car Rental has a branch at the airport.
- Ko Samui has one daily flight in each direction via Bangkok Airways.
Krabi has daily flights to the major regional hubs of Kuala Lumpur via Air Asia and Singapore via Tiger Airways. In summer there is a smattering of charter flights to cities across Scandinavia and Russia.
Krabi does not have a railway station. Surat Thani has a station and you can transfer onto buses to Krabi from there.
- Krabi Bus Terminal. In Krabi, buses use the bus terminal at Talad Kao, about 5 km north of town centre. It is one of Thailand's better bus stations: it's clean, has bilingual signage, a good cafe, many local transport options (motorbike taxi, songthaew, taxi, minivan), and free Wi-Fi.
There are several daily daytime and overnight buses from Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal (tel. +66 2 4351199, 12 hours, 600-900 baht).
For a bus from Krabi to Bangkok there is a choice of either a private bus company or BKS, the government-supervised bus company. Entering the Krabi Bus Station's front entrance, the BKS ticket vendor is to your left. The private company ticket sellers are to your right. You will have your choice of Bangkok destinations: the Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit) or the Southern Bus Terminal (Sai Tai Mai). Mo Chit is the better choice if you are heading north immediately, say to Chiang Mai, as buses to the north leave from Mo Chit. Mo Chit is also marginally closer to downtown if you are staying in Bangkok.
Surat Thani—a major east-coast bus, rail, and ferry hub—should only be about 3 hrs away. Try to use the government-run BKS buses (140 baht) instead of dodgy private operators that may take up to 10 hrs and employ various scams and thievery.
Phuket airport has several buses direct to Krabi airport. There are also hourly mini-buses that make the 2 hour run (more likely to be 3 hours) from Phuket's bus station to Krabi town (120 baht).
Hat Yai is just over 4 hours away by minibus (250 baht). Generally, they stop where you want.
Ao Nang is well-served by white songthaews that run from the bus station and the 7-Eleven on Maharaj Rd in Krabi Town via Klong Jilard, Sai Thai, Ao Nang Junction Village, and Noppharat Thara Beach. (60 baht until 18:00, 80 baht 18:00–22:00). They run every ten minutes during the day and every 30 minutes from 18:00-22:00.
Krabi is just off Hwy 4. It is 784 km south of Bangkok, 165 km by road to Phuket, and 80 km to Phang Nga.
Several daily ferries connect Krabi with Ko Phi Phi, Ko Jum and Ko Lanta, though most depart in the morning. Tickets can be purchased at the dock or from tourist offices and most local guesthouses and hotels. The normal passenger ferry does not start from the centre of town anymore, but from a new passenger port about 3 km outside Krabi. Free taxi transfer to the pier should be included in the price of your ticket. If your boat starts from the old piers in the centre of town (Chao Fah Pier or Phi Phi Pier), you are most likely on a more expensive and longer tourist boat ride. Also, make sure that when you arrive at the airport the taxi driver takes you to the correct pier. Many times they'll take you to a travel agent near the old pier and sell you additional accommodations or services. Only buy the ticket you need. Prices often get cheaper the closer you get to your next destination.
Ferry tickets to Ko Phi Phi are 300 baht (Jun 2012) when purchased at PP Family beside the pier in town. This includes the songthaew to the pier outside town. High season price is 400 baht, but it can be bargained down to 300 baht in the low season.
The large displayed time-tables in the many travel agencies are just for show and the times are not to be taken literally. Ask. As of July 2007, there were two ferries a day from Krabi to Ko Phi Phi at 09:00 and 14:30. They add additional ferries during high-season.
The pier at Klong Jilad, for ferries to and from Ko Phi Phi has a taxi desk with posted prices: 150 baht to Krabi Town, and 350 baht to the airport.
Transportation - Get Around
You can use either the songthaew or a taxi. From the bus station to town center a taxi will cost 100 baht as it is about a 4 km trip. To the Tiger Temple from town, pay 200 baht for a taxi.
With a songthaew, opposite and a couple of hundred metres up from the pier, opposite the police station, is a songthaew stop at Maharaj Soi 7. Blue ones go to Tesco Lotus and other out of town places: this is on the way to the airport and Tiger Temple. Brown ones go to the bus station and charge 30 baht. Blue with white/yellow/red stripe go to the airport.
To get to and from Ao Nang, in the centre of Krabi town on Maharaj Rd (main road) near the traffic lights where male statues hold them up is the Vogue Department Store. A white songthaew goes from here to Ao Nang and costs 60 baht. It will come into Ao Nang along Ao Nang Rd. These white ones also start from the bus terminal. Fare from Ao Nang is 60 baht before 18:00 (Feb 2016). With the songthaew, push the button to stop where you want to get off, then pay the driver.
- Krabi Friendly Car Rental, . , You must post a "bond" (by credit card) in case someone who is uninsured runs into you or you are at fault. This is 10,000 baht and is returned to you at the end of the hire if no problems. 1,300 baht per day, plus refill of petrol.
Renting a motorbike is the cheapest way to explore sites outside of Krabi town. A reliable bike for 24 hours costs 150-200 baht.
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Krabi Town is far cheaper than Ao Nang. This is reflected in the price of food and drinks especially. There are two night markets in Krabi Town that are worth a look, and on weekends there is the Walking Street market from 17:00-22:00.
- Big C Supercenter, 349 Moo 11 Krabi Noi (On Hwy 4 between town and the airport), . 08:00-22:00. Large, two storey hyper-market. Food court, banks, and small retailers on the ground floor, Big C on the upper level. Big C sells everything from bicycles and TVs to toothpicks.
- Makro, 119 Moo 1, Tambon Saithai, . 06:00-22:00. Bulk foods and household, restaurant supplies. Best selection of Western foods, including cheeses. Membership card is not required. There is a new Makro under construction in Ao Nang (Jan 2016). Should be ready in late-spring 2016.
- Tesco-Lotus (East of town on the N side of Hwy 4 beyond Big C). Hypermart, much like Big C, but with slightly better food department. 08:00-22:00.
- Vogue Department Store, 76/1 Maharaj Rd. 10:00-21:00. A throwback to another era, the Vogue is a 3-level department store selling brand name goods and designer labels. The basement offers bargains. Has a KFC and Swensens on-site.
At night there is a charming night market close to the promenade next to the piers. Food is good and cheap, with Muslim influences. From time to time the town organizes shows on a small stage next to the market.
An even better market can be found on Maharaj Soi 10 in the centre of town. This market has plenty of fresh fruit and lots of authentic cooked food. Only a few places have menus, otherwise point and enjoy. This market does not sell alcohol. There is also the new Walking Street night market, between Vogue Department store and Vieng Thong Hotel, F-Su, 17:00-22:00 which sells food and general items such as clothes and handicrafts, and there is a largish seating area.
Not to be missed is the covered morning market (the biggest in south Thailand) on Maharaj Soi 9 (behind the Shell station). For early birds only. After 08:00 all the action is subsiding. Exactly at that time you can watch a show of national pride: the national anthem is played and almost everyone comes to a standstill for the duration. The best place to get all kinds of fresh fruit and vegetable, khao niao (sticky rice), Patong Khoo, cha rohn (sweetened Thai tea), or fresh hot soy milk. The section of fresh fish and meat sellers is for hardened stomachs only.
During low season very few restaurants open at all. The floating restaurant (RuenPae) is open as well as a couple near the tourist area towards the pier, but in the town very few at all. The floating restaurant does brilliant seafood at a reasonable price as well as providing mosquito coils to keep these pests away from your legs.
- Arun (Near Relax). Good breakfast place with decent Thai coffee. Closed during low season.
- Le Gateau (Utarakit Rd). 10:00-21:00. Charming little French place that serves good coffees and desserts, Thai food, and a limited Western menu featuring steaks. Good place to take a date.
- May & Mark's House Cafe & Restaurant, 6 Maharaj Soi 10, , e-mail: [email protected]. 07:00-21:00. The story of this restaurant is fascinating. Husband and wife Matee and Kittiya opened a small restaurant in 1990. It was named May and Mark after their two children. It offered a selection of pre-cooked curries to be served over rice. Travelers would stop and stare at the pots of curry, then move on. The owners did not know why. Later they figured out that farangs were unaccustomed to eating food that had been cooked and then left to sit. To lure farangs, the owners added pancakes to the menu. Things didn't improve much. To make ends meet they started renting out rooms above the restaurant. One boarder, a man named John Kean from New Zealand, stayed for two months. When he was not off exploring Krabi, he taught the owners how to bake bread and prepare farang food. The menu expanded and so did the the customer base. Other travelers shared their favourite recipes. A woman from California taught the owners how to whip up some Mexican food. Soon they were serving food from Sweden, Denmark, Germany and elsewhere from an extensive menu. They also do Thai food, coffee, and serve beer. Free Wi-Fi. This is primarily a restaurant, but the friendly owners also keeps some rooms above the restaurant.
- Relax Coffee (Near the pier). Great Western and Thai breakfasts plus decent coffee.
- Ruen Mai Restaurant, Marharat Rd (About 2 km from the centre). Nice atmosphere and very good local dishes from 100 baht. Open daily, but closes from 15:00-17:00.
- Sin-O-Cha Bakery (Next to Vogue Department Store). Also does meals and is a good place for breakfast or to have coffee and cake. At night the pavement pancake stall outside the bakery is always packed with locals. The pancakes are larger than those at other stalls.
- Tamarind Restaurant, Chao Fa Rd (Near A Mansion Hotel). Excellent thin and crispy pizza from 150-190 baht; french fries and the pricey, lacklustre tuna salad are disappointing.
- 31 Kitchen. Fantastic Thai food.
Sights & Landmarks
- Contemporary Art Museum of Krabi(Opposite Wat Kaew).Th-Su, 10:00-17:00.
- Khao Kanab Nam.The symbol of Krabi, two karst rocks next to one other. A 15 min longtail boat ride takes you from the pier to the rocks, where you can walk up some stairs to the top.
- Tiger Cave Temple (Wat Tham Sua) (Take the road to the airport and turn left/north before you get to the big shopping malls. You should actually be able to see the big Buddha on the mountaintop. Should cost no more than 200 baht by taxi.). One of the most famous temples in southern Thailand, on top of a mountain about 3 km northeast of Krabi Town. There is a stairway with 1,237 steps to the top to visit a tiger's footprint on the top of mountain. Those who make it to the top will also be rewarded with a 360 degree view of the area and the sea.As you walk in, you will see a huge stupa on the right with steps leading up inside. Entrance fee is 199 baht, but this is not the Tiger Temple. The temple is on top of a near-vertical mountain 300 m skyward further along the path.
If you continue walking past the shop on the left, apparently run by the temple, which advertises bananas to feed the monkeys. There are many notices which advise against feeding them because they are pests. They are, sometimes trying to steal shiny objects such as cameras. On the left you will see the steps upward. There is no cost for this but you can leave a donation at the top if you make it. Many of the steps are quite steep and there are 1,237 of them. The view from the top, and from other places as you walk up, is phenomenal. There is a toilet about half-way up.
- Wat Kaew Korawaram (On Maharat Rd close to Pattana Rd.). One of the main temples in Krabi town. A new building, to some it resembles a shiny white wedding cake.
Things to do
Dhara Massage and Spa, 1/9 Ruamjit Alley (Just off Issara Rd on the small street near Soi Ruamjit. If you're walking away from the water on Issara, pass major street Ma Ha Rat Rd on your right, then take your first left and it will be on your left). Go get a relaxing but powerful (and wildly inexpensive) massage, or couples massage here. The two women working here have real certifications and training, and they are very focused on their work.
There are a number of bars and cafe bars in Krabi town centre that cater to tourists, expats and natives. A few of them will have live bands at the weekend belting out cover songs, though Rocky Bar has live music every night. Stick to the main areas and it is most unlikely you will have anything but a pleasant time.
Safety in Krabi