Instead of splurging on diamonds or an expensive handbag, I decided to gift mom a Holiday for her big 50 – A girl trip to Krabi, one of the most gorgeous areas in Thailand. (Earlier, I have written about why I love travelling with my mother in this post here)
In the last decade, thanks to the booming economy and an escalated buying power, the average Indian tourist has discovered Thailand beyond the chaotic, grotesque but pocket-friendly Bangkok-Pattaya weekends. Suddenly Bangkok has become a dirty word among the upwardly mobile and serves only as an entry port to more exotic, expensive and exclusive destinations in Southern Thailand. Koi Samui and Krabi along with their Malaysian and Indonesian cousins Langkawi and Bali have dominated the middle class travel in the last few years at the cost of rendering these once “exotic” destinations pedestrian.
However, it was easy to see on my trip why these group of islands near Krabi, since the release of The Beach have had the world captivated with their landscape.
Since I picked an off season to visit Krabi, our flight from Bangkok had numbered passengers. On landing at twilight , we were greeted by a menacing cloud cover that accompanied us throughout our journey to Amari Resort, nestled in the secluded and pristine area of Nong Thale along the Tubkaak Beach. ( Trivia: The wedding venue from Hangover 2 is in the same area and shares boundaries and the beach with the Amari) Though it didn’t rain during our 4-day stay, you can’t exactly count on it, especially since everything here revolves around the beach activities.
Here is a quick list to better equip you before your travel to Krabi:-
1. KRABi is a town in Southern Thailand and not an island. Most boats/steamers to other islands leave from its Ao Nang area. You can either stay at one of the islands like Ko Phi-Phi, Ko-Lanta or Railay beach or stay in Krabi town and make day-trips to these islands (though I suggest you do the former as day trips are A superficial and rushed affair and barely give you time to forge an opinion about the place)
2. WEATHER can be uncomfortably muggy in the off-season, even it doesn’t rain. If hordes of tourist don’t bother you as much, going in peak season may be a better idea.
3. MONEY: Though ATMs everywhere in the world give the best exchange rates, ATMs in Thailand have a fixed transaction fee of 180 Bahts (400 INR), independent of the value of the withdrawal. Do the math between ATM withdrawal and currency exchange. Also, Krabi is more expensive by Thailand (read Bangkok) standards, so factor this in while projecting costs.
4. AO NANG : Stay here if you want to be close to everything – the restaurants, bars and cheaper hotels (and other tourists). You will also find several tour operators for various island tour packages in this area.
5. NONG THALE : If you want be in Krabi Town, removed from everything described above then Nong Thale boasts of some of the best properties. Since these are mostly beach resorts, you will rarely need to venture out of the gorgeousness of your property. (Also, Factor in the costs of taxis to reach pretty much anywhere since this is a good 30-45 minutes away from the town centre in Ao Nang)
6. TOURS: All hotels can organize tours for you to various islands but at a much higher cost than booking directly near Ao Nang. There is rarely any need to pre-book online as you will find better deals once you are in Krabi.
7. Where are the PARTY ANIMALS? Come Rain or Sunshine, Ko Phi-Phi island are always swelling with back-packers, honeymooners and the average tourist. The islands boasts of a variety of properties for all pockets and a perennial party scene.
8. RAILAY BEACH: A 30-minute ride away from Krabi Town, Railay is a back-packers paradise, offering a little bit of everything but lesser number of tourists. Besides the omni present water sports options, take a course in rock climbing as the limestone formations here are part of the worlds largest coral reef, stretching from China down to Papua New Guinea.
9. ALSO CONSIDER? Consider researching about Ko Lanta and Ko Lipe, some of the quieter, more sophisticated islands that are still untouched by the hyper construction activity and tourism. They are what Ko Phi-Phi islands used to be before the world had discovered them.
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