Ao Nang town, Thailand

Ao Nang (Krabi), Thailand – Travel Guide

Ao Nang, in the southern Thai province of Krabi, is often confused by travellers. People see the photos of Krabi online without knowing that what they are actually seeing is Ao Nang town. Ao Nang boasts the towering limescale cliff rock so often seen on postcards and a palm-fringed golden-sand beach to boot. 

Whilst it may not be home to the most beautiful beaches in Thailand and is definitely no hidden gem, Ao Nang oozes charm! It’s certainly worth more than a one-night stop on your way to the neighbouring Thai islands. If you have the time, I’d recommend staying a minimum of three nights but you could easily spend longer – I currently live in Ao Nang so am proof that it isn’t always easy to tear yourself away!

Ao Nang, Thailand Map & Resources

Ao Nang, Thailand – Travel Guide for Backpackers

Best Time To Visit Ao Nang, Thailand

Ao Nang’s dry season runs from November to March. During this time, you’ll be greeted by sunny weather and blue skies, perfect for relaxing on one of the many beaches! The high season spans January and February and can get particularly busy, with higher prices and booked-out accommodation, so plan your trip in advance. 

With that being said, don’t be put off visiting outside the dry season, particularly during shoulder season. You may get the odd shower for an hour here and there, but it won’t be non-stop rain all day, every day. You’ll be rewarded with fewer crowds and great deals on accommodation and tours!

Phra Nang Beach, Roshni Karia, Ao Nang
Don’t miss the beaches near Ao Nang! Photo credit: Roshni Karia.

Where to Stay in Ao Nang, Thailand

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There are a few areas to stay in Ao Nang. 

  • Ao Nang Beach is an incredibly popular location but it is also the most expensive. Filled full of resorts, many of which boast their own section of private beach, you’re just a stone’s throw from golden sands, markets and restaurants. 
  • Ao Nang Village is a great spot for first-timers as it is centrally located. It’s within walking distance of nightlife, eateries and the beach. There is always something going on here so it’s a good option if you like to be close to the hustle. 
  • Railay Bay might not technically be part of Ao Nang but as it’s only a short longtail boat ride away, many people like to set up base here. There is a big hippie cum backpacker vibe so this would suit a solo traveller who wants to meet others. 
  • Out of town won’t be the right choice for everyone but there are some great accommodation options available. Recommended for those looking for a quieter stay, namely families or couples. It is worth renting a motorbike if you are looking at staying further afield, though some hotels offer free shuttle service. 
Views Ao Nang, Thailand
Stay out of town and you’ll be treated to views like this!

Top Accommodation in Ao Nang, Krabi

Wander down the main strip in Ao Nang and you’ll see backpackers everywhere. The most hedonistic of them will likely be staying at Slumber Party Ao Nang. The leading party hostel in the area, Slumber Party is the place to go if you love loud music, good vibes and great hospitality. 

Little Home Ao Nang is a short walk from Ao Nang Beach, offering cosy digs in a central location. There are 12 clean and spacious rooms here, 11 of which boast sunset views of Hat Nopparathara Beach. The staff are friendly and welcoming and offer recommendations for the local area as well as help with onward travel. 

Ao Nang, James Pettifer
Most people want a base close to the beach! Photo credit: James Pettifer.

Just shy of 5 km from the centre of town, Baannai Lake View Resort is the place to stay if you are looking for beautiful private accommodation with jaw-dropping views to boot. While it isn’t a centrally located option, free tuk tuk service is provided to any spot in Ao Nang, meaning it is still easy to see the sights. The stilted waterfront bungalows are perfect for couples seeking a romantic stay. 

As you might guess from the name, Nomads Ao Nang is a great spot for digital nomads and long-term travellers alike. Boasting comfortable dorm rooms, regular social events and an epic swimming pool, Nomads is a backpacker favourite. Be warned, all facilities are shared here so if you’re seeking more privacy, you may want to look elsewhere. 

Set back from the main hustle, Cocco House offers a quiet comfortable stay in Ao Nang while still being close to all the main attractions. A soundtrack of birdsong awaits you here, along with some of the finest Thai hospitality out there. Breakfast is included and consists of a wonderful spread, which can also be adapted for veggies. 

Ao Nang views
The main road in Ao Nang before the crowds wake up!

Vipa Tropical Resort is nestled at the foot of karst limestone hills, right in the heart of nature. Palm trees, lush greenery and a swimming pool make sitting outside an absolute dream. If you can drag yourself away from the resort’s scenic setting, the sights of Ao Nang are easily accessible by a free shuttle bus for hotel guests. 

If you’re looking at hiring your own villa while you’re in Ao Nang, there are plenty of high-rated options to choose from. Here are a few of the best:

Things To Do in Ao Nang, Thailand

1. Hike Tab Kak Hang Nak Hill Nature Trail

This 7 km trail takes place on Khao Ngon Nak, also known as Dragon Crest Mountain,  and flaunts panoramic views of Krabi’s rugged terrain. On a clear day, you’re rewarded with green hues as far as the eye can see! 

The hike isn’t overly busy but is of moderate difficulty. I wouldn’t recommend completing it in flip flops so ensure you’re wearing a good pair of trainers, bring plenty of water/snacks and aim to start early to beat the midday heat!

Tab Kak Hang Nak Hill Nature Trail, Ao Nang
When it comes to views, it doesn’t get much better than this!

2. Visit Kuan Nom Saow

One of the most gorgeous viewpoints in Krabi and with no hiking involved! A really lovely couple run this little restaurant cum campsite and have put so much love into making it what it is. 

The food is lovely and reasonably priced and the views are unmatched. It’s a little further out and possibly tricky to get to when compared to some of the other attractions on this list, but well worth the effort! You truly feel a world away from the hustle. I believe they have plans to expand to a guesthouse too – I can only imagine how beautiful that will be!

3. Go Island Hopping

If island hopping appeals, you’ll be spoilt for choice in Ao Nang.  Choose from the ‘3 Island Tour’ around Koh Poda, Chicken and Tup Island, the Hong Islands or a boat trip around the bay to Railay. 

Koh Poda Beach, Ao Nang
The beautiful Koh Poda Beach. Photo credit: Roshni Karia.

There are many ways in which you can make these trips, including an organised tour, the public boat or a private charter for the day. Some tours combine all seven nearby islands but I recommend dedicating a little more time to each or you may end up feeling rushed! Koh Lao Lading is particularly special!

4. Take a Trip to Railay

I know I’ve already mentioned Railay above, but it truly deserves its own point. A picture-perfect slice of paradise, Railay is separated from Ao Nang by a towering limestone cliff that can only be reached by a longtail boat. 

I highly recommend you plan at least a day to visit Railay but if time permits, you won’t regret an overnight stay. This way, you can witness the sunset in this small, hippie haven! Railay has a laidback, free-spirited atmosphere and although you will be sharing this bay with many other people, it’s popular for good reason! 

Railay Bay, Thailand
Railay offers the quintessential Thai setting!

5. Watch a Muay Thai Fight

Muay Thai, sometimes referred to as Thai boxing, is Thailand’s national sport. No matter whether you have an interest in boxing, an evening spent at a local stadium is a must-do when you visit Ao Nang! 

It’s hard to tell if these fights are sometimes set up purely to entertain tourists, but it’s still a fun way to see another part of Thai culture that may be new to you. 

Fights are held a few times every week at the Landmark Stadium and Krabi International Boxing Stadium. Don’t worry if you don’t know the schedule, you’ll definitely notice vans driving up and down the main artery of Ao Nang broadcasting the latest dates and times from a speaker!

Want to Train Muay Thai? 

Emerald Muay Thai in Ao Nang offers training and accommodation packages to those looking to level up their fighting ability! Suitable for both beginners and more experienced fighters, learn about Thai culture and train in the ‘art of eight limbs’ in a truly beautiful part of Thailand!

6. Spend an Evening at the Landmark Market

This is the best market in Ao Nang and not to be missed! Filled with vendors selling mouthwatering food and a range of handicraft and clothing stalls, you can pick up a bargain here! 

Ao Nang Night Market, Kim Goodwin
Don’t miss the local street food scene! Photo credit: Kim Goodwin.

As well as stalls, you’ll also see various performers including fire artists, Muay Thai fighters and traditional dancers. It’s a market with something for everyone and makes for a really nice evening out. 

7. Climb to the Tiger Cave Temple

Around a 30-minute drive from Ao Nang, lies the Tiger Cave temple. Perched at the top of 1,260 stairs, it’s a Buddhist temple famous for tiger pawprints inside. It’s a steep climb so I’d recommend avoiding this hike in the heat of the day.

Once you’re at the top, you’ll be rewarded with stunning landscape, pagodas and of course, the towering golden Buddha statue. A visit here should make any Krabi itinerary!

A Little Monkey Business!

If you see any monkeys on your walk to Tiger Cave Temple, just ignore them and under no circumstances, feed them. Macaque monkeys might look cute but they can be aggressive. Don’t just take my word for it, check out this news article about some monkeys terrorising tourists in Koh Phi Phi!

Monkey beach, Ao Nang, Thailand
Beware these cheeky fellas! Photo credit: Kim Goodwin.

8. Contribute to Something Worthwhile With Trash Hero

This is something a little different to the other activities on this list but such a worthwhile cause! Trash Hero is a clean-up initiative that describes itself as “a volunteer-led movement that drives change within communities around the world, motivating and supporting them to clean and prevent plastic waste”. 

Their meetups are held on Sundays in various locations in and around Ao Nang – check their Facebook page for details. They provide you with gloves, bags and litter picks. Once you’re kitted out, you can get started and leave this corner of the world a little prettier for everyone to enjoy.

9. Watch the Sunset and Fireshow on the Beach

One of my favourite things about Ao Nang is how every evening, everybody congregates on the beach to watch the sun go down before a fire show begins under the stars. There are a few performances but the most accessible takes place in the middle of the beach by the Phoenix Fire team. If in doubt, look for the crowds of people after dark!

Ao Nang sunset, Patryk Wildangier
How’s that for a sunset?! Photo credit: Patryk Wildangier.

10. Hire Kayaks

If you have your own scooter, drive out to the Lake View restaurant where you can rent kayaks for around 300THB (approx. $8USD) or hire a tour guide (you’ll find plenty advertised) to paddle around the beautiful Mirror Lake. This peaceful oasis feels miles away from the organised chaos of Ao Nang! This is a lovely, gentle way to spend a morning or afternoon.

Food and Drink in Ao Nang, Thailand

Saad Kitchen: This is one of my favourite spots for breakfast! It is a family-run business and the owners happen to be the nicest people you’re likely to meet! They’re always willing to help and ensure you have a nice experience. Not only is the food budget-friendly, but it’s tasty too with plenty of options. From omelettes, scrambled eggs, pancakes, croissants, muesli, fruit and porridge, there is so much choice. Stop by if you can!

Saad Kitchen, Ao Nang
Saad Kitchen is one of my favourite places to eat in Ao Nang!

Tiki Taco: You will find Tiki Taco at the Landmark Market, roughly around the second row back on the right-hand side. In my opinion, it serves the best Mexican food in Krabi, which as you’ll know if you’ve been travelling for a while, can be very hit-and-miss in Thailand! The lady who works there doesn’t hold back on portion sizes, stuffing the burritos full of fresh ingredients such as guacamole, salsa and whatever else your heart desires! You can choose from quesadillas, nachos, burritos or tacos. Everything is great value for money. 

Basmati: You will be spoilt for choice for Indian food in Ao Nang but I promise you, you won’t find a more authentic eatery than Basmati. An unassuming, small restaurant tucked away from the main road, the food is made fresh in front of you and they pride themselves on cooking in ghee; a nutrient-rich clarified butter known for its fat-soluble vitamins. The portions are huge and I would highly recommend the chicken biryani that can easily be shared between two! 

Red Chilli Thai Cuisine: A really lovely little restaurant for Thai cuisine that’s popular for good reason. They always go out of their way to make sure you have a lovely meal and put huge effort into the presentation of the food to make it more special. It can get quite busy here but the wait is never long and the staff are very attentive. The food is full of flavour and the little touches (such as mixed nuts with your drink and mentos at the end of your meal) don’t go unnoticed! A little off the main street in Ao Nang but worth the small detour. I recommend trying the Penang curry!

Ao Nang, Rory Emond4
You’ll find plenty of tasty eats around Ao Nang! Photo credit: Rory Emond.

Ton Ma Yum: Ton Ma Yum is famous for its fresh food and warm atmosphere. You almost feel as though you’re dining in somebody’s home. This intimate feel, paired with delicious Thai classics, makes it a perfect spot for lunch! You really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu but my favourite is their chicken Khao Soi, the best I have found outside of Northern Thailand!

Getting Around Ao Nang, Thailand

Ao Nang has many transport options, from tuk tuks to taxis, boats and private vans. Hiring a scooter will give you the most freedom but remember to ensure you’re legally able to ride one or you do so at your own risk and won’t be covered by your travel insurance in case of an accident. There is no shortage of shops offering motorcycle rentals for a cheap price.

Ao Nang, Rory Emond2
Motorbike is a popular way to get around. Photo credit: Rory Emond.

Songthaews are the cheapest form of transport. Translating to ‘two rows’, Songthaews are the red public transport trucks with two benches in the back. These can be flagged down and will take you to set locations (usually advertised on the side, but check with the driver before getting in). Fares are fixed and you will pay the driver when you get off, making them a quick and convenient option for getting around the town and to other beaches. 

How To Get To Ao Nang, Thailand

Ao Nang is well situated and is often used as a stop-off en route to other neighbouring islands. It is a little over two hours by ferry from Phuket and an hour away from Koh Phi Phi. Boat services run regularly so Ao Nang is the perfect base to explore other nearby places.

Ao Nang, Lauren Jade
Long tail boat is the best way to travel to other bays. Photo credit: Lauren Jade.

The town of Ao Nang is serviced by an international airport and there are regular flights from Bangkok and Malaysia. If you’re budget-conscious, skip the private taxi operators and opt for the shared minibus that will take you directly from the airport to your accommodation for around 150 THB (approx. $4USD). Alternatively, you can take a bus or train from Bangkok, taking anywhere from 13-19 hours.

Where To Go Next:

Koh Lanta: A beautiful refuge from the party islands of Koh Phi Phi and Phuket and only a 3-hour minibus ride from Ao Nang, you’ll find amazing sunsets, beach bars and bungalows here. Koh Lanta offers the perfect balance of activities and relaxation. You won’t be able to help but fall in love with Koh Lanta’s laidback pace of life.

Koh Phi Phi: Famous due to the release of the film ‘The Beach’, starring Leonardo Dicaprio, Koh Phi Phi is best known for nearby Maya Bay where the movie was set. It’s also easily recognisable from its iconic viewpoint and some of the most turquoise waters in Thailand! The town comes alive in the evening, with fire shows dominating the beaches and parties on every corner!

Khao Sok National Park: Possibly one of the most beautiful and peaceful spots in Thailand, Khao Sok is just a little over a 2-hour drive from Ao Nang. Here, you’ll be transported to the jungle, where idyllic bungalows float on the Cheow Lan Lake. The perfect opportunity to disconnect and immerse yourself in the natural beauty Thailand has to offer.

Sian Madge Author bio
Sian Madge

We all fondly remember our first backpacking trip and I’ve been obsessed with travel ever since visiting Southeast Asia at 19! I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work for an airline throughout my twenties, travelling the globe and seeing places I never thought I’d see. Whilst I’ll be forever grateful for those experiences, I longed to feel my feet in the sand with a coconut in hand and no plan for what tomorrow looked like. So, together with my partner, we boarded a one-way flight to Singapore in 2022. Whilst I hope to reach as many corners of this earth as possible, Asia has a special place in my heart. From self-driving a tuk-tuk across Sri Lanka, swimming with turtles in Indonesia, wild camping in Oman and paramotoring in Laos, I’ve created the most incredible memories on this continent and hope to make many more! 

Find her on: Instagram

Contributors: 👥

South East Asia Backpacker is a ‘travel diary for everyone’. This article has been written with the help of backpackers and local experts. We would like to thank…

🙏 Sheree | Editor at South East Asia Backpacker
🙏 Rory Emond
🙏 Lauren Jade
🙏 James Pettifer
🙏 Kim Goodwin
🙏 Roshni Karia

🙏 Patryk Wildangier

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