Incredible karst mountains jetting out of azure waters, epic sunsets on an island, fire shows, adventure activities, awesome food, and swimming with fish. What else would you want out of a beach holiday? Krabi has it all!
Many people get confused about what Krabi actually is, whether it’s a town or a province… In actual fact, Krabi is the name of the entire province which includes a place called ‘Krabi Town’, Ao Nang, Railay and Tonsai Beach, as well as the islands of Phuket, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta and the quiet island of Koh Jum. If you’re flexible on time, I’d recommend sprinkling your stay throughout the area to get to know the different spots depending on that day’s activity!
Being a huge province, Krabi has its fair share of beaches and island oases to bliss out on and plenty of things to do like beach bumming, waterfall adventuring, hikes and climbs with phenomenal viewpoint rewards, and of course, beautiful islands beckoning you to visit.
With all of the gorgeous beaches and adventurous activities, it’s not much of a surprise that Krabi is flocked to by many. Despite its popularity, it still remains a beautiful place and a must-visit. This is not the spot to skip!
Click here for our complete guide to backpacking in Thailand. Or check out our individual guides to the following places located in Krabi Province:
- Koh Lanta – Beautiful large island, actually made up of two smaller islands; Lanta Yai (big) and Lanta Noi (small). Amazing beaches, great diving and fantastic restaurants. Perfect for couples and families and those in need of a relaxing beach break.
- Koh Phi Phi – The most famous island in Thailand, recently closed for a few months due to damage from over-tourism. Made up of two islands, Phi Phi Don is the backpacker haven full of bars, restaurants and night clubs and Phi Phi Leh is the Marine Park which is uninhabited. You can take boat trips to Phi Phi Leh from Phi Phi Don.
- Phuket – Thailand’s largest island, and its most touristy. Very developed and expensive and popular with stag dos!
- Railay – Beautiful beaches on the mainland but cut off by huge limestone mountains and inaccessible by car. Famous for rock climbing and reggae music! From here, you can take great snorkel tours or organise a rock climbing trip.
Where to stay in Krabi
Most move right along past Krabi Town and its surroundings and bee-line it to Ao Nang for the beaches, but staying in Krabi Town will make some of the excursions a bit easier to get to as it is closer, so it’s your choice where to post up.
Krabi Town also enjoys a very local Thai way of life with bustling markets, temples and cheap street food stalls, a seaside walk, but no beach. Krabi Town also offers a wealth of affordable accommodation for backpackers…
Top 5 Hostels in Krabi Town
1. Pak-Up Hostel is our top pick (read our full review here). It’s a very stylish place with a great atmosphere, in a fantastic location and with very friendly staff. Dorm rooms range between $6 USD and $10 USD, depending on the size of the room. Privates start at $25 USD.
2. Holiday Station Hostel has dorm beds (both mixed and female-only rooms) for $6 USD and $7 USD, depending on the number of beds in the room. Privates start at $12 USD. It’s nice and clean and has a cheap laundry service.
3. Snoozz Hotel is close to the night market and has a great atmosphere. Dorm beds cost $7 USD.
4. JP Mansion is great value for money, with spacious comfy doubles for around $8 USD.
5. Baifern Mansion is another great option with nice big rooms with very comfy mattresses for $9 USD. An excellent breakfast comes included. Four people can share a room with two bunk beds for $24 USD.
For those wanting a private room in Krabi Town…
If you’re short on time, I’d recommend using Ao Nang as your base. Ao Nang is full of local restaurants, cheap hostels, a great Muay Thai school and lively nightlife. Nearby Nopparattara is also worth a visit, with a nice beach and a much quieter vibe. If you stay in Ao Nang, hiring a scooter to explore the area is a must to reach off the beaten track places like Tup Kaek, Klong Muang.
Ao Nang has its own decent beach and is only a 15-20 min long-tail boat ride from Railay, which is the rock climbing Mecca and a stunningly beautiful destination with limestone cliffs and beaches to die for! However, the best thing about Ao Nang is its cheap accommodation compared to Railay and Tonsai. Here are some recommended hostels in Ao Nang…
Top 5 Hostels in Ao Nang
1. Pop-In Hostel has a wonderful atmosphere. Its own bar is great. They also organise pub crawls around Ao Nang. If you’re looking to socialise, this is the place for you! Dorm beds cost $6 USD and nice clean private rooms from $28 US.
2. Stay Over Hostel is another great backpacker option, with clean rooms and a fantastic rooftop lounge area. Dorms cost around $7 USD.
3. Link Hostel Ao Nang – A gorgeous, modern hostel with a swimming pool and great facilities. Dorms start at $8 US and private rooms from $25 US.
4. Cocco House has wonderful AC bungalows for $18 USD. The owner is incredibly friendly, the bungalows are immaculate and spacious.
5. Arcadian Resort – Slightly outside the most touristy areas, Arcadian has very nice doubles for as little as $15 USD.
Railay and Tonsai
These gems are my favourite! These are also mainland beaches, but considering you need a boat to get here (20 minutes from Ao Nang or 45 minutes from Krabi Town), it feels like you’re on an island, with no cars or motorbikes, just reggae music diffusing into the air…
These idyllic beaches are by no means off the path but are certainly a must while you’re in the area. Whether you’re here to man the rock climbing scene or just need to sun those buns, your location couldn’t get any more beautiful. You’ll find the accommodation is less appealing and more expensive in Railay if you’re on a backpacker budget. Here are two options that won’t break the bank…
1. Diamond Cave Resort & Spa – I stayed here last time I was in Railay and it was fine, with a nice swimming pool and good location on East Railay Beach. Twin rooms from $15 US per night.
Island Tours around Krabi
There are many different options for island tours. You can book them essentially anywhere around Krabi. The Hong Island Tour, 4 Island Tour, and really any excursion out on a long-tail boat will bring you to beautiful islands to either chill or snorkel at. The karst islands make for a dramatic scene as you plunge into the refreshing water.
Pro tip: For a snorkel trip, get a group of friends together and ask one of the long-tail boat dudes to take you all out for an island tour. It won’t be much more or less than booking a tour depending on the number of people in your group, and you’ll have way more freedom and flexibility.
11 things not to miss in Krabi Province
- Phanom Bencha National Park – Hiking and waterfalls.
- Tup Kaek – Climb this mountain for unprecedented views of Krabi.
- Tiger Cave Temple – A temple on top of a mountain. You can catch some amazing views from up here but you’ll work for it, there are over 1,000 steps up. No tigers.
- Ao Thalane – This is a great spot for kayaking. Get a guide to go through the mangroves, or just kayak out to sea and around the rocky mountains to find a secret beach.
- Ao Luk – Check out some waterfalls and caves.
- Diving – Book a dive almost anywhere and say hello to the fish.
- Hot springs – They are hot, so don’t go at the hottest point of the day.
- Emerald pool – Can be better enjoyed when not on a tour.
- Rock climbing – Literally some of the most epic rock climbing in the world. Tonsai and Railay are where it’s at.
- Lanta Noi – Explore this little-visited island that has barely any tourism compared to its sister island Koh Lanta.
- Island Hopping – Snorkel, kayak, swim and paddleborad around these stunning islands.
Getting to Krabi
- Bus from Bangkok: From Bangkok’s southern bus terminal, Morchit, take the bus to Krabi Town. After arriving at the bus station just outside of Krabi town, take the songthaew (white truck taxi), to town.
- Flight from Bangkok: Krabi has an airport, with some international flights available. After landing, you can take the bus to town. If you’re moving right along to Ao Nang, the buses and songthaews will take you there after riding through Krabi Town.
Where to go next?
Go north to the Phang Nga province, or check out the last of the karst mountains as you move south towards Trang. Getting to Malaysia in the south is easy from Krabi Town, and you can also take a bus and ferry combo to the islands on the east.
The Krabi Province and all of its attractions is a happening spot for any backpacker meandering around the south of Thailand. Although it is well developed, wandering around the gorgeous coastlines by motorbike or hiring your own long-tail boat will bring you to more secluded spots in the area. It’s definitely a must-stop on the backpacker trail for Thailand!