If you like the idea of a beach holiday in Thailand and prefer smaller beach town vibes rather than bar-filled beach strips then you’ve gotta check out Krabi as opposed to Phuket. You can’t go wrong with a weekend recharge in Krabi. In my opinion, Krabi is one of the best beach places in all of South East Asia.
Krabi always delivers the relaxed weekend recharge you need!
This was our third trip to Ao Nang area in Thailand. This time, we chose the Centara Grand Resort and Villas at Ao Nang as our base. Ao Nang is a beach area which is an easy 40 minutes from Krabi airport. We flew out of Singapore on a Friday. The hour-fifteen-minute flight was over before we knew it.
Once we arrived at the airport we used Grab app to call a driver. Grab works well in Thailand. For future reference though, save yourself about 50 Thai baht (USD$1.50) and get going faster by using one of the private car hire desks right there at the exit.
We drove to Noppharat Thara pier where the Centara speed boat leaves every hour on the half hour; it’s first boat leaves the pier at 7.30am daily. The boat transfer takes about 15 mins. Centara is accessed by boat, or foot. There are no roads to the resort.
Pulling up at the floating pontoon of Centara really enhanced the feeling of getting away from it all.
The resort is stunning. We loved our room but changed asap and headed to the beach loungers. We then spent the rest of the afternoon swimming, reading, watching long tail boats, snacking and snoozing under our sun umbrella. (Technically, the wettest months for Krabi are Sept-Oct while the monsoon season for Krabi runs from November to March. However, we had light rain twice only.)
For dinner that night we headed into the Krabi Weekend Night Market (every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night).
This meant a boat trip back to the pier where we called a Grab driver without any worries.
The Krabi Weekend Night Market is crowded, brightly lit and an educational tour of local Thai cuisine. Having lived in Asia for seven years already, I thought I knew what to expect, but some dishes and vendors still packed a surprise!
If you’re not an adventurous foodie there is plenty of chicken, fried rice and other dishes you will recognise. My husband however, was in heaven trying new street food delicacies he’d never seen before. Certainly something for everyone.
There are lots of regular market stalls too – local crafts, jewellery, cheap shoes, clothes, etc.
After the market we picked a random place that looked half decent for a massage. It had a TripAdvisor certificate on the door and was up two flights of stairs (called Savanna). We weren’t up to the vigor of a Thai massage so both chose a regular massage instead. Unfortunately, we were underwhelmed by the massage. But, we’re the first to admit, we are pretty spoiled when it comes to massages.
I’m sure the resort breakfast is fabulous, but apart from an evening meal, and a lunch/cooking class, we didn’t eat at the resort.
We took advantage of the fact that it is easy to leave the seclusion of Centara in its beautiful National Park setting and eat ‘off-base.’
We walked the Monkey Trail over the headland to Ao Nang township. Narrow and steep in places with crooked steps the Monkey Trail is a good leg workout. Not for the faint-hearted, but completely doable in 10-20 minutes depending on your fitness.
We walked until we hit The Coffee Club (a further 10-15 mins). Fantastic western breakfasts and iced chocolates.
Then back to the resort via the Monkey Trail for some more paddleboarding, swimming and reading. Remember, this trip is all about the recharge!
At low tide we walked around the headland (in the water, rather than up over the Monkey Trail) for lunch at The Last Fisherman Bar on Ao Nang beach. Delicious food, great ocean views and superb smoothies and juices.
After an afternoon swim we treated ourselves to a massage at Centara spa.
We ate dinner at the Thai restaurant in the resort. I liked my meal (salmon dish) but hubby’s dish wasn’t as hot and spicy as he expected.
Centara offers an hour free paddle boarding and kayaking everyday. We had calm, full tides every morning, so this was our first activity after breakfast. We enjoyed our pre-purchased fruit and yoghurt on our gorgeous room balcony.
Then, another massage at the spa (yes, they’re that good!) before we headed to the Thai restaurant for our Thai cooking class.
This was fun and extremely delicious – though not particularly hands-on. It was us and one other couple. Each couple had their own cooking station. Everything was already pre-chopped or pre-cooked as needed. We just threw things in pots, added spices to our individual tastes and stirred. It took two hours to leisurely cook, and eat our way through four courses. While we would have preferred to get our hands dirty and chop things ourselves, this experience gives a really good insight into the major ingredients and secrets of Thai cuisine. (psst, the answer is sugar!)
Still full from lunch we had a relaxed dinner at The Last Fisherman Bar.
There is something about eating outside, under trees on the edge of the beach, while watching the sun go down that is truly magical.
We headed over early to Ao Nang to rent a motorbike each. Our plan: to ride to the Emerald Lake and the Hot Spring Waterfall, about 70 km one way.
We rented bikes from a corner rental beside the entrance to the Ao Nang Villa Resort. It cost us 400bht for the day. They didn’t check our licences but held one passport as security deposit. There are cheaper rentals around but we liked the look of the quality of bikes here. We’re both motorbike riders; the scooters were small but zippy.
As we rode through Krabi town, all scooters/motorbikes were pulled over for a licence check. We showed our Singapore Drivers Licences and carried on.
The Emerald Pool (Sa Morakot) is a freshwater mineral pool and popular swimming spot in a forest (national park actually) with a wooden walking track.
There is an entrance fee to the park (200bht). You cannot take food in – they will check your bags for food. It’s about 2 km – 15 min – walk to the pool. Take the wooden pathway to walk there, it’s beautiful. There are changing rooms and a restaurant about 50 m from the pools.
The water was lovely and clear, and not cold like I expected. It was busy (tourists and locals), but I’m still glad we went. My advice: get there as early as possible, the park opens at 8am.
It is a beautiful natural setting.
Hot Spring Waterfall
About 7 km from Emerald Pool is Namtok Ron Khlong Thom, a naturally hot spring waterfall. Again, you have to pay an entrance fee (360bht per person).
These are small waterfall pools, and were very crowded by the time we got there (around lunchtime). But I wanted in! After all the Monkey Trail walks, I knew I’d enjoy it. And I was not wrong. The water was about 38 degrees C, I guess. I sat there for 10 mins enjoying the clear water and in that time, the crowds dissipated. The turnover of people is pretty high. Probably because you can’t sit in them for too long.
We grabbed a cool drink from the stalls by the carpark before heading back to Ao Nang on our motorbikes. We used just over half a tank of gas on our epic mo-ped adventure.
Night Markets in Ao Nang
More swimming and chillaxing at the resort, before catching the Centara speedboat and heading to the Ao Nang Night market for dinner.
This is a small laid back night market with food vendors. But, the Ao Nang Night Market is not the only market in Ao Nang. After dinner we found a bigger night market at the Ao Nang Landmark on Noppharat Thara Beach Road. I’d recommend going there for more variety and a livelier atmosphere.
Just enough time for one last paddleboard before showering, packing up and making our way to the airport for the flight home. We agreed that the trip was a success – that we got the weekend recharge in Krabi we hoped for. We came home refreshed, having had more relaxation vs exploration on this trip.
Trip taken November 2018