Krabi spreads along the Andaman Coast of southern Thailand, running from the Ao Phang Nga National Park in the north to the lovely isle of Koh Lanta in the south. As it goes, it unfolds in a patchwork of white-sand beaches and dramatic inlets topped by rock stacks, untouched coastal mangroves and jungles filled with cheeky macaques. It’s very much the Thailand of the travel brochures!
At its heart is the town of Krabi itself. That’s a bustling port with bobbing fishing vessels and an endless stream of ferries heading to and from the islands. It’s got soy-sizzling night markets, backpacker hostels, and tuk-tuk taxis aplenty. There’s also a dedicated airport, making Krabi a cinch to reach from all across Thailand and beyond.
But is Krabi worth visiting? This guide has the answer. Here, we’ll run through nine of the top reasons why this corner of Thailand could be the holiday destination you’re looking for. From the glorious sands to the epic rock climbing, the lux hotels to the potential island-hopping adventures that await, it’s got all sorts going for it…
Krabi is actually at the heart of one of the most beach-heavy parts of Thailand. You’re never more than a short drive or longboat trip from a stretch of sand that is guaranteed to have you sighing in disbelief. We’re talking proper travel ad fodder – gleaming dashes of cotton-hued powder, lapping waves of azure blue, and rugged limestone cliffs topped by tufts of jungles.
The closest beach to the town itself is famous Ao Nang. It’s now a built-up resort but is a doozy for families who want hotels overlooking the coast and a shallow swimming spot that’s great for the little ones. For something more remote, you can hop in a boat and scour the coast south of that to the Railay Beach headland. It’s a climber’s haven, with soaring cliffs that lurch above a pristine run of daffodil sand that’s home to cool bungalow resorts.
Krabi is also considered the gateway to the isles of the Andaman Coast. We’ll talk more about the individual islands you can reach a little later but suffice to say the whole region is riddled with beaches that will blow your mind – from the legendary coves of the Phi Phis to the long runs that dash through Koh Pu and Koh Lanta.
The jungles (and the hiking!)
It’s not all white-sand beaches and teal-tinged Andaman waters in Krabi, you know. The town is hemmed in by some seriously wild swathes of central Thai jungle, too. Much of it is even encompassed by national parks, like the lush lands of Than Bok Khorani to the north or the island reserves of the Phi Phi across the strait.
That means that hiking is never too far away. Some of the trails are super-close to Krabi town. Take the route that connects from the port in East Railay up to the backpacker hub of Tonsai. There are actually two paths for that – one a tidal-dependant coast route between huge limestone stacks, the other a romp through thick bamboo thickets inhabited with jungles.
You can also get on the so-called Monkey Trail in Ao Nang, a path up ramshackle stairs to lookout points over the jungles and the hills south of the resort. Then there are the veritable expeditions that take place in the Than Bok Khorani National Park. They include hikes over wetland trails to long-lost coast lagoons and emerald-glimmering waterfalls.
The cliffs (and the climbing!)
The rugged limestone cliffs of Krabi are actually one of its most popular attractions, drawing thousands of rock-climbing enthusiasts every year. Yep, not only do they serve as a formidable backdrop for any vacation snaps you want to take, but they’re also a major pull card for adventure-seeking folks with the harness and the ropes in tow.
Ever since tourists started trying to climb the cliffs of Krabi way back in the 1980s, over 1,000 different climbing routes have been laid out in the cliffs. The most famous are certainly spread between the twin towns of Railay and Tonsai. They include the Tyrolean Wall and Tantrum, a 8a+ rated climb that takes you above the backpacker food shacks to a soaring lookout on high.
But that famous climbing town isn’t the end of it. You can plan expeditions to scale oodles of different parts of the region’s coastline and inland, including the peaks of Happy Island and the walls of Sprit Mountain to the north, and the boulders of Khao Khuen Kan. Just always be sure to check the level of each climb before you begin and test loaned equipment thoroughly.
Is Krabi worth visiting for the beaches alone? 100% This has to be one of the most gifted regions for sand lovers in the whole of the Land of Smiles!
Krabi might be a ferry hub first and foremost, but it’s also something of a surprising shopping mecca. First on the list for retail buffs has to be the enthralling Krabi Town Night Market. On the weekends, this sprawling bazaar pops up on the Krabi Walking Street in a hodgepodge of clothes touts, electronic gizmo stalls, and live music. Oh, and it’s a foodie’s mecca, what with open-air noodle kitchens meeting BBQ fish stalls aplenty.
From Krabi, you should also find it easy to get across to Ao Nang for the evening bazaar that goes on pretty much every night there. The tuk-tuk from town to resort is about 30 minutes but it opens up several streets of fun and playful shopping – think knock-off soccer strips, tie-dye tees, and scented spice and tea shops.
There are other, smaller markets to be found along the sides of the Chao Fah Park Pier (mainly street food) and deeper in the town centre at the Maharat Fresh Market (mainly for fresh fruit, veg and seafood, but also street food).
The scuba diving
When the Andaman Sea clears and calms in the high-season months between November and May, Krabi – just like Phuket and the gulf islands before it – transforms into a bit of a mecca for divers. The great thing about the town is that it offers easy boat access to umpteen world-class dive sites, including wade-in diving and snorkeling over in the town of Ao Nang.
Talking of Ao Nang, that’s usually better for complete beginners looking for their first taste of the underwater world. The resort is fronted by a couple of rocks that make for great practicing. From there, you can venture on to Ko Kai (Chicken Island) and Ko Poda. They have some simply sites with coral reefs and pipefish.
Koh Lanta’s southern shore is great for getting to the stunning cluster of rocks that is Koh Haa. There’s a 20-meter drop off there into deeper ocean that’s been known to attract even whale sharks. Then you have the Phi Phis, which are fringed with protected coral reefs and offer fine opportunities to see turtles, parrotfish, sea snakes – the list goes on and on.
Being such a hotspot for tourism means that Krabi has hotel options to suit all sorts of travelers and all sorts of budget. Krabi makes a fantastic location for a honeymoon or luxury holiday, because there might just be more five-star hotels with pools and private beach access here than anywhere else in the country. Particular standouts for quality hotels are on the idyllic isle of Ko Yao Yai close to Phuket and on Koh Jum, one of the quieter and lesser-known isle of the Krabi region that’s great for escaping the crowds.
However, it’s not all gastronomy and luxury villas. This part of Thailand is popular with wild-at-heart young and solo travelers, too. That means there’s plenty budget accommodation to go around. When it comes to hostels, check out the backpacker hub of Klong Khong on Koh Lanta, or the main town area of Koh Phi Phi, or even Krabi town itself, which has arguably the most bargain stays of all.
Here are some of our absolute favorite hotels in the Krabi region.
- Green Pepper ($$) – A charming B&B with uber-friendly hosts, located up in the hills behind the shoreline of Koh Lanta.
- Phi Phi The Beach Resort- SHA Certified ($$$) – This chic bungalow resort cascades down the hillsides to of Phi Phi island, offering incredible views over the south side of the island.
- Green House Hotel ($$) – A clean, family-friendly option in Krabi Town. Great for a stay just before catching a boat to the islands.
- Sand Sea Resort – SHA Plus ($$) – Railay’s iconic beachfront offers this large resort hotel that’s great for families and couples alike.
Krabi Town is one of the main ferry hubs for what’s arguably the most famous cut-out of the Andaman region. Boats from here head west to Koh Phi Phi and south to Koh Lanta, spanning the whole of Phang Nga Bay and the isles around Koh Yao Yi, even connecting all the way out to Phuket on the far side. The upshot? It’s a major hub for island hopping tours.
Some island-hopping tours only take a day, sailing you around to a number of the smaller islands in Krabi where you can spend a few hours at each, soak up the sun, dip your toes in the ocean, and maybe sample some of the delicious local cuisine. You can usually book those direct from your hotel or online before you go.
However, we think the region deserves a bit more time and attention than that! There are alluring islets that you can spend weeks on end exploring before hopping on to the next. Here’s a look at just a few that could be unforgettable additions to your Krabi island hops:
- Koh Jum – The quiet island on the eastern Andaman, Koh Jum is relaxed and dotted with only a few small resorts. It’s a top place to chill and unwind.
- Koh Lanta – This island has EVERYTHING. It’s rising to become one of the most popular around, what with Long Beach for families and Kantiang for honeymooners.
- Phi Phi Don – The main isle of the Phi Phi group and the only one you can stay on, offering the main beach of Ton Sai and quieter sands like Phak Nam Bay.
- Koh Khai Islands – This group of mini islets has talcum beaches and beach bars just 15 minutes’ boat from Krabi harbor. It’s a day trip stop but also a pitstop on the way to Phi Phi if you have your own boat.
So, is Krabi worth visiting for the island hopping? Most certainly. This region is primed for travelers who want to hop from place to place. The ferry connections are efficient, fast, and cheap, and there are more amazing destinations on the menu than you can shake your tom yum soup at!
Is Krabi worth visiting for nightlife? Well…Krabi province is one of the most hedonistic corners of Thailand. You’ll never be more than a couple of hours’ ferry away from a party in these parts. The isle of Phi Phi Don is probably the best known option if you’re looking to let loose. The after-dark action there is centered on Tonsai Village, where the beaches host fire-show clubs and bucket bars that close around 3-4 am most nights.
Koh Lanta is also worth a mention. The island has something for everyone, including partiers. Cue the backpacker haven of Klong Khong. It’s not the nicest beach going on the east coast there, but it’s riddled with reggae bars and bamboo bars that can go all night long.
Back in Krabi town and the Walking Street offers plenty in the way of post-sunset fun. There’s Factory Beer Garden for craft Thai brews. There’s hippy Tantawan Bar&Café for sports and chilled bottle beers. There’s Bamboo Bar for your fix of Bob Marley and the Wailers.
Food is always a big thing when you’re en route to Thailand. Quite rightly, too. The Land of Smiles is a haven for street cooking like nowhere else on the planet. The markets here churn out peanut-toped pad Thais, sticky mango rice, masaman curries, and zingy tom yum soups.
The southern region of Krabi is very heavily influenced by the tropical climate and the ubiquitous presence of the sea. That means you should prep for menus that have an overload of coconut sauces and chili, but also shrimp, red snapper, and other types of seafood. The shrimp tom yum and the khao phat fried rice with fish are two standouts on that front.
But it’s not just about the Thai food in these parts. Because this part of the country is so used to hosting international visitors, there’s plenty to be said for the international showing. Areas like Ao Nang and Koh Phi Phi come with roastery cafes with artisan morning brews, German bakeries, Swedish meatball joints – you name it!
Is Krabi worth visiting?
Is Krabi worth visiting? Yes! Krabi is up there with the most-visited corners of Thailand for a reason. The town is smack dab in the midst of some of the most famous Andaman Islands there are, including Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta. That means a quick ferry ride can whisk you out to idyllic beaches of white sand, coral gardens for diving, and lux honeymoon hotels. Krabi Town itself also thrums with life, offering night bazaars and food courts. And the region is replete with climbing routes, hiking paths, and wild national reserves. What are you waiting for? Get booking!
Why is Krabi famous?
The region of Krabi is mainly famous for its striking beaches. They are quintessential Andaman stuff – think soaring cliffs above shimmering golden sand fringed by palm trees. Krabi is also known as the ferry gateway to some of the top islands in the Land of Smiles, including Koh Lanta and the Phi Phis.
How many days do you need in Krabi?
That all really depends on what you want to do. You could spend weeks and weeks on an island-hopping trip through the region. However, about a week is enough to experience the buzz of Krabi town and then hit the famous sites of the Phi Phi islands.
Is three days enough in Krabi?
If all you want to explore is Krabi town, then three days is ample. However, remember that the real reason this part of the Land of Smiles is so famous is because of the gorgeous shoreline and islands that exist nearby, from chilled Koh Jum to dramatic Phi Phi. They could keep you busy for weeks on end.
Is Krabi worth visiting with families?
Krabi is a great place to visit with families. We’d recommend steering clear of the main town of Krabi itself (that’s a bit backpackery) and dodging the resort of Ao Nang (that’s a bit lively). Nearby islands like Koh Jum and Koh Lanta are fantastic options, though.
Is Krabi worth visiting for a honeymoon?
Yep! Krabi is just about perfect honeymoon territory. You can make of it what you will – accessible lux hotels are within 40 minutes’ transfer of the airport in Ao Nang, or travel further afield to find remote stays on deserted beaches in Phang Nga Bay and beyond.