Sweeping, white beaches. Lush, lively rainforests. Crystal clear waters, peppered with limestone cliffs and unspoiled islands just calling out to be explored… It’s little wonder that Krabi is one of the most popular regions of Thailand, loved by sun-seekers and wide-eyed backpackers alike. Though the pace of life here is considerably slower than the party towns of Phuket and Pattaya, the natural beauty of the area has inevitably proved popular with those looking to soak up a bit of the country’s more tranquil scenery.
Rock-climbing and island-hopping have proved popular activities over the years, but what about those looking for a more calming experience?
What you might not read in the guidebooks, is that Krabi is actually a treasure trove of quiet retreats, nature reserves and tucked-away gems; some more off the beaten track, but many closer to the main thoroughfare than you might think. I’ve put together some suggestions for peaceful escapes, where the crowds are thinner, the views more unrivalled, and the surroundings perfect for those moments where you might just need to stop and catch your breath.
Here’s my suggestions for the very best of Krabi’s quieter activities:
#1 Thung Teao Forest Natural Park
Just an hour outside the popular resort of Ao Nang, you’ll find the gorgeous Thung Teao Forest Natural Park, where an easy walking trail will take you through spectacular rainforest scenery, and will pass by Sa Morakot, the Emerald Pool. It’s hard to imagine a more serene setting for a dip!
#2 Krabi Mangrove Kayaking Trip
Learn more about the natural wonders of Krabi’s landscape with a kayaking trip through the region’s mangroves, which are rich with tropical fauna and native wildlife. There are several companies which offer kayaking trips from Krabi town. Klook come highly reviewed, with tours that will take you to the beautiful hidden Ao Thalane Bay, as well as through quiet canyons and groves with towering karst formations in the background. Lunch is included, and they can even arrange a pick-up from your hotel, to make the experience run as smoothly as you like.
#3 Railay Viewpoint West
Railay beach is often regarded as one of the most beautiful stretches of sand in Thailand, but inevitably, it does draw the crowds. If you fancy taking in the views without the background noise, head along to the far west side of the beach, where you’ll find a path leading up to the hilltop viewpoint. You can either opt to reach the summit Tom Cruise-style, by ascending a network of ropes, or if like me, you fancy a more risk-adverse option, take the path signposted for the ladder climb. Either way, I think you’ll find the view was worth the climb, particularly if you can manage to bag yourself a coveted spot in one of the caves overlooking the bay!
#4 Tiger Cave Temple (Wat Tham Sua)
There has been some debate over the years about how this temple gained its name. Legend has it that a real tiger once lived in the caves etched into the mountain, and that the locals began to honour their striped resident as a sacred being, before he disappeared as suddenly as he arrived. Others argue that the name comes from the shape of the limestone cave, which bares similarity to a tiger’s claw. Either way, you’ll not have to watch out for big cats in the region today, though you may have to keep an eye out for pesky monkeys! It’s a fair climb to the main temple (1237 steps, to be exact), where 250 monks still live to this day. It may leave you short on breath, but the building itself, as well as the grottoes you’ll pass and the views from the top, are absolutely breathtaking.
#5 Koh Lanta
The island of Koh Lanta is only 2 hours by boat from Ao Nang harbour, yet despite having some of the best beaches that Thailand has to offer, has never quite gained the same level of popularity as nearby backpacking haven Phi Phi. This is no bad thing! Koh Lanta has an incredibly laidback, hippyish vibe, and the shops and restaurants will promise a little more Thai authenticity than you might find on some of the more tourist-heavy islands. Can it be done in a day from the mainland? Technically, yes, but I’d give yourself at least one overnight stay on the island, if only so that you can take in the beautiful sunsets.
#6 Wat Kaew Korawaram
Wat Kaew is the largest Buddhist temple within the city of Krabi, and one of the most revered in Southern Thailand. It’s a beautiful place to whittle away a quiet afternoon, as you admire its sweeping staircase, stunningly white walls and ornate interior frescoes.
#7 Nam Tok Rawn – Hot Springs
Close to the Thung Teao Forest Natural Park, you’ll find the Nam Tok Rawn pools, which are a little like Mother Nature’s alternative to a day spa! Located in the heart of the jungle, these natural hot springs come from thermal springs, originating from deep underground volcanic chambers. Take a dip in one of the pools and let your muscles ease as the natural minerals do their job. Word of warning though; the secret is definitely out about this place, so try to visit early in the day if you can to enjoy the serenity while it lasts!
#8 Boossabakorn Spa
After a busy few days sightseeing, treat yourself to a pampering session at this world-renowned spa in Ao Nang. Whether you prefer to unwind with a gentle aromatherapy massage or put your pain-threshold to the test with a traditional Thai massage, the lovely staff at Boosabakorn will go out of their way to create a peaceful oasis. They’ll even arrange a transfer to your hotel!
#9 Take a cooking class
If like me, you find cooking a relaxing experience, then you might want to consider booking onto a traditional Thai cooking class, so you can learn more about Thailand’s culinary history, and also come away with some new skills (and a delicious meal!). The Smart Cook Thai cookery school in Krabi, and Krabi Ya’s near Ao Nang both come highly recommended.
#10 Meet the sealife at the Similan Islands
The Similan Islands are an archipelago, which take around 1 hour 20 minutes to to reach by speedboat by Krabi. They may be close in terms of nautical miles, but you will feel a million miles away from the hubbub of mainland Thailand, as you come into view of the wild, unspoiled beaches, colourful coral reefs and incredible rock formations. The Similans are known for their spectacular sea life, and are the perfect place to practice your snorkelling skills in safe, pristine waters. Because they are heavily protected, boat tours are only allowed to bring limited numbers of travellers to the islands, so you can be sure that you will get to enjoy the beauty of the waters without disturbing the natural habitats. Book ahead with Trip Store Krabi, who can help arrange transfers to and from your accommodation, and who will go out of their way to create an enjoyable, peaceful trip to beauty spots such as Christmas Point, Honeymoon Bay and the brilliantly named Donald Duck Bay! If you’re lucky, you might even get to swim with dolphins or sea turtles!