Ao Nang

Longtail boats on Ao Nang Beach

Ao Nang (อ่าวนาง), colloquially referred to as "Krabi", is a sub-district and a resort town of the Mueang Krabi District, in Thailand's Krabi Province. In high-season, it is the busiest and most tourist-oriented beach destination of the province and consequently one of the most expensive places in Thailand outside of Bangkok. Phuket is cheap by comparison. In low-season prices revert to normal and the town is relatively deserted. Ao Nang is about 14 km from Krabi Town.

Understand

Formally Ao Phra Nang ("Princess Bay") although everybody uses the short form, Ao Nang. It is the most "Westernized" beach in Krabi, originally a backpacker hotspot but now upmarket as the airport brings in higher flyers. While not quite as scenic as Rai Leh, there is some cheap accommodation, many good restaurants, easy transport and travel/tour agencies ready to cater to your every whim, making it a good base for exploring Krabi.

Orienting yourself in Ao Nang is easy: almost everything is either along the beach, which runs west-east, or along Airport Road (Hwy 4203) which goes up north from the east end of the beach. Longtail boats arrive on the beach near the junction of the two roads. These longtails, though, account for a problem: the level of noise pollution created by an endless chain of unmuffled boat motors during high season is substantial. As long as visitors are ever increasing this problem will continue to worsen and detract from the beauty of this beach. Another problem getting more acute with the rising number of tourists in high season is the volume of raw sewage carried directly into the sea where Ao Nang Beach and Nopparat Thara Beach meet.

One of Ao Nang's drawbacks is that Ao Nang Beach and Nopparat Thara Beach are crummy beaches, certainly not beaches worth flying thousands of miles to visit. The Rai Leh Peninsula has superior—but crowded—beaches, but to get there you are dependent on the local longtail boat cartel which will charge you 100 baht to get there.

Get in

By plane

Krabi International Airport is about 40 minutes away by car. The local airport limo monopoly charges a fairly steep 600+ baht for a transfer (up to 4 people). Many hotels will arrange a pickup at similar prices on request. Travel time is about half an hour.

Local shuttle buses really just converted pickup trucks (songthaew) run from Ao Nang to Krabi (40 baht) and from Krabi to the airport (50 baht). The trip between Ao Nang and the airport takes little less than 2 hours. To get to Ao Nang from Krabi town you should look for a white songthaew outside the 7-11.

There is a big bus service from the airport to Ao Nang beach and Nopparat Thara Beach (just after Ao Nang). There are about 4 services a day. It travels from the airport to Krabi Town, the ferry terminal, then onwards to Ao Nang and Nopparat Thara. Good for some sight-seeing. Rates are 150 baht per person and travel time to Ao Nang is 1 hour.

The buses are not new and are quite noisy. But, the best part is, the bus can drop you off at the doorstep of most hotels in Krabi Town, Ao Nang and Nopparat Thara. Just let the driver know the name of your hotel in advance. Language is not an issue, as most of them speak some English.

For the return trip, you can call the hotline 1 day before to arrange pick-up at your hotel. Or you can wait at any of the 4 bus stops in Ao Nang (one is in front of McDonald's) and Nopparat Thara. You need to be there at least 10 minutes before the bus is due to arrive. You can buy ticket on the bus or in any of the tourist information points.

By bus

The nearest inter-provincial bus station is in Krabi town.

Krabi is served by regularly scheduled buses from all over the kingdom. Buses from Bangkok travel to Krabi down Hwy 4, the major north-south route from Malaysia to Bangkok, stopping along the way at towns like Chumphon and Hua Hin. At any of these stops you can go onward to Krabi. From Hua Hin to Krabi, for example, a BKS (government) bus departs from the station south of town centre at 22:00 (there are certainly more buses during the day). A VIP seat costs 855 baht (Jan 2016). It arrives in Krabi at about 06:30. Important: to get the best price you must go to the bus station to buy your ticket. You will be offered a choice of seats when booking. If booking a VIP seat, DO NOT choose a seat immediately behind either of the two stairwells on the double-decker bus. If you do, you will have no legroom whatsoever and would be better off going first-class at a cheaper price. If travelling during the day, give some thought to the location of the sun morning and afternoon. If going north after noon, sit on the right side of the bus; if south, sit on the left side.

To travel to Ao Nang from the Krabi bus station (or anywhere along the route they travel), look for a white, well-marked ("Krabi-Ao Nang") songthaew. From the bus station to Ao Nang, it will cost 60 baht on arrival at your desired stop.

By boat

Rai Leh West and Ton Sai are only 10 minutes away while the less developed Had Yao (Long Beach) is 25 minutes away by longtail boat. Boats leave constantly from the east end of the beach and charge a flat 80 baht/person during the day, 100 baht/person at night (after 18:00). There is no pier so expect to get at least your feet wet, probably more. A longtail boat from Ao Nang is available all seasons, but subject to the weather. In the monsoon season (May–October), getting to Rai Leh from Ao Nammao is recommended.

There are also public ferry services to Ko Phi Phi and Ko Lanta (usually twice daily), for which any travel agent will be happy to sell you tickets at around 200 baht/person. During the monsoon season, the ferry runs once day.

Boats from Ko Lanta now arrive at the new jetty, from there take a taxi (350 baht), or local bus to Krabi (50 baht) and then on to Ao Nang (40 baht).

By songthaew

There is a songthaew (shared pick-up truck/taxi) service to Ao Nang from Krabi town, which runs throughout daylight hours in low season and up to 22:00 in high season. The fare is 50 baht and they can be expected every 15–20 minutes. Songthaews are colour coded according to destination so make sure if you are coming to Ao Nang from Krabi you get on a white one. To find one of these white ones in Krabi, go to the Vogue Shopping Centre on Maharaj Rd (the main road).

Get around

Tuk-tuks in Ao Nang charge a flat 20 baht/person for trips around town. Songthaews also run all across Ao Nang to Shell Beach and some all the way to Krabi Town, fares from 10 baht up depending on distance.

If you are going to or from the bus station in Krabi, a songthaew costs 60 baht. The Krabi-Ao Nang songthaews are white, with destinations clearly indicated in English. If you don't see one at the side of the bus station, wait a while and one will come by. In Ao Nang along the beach road, catch a songthaew to the bus station by standing on the beach side, not the inland side, of the road. This is counter-intuitive as Krabi is in the opposite direction.

Renting a motorbike is a great way to explore some of the sites outside of Ao Nang. There are shops up and down the major strips and you can get a reliable bike for 24 hours for 150-200 baht.

See

Fossilized seashell concrete?

Do

Rai Leh and Ko Phi Phi are just around the corner and there are many tour operators offering activities such as sea kayaking and elephant treks. Rock climbing can be arranged through Ao Nang agencies who will arrange transfers, lunch, and as much climbing as your limbs can handle. Alternatively, simply wander over to Rai Leh or Ton Sai and organize an introductory course yourself.

Camping

Climbing

Cooking

Hiking

Scuba diving

Most of the dive shops offer a very similar price for the dive courses and dive trips. However, take a good look around as there some good seasonal bargains to be found. Sites visited daily include the local islands in Ao Nang, Phi Phi Marine National Park, the King Cruiser wreck site and Shark Point Marine Sanctuary. It's now also possible to do a one day safari by speedboat to Hin Daeng and Hin Muang for a chance to see whale sharks and manta rays, or to do some spectacular cavern diving at the five islands of Ko Ha Yai. Some of the more popular dive sites can become crowded in the peak of high season late-December to early-January

Yacht charter

Buy

The beach front shopping district

Banking

Shopping

Ao Nang has no shopping malls, but there are plenty of convenience stores and souvenir shops. The vast majority of shops are lined nicely along Ao Nang Rd (beachfront). There are also a few side roads (sois) that branch off into the cluster of crowded shops found elsewhere in Asia. The regular tourist tchotchkes (e.g., postcards, magnets, trinkets) are plentiful as are clothes, shoes, and pretty much anything else you'll find elsewhere in Thailand.

Consider a three-piece bespoke suit which costs 4,500-6,000 baht depending on the quality of the wool. Tailor-made shirts are 850-1,000 baht. Most of the tailors can get the suit done within a day.

Three curious things about Ao Nang shopping: 1. there is only one "water machine" (in Ban Chong Phli) that are so common elsewhere in Thailand. These are the refrigerator-sized vending machines where one can fill up a 6 L (or less or more) bottle with purified water for about one baht per litre. A big down-side for the environment as more plastic bottles are the result. One suspects a water mafia that makes money delivering water is behind this. 2. Ao Nang has a dearth of gasoline stations. There are only three, all off-brand and inconspicuous, selling gasohol. Instead you will see free-standing gas pumps on every road outside of central Ao Nang. These self-service machines sell petrol for 39-42 baht per litre (Jan 2016). The nearest chain gas station on the way to Krabi (PPT) sells it for 23 baht per liter and an attendant pumps it for you. Someone is making a killing. 3. Most places in Thailand that host many Western tourists have markets such as Rimping (Chiang Mai), or Tops (throughout Thailand), or even a backwater like Khao Lak, where one can buy Western breads, cheeses, salad dressings, sausages or steaks. Not so in Ao Nang. You can't even buy a hunk of Cheddar cheese or a can of pork and beans of Campbell's tomato soup in the Ao Nang Tesco.

Eat

Ao Nang restaurants are, in general, outrageously expensive. You will pay double or triple the price in Krabi town to eat here—main courses are about 150 baht—and seafood very much more (starts at 250 baht). If you are after cheap food, look for the street stalls or restaurants at either end of Ao Nang.

Budget

For cheap food, there are a few street carts scattered about, although most serve backpacker fare such as banana pancakes at 15 baht each. A lady serving fried chicken lady in front of the Tipa Resort also does good som tam (papaya salad) at 40 baht. Also look out for the yellow-signed noodle stalls with a "4" in a bowl as their logo, which serves a garlic-flavoured and tasty bamii muu daeng (roast pork noodles) for 25 baht.

The pad Thai served in a stall named "Kai Tieun Restaurant" is good and cheap. The noodle itself is not spicy although spice-rich condiments are available.

The stall in front of Adidas Store serves rice-type lunches at 20-30 baht a box. The "Kao Nam" (similar to nasi briyani in Malaysia) is superb. Be careful with the "keng moo" (minced spicy pork with rice) as it is very spicy.

Generally the places along the beach are more expensive and the ones up the hill tend to be cheaper and better value. Even up past McDonald's on the right, some offer squid and fish at amazingly low prices.

Mid-range

Splurge

Drink

Bars close in Ao Nang at 02:00, possibly a bit later if it's doing bang-up business. In which case the music and lights will be turned down, and the shutters lowered.

Sleep

Ao Nang is one of the more expensive places to stay in Thailand. Accommodation that costs 600 baht in low-season will jump by as much as one thousand baht in high-season.

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget less than 500 baht
Mid-range 500-1,500 baht
Splurge over 1,500 baht

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Cope

Immigration

Medical

Tourist assistance

Pharmacies

Connect

Go next

Phra Nang Beach at Rai Leh
This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, March 30, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.