For breathtaking views, blue-green seas, white sand and G rated massages, be happy and head to Krabi. The province of Krabi is located along the Andaman Sea in southern Thailand. This area is famous for its stunning landscapes with limestone peaks jutting from both the land and sea. The beach town of Ao Nang is a good place to stay while exploring this area. From Ao Nang, visitors can take a long tail boat to visit Railay Beach, Phra Nang Beach, Phra Nang Cave, and several small picturesque islands on the Andaman Sea. The famous Phi Phi islands (where the movie “The Beach” was filmed) and Maya Bay can also be visited as a day trip from Ao Nang. This area is also famous amongst rock climbers who come from around the world to climb at both Railay Beach and Ton Sai Beach. To the north of Krabi lies Phang Nga Bay (known for its James Bond filming location) and to the west is Phuket. The beach landscapes in Krabi, with stunning limestone mountains in the backdrop, make this scenic area of Thailand unforgettable.
Where to stay in krabi, Thailand:
Ao nang has plenty of hotel and restaurant options which are all walking distance to Ao Nang beach (where you can get a long tail boat). Ao Nang pier (where the ferry to Phi Phi leaves from) is a short tuk tuk ride from the main strip of hotels in Ao Nang. There are limited hotel options on Railay Beach and Phra Nang Beach, but remember that these beaches are only accessible by boat, which will limit your options for finding food at night, but gives you first access to the beach in the morning.
How to get to Krabi, thailand:
Krabi has a airport (airport code: KBV) that is located 30 minutes from the beach town of Ao Nang. From Phuket airport (code HKT), Ao Nang is a 2 hour drive. From the airport, take a taxi or pre-arranged transport to your Ao Nang hotel.
HOw to get to the phi phi islands and other islands:
Travelers should consider staying in the town of Ao Nang as it has many hotel options, food options, and is a good base for further travel. This small Krabi beach town has a pier where speedboats can be rented, and it is from the Ao Nang pier that the ferry leaves for the Phi Phi Islands. At Ao Nang beach, a long tail boat can be arranged to visit Railay Beach, Phra Nang Beach, and Phra Nang Cave. The easiest way to get to Phi Phi Islands is by speedboat. The cheapest way to get to the Phi Phi Islands is by the ferry. If traveling by ferry, plan to stay overnight at Phi Phi. This way you will have ample time to rent a long tail boat to visit the islands and it’s many beautiful locations, including Maya Bay and Phi Ley Bay. Aside from visiting the Phi Phi Islands (about 90 minutes by ferry from Ao Nang Pier and 1 hour by speedboat), there are several other islands closer to Krabi that can be explored. Koh Hong, Chicken Island, Koh Poda, Koh La Ding, and Koh Phak Bia (just to name a few) are stunning islands that are far less crowded than the Phi Phi Islands (Koh = Island). They are also closer to Ao Nang (20 minutes by speedboat, or 40 minutes by long tail).
what to know before visiting thailand:
This part of Thailand is very hot. The high temperature is between 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit (25-30 degrees Celsius) year round. Wear a bathing suit and bring a change of clothes so you can easily get in and out of the water. Bring plenty of sunscreen and insect repellant while island hopping in Thailand. Re-apply often and generously. Bring plenty of cash to pay for tuk tuks, long tail boats, food, and park fees. Certain protected places (like Hong Island and Maya Bay) are national parks and have small fees that are collected on arrival. When spending time on these small islands, remember that if you didn’t bring it, it is unlikely to be there. So bring a towel, a sun umbrella, and snacks. Maya Bay has a small and limited snack bar, but Hong Island does not. Get up early to make the most of your day as the sun will set around 6 pm.
How to get to krabi:
While Thailand’s beaches are all very beautiful, there is nothing quite like the landscapes and backdrops in and around Krabi. Cheap flights to Bangkok can be found through local Asian carriers, and then you can fly to Krabi (airport code: KBV) from Bangkok (airport codes: BKK and DMK). If you are flying into Phuket (airport code: HKT) or staying in Phuket, Ao Nang is a 2 to 3 hour drive depending on traffic. It is best to arrange a driver ahead of time if you are planning to drive between Phuket and Krabi. To get to the Phi Phi Islands, you can take a ferry from the Ao Nang Pier or a speedboat. Speedboats are the fastest and most convenient way to get to Phi Phi and allow you the most freedom to explore the hidden parts of these islands. If taking the ferry, plan to spend at least one night in the Phi Phi Islands as the journey is longer. Some travelers may choose to travel from Phuket to Krabi via the Phi Phi Islands, as a ferry runs between these destinations.
what not to miss in thailand:
When visiting this area of southern Thailand, be sure to see Railay Beach, Phra Nang Cave, Maya Bay, and one of the many beautiful isolated islands (Koh Hong, Koh Lao La Ding, Koh Poda to name a few) in the Andaman Sea. Rent a long tail or speedboat for the day from Krabi, and explore the tiny islands off the Krabi Coast. Phang Nga Bay is also famous for its gorgeous scenery and is about half way between Phuket and Krabi. Thrill seekers should book a rock climbing excursion ahead of time.
Snorkeling is also a nice way to pass the time in this unique part of the world. Finally, end a long day of swimming with an affordable (5 to 10 USD for 60 minutes) Thai massage (the G rated kind). No need to book this ahead of time as there are several places on each street. Party-goers can find nightlife in nearby Phuket. While Krabi and Ao Nang have less of a party scene, the landscapes of Krabi are unbeatable.
Set amidst mountains, Chiang Mai is a city in Northern Thailand that is well known for its rich history dating back to the 1200s. There are so many facets of Thai culture to experience here, and the magnificent temples in and around this city are amongst the most visited sites in Thailand.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep:
Built in 1383 as a Buddhist Monastery on the holy hill Doi Suthep, this temple is still a working monastery. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, often called Doi Suthep, is home to a replica of the famous Emerald Buddha of Bangkok as well as one of the world’s largest gongs. The large gong, along with many of the bells hanging around the temple, are constantly rung by devotees as a mark of worship and wishing. The impressive golden pagoda stands at the center of the temple and is surrounded by a variety of shrines. Travelers can ascend 300 steps on the Naga Serpent staircase up to the temple or use a paid service lift to access the temple complex. It also has a large terrace with an expansive view of the entire city of Chiang Mai and the surrounding mountain villages.
How to get to Doi suthep:
Located 15 km outside of Chiang Mai city limits, Doi Suthep can be accessed by tuk-tuks or songathaews for about 4 USD each way. One can also rent a scooter for about 6 USD (24 hour rental) and stop at viewpoints along the way to take in the stunning hillside landscape.
Wat Chedi Luang:
Originally planned for construction by a 14th century king in the honor of his deceased father, this temple took unusually long (up to the mid-15th century) to be completed. At the time of completion, it was the largest temple in all of Lanna or the Indianized State of Thailand. Chedi Luang was once one of original homes to the famous Emerald Buddha of Bangkok. Now, it houses a replica of it, made of black jade stone. The city pillar of Chiang Mai, named Sao Inthakin is located on the temple grounds. An elaborate 8 day Inthakin festival is held yearly in June to honor it.
How to get to Wat Chedi Luang:
This temple is located in the heart of the old walled Chiang Mai city. Once in Chiang Mai, travelers will be able to walk or take a short tuk tuk ride to the temple.
How to Get to Chiang Mai:
From New York, travelers will need to make a connection in Asia. Cheap flights to Chiang Mai can be found from several cities in Asia on local carriers. Direct flights to Chiang Mai can be found from the following cities: Bangkok, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.
What to wear to the temples:
It is mandatory to cover up appropriately before entering the temples. Make sure to cover your shoulders (at least short sleeves) and opt for long pants or a long skirt. Trousers, shirts and sarongs are usually offered for rent or purchase outside the temple if need be, but I wouldn’t suggest relying on them as they can be quite hideous (think pictures). You can also carry a thin scarf to cover up before entering.
Best time of the year to visit:
Fall and winter are the best times to visit South East Asia in general, as summers and monsoons can get pretty hot and unpleasant. That said, these temples are open all year around. They typically close at around 5pm every day and each may take at most an hour or so to explore. It is quite easy to visit both of these temples in half a day.
What not to miss while in Chiang Mai:
Chiang Mai Cabaret:
An entry fee of 250 THB (includes one drink) or around 7 USD gets you into this dark pub, located in the middle of the Anusarn Night Bazaar of Chiang Mai. As you walk in, find yourself a seat closer to the center of the brightly lit stage as you are about to witness one of the most colorful performances in all of Thailand. The lady boys walk onto the stage with exquisite costumes and start performing to upbeat radio hits. This is a very entertaining activity after an evening of shopping.
Sunday Night Market:
As the name suggests, if you find yourself in Chiang Mai on a Sunday evening, this market is a great showmanship of arts and crafts exclusive of the Northern Thai communities. It begins at the Tha Pae or the East gate and continues down to more than 1Km along the main streets which are converted into walking streets as they are closed for traffic during this weekly event. There is also a food market in the center of it all, where you can walk around sampling tasty Northern Thai street foods.
Tuang Thong Canyon:
More commonly known as the Grand Canyon of Chiang Mai, this dug out piece of earth is an old quarry that has now been filled with blue waters. It is a 40 minute drive outside of Chiang Mai on the way to the Hong Dong. Travelers can relax for an afternoon at the clifftop restaurant, go swimming or sunbathe on wooden rafts in the water. However, caution is advised if attempting to dive off of the cliffs, as the water depth varies at points.