Hidden beauty spots of Krabi

By Steve Coles

Khlong Khong beach is usually pretty quiet

Khlong Khong beach is usually pretty quiet

Krabi Town is at the heart of Krabi Province. The province is rated as southern Thailand’s most picturesque and offers a stunning coastline facing out on to the Andaman Sea and landmark rock formations renowned throughout the world. As well as these signature draws and stunning white beaches, Krabi also offers lesser known attractions such as the Shell Fossil Cemetery, beautiful caves, mangrove swamps and rainforests.

Thailand’s most famous destination for beach lovers and divers, the Phi Phi Islands are part of Krabi province. Once holidaymakers leave Phi Phi, Krabi Town or the main resorts of Ao Nang and Railay, they will find there are abundant hidden beauty spots in Krabi which are perfect for just soaking up the ambience as well as enjoying a number of different outdoor activities.

As most people visit Krabi for its wonderful beaches we will start with a couple of the less busy ones. Hat Nopparat Thara is around 20kms from Krabi Town and borders Ao Nang. Although there are a number of resorts and restaurants here, the three kilometres of casuarina tree-lined sands are spacious enough to offer a feeling of solitude.

At low tide the sea ebbs away and exposes sand flats that enable beachgoers to walk across to bay islets. Hat Nopparat Thara is a serene location popular with domestic tourists and individuals in the know. More on sightseeing.

Koh Lanta Yai is south of the town and is the biggest of an offshore island archipelago. This island boasts pristine rainforest, pastoral accommodation, splendid beaches such as Khlong Khong and Phra Ae, coral reefs and access to other islets including Koh Rok Nok where secluded bays with translucent waters are ideal for snorkelling and swimming. Ferries run twice daily from town to Koh Lanta in the peak tourist season from November to March.

Khao Khanap Nam is simply stunning

Khao Khanap Nam is simply stunning

Krabi is renowned for its statuesque limestone karsts which stand like sentinels above the terrain. Khao Khanap Nam forms two of these unusual rock formations. They sit either side of the Krabi River and are considered by locals to be the town’s portal. Longtail boats from the town pier ply the route to Khao Khanap Nam. Stairways from the base of the hills lead up to caves full of stalactites and stalagmites.

Koh Hong is a karst island out in Phang Nga Bay and a great daytrip from Krabi. Sheer cliffs surround a central lagoon. The calm and aquamarine waters in the lagoon provide snorkelling and swimming, with beaches to relax on and take in the natural beauty afterwards.

The town of Ao Luk is nothing remarkable in itself, but is set in a marvellous natural landscape of lush vegetation and waterways. The town is the principal access point for Than Bokkharani National Park. The park features a series of pools and cascades fed by waters from mountain caves, which are ringed by mangrove forests.

Locals bathe in the picturesque pools at Than Bokkharani on the weekends, yet during the week they are almost deserted. Vendors sell various regional snacks including fried meatballs and the ubiquitous spicy papaya salad (som tam). A few of the park’s dry caves can be explored and contain stalagmites and stalactites, while waterways in the park are good for kayaking. More on Krabi activities.

Ao Talen is a tiny village 30kms from Krabi town and is in the middle of mangrove swamps and karst rock formations. Streams and lagoons criss-cross the area and provide the opportunity of canoe tours. Abundant wildlife often spotted here includes sea eagles, kingfishers, gibbons and monitor lizards.

Tiger Cave Temple (Wat Tham Sua) is a forest temple a few kilometres from town. The temple is a peaceful location, although there are a few wild monkeys in the grounds. A 1200-step staircase gives those with a reasonable level of fitness access to the top of a lofty karst where panoramic views of the locality can be obtained.

Wat Tham Sua boasts awesome views

Khao Phanom Bencha is a national park close to Krabi Town and offers verdant countryside, waterfalls, caves, hiking trails and rural accommodation options. Namtok Huay Toh is the nearest of the three landmark waterfalls to the park headquarters. Tham Khao Ping is a three-kilometre trek and is limestone cave with marvellous stalagmites and stalactites. More on Phuket national parks.

The wildlife sanctuary at Khao Nor Chuchi boasts verdant lowland jungle inhabited by avian species such as gurneys and kingfishers as well as orchids and pitcher plants. A marked trail provides walkers with a route through the sanctuary and ends up at Thung Tao Waterfall. The balmy waters at the fall’s Emerald Pool are great for a cooling off swim.

Fossil Shell Cemetery (Susan Hoi) is one of Krabi’s unique visitor sites and 35 million years ago was a swamp inhabited by snails. Over the millennia, the snails died and formed a thick crust of fossils which is a must visit site for tourists. Susan Hoi is at Ban Laem Pho Cape and around 20kms from central Krabi.

Khlong Thom Hot Spring is around 60kms from town. Visitors paying a nominal admission fee can bathe in tree shaded natural pools as spa waters with temperatures of around 40°C wash over them. Locals believe that the spa water is beneficial in treating a number of ailments and diseases.

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