Which beach for your Krabi holiday?

Krabi has some of Thailand’s best beaches

Krabi has some of Thailand’s best beaches

So, you’ve seen the gorgeous beaches and stunning karst cliffs on the brochures, but just what is there on offer in Krabi. Which beach has the best resorts, which are away from it all, and how do you find those paradise spots that caught your eye in the travel shop.

Krabi is actually a whole province with the southern Thai city of Krabi Town at its centre. But the real tourist spots are on the coast and islands, with half a dozen different options on where to stay. Picking the right beach is important for getting the most out of your holiday but you can hire a bike or boat to experience some of the others.

The most important and busiest of all the beach resort areas is Ao Nang, which isn’t that busy really. It’s located on the coast about 15 minutes from Krabi Town and an hour from Phuket airport. Ao Nang doesn’t have the best beach along this brilliant tropical coast but if you’re stepping off the plane from cold and rainy Europe you’ll still be very impressed.

The largest selection of hotels, including budget choices are found here, along with plenty of restaurants and bars, a few shops, and a good selection of tourist services. There’s even a bit of a nightlife here. The beach is pretty good too, lengthy, with part of it backed by sheer cliffs. Offshore you have a great view of small islands. More on Ao Nang.

Nearby is Railay, perhaps the most spectacular coastal beach in Thailand. It’s cut off from the mainland by karst rock and reachable by a short longtail boat ride. Most visitors come for the day from Ao Nang to lie on the lovely beaches and gaze at the jaw-dropping scenery or swim in the lovely clear water. But there are some resorts on the small strip of land here, at a range of prices although they book out well in advance of the busy season. Next door is Ton Sai beach which isn’t very swimmable but has budget bungalows and attracts the climbing crowd. More on Railay.

Perhaps the most famous of Krabi’s locations is surely the world famous Phi Phi islands. The Tsunami of 2004 completely flattened the tourist infrastructure on the small sandwich of land between the two picturesque bays and although some have been rebuilt, the selection is much more limited. Actually the island is now much nicer, since over development had spoilt it and a day trip from the mainland is a much more sensible idea. There are however a range of options for all pockets and out of season you won’t have problem finding a place at short notice. Only Phi Phi Don is inhabited while Phi Phi Ley and the others are national parks for day-trippers only. Guide to Phi Phi islands.

If you insist on being on the islands, then Koh Lanta is a good alternative. Although it’s not as dramatic as Phi Phi or Railay, it has miles of good beach and almost all the resorts front the beach, giving you a true island experience. It’s 90 minute ferry ride south of Ao Nang and has escaped the mad atmosphere of tuk tuks, touting tailors, and troublesome bar girls. There’s plenty of choice here on about five main beaches than run down the West side of the island. Guide to Lanta.

Noppharat Thara beach is really just an extension of Ao Nang, around a small headland. It’s far less busy or developed although the beach is tidal and the facilities less. This is a great alternative if you don’t want too much company but find it convenient to be close to the action, and there are plenty of resorts here too.

There are a few other beaches that are wonderful, but restricted, so that you cannot stay on them. These are mostly found on the offshore islands such as the lovely Koh Hong, which are pristine and worth a day trip to get away from the crowds. Ultimately, where you stay depends on whether you seek solitude, family friendly areas, exclusivity and great views, or a lively atmosphere.

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