Krabi Town, a bustling little market town, is the provincial capital. Its convenient location and good transport links mean many people choose to stay here for a night or two before leaving for the islands. The mainland beach areas are also accessible from here on a day trip, while Ao Nang is just a 25 minute drive or boat ride away. Krabi Town is a good place to observe the daily lives of locals and get to grips with authentic Thai culture.
As stated in every travel guide for Krabi Town, the locals rise early and the morning market is busy before the crack of dawn. This indoor warehouse is the biggest of its kind in Southern Thailand and is a great place to wander round, taking in the sights, sounds and smells – maybe even sampling some of the tropical fruit or the delicious ready-prepared snacks on offer.
Later, take a stroll along the riverside, where you can browse many small shops, as well as enjoy a great view of Krabi’s iconic sword-shaped rock formation, Khao Kanab Nam. You can rent a longtail boat from the pier to visit the small island on which they stand, and enter the caves located inside the structure. Your boatman doubles up as a guide, although his English may be limited. The boat ride follows the mangrove-lined Krabi River, home to an abundance of wildlife, including many colourful birds.
Many people also like to explore the backwaters of the Krabi River on a half-day kayaking tour. There’s plenty of nature to experience, and most tours also stop off at the traditional floating fishing villages along the way. Kayaking is the best way to get up close and personal to nature in this area – guides are available, but kayaking is relatively easy even for those without a high level of fitness.
Shopping and eating tend to be the two main activities in Krabi Town, for both locals and tourists. From Vogue Department Store to the weekend Walking Street Market, there is something for everyone here, and prices aren’t inflated as much as the tourist resorts. There are also hundreds of authentic Thai eateries to be found around the town centre. In the evening, two night markets set up, one opposite the City Hotel and the other by the riverside. Both markets sell a wide variety of snacks and sit-down meals, as well as a rainbow of exotic fruits and desserts. You don’t need to speak Thai or have a guide in tow to eat like a local, just point and smile.
Krabi Town’s healthy expat community means there are lively bars and late night hangouts. Chao Fa Road is the main tourist and expat territory. This long road is home to the majority of the town’s tourist accommodation, and bars and restaurants. Krabi’s only nightclubs are further out of town, but worth a visit just to experience the Thai club scene.
Krabi Town is accessible on a day trip from the mainland beach areas, with the local bus service from Ao Nang being a 20-minute ride. There’s no need to take a guided tour as the centre is quite small, but do take a map with you for guidance. Motorbike taxis and songthaews are the main means of public transport; however, it is easy to walk around the town.