The Krabi coastline is one of the most spectacular in the world, and tours are highly recommended. In fact, the province is best seen from the water, from where you can visit the world famous Phi Phi island group, as well as several smaller islands close to the shore. The imposing karst scenery of Phang Nga Bay, to the north of Krabi, is also well worth a snap.
Tours of Krabi are numerous and can be arranged at any of the tour agencies found in Ao Nang and resorts in the area. The most typical of these is the four island and five island tours of the Krabi coast, near Ao Nang. These tours depart at about 09:00 from the beachfront and take you to the small islands not far from the mainland. The most spectacular of these is Hong Island, a small national park with a beautiful beach in a sheltered bay.
Most of the island is sheer karst rock, but there is a picnic spot and small nature trail away from the beach. Usually you will be left here for a couple of hours to enjoy this lovely beach, but you’ll have to share it with quite a few longtail boat-loads of people. Luckily, everyone seems to appreciate the scenery and behave quietly, swimming in the gorgeous aqua waters.
The most impressive attraction of this island is the enclosed lagoon which can only be reached via a cave tunnel when the tide is right, and a quick whirl around inside is a highlight. These tours then take you on to several other smaller islands with similarly secluded beaches and the option of snorkelling. The whole day out is certainly worth the 800 baht or so; with a modest packed lunch included.
By chartering a private longtail boat (prices negotiable depending on the numbers) you can visit the islands of the area by yourself and escape the hordes on other popular tours. North of Ao Nang there are several deserted tidal beaches, such as Haad Noppharat Thara; which you can have all to yourself (its also ideal for early morning jogs and you can run there easily from Ao Nang). South of Ao Nang is the Phra Nang Cape (where Railay beach is located) and once rounding this you enter Nam Mao Bay.
It doesn’t boast the brilliant beaches of Railay, but it is the site of a rather curious attraction: the .Su San Hoi This Shell Cemetery is a graveyard for 75,000 year old fossilised shells that have formed peculiar massive slabs that jut out of the sea. By approaching by boat you might escape the unnecessary 200 baht national park entrance fee, which visitors from the coastal access road are charged.
To visit Phi Phi there are tours from Krabi costing about 1,500 baht, and these include an early start in a modern speedboat, visits to the pretty Maya bay and the smaller inaccessible parts of the island chain, and lunch at the main Phi Phi Don. There’s also plenty of time to relax on the beaches, swim and do some snorkelling. These tours are the best way to see Phi Phi if you don’t intend to stay overnight. Making your own way to Phi Phi Don by regular ferry for the day is impractical as the ferry is slow and the return times are inconvenient.
From Krabi Town, tours of the Krabi River estuary are popular and offer a different side to the usual towering landscapes that are typical of this region. There is a surprising amount of interesting flora and fauna found here and the tidal changes offer different perspectives. Early morning or sunset tours on longtail boats from the city waterfront pier are best. If you’ve rented a bike for the day you might wish to leave the coast altogether and seek out the unusual Wat Tam Sueu (Tiger Cave temple), which is south of Krabi Town.
The complex is comprised of a caved sanctuary at the base of a towering karst pillar, plus an exhausting 1,200-step climb to view a massive Buddha statue and chedi on top. The panoramic view of the surrounding area is also spectacular. It is an active and famous forest retreat temple and is home to a troupe of thieving monkeys, so keep valuables concealed. Also worth visiting is Than Bokkharani National Park, 20 minutes drive north of Ao Nang in the Ao Luek area. It’s a delightful fairytale landscape of emerald pools cascading into streams, along with plenty of caves and karst topography.
Finally, no visit to Krabi is complete without tours to Phang Nga Bay - a charming seascape when viewed by boat and the trip takes around an hour. Tours are available from any of the travel agents and are a popular trip to admire this enormous panorama of karst pillars and landscapes, including the famous James Bond Island and ‘water village’ of Koh Phan Yee. More on Phang Nga Bay.