Krabi: Ao Nang and Island hopping before saying goodbye to Thailand
Our time in Bangkok and Chiang Mai flew by (thank you again Tum, Vichien, and Toy) and we soon found ourselves back on a plane to Krabi, southern Thailand. Krabi is located near Phuket, but is known for not being quite as touristy. Good weather, beautiful not-quite so crowded beaches – sign us up! Arriving in Krabi – there are private cars you can hire to take you to your hotel or you can take a bus. The cars are 600 baht while the bus was about 150 baht per person (depending on where you’re going). We decided to save some cash and take the bus. We actually stayed about 20 minutes from Krabi in Ao Nang – a little smaller and less of a main hub. Two hours later, after a few stops in Krabi and Ao Nang – we arrived at our hotel. Compared to other places we’ve traveled, Ao Nang was inexpensive for the one bedroom hotel we got. However, the one downfall is that Ao Nang doesn’t have any grocery stores. There were lots of markets and grocers where we found a few things, but no large selections of foods for you to make yourself. The cost of food in Ao Nang was pricer than it was in Chiang Mai, but it was still really cheap.
The walk from the beach to our hotel. Motorbikes zoom by and line the streets. At night, the streets are filled with vendors, making the sidewalks almost difficult to navigate.
These trees started blooming along the side of the streets adding to the many colors.
On our way to and from the beach, we also passed this green mango tree. No big deal – just a bunch of green mangos growing by the side of the road.
The night before our island hopping adventure, there was a big storm and our hotel lost electricity. Luckily we had learned from our jungle trek guide, Johnny, that beer cans make excellent candle holders. The lights came on after about an hour or so, but it was a realization of how much we love air conditioning.
A little tired from all our traveling, we knew we needed to have at least one more big adventure before leaving Thailand. Island hopping sounded like the perfect choice. After doing some research, we decided to book a semi-private tour with Thalassa. There are plenty of tours out there available to take you to a few of the surrounding islands. All of them are fairly cheap compared to prices in the US and other places we’ve been traveling.
That being said – some of the cheaper tours were overcrowded and we were looking to get away from the crowds. If you go on a 4 island tour – you’re not going to mad about whatever you do.
BUT Thalassa was a treat. They took us to remote beaches, away from some of the crowds, we went snorkling where there were no other people, we got to snorkel at night in bio-luminescent where we held stars in our hands, we had dinner on the beach, and we got to go cliff jumping. Our guide, Eric a Frenchman who moved to Thailand about 2 years ago was amazing and we chatted to him about our upcoming travel to France while he made us one of the best mojitos I’ve ever had while sitting on the long boat on the beach.
Our first stop was a quick long boat ride away to Railay beach – known for its limestone cliffs that make it a popular rock climbing destination.
Views from the long boat. We thought Milford Sound was the most beautiful place we had ever seen, but these places in Thailand rivaled Milford’s beauty in a different way. The pics don’t do it justice.
We went over to the yellow ropes and went swimming for a bit, enjoying the warm water.
Our next stop, this beach. The other side of the island was packed with tourists. Eric had our captain drop us on this side, away from the crowds. We sunbathed and walked the almost vacant shoreline. We were sitting on shore for around 20 minutes when I looked over and did a double take. I turned to Will and asked, “Is that woman topless?” His response – “You just noticed that?” The things you miss when you don’t wear your contacts.
The beach was stunning. The water remained shallow for probably 50m.
More of the beach
Catching our long boat ride on to the next location. Our group consisted of an American and his Thai wife, a family from Spain, and another Spanish couple.
Our next stop – snorkeling along these rocks.
Below the bright water was beautiful coral with lots of fish. The visibility wasn’t great – rain had brought in a lot of debris and plankton, but we still saw a ton of different kinds of fish. One of the cooler things we saw – a sea snake. Will and I once saw an eel fighting an octopus and thought we were seeing another eel (ok- that’s what I thought). We got pretty close to the wiggling snake before Eric tapped us on the shoulders motioning for us to back up. Turns out sea snakes are extremely deadly. Yikes! We focused our attention on the many brightly colored fishes and sea anemone.
Then we were off to the next beach. This was connected to chicken island and where we got to drink Eric’s mojito while he told us about how he ended up in Thailand. Some of our favorite parts of traveling are hearing the stories from the people we meet on the way and he was a bit of an inspiration. After downing the mojito that went straight to our heads (I blame the sunshine), we walked on the now-tourist infested beach. During low-tide, you can walk on sand to the island behind Will. Even when we were there, people were walking across the shallow water between the islands.
Then it was time for the part of the trip that I was really excited for – cliff jumping. Surprised? If any of you grew up near Beaver Dam in Maryland – cliff jumping into the quarry is a childhood rite of passage (as is swinging from the Tarzan swing, hitting your head on the red buoy they removed, and falling on your ass while walking the rolling log – ah memories). I did not picture what Eric had planned for us. A storm was rolling in and the water was definitely choppy. Eric looked at us, a little worried and asked who was coming with him. He didn’t look so excited about the large group of us that said we would go. After we jumped in the water, we figured out why. The boat was around the other side of the rocks and we had to swim through the choppy water to get to the ladder. Another tour group got there just ahead of us and started climbing. Eric gave us tips on how to climb the ladder and shook his head at the guy climbing the ladder in the picture who didn’t listen to him. After climbing up the ladder, you had to navigate/rock climb the rocks to a point where you jumped in. *This was not the calm water and clear path at Beaver Dam. Will and I were up to the challenge – Susan, this is us telling you about the dangerous thing after we did it. 🙂
From the pictures, it doesn’t look very high, but the waves were about 1 meter tall and after swimming and then treading water – it felt very adventuresome. Not everyone from our group made the climb and jump, but Will and I did – getting a little respect from Eric who said it was the worst conditions he’s done the jump in. *Side note – Eric said the water along the rocks is very deep. He did a free dive and went down about 18 -20 meters there. No big deal. His best free dive – around 26-28m. Geez -o.
Back in Railay for a sunset dinner. We walked down the shore to the limestone rocks by the cave.
The cave. Are those….? Yup. Yes. Yes. They are.
And more…? Yup. Yes. This cave is a spiritual place where people go to pray for fertility.
A selfie at sunset.
After eating dinner on the shore, we got to snorkel with bio-luminescence and then headed back to shore. We got a taxi ride back to Ao Nang. This time, our taxi was decked out with party lights and speakers – a little different then the taxi we rode in on the jungle trek. We got back to Ao Nang exhausted.
Our week in Ao Nang went quickly. We walked down to the beach everyday, soaking up the sun (and making sure to slather on the SPF). Soon, we were headed back to Bangkok for the night before heading to Copenhagen -saying goodbye to Thailand and the sun (or at least the warm weather).
Every place we go to – we try and think about what we’ll take with us when we leave. With Thailand – it was easy. The kind, smiling generosity of Thai people. We were blown away. And Thailand has a small piece of our hearts.