Since our previous bus journeys thus far have all been pretty straight forward, we assumed that that would be the case to go from George Town to Krabi as well, but we were so so wrong. Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty of options; however, none of them were terribly straight forward/cheap and/or direct. You can get a minivan straight from George Town to Krabi – not too expensive, but very long, and usually packed full like sardines. You can get a train to Hat Yai (first Thai city over the border), and then a mini bus to Krabi – but times are terrible, and you’re still packed in like sardines. Or you can get on the Hat Yai bus from KL (re: big bus, not mini van), spend the night in Hat Yai, and fingers crossed find a bus that takes you to Krabi in the morning! Guess which one we did? Yep, that last one.
In all fairness, it wasn’t too bad. We pre-booked our bus and jumped on the ferry from George Town to the bus terminal (free going that way), and got on a fairly empty bus going to Hat Yai. The border crossings were fine, and we ended up being the only people on the bus after we crossed, which meant more room for us. We were meant to be taken to the bus terminal in Hat Yai (it was a scheduled, main bus we were on, rather then a charter); however, we stopped in the middle of the city outside of a tourist bookings shop and were told that this was the last stop. When we questioned why we weren’t at the bus station, the bus driver waved us off and just asked where we were going, as we could book everything right here (as he pointed to the shop we were stopped at). We got off and immediately about 4 people from said shop came up and started trying to take our bags and lead us into the shop, whilst asking where we wanted to buy a bus ticket to for tomorrow, and also telling us they could get us good deals on places to stay tonight.
We had already booked a place to stay conveniently next to the bus station, so we politely and firmly kept saying no to accommodation and asking how to get to the bus station. They kept trying to tell us that we didn’t need to buy bus tickets from the station, and we could just get them from them, so Rich asked how much they were and after being quoted about 400 baht each, he asked for the wifi password so he could check the prices online. As soon as he asked for that, they all started to shake their heads and back away, and one guy stopped a tuktuk off the street and told us that he would take us to the bus station before slinking off himself. We’re pretty sure that as we were the only people left on the bus, the bus driver took some liberties and stopped at a family/friends shop rather than the bus station, hoping that we were clueless enough to just buy tickets from them (which may or may not have actually got us on the bus the next day). As soon as we wanted to confirm prices online, they realized we weren’t going to be easy targets and let it go completely. We ended up at the bus station, bought tickets for the next morning for something like 200 baht in total, and traveled on a nice big bus with lots of room that actually took us to Krabi. You’re always going to be a target when you don’t speak the language or know the area, and the best thing you can do is to be firm and say no, and always buy your tickets from official places!
Anyways! We did make it to Krabi and I was pretty blown away by the landscape and how green everything was. We’d decided to stay in Krabi Town rather then Ao Nang (which is out of town but right on the beach), because we wanted to be closer to the night markets and to do stuff in Krabi and not just be stuck next to the beach for 3 days. It was definitely the right choice for us, and we found that the food was better, prices were cheaper, and we were close enough to everything that we could rent a motorbike. That being said, if you’re looking to lay on the beach and do a bit of partying, Ao Nang is your place, but both areas have their pros and cons. We enjoyed exploring both places, and found that everything was doable on your own, but there were a ton of options for tours if driving a motorbike isn’t your thing.
Tiger Cave Temple
On our first full day in Krabi, we rented a bike and headed the 20 minutes out of town to visit the Tiger Cave Temple. Most of the time, Rich does the logistical planning of transit and money, whilst I usually do the planning around what sites to visit and where to go (the fun stuff 😉 ) but in Krabi it ended up being the other way around. This meant that when I asked Rich where we were going I was given a non chalant ‘Oh you know, just a temple up some steps that used to have tigers living in the caves around it.’ Sounds good, right? What he forgot to mention (I’m pretty sure on purpose) was that those steps leading up to the temple – there were 1237 of them. And they were steep!
As you can see it was very hot, but I’ll admit, once we got to the top it was worth it. Even if there were actually 1260 steps instead of 1237! It did, however, take me almost as long to get down as it did to climb up, but at least I could breathe. We went fairly early in the morning and there wasn’t a ton of people there, and as hot as it was, it definitely got more hot as the day went on. We also spoke to a few people who were there on tours doing it, and apparently they don’t give you a lot of time at each place, so a lot of people on the tours either didn’t go up at all, or had to stop halfway up and come back down because they were too slow. We did meet 2 people at the top who were on a tour and had pushed themselves to get to the top, but they unfortunately only had about 2 minutes to get their breath back and admire the view before they were having to go back down again. Something to keep in mind if you’re debating between a tour and doing it yourself!
After our climb up all those steps, we headed back into Krabi for some lunch and grabbed our stuff for the beach before driving over to Ao Nang for the afternoon. The drive from Krabi was probably about 25 minutes on a motorbike (less if you rent a car or take a taxi), but it was pretty straight forward to get there. We were able to park the bike at the side of the road (just remember where you parked it among the hundreds of other bikes!) and spent a few hours just wandering around the beach and main shopping area. There is a ton of places to eat, loads of shops, and a huge beach to relax on and swim from. Ao Nang is the place to go to catch a boat tour to any of the other islands or to explore Railay Beach as well. As we were heading to Koh Lanta in a few days time, we opted to not go on any of the tours, but we heard from other people that they were great and well worth the cost. It was a relaxing afternoon for us, and I recommend headed over for at least half a day if you’re staying in Krabi Town.
Waking up the next morning and getting out of bed was a bit slow due to all those steps the day before, but Rich was excited as we were going to hike Dragon’s Crest for some amazing views of the area. Groaning at the prospect of more uphill in the heat, Rich
guaranteed me he had read online that it only takes an hour to get to the top, which is only about 20 minutes more than it took us to do the steps. Dubious, I consented, and we hopped back on the motorbike to the start of the trail. Dragon’s Crest, or Khao Ngon Nak, is about 565 m tall and has a pretty clear trail the entire way. It took us about 45 minutes to reach on the bike, but again, it’s less if you’re in a car (they can go much faster). Most of the hike is under cover of the trees, which was nice because it was hot and humid and it would have been even worse with the sun shining directly on us, and there are little information signs about the area and local wildlife and fauna dotted along the path. Contrary to what Rich said, it did not take an hour
to get to the top – it was probably closer to 3 hours. We’re pretty fast hikers and passed a a number of people going up and only had 1 person pass us, so I struggle to see how anyone could do it in an hour, but that’s what Rich said he read online. Obviously they were either mega fit or exaggerating (probably a bit of both!).
I would say about 75% of the hike was pretty moderate, but there was a bit in the middle which was a mix between wooden steps and super steep slope that was an absolute killer. It was roughly around this point where I got very annoyed about the misleading promise of a 1 hour hike and very nearly turned back and left Rich to get to the top on his own. I, luckily, carried on (while going back and forth between not speaking to Rich and complaining about being hungry), and we eventually made it to the top which shut me up and made me quite glad we’d done it. It was breathtaking. We found a nice spot and Rich pulled out some cookies and we sat and just took in the view for a while. By this point both our stomachs were grumbling, so having seen enough, we made our way back down to the bottom where our bike was waiting for us.
If you’re looking to do it, try and get there as early as possibly because it does get very hot and can get busy (there were so many more people coming up as we were coming down). Take lots of water, although there is a little stand you can buy water and snacks from at the start of the trail, and whatever you read online, this is not a stroll in the park – wear proper shoes. We saw so many people in flip flops trying to walk up and it’s not that kind of hike. I’m sure you can do it, but chances are you’ll either break your flip flop or your ankle before you make it back down to the bottom, so just wear shoes. And when you get to the top, take a minute to soak it all in rather then trying to get that perfect Instagram shot. Trust me, it’s worth it.
Long Boat Tour
After a much longer (and more strenuous) morning then we’d planned, we headed back
to Krabi for lunch and to relax a little in the A/C with a beer. Definitely earned, I think! As it was our last afternoon in Krabi, we said yes to a long boat tour down the river, which takes about an hour. The boat takes you about 10 minutes downriver to Khao Khanab Nam Caves, which are 2 rock formations on either side of the river that act as a ‘gateway’ to Krabi. Inside both rocks are caves, which are full of stalactites and bats, as well as some archaeological remains from people who used to inhabit the cave. You get about 20 minutes to wander around before going back to the boat where they take you down the river through the mangroves and to a floating fish farm. We weren’t really sure what
to expect, but it was pretty cool It was basically a wooden platform that had holes in the middle with nets to keep the various different fish and seafood in. The man that owns it went around and showed us the different fish they breed, like puffer fish, cuttlefish, crab, and so many others. It was also a restaurant, and I think they use most of the fish they breed there, so it wasn’t a massive place. We were both pleasantly surprised and impressed by the time we left, so all in all it was worth it.
Krabi Town Walking Street
Every Friday to Sunday, Krabi Town sets up a huge night market full of shopping, food, and entertainment. We were lucky enough to arrive in Krabi on Friday and leave on Monday, and yes, we did eat there every night. I would say it’s the best street food I’ve had thus far (and George Town was pretty flippin’ good). There are a couple of other night markets in Krabi as well, and we walked around one by the river, but we always ended up at the Walking Street. It was close, really tasty, and had a variety of foods so that we got to try a few different things over the three nights we were there. Highly recommend going if you’re in Krabi on a weekend, but unfortunately you’re out of luck for this one if you’re not!
I did not expect to enjoy Krabi as much as I did, and I could have spent another 2 days exploring the area if we’d had more time. Although we did not go to Phuket, Krabi seems to be it’s more laid back cousin, and if you want a place to relax, explore, eat good food, and have some cheap beer, Krabi is the place to go.