What's it really like?
Krabi is the Thailand you see in travel brochures. Large expanses of powdery-white sand fringed by lush green jungle, dramatic limestone formations jutting out from a crystal-clear turquoise sea, traditional fishing villages where time stands still, mountains and mangrove forests waiting to be explored – it’s all here in this southern Thai region.
Krabi has an extremely satisfying blend of untouched tranquility with just enough development to make it comfortable and convenient for visitors. Certain areas, like Ao Nang, are filled with party-minded backpackers, but others like Railay, are idyllic peaceful getaways. And, of course, throughout the whole region, impeccably styled luxury resorts welcome tourists looking for the very best in relaxation and pampering.
In many ways, Krabi has everything a visitor to Thailand could want. But gay Krabi is missing one thing, it does not have is a gay scene. You will probably come across gay guys and couples during your stay, but it will be slightly harder to find them.
However, this should not put you off visiting this stunning and fascinating region. Krabi’s natural wonders make it well worth the detour, while its more remote beaches present the perfect opportunity to relax and get away from the crazy, alcohol-fuelled excesses of other Thai destinations. The world-class gay nightlife of places like Bangkok, Phuket, and Koh Samet will always be there – it’s time to take a break and chill out in Krabi.
Krabi is not a very large region, but it is packed with iconic destinations. While many of them offer a similar combination of beaches, bars, and bungalows, they all have their unique charms and attractions.
Ao Nang – Ao Nang is Krabi’s main resort town. It has a long Andaman coastline which succeeds in being both very beautiful and very developed (and increasingly rare feat). The beaches are scenic and relatively peaceful, while the hotels, resorts, restaurants, and bars keep you entertained. Ao Nang is a good mix of laid-back beach town and classic tourist resort, which makes it popular with all sorts of visitors. It is also a good place to base yourself while in Krabi, with regular boats to nearby islands departing every day.
Krabi Town – Krabi Town is the capital of the region, and is one of the most genuine places you will find around. Despite being a busy travel hub for visitors to the area, it retains much of its local Thai culture. There are bustling markets, roadside eateries, laid-back bars, and gorgeous traditional temples, as well as plenty of nearby natural wonders. These include the Emerald Pond, Krabi Hot Springs, and Khao Khanab Nam, the two towering limestone mountains that frame the river at the town’s entrance,
Railay – Railay (also known as Rai Leh) is a minute peninsula near Ao Nang comprising four stunning beaches. Despite its small size, it has become one of Krabi’s most popular destinations due to its majestic limestone formations, powder-white sand, and isolated atmosphere. It is cut off from Ao Nang by dense jungle, only accessible by a quick 15-minute boat ride. Although there are plenty of day trippers and a few high-end resorts, it is still an exceptionally relaxed and laid-back place.
Koh Lanta – Koh Lanta is Koh Phi Phi’s more grown-up and less developed counterpart. The main island, Koh Lanta Yai, is peaceful, remote, and quite upscale, although the backpacker scene is growing. The nature here is absolutely stunning, with mountains, jungle, and clear blue seas to be found. The north is busier and more developed, but the southern beaches are still pristine and quiet during most of the year.
Koh Phi Phi – Koh Phi Phi is Krabi’s party capital. It is made up of several islands, the main one being Phi Phi Leh, which concentrates an outrageous and hedonistic nightlife in very small space. There are many beautiful beaches to be seen – you will just have to look a bit harder to find them. You can read our detailed guide of gay Koh Phi Phi here.
Noppharat Thara – A gorgeous beach near Ao Nang which is part of a marine national park. There are a few high-end resorts here, and it is a popular option for those who want to stay near Ao Nang while enjoying a more exclusive feel.
Klong Muang – Similarly to Noppharat Thara, this is a more secluded and high-end option near Ao Nang, featuring a peaceful and remote beach and a few excellent luxury hotels. Entertainment options are scarce, but that’s part of the charm.
Ao Luk – Ao Luk (also spelled Ao Luek) is a district in mainland Krabi, famous for its mangrove forests and caves. There are plenty of opportunities for exploration and adventure, as well as a charming traditional village.
Ao Nam Mao – A small local beach close to Ao Nang, which is one of the quietest and most serene in the area. It’s great for a day trip from Ao Nang if you want to get away from crowds during peak season.
Ao Thalane – This small bay has become known for its excellent sea-kayaking. You can explore the lush mangrove forests and canyons, which are home to some exceptional local wildlife, as well as relax in the small fishing village. A wonderful opportunity to discover some authentic southern Thai culture and nature in a sustainable way.
Koh Klang – Koh Klang may be just across the river from Krabi town, but it feels like a world away. This small island maintains the traditional Muslim lifestyles of the region and remains mostly untouched by the development that is slowly taking over Krabi.
Mainland Krabi is best navigated by hired taxis or minivans, while the coastal regions and islands are mostly connected by boat services. It’s possible to access Krabi from other major airports, but you will have to do a lot of additional travel, so it’s best to try to fly to Krabi.
When it comes to local transport, most of Krabi’s destinations are too small and remote to warrant an extensive network. Krabi Town has many of the usual options, but most other places you are likely to visit are to be explored by foot, boat, or motorbike.
From Krabi Airport – Krabi Airport is a relatively large international airport, with direct flights from various Asian and European destinations. There is a bus service to Krabi (90B, 15 minutes) and one to Ao Nang (150B, 40 minutes). From Ao Nang, you can take a boat to most island destinations. Songthaews also operate to and from Krabi Town.
From Phuket Airport – If you’re traveling from Phuket, the easiest way to access Krabi is to get a ferry service to Ao Nang from Rassada Pier or Bang Rong Pier (about 500B).
From Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport – Getting to Krabi from Bangkok is possible, but quite a stretch. The easiest thing would be to take a simple and cheap one hour transfer flight, otherwise it’s a 15-hour bus.
Boat – Boat is the main form of travel in the region, especially if you are planning to discover several of Krabi’s islands and beaches. Ferry services cover longer distances (for example, Ao Nang to Koh Phi Phi) while traditional longtail boats make smaller local journeys.
Walking – Many of Krabi’s most popular destinations are compact and easily walkable, including Ao Nang and Phi Phi Leh.
Motorcycle Rental – Renting a motorbike is a rite of passage of sorts for tourists in Thailand, and one of the best ways to explore Krabi. It is reasonably cheap – about 200B a day – and allows for far greater flexibility and independence. However, it is worth noting that Thailand has some infamously dangerous roads and infamously reckless drivers. Accidents are common and rental does not tend to include insurance. Make sure to wear a helmet, for basic safety but also because you may be fined if you don’t. Also, this should go without saying, but do not rent a motorbike if you have never driven one before and do not have a license. Yes, people do it all the time, and yes some rental companies will turn a blind eye, but it is illegal and not a particularly smart move.
Motorcycle Taxi – Motorcycle taxis operate throughout Krabi and are particularly useful if you are traveling solo.
Songthaew – Songthaews, or sorng-taa-ou, are a familiar sight throughout Thailand’s islands and smaller towns. Somewhere between a bus and a tuk-tuk, they are beloved by tourists and a good place to strike up a conversation with fellow travelers. They are in operation in Krabi Town and they connect Ao Nang with various nearby destinations.
Tuk-Tuk – Traditional Thai tuk-tuks are in operation throughout Krabi Town.
Samlor – Similar to a tuk-tuk, but more unstable, a samlor is a motorbike with a sidecar that you can sit in. You can find them in Krabi town and Ao Nang.
Taxis – Taxis can be found at the airport and along Ao Nang’s main road, but they generally prefer to do long trips (such as day trips and transfers to other regions) rather than short local ones.
Bus – Apart from the bus service from Krabi airport, there are not any useful bus services in the region.
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