Ao Nang and Railay Beach

Krabi Town’s not a place that many people actually stay; it’s a place they travel through on the way to another place, usually Railay Beach or Ao Nang further up the coast. It’s a gritty riverside burg with a few good restaurants, a lively night market, and, as far as we could see, not a lot else. Since our intention is to stay in and around the Krabi area for the next little while, Ty and I wandered out to the main drag and caught a song thew, a truck-taxi with an open back that takes about 12 passengers, for the half hour journey up to Ao Nang, whose attractions include a big beach and wonderful limestone cliffs.

We wanted to look for accommodation in the area and hopped out half way up the hill where the less expensive hotels are located. After inquiring at a few different hotels along the strip, we decided to take a room at the Sabai Mansion Hotel, a smallish four story joint with – its best feature – a pool and free wifi.

After leaving a deposit for the room, we rolled down the hill to the beach, along which is a boardwalk, and turned left at the water, making our way through 57 different massage parlour places, each of which importuned us as we passed, to the aptly-named Last Cafe, where we plopped ourselves down at a seaside table under the trees for a beverage.

While there, we watched the many vendors ply the beach, trying to sell everything from woolen hats (not a big seller in this 34 degree heat) to table cloths to wooden flutes, none of which we felt the necessity to acquire.

A small lizard favoured us with an appearance on the next tree and, not too much later, the clouds massed for a torrential tropical downpour, the waters of which we tried to hide from in one of the massage parlours. After the deluge had ended we boarded a longtail boat with six others for the ride to Railay Beach, a peninsula accessible only by water.

Railay was a great backpackers hangout twenty years ago when Ty first came through this area and he had fond memories of his time there. Unfortunately, when we arrived beachside, it became apparent that those grand days are long past; the area is still beautiful, with its towering limestone cliffs, a haven for climbers who come from all over the world to crawl up the rocks, white sand beach and turquoise waters but Railay West, the best beach, has been taken over by upscale atmosphereless resorts and the vibe is monotone. Railay East, accessible by a path across the peninsula, while still a backpackers’ mecca, is, frankly, a hole, with crappy rundown bars, restaurants, and cheap bungalow joints, and a terrible muddy rocky beach area. In the rain, it really looked uninviting and Ty and I paid premium price for a longtail boat back to Krabi tout suite.

Given the options on the Krabi coast, we feel that our choice of Ao Nang is a good one and it’s here that we’ve moved for the next while.

See a few more pics here.

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