|The Varied Attractions of Krabi Province|
Krabi has become famous for the striking beauty of just two or three beaches. Any visitor arriving here with expectations of endless stretches of soft coral sand with few people is in for disappointment, particularly in the high season. The images of amazing beaches in the shadow of towering rocky cliffs (also seen on this site) that have come to symbolise Krabi were almost all taken on either of two beaches, Rai Le or Tham Phra Nang.
Expect to find many more people on the beaches than seen in most of our photographs. There are more beaches out on offshore islands, but again, these are limited to about four truly special ones, each of which is featured in our page
Islands of Krabi.
But happily, Krabi has much more than just beaches, and it is important that visitors understand this to avoid placing all expectations on a beach-only holiday.
Here are some of the other attractions and things to do in this varied and fascinating province:
Islands of Krabi
There are three main groups of islands off Krabi, not counting the Phi Phi Islands, which are also part of this province. Longtail boats that take visitors to these island groups on day trips are readily available at the beaches of Ao Nang and Rai Le. See our separate page on these islands.
Khao Phanom Bencha
This National Park is a mountain (Khao in Thai) clothed in original rainforest and is the only significant stretch of uncut forest remaining in Krabi province. Most of the land here has been cleared and turned into rubber and oil palm plantations. The National Park has a waterfall, some walking tracks through the forest and a picnic area at the end of the access road. The rainforest here is particularly beautiful and it makes a pleasant day or half-day outing. Those renting and driving a car can get there easily with a map. It is a half hour drive Northeast from Krabi town. Otherwise the local tuk-tuk drivers will take visitors there for a half or full day.
Buddhist monks have always chosen caves as retreats for meditation, and from this practice many monasteries have grown up surrounding these dark and quiet places of tranquillity. Krabi is rich in such cave monasteries. The most famous, to which almost every Thai tourist to Krabi goes, is Wat Tham Seua (Tiger Cave, see below). Apart from this large monastery with a walkway through the forest there are many smaller ones. One needs a car to reach these secretive places. There is a particularly good road and attraction map for Krabi province produced by XXXX which marks most of the caves, monasteries and other attractions, making it the best guide for those eager to explore. Sometimes one must hunt through several shops to find this green coloured map with a photo of its author, but it is worth it.
Wat Tham Seua (Tiger Cave Monastery)
This large monastery is Krabi’s most famous, and one is often finds whole bus loads of Thai tourists visiting. While most buildings here are built beside a forest-covered karst mountain, the heart of the monastery lies in the caves where monks come to meditate, particularly during the rainy season. There is a walking track that climbs up and over a natural rock wall and then falls down into a circular, rocky basin enclosed by cliffs. Take the circular walk through the forest to see the monks’ quarters, some Buddha images and some beautiful trees. The walk takes about 40 minutes.
Click to open more photographs of Wat Tham Seua.
Driving Tours of Krabi
To really appreciate this diverse province and the many attractions mentioned here, renting a car or motorbike and driving oneself is surely the best way. If you don’t want to drive, rent a car with a driver by the day, and tell him where you want to go. We suggest this – rather than letting the driver take you where he suggests – for Thais have very different perceptions of fun and things worth visiting.
Driving in Krabi is easy and fun, for the roads are generally good and there is little traffic. And around almost every corner there are grand views and fascinating things to see.
When renting take the normal precautions: only rent a vehicle with insurance (though there is no insurance on motorcycles, so beware), be sure you are carrying a valid license. For more information and suggestions see Driving Tours in the Things to do Off the Island menu.
Rubber and oil palm plantations
From the air, Krabi province looks lush and green, but unfortunately this is not the colour of rainforest but of seemingly endless plantations of rubber and oil palm. Virtually the only primary forest left is that on Phanom Bencha mountain. The activities in the plantations are interesting, and worth taking note of. The rubber trees are tapped during the night and the white latex collected at dawn. The sight of newly rolled sheets of rubber hanging out to dry is common down every side road. Most rubber tapping families are pleased to show visitors how they turn the latex into sheets. But you have to turn up early.
The harvesting of palm oil continues through the day, and those travelling the back roads will see trucks hauling the huge oil nut bunches to local factories.
These huge, dome-shaped brick ovens are a throw-back to days of old. There are only a few of these traditional burners left in the province, and those exploring the back roads might run across one. With little forest left to burn, most now use rubber wood or mangrove trunks as fuel. It takes many days to convert a load into charcoal, and the day the ovens are unloaded is the highlight. It is a black, sooty job, and the workers emerge from the still-hot ovens as black as the sticks they carry. The workers are invariably friendly to visitors who drop in.
This new sport is growing in popularity, and Krabi is a great place to join the tide. Several operators along the beach road at Ao Nang advertise their trips. Most drive their clients up the coast from Krabi to a beautiful region where mangrove forests and inlets wind their way under soaring cliffs of karst mountains. The tours are usually day trips and they make an interesting diversion for a beach-based holiday.
This large island in the south of Krabi province is a whole destination in itself. There are many beaches and perhaps 40 bungalow resorts here, most of them simple and cheap for the backpackers who flock here. But there are also a few up-market resorts, including one small but beautiful 5-star resort, Pimalai Resort and Spa. We have a lot of information in Koh Lanta’s own page. Use this link to open it.
Phi Phi Islands
These famous islands, a part of Krabi province, are also a complete destination, one that made its fame in the world market before Krabi. Use this link to see our pages on Phi Phi.
75 million year-old Shell Cemetery
This is a good place for those with an interest in archaeology, or eager to teach children a little about the formation of our planet. Large slabs of rock on the water’s edge are embedded with tight-packed shells, said to have lived 75 million years ago. One must find a broken edge to see the shells clearly, since all of those on the upper surface have been walked on and worn down by the elements and are hard to identify.
Many longtail boats on the beach at Krabi are ready to take visitors out for a day’s fishing, but you will have to bring your own gear. Don’t expect too much, for the waters close to the Thai mainland have been heavily overfished by trawlers. This is such a problem that there have been protests by small-scale family fishermen of Krabi against the take-all methods of the larger trawlers.