Krabi, Thailand is a tropical paradise that is often overlooked by tourists in favour of more popular destinations like Phuket and Bangkok. But this particular province holds a special place in my heart – so much so that I chose to make it my home for over 2 years.
Krabi is not somewhere you fall in love with immediately. At first glance, it looks like your standard gateway stop point – offering connections to a lot of the paradise islands seen across movies and social media accounts (are we too far along to be referencing ‘The Beach’ nowadays?) However, scratch the surface and you’ll find some of the most exciting hidden gems in all of Thailand.
Krabi town things to do
While I’ve included some of the best tried-and-tested Krabi tourist hotspots in this blog, I’ve tried to give you a real taste of the lesser-travelled, unique things to do in Krabi (because I know you’ve been reading the same boring list from one-time tourists for days now):
Culinary Exploration: Savouring Krabi Town’s Weird and Wonderful Foodie Gems
Into The Forest cafe
I really wanted to start this blog with something a bit different to the repetitive lists that rattle out the Tiger Cave Temple and Krabi Market (though they are in here!). With that in mind, first on my recommendations is one of my favourite hidden gems, tucked away in the jungle in Krabi Province. It’s worth noting, Into The Forest cafe is a fair wee drive from Krabi Town, about a 20-minute drive from Ao Nang. In my opinion, it’s worth the shlep. This large wooden cafe is a hipster dream, nestled in front of the mountains among the palm trees and offering a cool, green, stop point on a hot day. Outside, you can relax in their group hammock spaces, whilst inside provides a naturally feeling air-conned break for the Thailand temperatures.
Khaothong Hill and Restaurant
A much newer addition to Krabi (and a little bit more out of the way than most of the attractions mentioned here). Khaothong Hill Restaurant serves jungle vibes with endless sunset views. Head there during the day for relaxed fruit juices, or treat yourself to dinner whilst the sun goes down across the islands. You’ll find more information and plenty of photos in my blog: Khaothong Hill Restaurant – Aonang’s best hidden gem
Krabi Night Market – A krabi ‘to-do’ must!
The Krabi Night Market is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike and is one of the main highlights of the town. Due to its size, it’s hard to miss, but those struggling will find it located right behind the large Vogue Department Store.
While there are a few smaller markets around Krabi that run every day of the week, the main Night Market only runs on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Shoppers can enter from around 5.30 pm until late. It’s free to visit and inside you’ll find a wide variety of goods including clothing, accessories, souvenirs, and local handicrafts. The market is also famous for its street food; you’ll come across loads of traditional Thai dishes, such as Pad Thai, Papaya Salad, and various types of curry. It’s a lively place to try local food at a reasonable price – one of my favourite stalls is the spiral potato stand, where they’ll season your crispy potato on a stick with your favourite savoury sprinkles.
Have Coffee in a Caravan at Krabi Home Run
Now THIS is a real Krabi hidden gem! There are a few unusual coffee shops tucked away in the forests and down small dirt roads in this area, but nothing checks the Instagram photo-worthy box quite like Krabi Home Run. Not only are the RVs kitted out as coffee stop seating (where you can enjoy a spot of afternoon tea), but they are also available as accommodation!
Tew Lay Bar: Railay’s unofficial Instagram chillout space and restaurant
Tew Lay Bar is often missed by Railay visitors because it sits right at the end of the east beach, passed the ‘Last Bar’ and final row of mountain hotels. Keep following the path all the way to the end, and the beach opens out into a photo-worthy hangout spot, complete with sea-view hammocks, bird’s nest swings and relaxed tunes. Their menu has lots of vegan-friendly options, my favourite being the tofu tempura with garlic – a generous helping of big, crispy, fried pieces of tofu with garlic. Incredible with a fresh coconut.
Want more Krabi foodie spots? Read my blog: The Best Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants in Aonang, Krabi, Thailand
Natural Wonders: Discover Krabi’s Landscapes
Thapom Klong Song Nam National Park
So off the grid that I hadn’t heard about it for 12 years and it was finally flagged to me by my good friend Katie who lives in Ao Nang and is always finding new hidden gems – thanks Katie! Thapom Klong Song Nam Khlong Song is a nature reserve nestled within a swamp forest. What’s special about it is that the water in the canal changes its appearance based on the sea level.
During high tide, the canal water takes on a cloudy blue hue. However, as the sea water recedes, a remarkable transformation occurs—the canal water turns into fresh water, displaying a magical clear turquoise colour. This unique transformation lays the path for the park’s name, meaning “two-coloured water canal.” Visitors can explore the reserve by traversing a 700-meter-long wooden bridge, which weaves amongst the mangroves, their huge roots clambering through the waters. Keep an eye out for bright pops of colour from rare flowers, butterflies, spiders, and even snakes!
Tab Kak Hang Nak Hill Natural Trail
You might have seen the viewpoints at the top of this hike scattered across Instagram – small ledges that appear to jut out across an uninterrupted view across Krabi. It’s another lesser-explored stop enjoyed by nature enthusiasts, offering panoramic views of the surrounding lush rainforest, sparkling turquoise waters, and dramatic limestone cliffs. The appeal of the trail lies in its challenging yet rewarding ascent; the hike takes approximately 4-5 hours round trip, leading adventurers through dense forests, steep inclines, and rocky paths.
Railay’s Diamond Cave
If you’re staying in Krabi Town, Railay (mentioned earlier) is just a short boat ride away and the cave is known for its sparkling crystal formations. This Diamond Cave is a natural limestone cave at the northern end of East Railay Beach, boasting a rich history and unique geological formations. As visitors venture into the cave, they are greeted with a mesmerizing display of glittering stalactites and stalagmites, resembling glistening diamonds, hence its name. The cave is easily accessible, but the path is made up of wooden planks that have become quite rickety over time. It’s a unique way to step out of the heat for 30 minutes or so and will cost you 100 baht per person for entry.
Monkey Trail, Ao Nang
I lived in Ao Nang for 2 years before I did this trail, and it’s right at the end of the main beach! Located at the very south end of Ao Naga Beach, the trail is pretty short and only takes about 5-10 minutes from start to finish (though the heat does ware you out fast!). The path takes you up over the rock to Pai Plong Beach and (contrary to its name) I’ve never seen one monkey on the actual trail itself. You will find monkeys at the start before you hit the pathway. The beach actually belongs to Centara beach resort, so when you first arrive you’ll be asked to ‘sign in’.
Cultural Delights: Immersing Yourself in Krabi Town’s Heritage
Guan Yin Bodhisattva Mountain Temple, Aonang
One of my favourite places to escape the tourist crowds, this lesser-known sanctuary, serves as an excellent alternative to the popular Tiger Cave Temple and comes with soothing views across the mountains and jungle of Aonang.
Many tourists still remain oblivious to its existence, and ascending to the summit requires a mere 250 steps, a manageable feat compared to its counterpart. It’s worth noting that the steps here are particularly steep, but it’s not uncommon to find yourself there alone, so worth the short trip from Aonang’s beachfront.
Tiger Cave Temple, Krabi
The Tiger Cave Temple, or Wat Tham Sua, is located just outside of Krabi Town and is known for its steep 1,260-step climb to the top. The climb is well worth it, offering endless views of the surrounding jungle and limestone cliffs. Be sure to take LOADS of water with you – I made the mistake of only taking a small water bottle – and was lucky to be with someone who was a lot more prepared. That Thai heat will kill you. At the summit, you’ll find the “Tiger Footprint”, said to be the footprint of a tiger that once roamed the area. Remember to take something to cover your shoulder and dress respectfully – this is still a temple.
Wat Kaew Korawaram – The White Temple in Krabi Town
The White Temple in Krabi Town, also known as Wat Kaew Korawaram, is a beautiful Buddhist temple built in the 19th century. The temple is known for its striking white colour, which is said to symbolise purity and the attainment of enlightenment. The temple also features intricate carvings and sculptures, as well as a large golden Buddha statue. It is considered one of the most important temples in Krabi Town and is a popular destination for both tourists and locals. The temple is also home to a school for young monks, where they learn about Buddhism and Thai culture.
Thrill Seeker’s Paradise: Adventurous Activities in Krabi Town
Rock Climbing in Railay or Tonsai
Krabi’s limestone cliffs are a rock climber’s paradise, and there are plenty of options for climbers of all levels. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced climber, there are plenty of guides and courses available to help you tackle these stunning cliffs. And even if you don’t want to climb, just watching the climbers from the beach can be an exciting experience (I recommend Pranang Beach for a combo of shade and dramatic overhangs). If you’re new to climbing, my first pick would be Railay. My favourite instructor is Kung at Tex Rock Climbing, which is one of the oldest standing climb shops on Railay. For something a bit more off-the-beaten path, Tonsai is your jam.
Railay’s Princess Lagoon
Not for the faint-hearted, the climb up and down to Railay’s lagoon is an incredibly tough one, but boy is it worth it! The journey is split into town parts: a climb up to the top of the mountain (that begins at a midway point in the path between Railay’s East and Pranag beaches), and then a steep descent down to the middle of the rock to the lagoon. I can’t stress how tough the second part is; whilst there are knotted ropes in place to help you (literally) abseil down a small part of the drop, they can be slippy under the cover of the mountain’s vegetation.
We headed up with two younger guys in their early 20s, and one turned back after struggling on the last leg. However, if you do make it down, the lagoon is like something from another planet. The tough journey means you’re rarely sharing it with more than a handful of people. Be sure to check the tides before you go, as the basin fills at high tide.
Island Escapes in Krabi
Krabi sunset boat tour
I worked in Krabi selling sunset tours and island-hopping day trips for 2 years, so I’m pretty confident when I say that Krabi Sunset Cruises is the best sunset boat tour in the area. While most of the trips in the Krabi area will take you out via long-tail or speedboat, this company has its very own pirate ‘junk’ boat.
Your two-floor vessel comes with a bar, toilet, a 2-person kayak, 4 stand-up paddle boards, and snorkelling kits – so your day will consist of so much more than a few swims at each beach stop. Tour owners Carolyn and Michael have become firm friends of mine and their nothing-is-too-much-trouble-attitude is what really sets them apart from the rival boat tours. Their sunset tour includes an evening meal on the boat as the sun drops below the waters, and the menu always offers multiple vegan-friendly options. Fancy a free beer? Simply try your hand at a backflip from the top deck and swap your gymnastic skills for prizes! They also offer a Private Morning Cruise with a Champagne breakfast. #
A day trip to the Krabi islands
While I’ve already noted that Krabi Sunset Cruises is my favourite for the smaller islands closer to the mainland, there are a few larger islands also worth exploring that can fill an entire day trip. Hong Island is the first, with its unspoilt white sands and crystal clear waters.
Fun Fact: The scene near the end of the movie ‘The Beach’ where Richard goes crazy and runs through the jungle was filmed here. The second is the iconic ‘James Bond Island’ (Ko Tapu), brought to fame in 1974 when it became one of the locations for the 007 movie “The Man with the Golden Gun.”
Got a little bit more time to go further afield? The ‘Yao’ Islands sit right in the middle of the sea between Phuket and Krabi and are very often missed, meaning they’re a lot quieter and still maintain a lot of their ‘original’ Thai feels. Both Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi are only an hour or so away by speedboat and have some wonderfully cheap bungalows that are ideal for a one-night stay.
How many days do you need in Krabi town?
It depends on what you want to see and do in Krabi town. If you just want to relax and enjoy the beaches, 2-3 days may be sufficient. That should be enough to fill a good few of the above Krabi ‘to-do’ musts. If you want to explore the town more in-depth and participate in more activities, you may want to stay for 4-5 days.
However, if you want to combine your visit to Krabi Town with other nearby destinations, such as the islands and beaches, or the national parks, you’ll most definitely want to plan a longer stay.
For more Krabi and Aonang tips, take a look at my other blogs:
Aonang, Krabi Travel Guide: Travel tips and FAQs Answered
The Best Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants in Aonang, Krabi, Thailand
Khaothong Hill Restaurant – Aonang’s best hidden gem