Lay of the Land
Located in southern Thailand on the Andaman coast across from Phuket, Krabi Province is home to roughly 100 miles of coastline and over 150 islands, including the stunning Koh Phi Phi Le, made famous as the setting of the film The Beach. Mainland Krabi, which covers an area slightly smaller than Delaware, boasts a lush and mountainous interior featuring waterfalls, caves and hot springs, as well as mangrove forests that provide a rich habitat for aquatic life.
Of the many beaches that line the coast, Phra Nang and Rai Ley on the Phra Nang Peninsula (home to Rayavadee), are among the most beautiful. These beaches are only accessible by boat, which can be booked privately or easily picked up from nearby Ao Nang. Ao Nang, approximately 15 miles from the Krabi airport, is a less spectacular beach with beautiful sunsets that has been a popular destination for European tourists since the 1990s. This is the most built-up stretch of beach in Krabi, though still relatively underdeveloped in comparison with Phuket, and home to a few good restaurants and lively nightlife.
The bay of water that separates Krabi Province from Phuket is Phangnga Bay, peppered with over 80 limestone islands that can be visited on day trips by longtail boat. The Phi Phi islands, while naturally among the most beautiful in Thailand, are best seen from afar. Unfortunately they have become vastly overcrowded and the sound of longtail boats bringing more and more visitors can be overwhelming. That said, the coral reefs that surround the islands are still teeming with fish and offer some of the best diving and snorkeling in the region.
Krabi International Airport is a one hour and 20 minute flight from Bangkok, with daily flights. The airport also services daily arrivals from Hong Kong, Chiang Mai and Koh Samui. It is also possible to drive to Krabi from Phuket in a scenic, though occasionally winding, two hours.
Getting around mainland Krabi is best done by taxi. As many drivers do not speak much English, it is best to have the hotel or restaurant call a car for you. Be sure to settle on a rate before entering, as the taxis do not have meters. Rates are very affordable and an hour-long ride should cost no more than $40. Adventurous types may choose to rent a motorbike, the locals’ preferred mode of transit, for a day of exploring sites on their own, but be sure to review your travel insurance policy before doing so. Several of the beaches, including Rai Ley and Phra Nang—where Rayavadee is located—are only accessible by boat so be sure to book airport transfers in advance.
When To Go
Thailand is a tropical country that boasts warm weather year-round. The dry season is between November and April, with January and February being the best times to visit. Keep in mind that these are also the most crowded months, so we advise booking in the shoulder seasons if you are looking for a more peaceful escape. Traveling during the rainy season, May to October, is not recommended as the rain brings jellyfish, making swimming more hazardous.
Who It’s Right For
Krabi works best for those who are interested in a more off-the-beaten path destination than Phuket or Koh Samui but still want a top-tier resort. Travelers seeing active pursuits will find plenty to keep themselves busy, with access to world-class rock climbing, kayaking, snorkeling, diving and jungle trekking. Beach lovers will appreciate that there are still undeveloped, picture-perfect, white-sand beaches to be found by longtail boat with a good guide. Those who enjoy going off property for great meals and cocktails will find Krabi to be sleepy.