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Sunday, January 29, 2023

Krabi: The Pearl of the Andaman Sea

Traveling along Southern Thailand’s western coastal provinces bordering the Andaman Sea of the Indian Ocean, tourists will encounter a myriad of natural and cultural attractions. From the provinces of Ranong, Phang Nga, Phuket, Krabi, Trang and Satun, surely Krabi stands out to be the most stunning one with its limestone outcrops, caves and waterfalls, hot springs, mangrove and rain forests, white sandy beaches as well as numerous islands.

According to archaeological research, Krabi’s prehistory goes back some 37,000 years. The word “Krabi” means “sword” and points to an ancient unearthed sword prior to the city’s founding. To reach the city on Highway No. 4 or Petchakasem Road, passing from Bangkok the cities of Nakhon Pathom, Ratchaburi, Petchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon, Ranong and Phang Nga, you reach Krabi after 814 km. There are daily buses from Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal on Borommaratchachonnani Road to Krabi, while trains reach only to Trang, from where you have to trace back some 131 km to Krabi. Also, there are domestic flights to Krabi International Airport from Don Muang and Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok.

Krabi City is located at the Krabi River, which runs between the two hills of Khao Khanap Nam, which form the town’s most prominent landmark that can be reached from Chao Fah Pier within 15 minutes by long-tail boat. There are some local hotels, namely the City Hotel and Green House Hotel, while the upscale Meritime Park & Spa Resort is north of the city center. Markets abound and recommended is the Bai Toei Restaurant in town. Most of Krabi’s population is Muslim, in the city Chinese dominate.

Actually, most of the tourists head straight to Ao Nang, a bay that has a broad sandy beach that stretches from the nearby Hat Noppharat Thara National Park to the foot of a characteristic limestone range. Accommodations, restaurants, bars and tour operators are everywhere available. From Ao Nang, tourists can hire boats to the nearby attractions of Hat Rai Le for rock climbing or Koh Poda and other islands to watch excellent coral reefs.

But what is easily overlooked from the mainland are the two most famous and popular destinations in Krabi Province, namely the island paradises of Koh Phi Phi, which is mostly reached from Phuket, and Koh Lanta. Phi Phi Island is within an archipelago of six islands and is a popular destination for snorkeling. It is some 42 km from the provincial town of Krabi and in equal distance from Phuket. The main island is called Phi Phi Don with scenic twin bays and crystal clear waters. A recommended hotel is the upscale Phi Phi Natural Resort in the north part of the island. Phi Phi Le is a much smaller island with the Tham Viking Cave and Maya Bay, which was closed now because of mass tourism. Koh Lanta instead is within a national park nearer to the mainland and consists of many islands. Visited are Koh Lanta Noi and Koh Lanta Yai, where sandy beaches abound and a community of sea gypsies can be seen.

Other famous attractions in Krabi Province not to be missed are the Than Bokhorani National Park in Amphoe Ao Luek, Khao Phanom Bencha National Park with its typical rainforest, Wat Tham Suea along Highway No. 4, the shell cemetery of Susan Hoi, and Wat Khlong Thom in Amphoe Khlong Thom, where important historical artifacts are housed and cared for by the abbot. Nearby are the Ron Khlong Thom Waterfall with an area full of hot springs and the exciting Khao Pra-Bang Khram Wildlife Sanctuary with the Tina Jollive Thung Tiao Trail and the Emerald Pool, watching birds such as kingfishers and hornbills.

With all these mentioned natural and cultural attractions in Krabi, is it not worth to call Krabi the utmost “Pearl of the Andaman Sea” and visit it more often than before?

Written by : Reinhard Hohler

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