I have visited Thailand many times, but this was my first time in Krabi, one of Thailand’s most relaxing, adventurous, and scenic places. Ao Nang is the main beach resort town in southern Thailand’s Krabi province and a gateway for longtail boat tours to the beaches of limestone islands such as Koh Hong, Koh Poda, and Koh Gai (Chicken Island). Other boats are also available for Railay Beach, a well-known destination for rock climbers.

krabi, thailand
A view of Krabi from the air

For me, Ao Nang was a little touristy, and this small town gets really crowded with the arrival of a busload of group tours.

Getting There

I took Air Asia 8:20 am flight From Bangkok Don Muang Airport and arrived at Krabi Airport at 9:40 (about 75 minutes flight time). We booked a shared taxi to Ao Nang beach from the airport without any hassle. The 27+ km drive was about 35 minutes. Other airlines also fly to Krabi like Thai Airways, Bangkok Air, Nok Air from Bangkok Don Muang, or Suvarnabhumi airport, and they are more affordable if purchased in advance. 

ao nang, krabi
Ao Nang street side shopping in Ao Nang, Krabi – Thailand

After reading many blogs on Ao Nang, I decided to skip staying in the town even though there was a wide range of accommodation available instead chose to spend a few days in Railay Bay Resort & Spa.

The only option to get to Railay bay is to get a boat from Krabi to Railay Bay East or from Ao-Nang to Railay Bay West. So I planned my airport shuttle drop off at Ao-Nang Pier and took a 20 minutes exciting Longtail boat ride from there to Railay Bay Resort and Spa.

Ao Nang, Krabi - Thailand
Long Tail Boat at Ao Nang Pier

My Experience

This Beach Resort town Ao Nang is relatively small, limited to only a few main streets where all the actions are. However, passing by those main streets for the 1st time, I got a vague idea of where to start during my next trip to Ao Nang. 

Ao Nang to Railay Bay
A View of many islands on the way from Ao Nang to Railay Bay

Thrilling Experience

During my stay in Railay bay, I made a few trips to Ao-Nang. One time while in town, the weather started getting worst. Stormy weather with high wind and gusty rain forced all the Piers to shut down. As a result, I had no way to get back to Railay bay. Also, getting a hotel for a night was not an option for me either as I was not carrying any credit card or enough cash to pay for it.

Railay beach
Very early in the morning Long Tail Boat lined up – Railay beach

It was getting late in the afternoon, and soon it would be dark. One of the restaurant workers advised me to go to Ao-Nammao Pier in Krabi so I could take a boat back to railay beach Hotel. The pier was 10 km northeast of Ao-nang, and from there, I could take a boat that only transported employees to Railay Bay East. I found the idea exciting, so hired a tuk-tuk and headed in that direction. Without wasting time by thinking as it was getting dark and the weather was worsening. I decided to get on the last boat of the day com considering my safety.

Public Long tail boat from Ao Nam Mao to Railay East

Lucky to be Back to the Island

I noticed that I was the only non-local person on the boat and must have looked terrified (not for my life, but for my camera). The boat seemed about to break apart, dropping 8-10 feet every time it rolled over a big wave. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The unfortunate part of the experience was that I couldn’t capture any of those moments. It was impossible to take out my camera due to the splashing saltwater from the high waves and the heavy rain coming from all directions. Additionally, I could use my hands as they were busy protecting my back and balancing my body throughout the trip. You can imagine the challenge.

My Last Words

If you have been to Railay, Maya, or bamboo beach, you won’t like Ao-Nang. It was more like a pickup drop-off area for the noise longtail boat, but I did enjoy the long walk along the coast and watching the beautiful view of the bay. Even though it’s not so tempting to me, I still saw the beach was crowded with locals and tourists alike.

You could find many restaurants lined up by the Ao Nang beach road but hard to find the taste of authentic southern cousin also a bit pricey. Still, there are many happy campers and, in pick hours, challenging to find a table in a restaurant of your choice. Despite all the bad online publicity, I find Ao Nang a place of my choice and go back there again, but I may do things differently based on my previous experience.

Koh Mai Pai, Krabi
Koh Mai Pai, Krabi

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Hasan Mahmud

Traveler, Blogger, and Travel Photographer!

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