This time we decided a midweek trip was best as some of the local attractions like the Emerald Pool get quite busy with locals at the weekend, so we drove from Phuket to Krabi on a Monday and arrived in Krabi Town by 1pm.
The first afternoon we had no real plan, just relax and wander around Krabi Town, along the river. It’s really quite pleasant, although it does lack the old town style of Phuket Town. But it has the river to make up for that.
For dinner I had been given a recommendation by several people – “you must try Ruen Mai”. It’s outside of town on the way to Ao Nang and the sign is easy to miss. We got there early, I think it might be best to eat there after dark as it looked prettier when the lights were turned on just when we were leaving. I could tell from the clientele that this was a restaurant for well-to-do local folk, and the prices confirmed this. A little bit over our normal budget, all very tasty, but I think we preferred the Anchalee Restaurant that we tried in April.
Day Two. After breakfast at the River View Hotel, we drove east to the Emerald Pool and arrived there about 9:30am. Arriving early means you miss the tour groups who will always be at tourist attractions from about 10:30am to 3:30pm. We took the quicker 800 metre walk to the Emerald Pool this time rather than the scenic 1,400m route we took last time. Arrived at the beautiful green clear waters – we were not the very first there, but almost. I counted just four other people.
After the Emerald Pool I looked on the map and realised that Koh Lanta was not too far away – only about 50 kilometres from the Emerald Pool to the ferry. I had wanted to check out Koh Lanta for a long time, so we took a drive with the idea of taking a quick look at Lanta and (if we liked it) planning a longer trip later.
We got to the Lanta ferry by about 12:30pm, and after a short 10-minute wait drove on to the ferry. It’s inexpensive and only takes about 20 minutes to reach Lanta Noi island, which you drive across in a few minutes, then over the bridge to Lanta Yai.
We only had a few hours for a quick look around and I wanted to try the east coast first – not much in the way of beaches, but there is an “Old Town” and the road carries on almost to the southern tip of Koh Lanta, so we headed south... also, we needed lunch, and we figured the old town would be a good place to try. There did not really seem to be much to the old town, quite a few souvenir shops, but no tourists, a few small restaurants, a few actual houses and a Chinese shrine.
We followed the east coast road as far south as possible with some very nice views, then doubled back past town to where a road heads over the hills to the west coast. The hills in Koh Lanta are quite high, up to about 400m above sea level. If there are any hiking trails, I bet there would be some amazing views.
The west coast turned out to be a bit disappointing. The beaches we saw were very, very dirty. I know it’s low season, I know the wind blows trash onto the western shore, but it seemed like no effort had been made to clean them up. The whole place seemed rather neglected… maybe we’ll try again when the winds blow the other way. We took a quick drive back to the ferry and a one-hour drive back to Krabi Town.
Day Three. I really wanted to visit Railay Beach. In all these years I have never been there. My wife was not too bothered. Just another beach? Well, I can say we really liked it and if we’re planning yet another Krabi trip, Railay is on the list again. From where we stayed in Krabi Town at River View Hotel, we had to walk just a couple of minutes to get a longtail boat from the river to Railay Bay. Price easy way B150 per person.
The trip to Railay took about 30 minutes in calm seas. Boats arrive at a large floating pier which is at Railay Bay East – not much of a beach here, more mangroves. As soon as we got to Railay Beach, we were confronted with a spectacular view and lots of people unloading supplies by hand from longtail boats.
It gets lots of hype, so I was expecting something less, but it really is gorgeous. We had limited time, and had only planned a quick look around before heading back to town and checking out of the hotel, but this really is a beautiful place.
From West Railay, we walked back to East Railay and then took another pathway heading to Phranang Beach. This path winds around caves and stalactites for a couple of hundred metres, arriving at Phranang Bay which is truly wondrous.
Phranang is a place we could stay for a while, bring some drinks and snacks, take a swim… next time. Right there on the beach is a cave featuring an unusual shrine to the princess of Phranang cave. Offerings are made here in the form of lingams… phallic symbols resembling the male organ. This is said to bring luck, prosperity and fertility to the local people.
Phranang is also well known for rock climbing. Krabi is the place to be if you want to learn/try climbing, or if you are an experienced climber. Just along the beach from the cave we found many climbers and ropes.
We headed back to Krabi Town at midday, checked out of the hotel and paid another quick visit the Tiger Cave Temple before driving back home to Phuket. Now that we’ve done a couple of these trips, Krabi seems much closer to us in Phuket. I’m not sure when the next trip will be, but soon.
Jamie Monk works at liveaboard dive specialists Sunrise Divers. For more information call: 084 626 4646 or visit: sunrise-divers.com