The Backpacker’s Complete Guide To Krabi, Thailand

After practically ignoring it my first go-around in Thailand, Krabi slowly squeezed its way into becoming one of my favorite places in all of South East Asia. My first time here, I used it as a one-night stopover en route to what I perceived to be more promising destinations. It was July 4th. I partied hard, helped carry Team USA to a victory over the Brits during my hostel’s festivities, then left the next day.

My second go around in Krabi, to say I had the time of my life would be an understatement. I found Krabi to be the perfect balance of relaxing, adventuring, and partying. It is a backpacker’s paradise.

You get a solid taste of the island life without being actually on an island. Being on the mainland, Krabi has a lot of advantages that the other popular destinations in the area don’t have. It is less touristy than Phuket, much larger than Koh Phi Phi, and more developed than Koh Lanta. Krabi is large enough that you can stay for a while without ever getting bored.

What To Do

Pai Plong Beach

This is my favorite beach easily accessible from the mainland. By easily accessible, I mean you still have to take a little stroll through the jungle and climb a shit ton of stairs. Once you get through the brief uphill hike in the blistering heat, you’ll be ready for a swim and Pai Plong is a dope place for just that.

To get there, you can either drive or walk to the trailhead. There’s a side road off to the left of the main strip that eventually turns into a dirt road. I don’t know how to describe where it is exactly so here’s a picture of it.

rent a scooter in krabi

Go down that dirt road until the very end and there will be a parking area. I didn’t actually know if there was going to be anything at the end of it and I almost turned around five times just because I was still traumatized by other South East Asian dirt roads. Thankfully, it was hella worth it.

You can also walk down the entirety of Ao Nang Beach until you get to the Monkey Trail. Hike the Monkey Trail and voila, you’ve made it to Pai Plong Beach.

Noppharat Thara Beach

This isn’t the most scenic beach in Krabi but it has a ridiculous amount of seashells scattered throughout the beach. I wouldn’t consider it a great swimming beach but during low tide, you can see dozens of people combing the beach looking for the perfect shells.

When the tide is high, it is just another beach. I would argue that it is one of the better spots to catch the sunset, though. You get a clear view of the sun before it crosses the horizon without it being blocked by one of those big chunky sexy limestone mountains. Grab a Chang and some buds and chill out on the sand or at some of the cheaper beachside bars and shacks along the long stretch of beach.

Tha Pon Klong Song Nam

This is a cool little stream running through the mangroves. The environment and ecology of the area is much different than anything else I’ve encountered throughout Thailand. Mangroves and banyan trees line the stream that gradually gets bluer and bluer the closer it gets to the ocean. Although it is pretty far to get to, it is definitely worth doing while you are in Krabi.

Tiger Cave Temple

If you feel like hating yourself for 30-45 minutes, then this is the activity for you.The view from the top was beautiful but I didn’t consider it to be anything particularly special. There’s a big golden Buddha at the top and a shiny golden mount but aside from that, there’s not much else actually at the top.

The 360-degree panoramic views give you views of all of Krabi but aside from the hordes of karst jutting up from the distance, the view isn’t all that magnificent. The sense of accomplishment is probably the best part. I couldn’t imagine doing this by myself because honestly, 90% of the fun was sharing the misery (and a lot of sweat) with a fun group of people.

You will struggle miserably throughout the whole thing. Even the most in-shape in our group got a quick stint of lightheadedness around step 1,000. If you need something a bit more adventurous to do than chill on the beaches then Tiger Cave Temple is definitely worth a visit.

Kayaking

There are a lot of cool places to go kayaking in Krabi. You can kayak out in the ocean, kayak through caves, or kayak through the mangroves. Sea kayaking is a very popular activity for tourists so if you want to do it, it will be easy to arrange.

If you want something off the tourist trail, you can go kayaking inland through a big mangrove lake. I don’t think any other tour companies go there besides Slumber Party Hostels. They charge only 400 baht ($13 USD) for the 4-hour adventure. The lake is a popular local spot where Thai people go swimming. You’ll find hardly any other tourists there. It is super chill and easygoing and once you make it to a beautiful spot at the end of the river, you get to hang out and have a little picnic. As you’d expect from an establishment like Slumber Party, you’ll get a beer as well.

Phra Nang Beach

Home to the notorious Princess Cave (or Penis Cave, depending on who you ask), Phra Nang Beach is one of the spots you can’t miss if you head to Railay. The place looks epic with jagged rocks jutting downwards above the beach. You could get impaled while sunbathing if one of those things fell on you. That’s a pretty badass way to go.

phra nang cave railay beach

So yeah, back to this Penis Cave thing. There are a bunch of different theories as to why people put wooden penises in the sacred cave. The one I was told was that a long time ago, a princess (Phra Nang) fell in love with a fisherman and the people did not approve of that very much so they sent her a bunch of dicks to express their dislike. I couldn’t find that story anywhere else on the Internet so here are some other theories.

princess cave krabi

Krabi Night Market

Once you’ve been to one Thai night market, you’ve been to them all. That’s not saying that Krabi’s isn’t worth going to. If you’ve been to Chatuchak in Bangkok or Chiangmai’s legendary night market, then Krabi’s pales in comparison. It still is probably the best and cheapest place to buy souvenirs for your homies back home, though.

If you’re staying in Ao Nang, you’ll be surrounded entirely by overpriced shops. It costs 200 baht to get there via taxi which I always considered a bit steep to go to a market, but if you’re planning on shopping til you drop, that could end up saving you money in the long run.

You can also get really weird things like black and green churros and “sushi”.

Railay Beach

Railay Beach is probably Krabi’s most scenic region but with that title comes a lot of tourists. It is undeniably gorgeous so there’s no way you can miss out on it. Railay Beach is only accessible by boat so you’ll have to take a 150 baht ($5) or so boat taxi over there.

railay beach krabi

You can also stay there since they have their own town, although it is admittedly very resort-y. The area is absolutely stunning and you haven’t done Krabi properly until you’ve seen Railay. It is as close to paradise as you can get.

phra nang cave view railay beach

There is a lot to explore on Railay and plenty of nice spots to swim whenever the blistering heat gets too much for you. There are also cute monkeys everywhere. They look a little more demonic but you will find that they are nicer and less aggressive than the typical Thai monkeys. Everything here is overpriced to the max so bring snacks and drinks for how long you plan on being here.

Tonsai Beach

Tonsai Beach is a stretch of beach that you can reach from Railay or by taking a boat from Ao Nang. It is beautiful but it definitely seems to play second fiddle to Railay as far as popularity goes. That does mean that it is quieter and less developed, which can be a good thing. However, it also isn’t particularly a great beach to swim in. The scenery is incredible but there are definitely better beaches in Krabi.

tonsai beach krabi

If you do an island hopping tour, you can cross off Tonsai, Railay, and a couple of other spots like Poda and Chicken Island.

Where To Stay

slumber party hostels krabi

Slumber Party Hostel

While there are plenty of other hostels in Krabi, all of them are rightfully overshadowed by the craziness of Slumber Party. I’ve been to Krabi twice and both times I have stayed at Slumber Party and have not regretted it. Unlike many other grimy party hostels, the properties are actually clean, modern, and functional.

There are actually two Slumber Party hostels because they’ve become so popular. Slumber Party by the beach has a nice location by the beach but everything also is much more expensive in that area. It is super touristy and you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything that isn’t ridiculously inflated in price. I do like staying at the beachside one because it is a significantly shorter walk home from the clubs. If you plan on going out every night, this is important.

Slumber Party Hostel in town is where the party is at. You’ll have a hard time convincing yourself to stay in because the energy and hype of the place will have you ready to go out every night. It is literally 9:30 AM right now and Pika just gave me a beer because I said I might take it easy tonight. This is fully what you can expect this place to be like.

I stayed at Slumber Party for the last six nights and somehow went out every single night. I haven’t done that shit since like college or like my early days of traveling. After a month in Bali where I went out maybe five times, I actually thought my days of partying were coming to a close. Nah. Slumber Party put me back in my element real quick.

We lost power at one point and the party still raged on. The storm was pissing down and rather than let that stop us, half of us went dancing in the rain. Threw our flashlights under water bottles to light up the beer pong tables and went hard in the rain.

I don’t have any other recommendations. Slumber Party is just where it’s at.

Nightlife

Ao Nang Centerpoint

Centerpoint is Ao Nang’s main nightlife hub. It consists of several stories of bars and clubs enclosed around a central square that is usually packed with partygoers. There are also a few spots in Centerpoint to get food in between your drunken rampage. You’re bound to find something you’ll like while you’re here. Pick your poison.

Soi RCA Entertainment District

This is a small street lined with a few bars and clubs. I’ve gone here three times and it tends to be a lot quieter and emptier than Centerpoint. As you walk down the short strip, you’ll be welcomed by strippers and dancers on both sides. I guess I haven’t really seen this place during the busy season so who knows, maybe it is a poppin’ spot as well. The only place I ever went to here was Bamboo Bar.

Bamboo Bar

This bar is the only one that I ever went to on Soi RCA. It’s the one in the way back with a notable lack of strippers. It’s got a pool table and is a regular stop on the notorious Krabi Pub Crawl, which I will talk about more in a second.

Krabi Pub Crawl

Ahh, the notorious Krabi Pub Crawl. This is where shit gets crazy. It costs 450 baht for a ticket. With that, you get a shirt, a bucket, a barbecue and a taxi back into town for the party. You also get a lot of free shots and free drinks. You get your money’s worth and more. You will have a raging good time.

At the beginning of the night, you would never expect the people pouring shots down your throat to be the same ones holding your hair back as you puke into the toilet. But they will be. One of the biggest highlights is how the hostel staff look after the crawlers like family. They don’t just let people get drunk and abandon them. It’s like a drunken family party. If some people get too crazy, the staff do their best to control any problems. It’s kind of a good thing that everyone wears the same tank top because it does make it easy to corral them. If you end up embarrassing yourself, that’s your problem, but hey, you will live to tell the tale.

The pub crawl starts at Slumber Party’s corner hostel at around 8 PM. The buckets are flowing, the drinking games are rambunctious, and everyone is having a good time. Once everyone’s a healthy (or unhealthy) level of drunk, the crawlers pile up into the songthaews off to Bamboo Bar, which I talked about earlier. After some frustratingly drunk games of pool and a lot of free tequila, the party crawls its way to Centerpoint.

Galaxy Bar

After Bamboo Bar, Galaxy Bar is the next stop of the crawl. Wide open spaces, lots of tables for drinking games, and a second-floor balcony to watch the shenanigans from above makes Galaxy Bar a cool place to top off before wildin’ out at Chang Bar. The only other bars on the second floor are a bunch of strip clubs. If that’s your thing, go for it. I always found myself heading to the next stop a little bit early because I loved the place so much. Nothing special about it but it is a lot of fun.

Chang Bar

Chang Bar is Centerpoint’s most poppin’ bar by far. It is where everyone eventually ends up to fill up the cramped spaces between tables that eventually transform into dancefloors. If you aren’t here to party, then there’s no point in coming here. There are plenty of places to sit down and chill at Centerpoint so don’t take up space at Chang if you ain’t getting wild. Changs, hookahs, and an eclectic mix of music is the name of the game at Chang Bar. Literally, though. It goes from reggaeton to EDM to Bruno Mars to Ed Sheeran and no one seems to care.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Chang Bar up until closing time so I’m assuming it usually closes at 5 or 6 AM. The party starts bumping a little after midnight and it rages on pretty late.

Cheers Up Bar

Just had to give a shout to my favorite bartender. This bar is right at the entrance of Centerpoint and is probably the quietest spot in the entire area. You can grab some beers and chill out for a sec if the music and flashing lights are taking their toll on you. Hit up the tall, skinny bartender for a game of Connect Four. I’ll Venmo you money for a beer if you manage to beat him. Dude’s a savage.

cheers up bar krabi

McDonald’s, Burger King, 7-Eleven, or Family Mart

If you aren’t belligerently drunk by the end of your night, camp outside one of the aforementioned establishments for some quality people-watching. If you are belligerently drunk, head to one of the aforementioned establishments to put on a show for the people I just told to camp outside of them.

Miscellaneous Advice

Should you rent a scooter?

As of March 2018, the crackdown has become stricter on driving without a proper license. If you have an international license then you will be fine but if you don’t, it’s up to you if you want to risk it. I risked it and I loved having a scooter in Krabi. I feel like scooters are directly correlated to my happiness.

krabi town view

It’s useful if you want to get to certain places without paying for a taxi. Taxis to and from Krabi town can cost minimum 200 baht from the Ao Nang area. At 200 baht per day, a scooter can take you to infinity and beyond. On a backpacker’s budget, this could make a pretty sizeable difference, especially considering how expensive Krabi can be.

Is it safe for solo travelers?

Absofruitly.

Where should you go after?

The world is yours. Krabi is in a great location to go pretty much anywhere. You can get to the islands of the south pretty easily. Phuket, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta are the most likely course of action after Krabi. Surat Thani is only a 2-hour bus ride away if you need to get to Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, or Koh Tao. A flight to Bangkok or any other major city in Thailand can cost as low as $20 USD if you book far enough in advance.

Thailand’s tourist trail is pretty worn so if there’s somewhere you need to go, there’s probably a significant number of other people wanting to go there. There will be planes, trains, and automobiles headed for wherever your heart desires. You will meet plenty of backpackers in Krabi and you will leave with dozens more friends than you came with.

Krabi is one hell of a good time. Thanks for checking out the post! Make sure to catch me on Instagram to adventure around the world and get lit with me.

 

 

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18 thoughts on “The Backpacker’s Complete Guide To Krabi, Thailand

    1. haha the heat killed me in Krabi. Especially hiking that damn Tiger Temple at midday.

  1. I was so excited to read your post! Thailand is on my list and this will def come in handy as I plan my trip!

    1. Definitely don’t miss Krabi! I made that mistake once and I’m glad I had a second chance to see it again!

  2. I did the same thing my first time there (I’ve sadly only been the one time at all). And looking back I SOOOO WISH I STAYED LONGER!! Your pictures are to die for!

    1. I could’ve totally spent another week here easily, too. Can’t believe more people go to Phuket than here!

  3. I can legitimately not get past your title “survival of the littest” without bursting out laughing – quality, my friend. The post is great as well, it brings back some serious memories of a great little spot.

  4. Thailand’s beauty never ceases to amaze it! It’s such a naturally beautiful destination that also possesses so many manmade treasures, such as the temples. But I have to say the highlight of this post for me was the penis cave…which I’d never heard of but am now thoroughly fascinated by lol Thanks for sharing!

    1. haha I was so confused when I realized what the piles of wood actually were. At first glance I thought it was just a pile of sticks then I heard someone call it the Penis Cave and my mind was blown

  5. I think it would be so easy to fall in love in an island hiding behind the mountains as beautiful as this. I’m putting a Southeast Asian itinerary for next year and this can’t go off the list.

  6. That’s a shame about Tiger Cave Temple, it looks quite cool there. I never made it to Krabi when I was in Thailand. Will definitely consider it for next time.

    1. I still think it’s worth the visit! I think I was numb to all of the landscapes and scenery of Thailand at that point but there’s no denying how beautiful it is up there.

    1. Oh there are plenty of places for older travellers. It’s very resort-y in some areas and there are some really nice places to stay beachside. I’m too poor for those places at the moment though

  7. Krabi was on our list when we visited Thailand last year, but we had to cancel it after a storm warning, we had always wanted to visit Railay beach, it gives a hidden beach type of feeling. The wooden penis island is hilarious, haha.

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