Southern Thailand’s coastal town of Krabi – home to around 25,000 people – stares out into the Andaman Sea, which nurtures around 130 (some estimates claim more than 150) islands. The Andaman archipelago stretches across the Bay of Bengal from India to Myanmar and totals some 570 islands. But the 130 claimed by Krabi Province are more than enough to keep you busy.
This is where Exotic goes on holiday. White sandy beaches under clear blue skies, limestone rock formations perfect for climbing, and some of the best dive sites around. The region’s limestone prevalence has allowed the ocean to mould many islands into jaw-dropping karst formations – craggy towers topped with green, and spooky caves that shelter bat colonies.
So book a flight to Krabi with Qatar Airways, and get ready for an equatorial adventure like no other.
It is best to travel to Krabi between November and April, when it is cooler and boat trips become more comfortable. Make sure you explore some of the province’s caves, starting with Ban Ao Luek, just north of Krabi Town. You can then move on to Khao Khanap Nam, which can be reached by boat from Khong Kha Pier.
Additionally, you should try to squeeze the so-called “Diamond Cave”, a series of illuminated caverns with hypnotic limestone configurations that culminate in a golden quartz waterfall-like formation.
A day out at Khao Phanom Bencha National Park is perfect if you fancy some al fresco swimming away from the area's beaches. Huay Toh Waterfall has plenty of large pools that are great for swimming, while Huay Sadeh Falls and Klong Heung Falls are also nearby.
People come to Krabi from across the globe for its rock climbing and Rai Leh, a rocky limestone peninsula, is considered one of the best spots.
Diving is also popular here, and Krabi has a number of renowned dive sites that rival Koh Tao on the east coast. Head for Ko Lanta or Koh Phi Phi, where you will find several dive shops and instructors. You can also take a boat trip and visit some of the islands or secluded white sandy beaches on the mainland. For a little post-breakfast ornithology, book an early-morning bird-watching tour, on a boat trip through Krabi's mangroves.
The cuisine of southern Thailand features plenty of seafood and milder coconut-milk curries. Specialities here include Phanaeng curry (a dry dish with Malaysian influences) and massaman (a coconut curry with potatoes and peanuts).
For a taste of authentic street food, head for the Night Market near Khong Kha Pier. Here you can enjoy dishes such as satay, tom yum goong (a prawn and lemongrass soup) and som tam, a spicy green papaya salad. The Day Market is a popular spot for lunch if you need refuelling.
You will also find a wide range of international restaurants in Krabi, due to the huge number of tourists visiting the province each year.
In Krabi Town you will find sumptuous local food that is reasonably priced, alongside clothing, local art and handicrafts. Unless you are looking for the usual tourist-trap shops selling T-shirts and shorts, avoid Ao Nang, where prices can be higher.
For souvenirs unique to southern Thailand, nielloware boxes, vases and trays are perfect. Nielloware crafting has been practiced here for centuries and involves etching intricate designs on a blackened blend of copper, silver, and lead sulphides. Seashell ornaments and jewellery are also widely available and often incredibly beautiful.
For fabrics and textiles inspired by the natural surroundings, head for the Thai Batik Shop and Phi Phi Gallery, where you'll find batik skirts, bags and shirts.
Essential facts about Krabi
Enjoy a hassle-free journey with all the information you need to know before your trip