Long Tail Boats and Beach Time at Ao Nang Beach, Thailand
The hustle and bustle of Bangkok quickly got us longing for a more relaxed stay. Picking the next destination was not easy - there are literally countless beautiful places in Thailand. The ones that are the easiest to get to tend to be the more touristy. After doing research and chatting with a few locals we settled on Ao Nang - a beach town in Thailand's Krabi Province, a less touristy cousin of the nearby and famous Pukhet. We found that even though Ao Nang clearly thrives on tourism, it is still possible to see some elements of authentic and traditional Thai life.
Thailand is home to many developed places which make it an attractive destination for tourists. In 2013, Thailand was the 10th most visited country in the world. Depending on the source, Bangkok ranks as one of the top three or five most visited cities in the world. Tourists who are making their way to Asia usually make Thailand their first destination. The combination of food, natural wonders (including a few world heritage sites), sandy beaches and exciting nightlife makes Thailand an excellent introduction to Asian culture.
Our hotel in Ao Nang was situated on a side road, about 200 meters from food carts and another 100 from the beach. I have to say that it took me a few days to get used to the idea of getting most of our meals from street vendors. But once I started there was no going back - the food was superb. Everything was prepared right in front of us, with the freshest local ingredients - talk about authenticity! We gravitated towards one single cart, and went back there every day alternating between our favorite couple of dishes and trying something new. Portions in Thailand are smaller than back home in America, where things tend to be XXL, so we were often able to try more than a single dish. Aside from the traditional Thai food that was familiar to us, we were surprised to see things like pancakes, which resemble crepes and are usually filled with bananas. Our favorite dessert however was mango sticky rice and coconut ice cream.
On our first day of exploring Ao Nang, we took a long-tail boat to nearby Phra Nang Beach where we lounged all day and had lunch on the beach. The beach was a postcard perfect picture of white sand and blue waters with towering green limestones. As there were food vendors on boats there was no reason to cut the day of relaxation short. Well, at least not until black clouds started to cover the sky and made us run to the long-tails to get to our hotel before the downpour!
The following day we took a 15 min shuttle ride to a private beach which belonged to the hotel we stayed at. While it was not as pristine as Phra Nang Beach it was desolate and relaxing and there was a fully functioning bar and kitchen - nice perk! We spent the day reading books, napping in hammocks and swimming in the water. I know - tough life! We ended up liking this beach so much that we came back two more times. After getting back to our hotel that night we saw the most spectacular sunset and quickly rushed to the beach on the main strip and watched it in awe with hundreds of other spectators. It seemed like every visitor stopped what they were doing and just stared into the sky which was a rich mix of red, orange, purple, and even green. I snapped photos while listening to the sounds of ukulele tunes played by a Canadian girl (which of course Vlad spoke to because of the common country bond). It was hands down the most amazing sunset we have ever witnessed.
Wishing to venture out beyond the limits of Ao Nang we rented a scooter and drove for about 45 minutes inland to Krabi Town which turned out to be a bit of a letdown. Aside from a beautiful temple and a fun sculpture of two crabs, there was not a whole lot else to see. After getting some lunch and drinking fresh coconut water we hit the road again rushing home to jump in the shower and scrub off all the dust and sweat we gathered while driving.
Towards the end of our stay we booked a private long-tail tour from our hotel which took us around four islands near Ao Nang. I don't recall all the island names but we saw Chicken Island and spent some time on Tub Island. Our guides were nice and even though they did not speak much English, we somehow communicated. They took us to a spot where we snorkeled with colorful fish and admired coral reef. They even threw bread in the water so that the fish would gather in front of our faces. Seeing the fish so up-close was a very fun experience until we started getting bit by them. I guess they confused our buns with bread! In contrast to Australia, where you are constantly reminded not to touch the reef or feed the fish, no one gave us any such instructions in Thailand but of course we were careful and respectful.
The flight from Bangkok to Krabi was about an hour.
Our hotel room was very spacious. Hotel pool on the 3rd floor had a pretty interesting view.
Long tails at Phra Nang Beach. Iconic view of lined up long-tail boats. Everyone traveling to Thailand probably has one of those photos.
Hungry while on the beach? Do not worry, pick up your lunch from one of the boat kitchens docked by the shore. Vlad getting some food from local women. Ladies wearing traditional muslim hijab were a common sight in Krabi as Muslims account for over 40% of the local population.
Phra Nang (Princess) Cave is located on the beach and is a big attraction among tourists due to a large number of phallic wooden sculptures. These decorations make it very hard to keep a straight face while visiting this small cave. Fishermen used to come here to give offerings for successful fishing trips and general fertility.
One of the sculptures. Relaxing at our hotel's private beach. We came back here two more times.
The owner's goal is to keep the beach area as natural as possible.
I don't think I need to convince anyone when I say that Thai food is delicious. The dishes we got from the private beach kitchen were exceptionally good. Horseback riding on the beach.
After getting back to our hotel we saw the most amazing sunset. Lots of people gathered to see it. Can you spot Vlad? It was the most colorful sunset we have ever seen. The whole sky was on fire.
The following day's sunset was also beautiful but not nearly as dramatic. Scooters are a popular means of transportation among locals and tourists alike. We rented a similar one for our day trip to Krabi Town. Street of Ao Nang are colorful with souvenir shops. Another Thai attraction were Lady Boys walking the streets of Ao Nang. For a small fee you could take a photo with them. There are photos of the Thai King everywhere in Thailand. Grilled sea food.
Intersection at Krabi Town.
Wat Kaew, temple in Krabi Town. We weren't properly dressed so we did not go inside. Our skippers on the private boat tour. Kids jumping off limestone cliffs. Chicken Island is named after the rock that resembles a chicken head.
Snorkeling with colorful fish. Our guides were throwing bread right in front of us so we had a wonderful view of them. At times fish confused us with bread and we got bitten. Enjoying Tup Island's sandbar.
Our last stop was this pretty white sand beach. Unfortunately I do not know the name of it.
White sand + crystal clear waters = paradise
Our long-tail boat.
Hope you enjoyed this post. If you have any questions or comments, let us know below. For more photos of Ao Nang and Thailand visit our Gallery page.
Next stop - the island of Koh Samui.
So what do you think of Thailand so far? Have you been? Is it on your list?
This looks like an incredible place to visit - from the pristine water and beaches, to the sunsets and delicious food, looks like you guys had a truly luxurious stay at Ao Nang! I keep scrolling back up to that picture of you guys on the beach, eating - looks like a damn good spread. I also love the literal zebra intersection in Krabi :)
@Tommy I'll add photos of the scooter in the next post :-) we rented one again in Koh Samui.
As to driving on the left, we have been doing that for almost 3 months because both Australia and NZ drive on the left so it felt normal.
Glad you are enjoying our photos :-)) Makes your sista happy :-) We have some photos together, mostly selfies. We keep forgetting to ask people to take photos of us. Well, we have them at the most important places. I'll add more of those in future posts.
Thanks for reading mah Brazia!
Wow this is the best one yet...brings back great memories.
How come no photos of the scooter???!!!! Was it confusing driving on the left hand side??
...what a great trip...and seriously the photos are truly spectacular. Do you have more photos of you together? I hope you do that way you can have something to hang up on the wall once you're back in the boring US of A....
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