After our flying visit to Manila, the beachside town of Ao Nang was our next destination. Ao Nang is a small resort town located in Krabi, one of the southern provinces on the mainland of Thailand. It’s certainly not untouched by any means, rather the entire town is primarily geared towards tourism. Ao Nang is well positioned with easy access to the Andaman Sea, and is well known for its captivating beach scenery, with jaw-dropping limestone karsts towering high above the sea.
We flew into Krabi International Airport, and were surprised by how brand new and modern the small airport was. We easily booked an airport taxi for around 600 baht to transport us to our hotel, about 40 mins drive from the airport. Apparently it’s also possible to take the local shuttle buses (songthaew) to Ao Nang for a much cheaper 100 baht, however it is also a much longer trip (around 2 hours) as you need to take 2 songthaews, changing at Krabi Town.
Although Ao Nang is a small town, there is certainly quite a lot to do! With its prime positioning to the Andaman Sea, there’s definitely no shortage of water based activities such as snorkelling and scuba diving trips. Island hopping trips to discover the many tiny islands around Ao Nang are also popular, as well as day trips to some of the more well-known Thai islands and beaches such as Railay Beach, Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta.
If you’re fond of more adventurous pursuits, rock climbing and cliff jumping is also available around on Railay Beach. There are also numerous hiking trails if you prefer to stay out of the water and explore the stunning limestone karsts.
Ao Nang beach itself is stunningly picturesque. The limestone karsts rising up out the water and large cliffs of the mainland make for dramatic scenery, and I certainly didn’t get tired of looking at it! There is only a short amount of sand before the water starts (maybe 2-3 metres on the day we spent at the beach, this would depend on the tide and season of course), and it’s lined with trees behind which provide some welcome shade in the heat of the day. There are a huge amount of massage huts behind the trees, and the massage ladies will also rent you beach chairs and sell you food and drinks. The water is really calm and a lovely temperature – perfect for swimming.
Getting around Ao Nang is really easy, with the majority of the shops and restaurants located along the beach. Our hotel, the Centara Anda Dhevi was located slightly out of the main part of Ao Nang, but it was really easy to grab a quick 5 minute tuktuk ride into town. The best part was that tuktuks in Ao Nang are fixed price, with the ride into Ao Nang only costing 30 baht each time. Certainly makes a change from the rest of Thailand where bargaining is key!
If you’re coming to Ao Nang to taste the multitude of delicious Thai cuisine, you probably will be disappointed. The town is heavily influenced by the booming tourist market, and as such restaurants tend to cater for more international tastes. We really struggled to find a restaurant that served only Thai food, with most serving a range of different cuisines.
We also found the nightlife in Ao Nang pretty quiet. There are a few of the ubiquitous beers bars that abound in places like Phuket and Bangkok, however there were not a lot of patrons and the mood was very low key.
Shopping is not a major attraction in Ao Nang, with no big malls or shopping centres. There are numerous small shops selling the usual tourist clothing etc that you can buy anywhere in Thailand. These are predominantly located both along the beach road and in small walking streets behind.
I would recommend Ao Nang if you’re looking for a place to just chill out and relax, with many of the comforts of home available. If you’re looking to really experience the Thai culture and cuisine, you’re probably best to look at other parts of the country.
Have you been to Ao Nang? What were your impressions?