I get many questions about where to go in Thailand, and probably the most popular is this one: “where are the country’s best beaches?”
While answering this question is ultimately subjective, particularly if I try to narrow it down to an individual beach or island, one province tends to take the cake when it comes to having Thailand’s best beaches: Krabi.
Located on Thailand’s Andaman coast not far from its more famous cousin Phuket, Krabi is home not only to the town of the same name and dozens of amazing mainland beaches, but iconic islands like Koh Lanta and Koh Phi Phi, among others. That’s the good news. The better news is that with just three days in Krabi province, you can experience a truly wide range of the best beaches in Thailand, among the Kingdom’s other treasures.
Where to Stay in Krabi
This article suggest you spend each of your three nights in Krabi in a different place: Railay Beach, Koh Phi Phi Don and Krabi Town, in that order. For each of these locales, I can recommend an excellent hotel from personal experience. Sunrise Tropical Resort in Railay, for example, feels secluded and private (TIP: Splurge and get the villa!) even though it’s just steps from the area’s most popular attractions.
Phi Phi View Point Resort lives up to its name with a stunning panorama, and its height also immunizes you from much of the island’s noise. Sasi House in Krabi Town initially appears simple and unremarkable, but has an understate charm and glamour that belie its humble exterior.
Day One: Rock Walls and Penis Caves
After arriving at Krabi Airport, get a taxi or share van to Ao Nammao Pier, where you’ll board a long-tail boat to Railay Beach. Railay is most famous as the rock-climbing capital of Krabi province, but there are plenty of adventures to be had, even if you have a fear of heights.
The hotel I’ve recommended above is located at the more charming and secluded Railay East, but Railay West is actually home to the best beaches (at high tide, the only beaches!) of the peninsula.
Get a bird’s eye view of this land mass (and a small dose of climbing—yes, ropes are involved!) by climbing up to the View Point, which provides a stunning panorama. Come down, then walk under several karstic caves (photograph the monkeys, but don’t feed them) and arrive at the Phra Nang Caves, which are not only a great vantage point for sunset, but are filled with penis carvings that are purported to bring virility to men and fertility to women.
Day Two: The Beach
Rise early on your second of three days in Krabi, then head to Railway West where you’ll catch your ferry to Koh Phi Phi Don. Famous, among other things, for being home to the limestone karst beach from The Beach, Koh Phi Phi possesses an iconic beauty, but you should also be prepared for your visit here: It’s incredibly crowded, to the point of being unbearable some parts of the year. (TIP: If seeing “the beach” is not a huge priority for you, you might spend your second of three days in Krabi in Koh Lanta instead.)
Indeed, your task-list for Koh Phi Phi is simple:
1) Join a tour (preferably the sunset one, which departs at 2 p.m.) bound for Koh Phi Phi Leh, the island that’s home to the beach;
2) Ascend the aptly-named View Point (ideally the next morning, before catching your ferry back to Krabi Town) to enjoy a panorama of the narrow strip of land that separates the main beaches of Koh Phi Phi Don.
Day Three: 1,272 Steps to Nirvana
Krabi Town often gets overlooked, and for good reason—well, good reason for the town itself. The inland reaches of Krabi province, on the other hand, are definitely worth a day of your time. To make the most of your third or three days in Krabi, get the first ferry of the day from Phi Phi’s Tonsai Beach to Klong Jilad Pier, the one closest to the Krabi hotel I recommend above.
To be sure, you’ll arrive in town too late to join a tour to the places I’m recommending, but if you have more than two people, the price will be almost the same. A taxi to the Emerald Pool, Hot Spring Waterfall and Wat Tham Suea should cost no more than 2,200 baht. (TIP: If you can, time your trip to Wat Tham Suea around sunset. It’s 1,272 steps to the top, so there’s a practical element—it’ll be cooler and thus easier—to this suggestion, as well as an esoteric one: Your pictures from the summit will be absolutely stunning bathed in end-of-day light.)
The Bottom Line
Is Krabi province home to Thailand’s best beaches? That’s for you to decide. But if you’re seeking sun, surf and scenery, there are few better ways in Thailand to achieve that than by spending three days in Krabi—one night in Railay and one night in Koh Phi Phi, followed by a day exploring the province’s inland treasures, are just what any sane doctor might order.