Those looking to explore the rich beauty of Southern Thailand may be thinking about the coastal region of Krabi.
This idyllic land is known for its gorgeous coastline that meets the Andaman Sea and limestone rock formations that are unique to the area.
But if you’re someone who’s thinking you want something more than just beaches on your vacation, then you might be asking yourself; is Krabi worth visiting?
The answer vastly depends on what type of traveler you are and what you want to do on your vacation.
In this guide, we’ve shared our pros and cons of visiting Krabi so you can make an informed decision about whether it’s the right destination for you…
Pros of Visiting Krabi
1. Breathtaking Beaches and Islands
Of course, we have to begin with one of the main reasons people visit Krabi, and that’s for the province’s breathtaking beaches and islands.
Krabi has a vast collection of world-class beaches, with each one possessing a unique charm that invites travelers from all over the world to relax and experience these hallowed sands.
Railay Beach is probably the most popular beach town on mainland Krabi, tempting international and domestic visitors to see its towering limestone cliffs, genuinely crystal-clear waters, and powdery white sand.
Due to said limestone cliffs, Railay is only accessible by longtail boat which you can catch for a small fee from Ao Nang.
As well as Railay, you can also take a speedboat over to the Phi Phi Islands, famous for being a tiny archipelago far out to sea and being the location for Danny Boyle’s blockbuster ‘The Beach’ with Leonardo DiCaprio.
Whilst the Phi Phi Islands are fairly commercialized, they are still unbelievably beautiful and one could quite literally spend weeks, if not months there, just chilling out.
For something off the beaten track, the Hong Islands are jaw-droppingly beautiful. Again, only accessible by boat, the islands are one of the best areas to go snorkeling with coral reefs teeming with marine life and perfect for a more laid-back island experience.
2. Range of Outdoor Activities
Thanks to Krabi’s diverse landscape, with its towering limestone cliffs and rugged, almost mountainous terrain combined with the amazing coastline, it makes for the perfect base for a range of outdoor activities.
When you’re not relaxing on Railay Beach’s pristine beaches, chilling in a reggae bar, or feasting on fresh seafood, why not test yourself and scale the karst cliffs in a spot of rock climbing?
It’s known for being one of the best rock-climbing destinations in the world with each route offering a challenging yet incredibly rewarding experience that perhaps best of all, all levels of climbers can partake in.
If you fancy getting the flippers on, Krabi is Thailand’s home of good snorkeling, diving and even kayaking.
The beautiful blue water is home to thousands of species of marine life and a snorkelling or diving day trip is one of the best things you can do in the province.
Kayaking is also a wonderful experience, with the main beaches having several kayaks to rent so you can explore the limestone caves, mangrove forests, and rugged shorelines at your own pace.
3. Stunning Natural Landscapes
If you thought Krabi was only about the beaches, then think again. Just over an hour’s drive away from Ao Nang is the Thung Teao Forest National Park.
After passing giant karst cliffs and through the peaceful Krabi countryside, you’ll soon get deeper into what looks like pure jungle which is where the national park is located.
It is famous in the area for being home to several emerald pools, that are natural hot springs. In the direct sunlight, the color of the water is genuinely incredible, and being surrounded by dense tropical rainforest just adds to the mystique of the place. But more on that later…
Turning our attention back to Krabi’s iconic limestone cliffs now, where else can you find a better beach in the world than Phra Nang Cave Beach?
If the powdery white sand and turquoise waters weren’t enough to tempt you, how about its deep cave that you can head into and explore for yourself?
Also known as the Princess Cave, this hollowed-out cave, from millions of years of coastal erosion, is plastered with a multitude of rather rude phallic symbols.
At the northern end of East Railay Beach is another wonderful cave – Diamond Cave, which features some of the best stalagmites and stalactite rock formations in the country.
4. Exciting Nightlife
After you’ve worn yourself out with all of the activities available to you, once the sun sets in Krabi, the fun doesn’t stop.
There’s a vibrant nightlife scene, truly coming alive in Ao Nang and Railay Beach in particular. Ao Nang’s beachfront transforms into a lively hub full of travelers and locals looking to enjoy the best of what the coastal town has to offer.
There are plenty of excellent bars for you to enjoy cocktails in the sand and an impressive fire show on the beach to round out the evening.
Being the closest large town to Railay Beach, Ao Nang is also home to plenty of live music venues. Catch live performances by talented local bands and acts for a night of good music and meet new people along Soi RCA Entertainment or at the Boogie Bar.
If live music isn’t your jam, Krabi International Boxing Stadium is the best place in the province to see some live Muay Thai action with a large capacity venue and both international and Thai professional fighters on the cards.
Whether it’s your first time watching this traditional Thai sport or if it’s a sport you have a deep passion for, you’ll not be disappointed with a night of enthralling action.
5. Slice of Local Life in Krabi Town
Just a short drive away from the hotspots of Ao Nang and Railay Beach, Krabi Town is the provincial capital of Krabi. This small town is a wonderful location that truly immerses any traveler in the local way of life.
One of the stand-out experiences you can have in Krabi Town is paying a visit to the local markets including Maharaj Market, which is one of Southern Thailand’s largest wet markets.
Wander the narrow alleys and see the amazing range of locally produced fresh food and ingredients alongside cooked foods and snacks for you to sample as you explore.
Taking place every weekend, Krabi Town is also home to a fabulous local walking street night market with masses of local vendors selling all sorts of authentic Thai dishes.
It’s a great opportunity to interact with the hard-working locals, shop for unique gifts, and feast on a wide variety of food that you might not otherwise see or try in the tourist hotspots.
For a deeper cultural experience that will stick with you for a long time, consider visiting Wat Tham Sua, or the Tiger Cave Temple.
It’s a bit of a drive away from Ao Nang or Krabi Town but boy is it worth it. The temple complex houses a series of caves, shrines, and statues that showcase Buddhist art and architecture, and the centerpiece is the giant Buddha statue which stands mightily tall on top of one of Krabi’s iconic limestone cliffs.
You can hike up to the top via a long and steep staircase of 1250 steps. Once you arrive at the summit, you are rewarded with panoramic views of Krabi province and out to sea.
6. Convenient Base for Exploring Other Popular Destinations
Another huge reason why Krabi is worth visiting is the fact it serves as an important gateway to other islands and top tourist destinations along the southern mainland and the Andaman Sea.
If you need a base to spend a couple of weeks or longer exploring the Southern Thailand region, then Krabi is your gateway.
You’ll have supreme access to a variety of transport including the quintessential way of getting around in Southern Thailand – the longtail boat – as well as ferries and speedboats and also local buses and taxis on the mainland.
From Krabi to Koh Lanta, it takes only around 30 minutes to reach the ferry and from there, it’s just 15 minutes across the water, as well as smaller and more off-the-beaten-path islands such as Koh Jum.
Krabi is also the main starting point for many day trips to islands in the Andaman Sea, such as to see iconic locations like James Bond Island and the larger Phang Nga Bay, not to mention the Phi Phi Islands.
Read more: Krabi Vs Phuket: Which is Better?
7. Hot Springs
One of the most unique natural phenomena in Krabi is the hot springs. The hot springs are renowned for their therapeutic properties and have been attracting visitors from all over the world.
There are a few hot springs in the region, though most people visit Emerald Pools, a natural, outdoor pool where warm thermal waters meet with the spring water pool below, making a warm but refreshing pool to swim in.
If you prefer hotter waters, head to Saline Hot Spring Khlong Thom, an outdoor thermal spa where you can immerse yourself in the warm, mineral-rich waters of the hot springs and let the natural healing powers work their magic.
The water, with a temperature ranging from around 40 to 45 degrees Celsius, depending on which pool you dip into, is said to have numerous benefits for the skin and can help alleviate aches and joint pains.
Apart from their therapeutic benefits, the Saline Hot Spring Khlong Thom is nestled amongst serene surroundings of lush greenery. You can unwind in a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere, away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
Though it’s not hugely touristy, it’s popular amongst locals, so don’t expect a private experience.
There are showers and changing rooms at both these hot spring locations, as well as a place to purchase refreshments.
Cons of Visiting Krabi
1. Crowded Tourist Areas
Due to Krabi’s sheer beauty and popular attractions, the tourist crowds can taint the experience somewhat, especially during the peak season of November to March.
Railay Beach isn’t exactly the largest of destinations and thanks to its remote location there is little space to expand the area. During peak seasons, this can make it hard to find a resort to stay in if you plan last minute.
While this is in some ways a good thing, as it prevents overdevelopment and keeps its charm, it does mean that the small paths and restaurants get crowded pretty quickly during the day and peak hours of the evening.
2. Weather Variability
Due to Krabi’s geographical location, the weather can be wildly unpredictable, even in the dry months. The climate can significantly impact what activities can take place and also how enjoyable they will end up being.
The vast majority of activities in Krabi take place in or around the sea, and therefore sea conditions can be a key factor when deciding whether it is safe or not to continue with plans.
Krabi primarily experiences two monsoon seasons May to October and November to April. You should avoid visiting Krabi between May and October as the rainfall can often be biblical which also has a knock-on effect on the sea conditions.
You do NOT want to be on a speedboat in the middle of the Andaman Sea during rough monsoon seas because there is a good chance you might not even make it back to shore.
November to April is by far the better month to visit, with generally dry and clear skies during the day and calm seas allowing you to explore all of the wonders of the region.
3. Limited Historical and Cultural Sites
Whilst Krabi is known for its stunning natural beauty and exciting outdoor activities, the province isn’t particularly known for having a great deal of historical or cultural sites for you to visit.
There’s a much larger emphasis on visitors having a laid-back experience, relaxing on some of the best beaches in the world, with sprinklings of rock climbing, snorkeling, and diving thrown in and then wrapped up with a delicious seafood feast in one of the many local restaurants.
The absence of ancient temples, palaces, or archaeological sites may cause travelers with a keen interest in history and culture to avoid Krabi and the crowds altogether.
The Verdict: Is Krabi Worth Visiting?
Krabi is a fantastic destination in Southern Thailand, home to a magical blend of incredible natural beauty, and exciting adventures such as rock climbing limestone cliffs or scuba diving, or indulgent experiences such as relaxing in hot springs.
It’s also a great base for island hopping and is well-located to connect you to other popular destinations in Thailand such as Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta. Topped with the lively and vibrant nightlife thrown in for good measure, it’s worth visiting.
There are a few downsides to visiting Krabi such as the temperamental weather conditions and overtourism, but if you travel at the right time of year you can avoid this and have a wonderful time in Krabi.