A Family Vacation to Krabi, Thailand!

Stunning limestone Karst (mountain-like) towers artistically placed in pristine blue waters; rhythmic waves romancing the stunning shores; long stretches of fine white sand hugging your toes; magnificent tropical forests and impressive dense mangroves – the scenery of Krabi practically models for you.

The most relaxing part in all of Thailand – Krabi – is like an insignia of paradise on earth.

From Island hopping, to shopping, to pub hopping, to astonishing sight-seeing… Krabi has a lot of attractions which require a fair bit of travelling – which you will not mind as any and every where that you will look, it will be just gorgeous!

Our vacation to Krabi was thoroughly enjoyed by the little man and hence it is definitely one of our top picks as a fun family destination! We feel that a minimum of 4 Nights / 5 Days trip is needed to assimilate the beauty of this place.

How to Reach Krabi: You can fly into Krabi from all major Indian cities. Though there might not be direct flights but you will get a number of 1 stop flight options to reach here. The international airport at Krabi is located at about 7 kilometers from the city center and you will find plenty of commute options from here to all major areas in Krabi.

When to visit Krabi: Being a tropical place, the weather in Krabi is kind of same all year ‘round – just avoid the peak rainy/hot season as it will limit you from venturing out.

Where to Stay: We both like staying in the most happening area when visiting a new place, so “Ao Nang” was our unanimous choice. It is a perfect blend of natural beauty (the stunning long Andaman coast beachfront) and man-made fun options (like: pubs with live music, shopping, etc.) 😛 There are a lot of Indian restaurants in this area so getting fresh food for Junu was never a problem! An added advantage of staying in Ao Nang is that it is the hub for long-tail boat operators, so almost all island tour boat rides start from here itself.

There are a lot of stay options in Ao Nang. After some research, we opted for a family friendly hotel – Holiday Inn Resort, Ao Nang – and we could not have asked for more! The highlight of our stay was their kid’s pool. Junu made sure that we all spent few hours in it – religiously every single day! Great location, proximity to mini marts, food joints, pharmacies, availability of tuk-tuks right outside the hotel, spacious room with a sit out, spotless bathroom, extensive buffet breakfast, kids club, special kid’s menu and the live music on weekend nights just enhanced our delight! To top it all, it’s proximity to the beach made our morning/evening strolls to the beach almost effortless. (well, the word effortless is a misnomer when travelling with a kid as each beach trip means – sand toys, swim wear, change of clothes, beach towels, water, etc. etc.).

Top Attractions:

The Four Island Hopping Tour

This is the most touristy thing that we did here. Though there were some things which we didn’t particularly like – but I’d still say go for it!

So, we booked this day tour with a reputed tour operator (which we usually avoid – as we like to explore on our own and at our own pace). I must say – it was well managed. We were picked up at around 8AM from our hotel and were dropped back at around 3pm – all as per schedule. But the thing with such robotically managed tours is that you do not get that wow factor at all! On the bright side, the beauty of the islands that you will be seeing is so gorgeous that it will kind of make up for the short-comings.

The four stunning hot spots covered as part of this tour are:

  1. Pranang Beach will give you options for sun bathing, clicking photographs, making sand castles on the beach with your young ones.
  2. Tup Island is ideal for snorkeling. If you are lucky and the tide is low, then you can walk along a small bridge kind of walk away created which joins to the neighboring island. Again, perfect place for doing photography.
  3. Chicken Island is a natural landmark and gives you great snorkeling opportunity in the warm waters. You can explore the stunning coral life.
  4. Poda Island has exotic bamboo plantations, picturesque rocky cliffs bordered by a long beautiful beach will welcome you here. It’s an ideal spot to end your tour and have lunch looking at the waves crashing at the shores.

Some Cons though:

  1. The tour starts pretty early in the morning and getting the kid and yourself (camera) ready is kind of challenging.
  2. Since most of the agents operate at the same time in the same order so the islands get super crowded. This makes getting that perfect picture against nature with no humans – very difficult.
  3. The time at each of these stops is so crunched that you do not really get to enjoy any of these islands fully.
  4. We despised the lunch that was served by the tour operator. Being vegetarians does limit our options – but rice and boiled veggies was definitely not what I had hoped for! See if you can carry something for you and the little one even if the picnic lunch is included in the fare.

Tips:

  • Do not carry kid’s stroller on this day, as 1 – There won’t be any space on the speed boat to keep it and 2 – It won’t work on the sandy beaches/islands.
  • Please confirm if the National Park fee is included when you pay for the tour. Usually it is not and you have to pay it to the staff at the island/speed boat. So, keep cash handy.
  • These islands do not have any proper eateries (there won’t be any time too!), just a small shop selling soft drinks, knick-knacks are all you will find, so carry something for the little one.
  • Do carry your swimming costumes! What I do on beach days is that I wear my swim dress under my clothes and I am beach ready – instantaneously! Same for Junu… Well, I am super lazy when it comes to changing too many times, so this works great for us!

Hot Springs and Emerald pool tour

Hot Springs: Visiting these naturally formed Hot Jacuzzis of Nature is an absolutely unique and exotic experience! Located in the middle of a jungle, this place features natural bathtubs in smooth stone, filled with fresh running spring water at a pleasant 35-42 degree Celsius.

Emerald pool: Hot springs is usually coupled with a visit to the mesmerizing Emerald pool. As the name suggests, the water is emerald colored and is an absolute wonder.

These two places are truly marvels of nature and are a definite must-visit!

Tips:

  • DO CARRY your kid’s stroller as these spots are after long walks from the parking place. The path is decent for a stroller, so do carry!
  • Once bitten, twice shy. We carried our own eatables on the day of this tour. A happy tummy makes a happy traveler! 😀
  • Both these places get quite crowded here on peak days and times.
  • Carry your swim-wear.

Tiger Temple

A beautiful Buddhist Temple, well known for the tiger paw prints in the cave – is another one of the top attractions in Krabi. Though the tiger is no longer there, there are a number of macaques (monkeys) here :D. Well, the day we visited it started raining heavily and it had some 1237 odd steps to be taken to reach the view point and we were a bit tired after the hot springs and emerald pool, so we just hung around at the base and didn’t really go to the top. But they say, the view is mesmerizing from the top. So, do it if you can.

A quick tip: Like most other Buddhist temples, skirts/shorts are not allowed. So, wrap something around your legs if you plan to go in.

Railay – Highly Recommend!!

An amazinggg tropical retreat – Railay is definitely amongst our all-time favorites! The evenings spent here, watching the gorgeous sunsets against the stunning backdrop, in the company of my one and a half men – are etched in my heart forever! We most definitely suggest you to keep one full day to explore Railay!

Surrounded by the Andaman Sea, lush jungle and twisted rocks, Railay won our hearts as soon as we docked here! Let me quickly give you a geographic description of the place – Railay is a cute little peninsula between the city of Krabi and Ao Nang. It is isolated from the mainland and can only be reached by a boat ride. We took a long tail boat (quite a bumpy experience – it is!) from Ao Nang to reach here. Now, Railay has four main areas – Phra Nang, West Railay, East Railay and Ton Sai – and each one is quite distinct. Deciding where and how to spend the day can be a bit befuddling! Well, as you would know from our previous posts, we do not do the mandatory check-in at all the must-visit places so, we (‘I’ – obviously!) did our little research before coming to Railay and directly headed to “Grotto” (more on it, later!).

As we walked (note: it’s a long walk from the place where the boat drops you off to Grotto) on the sandy path, we couldn’t help admire the beauty of this place. People say, Railay is becoming increasingly commercial with each passing day, but still it was a respite for city dwellers like us! Away from the hustle-bustle of the markets and Krabi city life, we really had great time here!

The thing is, I can really go on and on about Railay. But, then somethings are best left to imagination. So, let me just tell you about the activities and to-dos at this place, as briefly as possible…

The sea is quite shallow and relatively calm here, so it’s equally enjoyable for both the swimmers as well as non-swimmers. For adventurous souls, there are a lot of activities here like: rock climbing, sea kayaking, diving, snorkeling, jungle trekking, white water rafting, etc. and for the ones who just want to chill out, this is paradise! The entire area is surrounded by sea side bistros and cafes. (which we missed in other beaches/islands in Krabi). So, just pick one which appeals to you the most and spend some relaxing time here! I am sure by now your little one must have mastered the art of playing in the sand and playing in the water, so you all can be assured of a really good time here!

Coming back to “Grotto” – Well, my phone was literally full of screenshots of this place from all the research! That’s how excited I was! And boy! It did live up to all the hype! (I know! I know! Too many exclamation marks there! :D)

So, Grotto is a restaurant in a naturally formed cave, overlooking the sea. It belongs to a magnificent resort, named Ravayadee. This place actually demands romance… it demands you to hold hands…sit together…look into each other’s eyes and rekindle your romance! I can assure you that this will be one of your most romantic meals ever!

As if this wasn’t enough, their food is just great and the courtesy of their staff is something else only! They won our hearts by handing over a sand kit to Junu while we got busy romancing! 😀

A super chilled out day by the pool + the beach = Anup’s kinda day!!

Such days are what truly make a holiday, really a holiday! Get up late, reach just in time for the buffet breakfast, pile up the food and then have all that – guilt free (vacation calories doesn’t count!) This was usually followed by a struggle between a quick shut eye time vs. hitting the pool and the latter always wins as the little master’s word is final!

The pool at Holiday Inn was truly a kid’s dream come true. It has slides, rain dance and its huge. So, June had an amazing time in it and we had an amazing time looking at him! How much ever time he spent in it was never enough and was usually followed by a power struggle between him and me. And this time, I won! 😀

Back to room, quick lunch for him and then after relaxing in the room, we head straight to Ao Nang beach. This is the best free entertainment that you can get in Krabi. You can easily get a clean patch of sand to picnic. Do carry a spread over sheet or a beach towel, all the beach toys, a bottle of wine/or beer in cool tub(you deserve it, for daring to go a holiday with your little demon J) and some tit bits/fruits to munch on for all of you and let the bliss begin. I am sure, nothing can be more soothing than watching your kid have the best of time playing in the sand, catching small crabs, playing catch with the waves… while you alternate between relaxing and indulging in some of those games. Don’t forget – it’s a very picturesque spot, so do indulge in photography.

Come back to the room, relax for some time. Give an early dinner to the little one and if it is a weekend night, we suggest you to hit the hip and happening NIGHT MARKET. Ladies, get into action and Gentleman, behind the stroller please… It’s time for some serious shopping!

Weekend night market

A trip to Thailand is incomplete without some cheap street shopping. The variety of clothes, footwear, accessories, souvenirs, etc. that you find at dirt cheap prices in such street markets is truly remarkable! But, remember to bargain well here!

Well, frankly speaking shopping isn’t the only thing that attracts us to a night market (of any location – for that matter). It’s actually the vibe that such night markets have – is what is truly awesome! The sheer energy that you see here is so damn contagious and it instantaneously makes you feel upbeat!

You can also indulge in great local Thai food and exotic cocktails. Don’t miss tasting some of the famous Bamboo cocktails! Oh! I almost forgot to mention that yummilicious coconut ice creams that I savored almost every single day in Krabi! Try them too!

One confession though… the shopping scene at Krabi isn’t as great as at other Thailand locations. The Chatuchak market is definitely better than Krabi’s night market! So, go with reasonable expectations and you will have fun.

Tips:

  • Carry your kid’s stroller.
  • We usually give June his dinner before leaving for the night action. So, on our lucky days, he usually dozes off by the time we reach the place. This gives us some time to enjoy without the ringing in our heads – “Mumma! Toy! Daddu! Toy!” 😀

Phi Phi Island tour & James Bond Island Tour

Both are great day tour options. As we had been to both these places on our earlier Thailand trips so, we didn’t do them with Krabi. Will cover more on them in following posts on rest of Thailand.

Quick Dos and Don’ts:

Do’s:

  • Wear lots of sunblock cream. The afternoons can get hot and sunny.
  • Pack some food along on day tours as the food provided by the tour operators is quite bland and tasteless.
  • Bargain for island hopping, snorkelling, water sports, shopping, etc.
  • For Island hopping, each operator will offer you two types of boats – Speedboat and Long tail boat. Try both! Speed boat would be costlier and quicker where as long tail would be cheaper and noisier but will give you the local feel of the place.

Don’ts:

  • Don’t stay at Krabi Town unless it’s just for one night as it is quite far off from the action.
  • Please book earlier for your stay if you are travelling during peak season. As the rates for peak season can go really high
  • Try avoiding dingy and dark alleys, when in Thailand.

That’s it – our favourite things to see and do in Krabi. If you’ve been to this beautiful place and have some suggestions, please leave a comment below. 🙂

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