Where: Ao Nang, Krabi Province, Southern Thailand.
When: March 2009
Why: I visited Ao Nang as part of my 30th birthday adventure where I travelled from Bangkok to Singapore. Also on this journey, I visited Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi and the Bridge over the River Kwai, Koh Samui, Phuket, Koh Phi Phi and Ao Nang in Thailand; and Kuala Lumpur and Malacca in Malaysia.
I had two nights and one full day in Ao Nang.
Sometimes when you’re travelling you hit the wall and you just can’t move or make any decisions about where to go next. This is when you need a travelling companion to kick you up the bum to help you out of the rut.
For me, Ao Nang is where I just stopped…
I’d just come from the high of Koh Phi Phi and was about to make the final rush through Malaysia and Singapore -and so when I hit Ao Nang, I just did nothing. I hardly left my hotel room apart from to eat and swim. I didn’t go to any of the wonderful bars or onto the beautiful beach – which is a true waste because Ao Nang is a gorgeous resort.
Ao Nang is very much a resort town. It’s on the Thai coast near to the city of Krabi. I have friends who have just been on package holidays here. Ao Nang is based along two main streets and has a lovely beach and a long strip of shops and restaurants. It’s quite a spread out, quiet resort, but it has all the facilities and shops you could need and lots of interesting things to do and see near by.
It’s also a good jumping off point for Phi Phi, Phuket and the Andaman islands.
I wasn’t actually supposed to go to Ao Nang: I was supposed to be going to Railay/Rai Leh Beach (a.k.a. the best climbing beach in the world), but I hadn’t been able to pre-book accommodation at Railay/Rai Leh and I was a bit worried about getting trapped there with nowhere to stay and no way to get out, as it can only be accessed by boat.
I’d booked the passenger ferry from Koh Phi Phi through a travel agent. Travel in Thailand is really easy as all of the agents have boards at the front of their shops with the prices for transport – and you just wander in and buy a ticket and they sort out all of the journey for you. My agents in Koh Phi Phi met me at my hotel to walk me to the ferry and carry my bags and then they put me on the boat.
The ferry journey was wild and wonderful; there were great storm clouds hanging over the Andaman Sea. I was recovering from the effects of a bucket of booze, and the fresh sea-air bought me back to life. I hung off the back of the boat with the wind flowing through my hair, blowing the cobwebs away.
The ferry boat stopped close to Railay/Rai Leh Beach and lots of longboats came to collect those heading off – and it was at this last minute that I decided to move on to Ao Nang – which was slightly further up the coast but connected to the rest of Thailand by road.
As with Railay/Rai Leh Beach, the boat couldn’t reach the jetty at Ao Nang and so a very rickety, Thai longboat came out to pick us up and run us to shore.
I didn’t need to worry about finding accommodation, as when we got off the boat there was a crowd of touts holding up boards advertising their hotels. They were so busy trying to crowd around me, that I couldn’t move and I just started to giggle -it was just silly. Luckily everyone started giggling too and backed off a bit till I’d chosen somewhere to stay. I ended up choosing the wonderful Haleeva Resort. They provided the shuttle from the harbour to their resort.
You can find ferry times on the Phi Phi Islands website.
What I did on my holiday
I walked down the high street a few times, pottered around the shops, bought some books, booked the next part of my journey, went to MacDonalds and an amazing Thai restaurant where the food made me cry, had an okay Thai massage, lazed around in bed and watched tele.
What I should have done on my holiday
Ao Nang is located in a beautiful part of Thailand and there are lots of interesting things to do here, though for me it was just a very pretty transit point.
First of all, Ao Nang and Railay/Rai Leh have gorgeous, white sandy, palm tree, dreamy beaches. Railay/Rai Leh beach is very isolated and can only be accessed by boat. You can charter a longboat from Ao Nang to take you there for a day-trip or you can stay at the beach. According to wikitravel it costs 100bht/£2 each way for a longboat, 150bht/£3 after 6 p.m., and the journey takes 10 minutes.
Railay/Rai Leh is supposed to be amazing for rock climbing, with limestone pinnacles and jungle. It’s also a great spot for diving, lazing, trekking – and for just getting away from it all. Find out more about Railay/Rai Leh at www.railay.com.
Many people who are based in Ao Nang will go on day trips out to the islands, including Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta.
This is a great area for sea canoeing and scuba diving too. I remember being just up the coast in Phi Phi and literally scooping the fish out of the water, there were so many of them. Lonely Planet has a good list of boat hire companies and diving schools.
Krabi city is about half an hour drive away from Ao Nang. You can travel there in a shared truck/mini-bus taxi. Krabi is a small city and though there’s not a lot to see there, there are one or two temple and an art gallery.
8km outside of Krabi is the Tiger Cave Temple. It is one of the most sacred sites in Krabi province and is famous for the tiger prints in the cave. This is a mountain top temple and you have to climb 1,272 stairs to get to the top, but the panoramic views of Krabi and the Andaman Sea apparently make the climb worth it. You can get a taxi or a tuk tuk to the base of the stairs to the temple.
You can also take Thai cookery lessons and ride an elephant – but not at the same time.
Where I stayed
Along with the Serenity Spa in Koh Samui, this is one of the best hotels I stayed in on this trip. Haleeva was a lovely, quiet, boutique-resort hotel with great rooms, huge beds, lovely showers and a wonderful infinity pool with the most beautiful, limestone, jungle-covered mountain backdrop. And all for £20 per room per night. There was free internet and great staff too. Some of the rooms had private jacuzzis (though mine didn’t. Pah!)
The hotel staff were really helpful with booking my travel into Malaysia and with washing etc. It was a lovely place to stay.
The only downside was that the hotel was towards the back of the resort (although I quite liked being at the quieter end of town) and there were very few other young, single travellers for me to meet.
The Haleeva is located opposite the mosque on airport road.
Since my visit the Haleeva resort has been renamed to Haleeva Sunshine. I couldn’t find a website for it but it does appear on many of the hotel booking sites and you can read about it on TripAdvisor.
Please note, some, if not much of this information may not be correct, or may be out of date. All these articles show is how we found these places when we visited and what we personally thought of each place. Where possible I will include links to site which will contain more up-to-date info. All of this is my own work and any opinion expressed is that of the author only.
If you think I’ve missed something important or have got something wrong, please let me know in the comments section below.
All photos copyright of J Clemo-Halpenny. If you would like to copy or reproduce any of these images, please email me to ask permission.