Our second stop in Thailand was the Krabi region. It’s an area known for it’s beaches and breathtaking islands off the coast, so of course it was on our list to visit. We opted to stay in Ao Nang as we had read it was a great launching point for visiting many islands in the Andaman Sea and it also had the best selection of hostels and food.
This stop also included going back to dorm life which was a fairly easy adjustment. Lately we had been spoiled with hotel rooms or private rooms, so we took it easy and booked a 4 bed mixed dorm at a cute hostel called iDeal Beds. Reviews told us that it was close to the beach yet away from the party area and quite peaceful.
We took a ferry from Phuket to Ao Nang and hopped in a tuk tuk to take us to our home for the next few days. The scenery took our breath away and we hadn’t even gotten to the best parts yet!
Our arrival day was spent lounging around our dorm and catching up on naps. Then we discovered there was a weekly market in town that night, so we hustled out of bed to head that way. Reception at the hostel told us it was a great market and we immediately headed out to negotiate with some tuk tuk drivers. After walking away from a few, we found someone to take us to the market for a fair price to get our grub on.
The next hour was spent wandering market stalls, eyeballing amazing food and drinks and talking about what we wanted. Then we looped back through and grabbed a variety of foods that sounded and looked delicious. We opted to take a tuk tuk back towards the beach and feast on our bargain dinner at the beach. Luckily the timing worked out perfectly and we watched the sun set into the Andaman Sea while we ate some amazing food!
Feeling successful, we called it a night and agreed to take a long tail boat to nearby Railay Beach the next morning. Our feelings of success didn’t last long, because when we got back to our hostel we learned that the water would be turned off in all of Ao Nang for the night. We were not looking forward to the lack of showers, sinks and functioning toilets overnight. Welcome to Ao Nang?! Things worked out though and the water was turned on and off randomly over the next 12ish hours, so we survived. 🙂
On our second day, we walked down to the beach and bought tickets for a long tail boat and hopped on for the short ride over to Railay Beach. Railay is a beautiful beach near Ao Nang that is only accessible by boat. That resulted in a lot of water traffic during the day, but it did not take away from the beauty of the place. We tried Thai Pancakes once we arrived and became immediately addicted. These became the breakfast essential for us each morning in Ao Nang. Then we claimed our spots on the beach and laid out for a day full of sun, sweat, sand, sea, people watching and reading. And apparently sunburns.
We learned two valuable lessons about sunscreen that day: 1) always check and see if it’s legit sunscreen before purchasing and 2) apply a base layer in the dorms before heading out and sweating all day long. The day was long, hot and sunny which resulted in some red noses, Kerry’s shoulders getting very toasty and random spots on Jenny getting a bit too much sun despite several re-applications of sunscreen. Luckily we took breaks from the sun with more Thai Pancakes, some fruit smoothies and some window shopping. Once we decided we were tired of sweating bullets, we grabbed another boat back to Ao Nang.
On our way to the weekly market the first night we passed a small street market near the beach. We decided to try our chances and go see if it was open on day 2. It was! After ordering some food, we sat at a table and were blown away by the delicious meals prepared right in front of us for under $3. AMAZING!
Day 3 included some sleeping in, chowing down on Thai Pancakes and a visit to a new beach and meeting some new people. For islands that are further out in the sea, the long tail boats require a minimum of 6 people before they will head out. Since we are only 2 people, we waited around for 30 minutes and no one else showed up that wanted to go where we were heading. Then we heard a couple talking to people about chartering a boat for the afternoon, so we joined in on that conversation and decided to split the cost with them. We agreed we would meet back at the beach at noon and charter a private boat to a few islands with a French couple that was looking to go out too.
We had also made the decision to take the bare minimum with us to the beach for the remaining days. One of the reasons for this was that there was no need for shoes (not even flip flops) on the islands, so we just left our hostel barefoot and walked the 3 minutes down to the beach like true Kiwis (NZ peeps walk around barefoot….a lot!). This meant also walking into stores shopping for water and snacks barefoot….but hey….what can we say….we are embracing the backpacker lifestyle! We also took no coverups and just used our sarongs as a coverup until on the beach, then used them as towels. Kerry’s dry bag came in very handy, as it held our money, phones, sunscreen and one small towel for sunglasses cleaning and whatnot.
We spent the afternoon snorkeling off Chicken Island, walking on a huge sandbar between Chicken Island and Tub Island and sunbathing on both islands! They were breathtaking and the water and views were everything we had hoped for. This was the Thailand we had seen in all those blogs and photos online!
That evening we went back to our small market area, only to find that it was the one day of the week that market did not exist. We had to improvise and eat at a real, sit down restaurant with a waiter and everything. Luckily it was very tasty and we tried several curries, rice and na’an and topped it off with a Chang or two. Well worth the “expensive” tab of about $18. We also decided to extend our stay in Ao Nang by a night, so we talked with the hostel about adding another night onto our reservation. Easy peasy.
Day 4 was the day we committed to making it out to Hong Island, the island we had heard was the most amazing of all the ones nearby. We grabbed more pancakes and headed to find 4 more people to meet our minimum of 6 for the boat ride to Hong. It took no time at all and we were quickly boarding a boat with a sweet family of four. The boat ride took a little over 30 minutes and had lovely views along the way. Our driver took us through a small opening between some karsts and to our surprise it opened up into a large, beautiful, green lagoon! We motored around the lagoon, taking in the crystal clear, shallow waters and the stark contrast of the high walls around us. After that we headed to Hong beach, where we were dropped off and told that they would pick us up at 3 pm. We found a spot on the island and set up shop in a partially shaded area to spend the day relaxing and in awe of our surroundings.
This was the most amazing beach we had ever been to, with soft, white sand and huge limestone walls all around us. It literally felt like we were walking on clouds, that’s how amazing the sand was! The water was calm and crystal clear, with many friendly fish that would come right up to you if you sat still for long. Interestingly enough, the tide continued to go out all day long and by time we left the water was at least 30 feet down the beach from when we arrived. We were sad to leave but also agreed that we just had to come back again the next day, which would be our final day in Ao Nang.
We finished the day with a trip to the market for more red curry and spring rolls, then tucked away for some extra sleep before another amazing beach day.
The next day was a wonderful repeat of a day: Thai Pancakes, watermelon shake, long tail boat to Hong Island, relaxing on a beautiful beach and back to the market. This is the life! It’s likely that we could do this every day for a month and be perfectly content.
Our final day in Ao Nang consisted of sleeping in, grabbing brunch at a local (overpriced and not that great) restaurant, then some ice cream and a ferry ride back to Phuket! Yep, thats right… back in Phuket for a few days before our next big adventure. We are beyond excited for the next journey that awaits and are stoked to share about what we’re doing after the return to Phuket. Stay tuned 🙂
~ Kerry & Jenny