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Think Bali is too overrated for your liking? Why not head to Krabi instead?
Credit: Tore Bustad
Looking for a slice of paradise to melt your worries away? Picture ambling through a stretch of pristine white beach with salt in your (Victoria Secret beach) hair and lounging with mocktail at hand? Most would almost involuntarily sputter “Bali” at the description. The Island of Gods has been a major source of contributor for Instagram/Tumblr ready pictures and inviting throngs of people - it may have somewhat thwarted you away.
This is probably why you are seeing more of the iconic soaring limestone of Krabi as you scroll through your choice of social feeds now. Here are 6 reasons why you would enjoy Krabi – sans the crowd!
1. Its Elusive Enigma
Like a bad boy charm, we are attracted to the little conclusive facts about the Island. The name ‘Krabi’ (meaning sword in Thai) itself is said to emerge of 2 variations:
Villagers were said to unearth 2 ancient swords which were then presented to the governor. Believing it auspicious, the governor had instructed for both swords to be crossed and placed at a cave, Khao Khanab Nam. This is also the province’s emblem – 2 crossed swords.
‘Krabi’ was derived from mispronunciation of the local tree ‘Lumphi’. It was said that Malay and Chinese merchants mispronounce it as Ka-lu-bi or Kho-lo-bi leading to its current name.
2. Location, location, location
Ask anyone in the property industry and they would tell you that the winning formula for your land asset is a prime location. Krabi has this down to a pat!
Proximity from Singapore
Krabi is approximately 1,163km from Singapore (around 3 -4 days of driving). I don’t know about you, but this sounds like a good opportunity for a...wait for it...ROAD TRIP!
Get together a group of friends and drive (or ride) with the top down through Malaysia (AH2) and Thailand (Route 4). Take this time to visit or stay at small towns you have yet to venture to. Keep the schedule flexible. Who knows what sort of adventure awaits you?
So, ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!
Planning to conquer various parts of Thailand in a single visit? Thailand’s developed transportation network ensures Krabi is easily accessible to Phuket and Bangkok allowing you to fully maximise your visit. Plus, you have a choice of travelling via land or sea.
[Check out the BEST halal street food in Bangkok]
Private Charter / Car: This may cost slightly more but with the comfort of air-conditioned car (and some with WIFI too!), this would be an easy and efficient choice to bond with your company while enjoying the scenery.
Bus Services: Choose from different classes provided according to your level of comfort. However, do take note that the travelling time will be much longer.
3. 95876123 Islands and Beaches
Ok, I exaggerate. It is actually 154 islands. Characterised by its pristine white sandy beaches, each island holds its own distinctive charm. Here are some slices of paradise!
The capital of the city, it is a popular choice for visitors, using it as a ‘base camp’ for their stay before wandering off to other parts of the island. The main commercial and transit points, the town manages to retain a laid-back feel despite the bustling activities surrounding it. Here’s the town at a glance!
If Krabi Town is the heart of the city, Aonang is the pulse with its eclectic mix of beach, food, shopping, nightlife and Thai hospitality. Do not be fooled by its size (it takes around 30 mins to walk from one linear end to another), this island sure packs a punch!
This would probably be on everyone’s tongue upon mentioning “Krabi”. Even more so after Maya Bay was shot to fame for being a movie location aptly named, “The Beach”.
Meaning “Paradise on Earth”, Phi Phi consists of 6 small islands surrounded by lush soaring limestones with crystal azure waters. Its restricted accessibility via sea and lack of roads (just winding small footpaths) only adds on to the exclusivity. Check out this picturesque Island!
This rough diamond has got all bases covered. From the death-seeking thrill seekers, lovebirds to families. There are a whole lot of to keep you out of mischief (or in it)!
I had to narrow down to the following. Yes, a part of me died a little with every deletion I had to make for this final article edit.
Scuba Diving / Snorkelling
I guess the epitome of getting away would be to totally go under. Underwater, I mean! Enjoy the weightless feeling and explore the diverse marine life, shipwrecks and underwater caves! There are various packages for wreck, cave, night and regular diving and even classes to suit varying dive levels! On top of the mesmerising array of coral reefs, expect to see leopard sharks, yellowtail barracudas, snappers, groupers, to name but a few! Want something a little lighter? Snorkel instead!
Try these diving sites: Shark Point, Anemone Reef, King Cruiser Wreck, Phi Phi Ley, Phi Phi Don
Estimated Price: THB 5,500/adult (3 diving sites. 1 day. Inclusive of guide, weights, tank, halal lunch and water)
Try these snorkelling sites: 4 Islands Tour (Phra Nang Cave, Tup, Chicken and Poda Island)
Estimated price: THB 1000 regular snorkel (including snorkel, life jacket, lunch and water)
Credit: Maria LyIf scaling great heights and dangling precariously off any surface is your thing, you’ve come to the right place. Challenge your mind and body as you climb up the cliffs and be rewarded by the amazing view thereafter! Utilising the French grading system, different routes are available for beginners (5a’s) to the pros (8c). Classes are available. Where: Railay Beach (reported to have an unrivalled view), Aonang
Estimated price: THB 1800/adult (full day including insurance, guide, equipment rental and lunch)
Listed as one of the most amazing cliff diving locations by Redbull, Krabi also hosted the 2013 Redbull Cliff Diving Competition. Catch the action here:
That is enough reason to have a “give you wings” moment and plunge into the abyss while screaming “YOLO”! Feel the sense of liberation as you momentarily suspend in the air before slicing (or spalt) through the water and emerge, reborn. However, do take necessary precautions - like jumping off together with the guide. Or maybe have the guide jump off before you do. On a more serious note, take a look at how the pros prepare for a jump here.
Marvel at the formation of stalagmites and stalactites, glittering flakes and hear prehistoric legends from the tour guides. For example, the Tham Pee Hua Tho Cave (meaning “Big Headed Ghost Cave”) is purported to be a burial site over 3000 years ago. The cave also houses, mysterious prehistoric drawings. Some say it records the tale of ancestors while others believed the drawings play a role in religious ceremonies. Yikes! Where: Karos, Pech, Tham Pee Hua Tho, Klang Caves
Estimated price: THB 1500 – 2000/ adult
Credit: Jonas Smith
Did a little too many water activities? Consider camping out at the National Reserve Khao Sok National Park! Trek through the cascading waterfall, misty rainforest of over 160 million years! Stay in the thick of nature in floating camps, under the start encrusted skies and wake up to the sound of Gibbons. Try out activities like interacting with elephants, jungle trekking, canoeing to breathtaking lakes and experience the wildlife uninterrupted. Look out for Giant Rafflesias, barking deers, gibbons, clouded leopards, elephants and even tigers (sightings are extremely rare, if any)!
Estimated price: THB 19,000 – 25,000 (depending on type of packages and period of travel)
5. Vibrant Culture
Despite being in the city for just a couple of days, we’ve grown accustomed to Krabi’s hospitality and its laid-back vibe (honestly, we could use more of it!). But here are a few things that brings dimension to an already flavourful city!
Krabi Boek Fa Andaman
Held annually, it demarks the opening season of tourists visiting the city. Influenced by the Indian culture, it features parades, cultural performances and sea competitions.
When: Every November of every year (exact date changes each year)
Credit: asia-backpackersLoi Ruea Chao Le (Floating Boats of the Sea Gypsy)
Witness the Sea Gypsies’ ceremony of setting adrift float boats symbolising the floating away of misfortunes.
When: Full moon of 6th and 11th Months of Lunar Calendar (around May and October)
Where: Krabi, Koh Lanta
Light up the river as you float banana-leafed baskets filled with flowers and incense (Krathong). They are intended as offerings for the River Goddess, Ganga, to avoid ill fortune.
In some areas, balloon-like lanterns are released to the air instead.
When: 25 November (full moon)
Where: Krabi Town/Aonang
Experience the creativity of the people expressed in their intricate handicrafts, an array of Thai street food bursting with flavours and Thai entertainment.
Food Night MarketWhere: Krabi Town, Soi 10 Maharat Road
Opening hours: Opens Daily
Credit: explorelahWalking Night MarketWhere: Krabi Town, Behind Vogue Departmental Store
Opening Hours: Friday to Sunday (5 - 10 pm)
Explore Krabi utilising a transportation of your choice:
Speedboats: Moving at neck-breaking speed, this is one of the most popular choice for Island hopping tours. It is both thrilling and time saving. You’ll be able to visit more places or venture at a particular place longer. While you are at it, learn more about the Islands from the friendly tour guides and share your experiences with fellow Island visitors on the boat!
Long-tail boat/Chartered Junk: Sail through the sunset, have a Titanic moment. Lay back with a drink in hand and enjoy the scenery traditionally and in style (someone please say #swag). After all, these are what vacations are made of!
Motorcycles: Zip through Krabi in rented motorcycles! At THB 250 / day, you will be able to venture practically everywhere! Try looking for rental places accepting a photocopy of your passport instead of withholding it. Some may even require you to deposit a certain amount as guarantee. However, do practise caution while riding particularly in unfamiliar territories. It may be a bit much to adapt to the local traffic culture. For a stress free vacation, leave it to the pros instead and take the local transportations!
#HHWT Tip: Usually the initial petrol will only last you till the nearest petrol kiosk. Do ensure you top up your petrol before embarking on your escapade!
Songthaew / Buses
Travel like the locals in their Songthaew. I’ll have to admit. Being the cynic that I am, my wild imagination took the better of me upon seeing it for the first time. By the time my foot was on the first ring of steps of the Songthaew, a particular “Taken” scene was on replay in my mind (except, it was my dad instead of Liam Neeson) going:
Rest assured my adventurous friends, the journey was safe and actually, quite refreshing! Krabi’s version of the local bus, the Songthaew (meaning “two benches”) are pick-up trucks installed with 2 benches at the back. Connecting the towns, Songthaews typically make designated stops for a fare as low as THB 50-70 (depending on various times of the day). Having said that, you can always flag it down by the side of the road, much like a taxi!
Imagine the French movie, “Taxi”. Weaving through traffic at lightning speed, they are Thailand’s answer to ensure your arrive to your destination on time – at a price. Do negotiate the price before boarding.
#HHWT Tip: Also, Samlor(motorbike taxis with sidecars) vendors charge per person (around THB20). For this reason, some vendors may insist on carrying more than 2 persons. I’d advise otherwise, it may be unstable.
Sure, Krabi is vastly attracting many around the world with its increasing and variated tours. And you may be sharing the Island with other visitors at any one time (maybe I can claim yet to be found Islands around, when it gets too overcrowded). However, it is relatively new to tourism.
Its unadulterated natural landscapes have yet to be fully commercialised giving the feeling of nature – untouched. If you’re still not sold from all the screensaver worthy pictures above, you seriously need to re-evaluate life.
It dawned on me as I was writing this article. I really don’t think we need 6 reasons to visit Krabi.
Just 1: It’s Krabi!