Ao Nang (อ่าวนาง) is the busiest beach destination in Thailand's Krabi Province.
Formally Ao Phra Nang ("Princess Bay") although everybody uses the short form, Ao Nang is the most 'Westernized' beach in Krabi, originally a backpacker hotspot but now moving slowly upmarket as the airport brings in higher flyers. While not quite as scenic as Rai Leh, there is a good range of cheap accommodation, many good restaurants, easy transport and travel/tour agencies ready to cater to your every whim, making it a good base for exploring Krabi.
Orienting yourself in Ao Nang is easy: almost everything is located either along the beach, which runs west-east, or along the Airport Road (Highway 4203) which goes up north from the east end of the beach. Long-tails arrive on the beach near the junction of the two roads; these Long-tails, though, account for a problem: the level of noise-pollution, provided by an endless chain of undampened boat-motors, is substantial. As long as there is no schedule (or mufflers provided for the motors) and each tourist goes individually and numbers of visitors are ever increasing, this problem will continue to worsen and spoil the beauty of this beach. Another problem getting more acute with the rising number of tourists in high season is the unrecycled sewage carried directly into the sea thus responsible for occasional bad smell which can be stronger depending on the daily currents.
Krabi International Airport is about 40 minutes away by car. As of 2005, the local airport limo monopoly charges a fairly steep 600 baht for a transfer (up to 4 people). Many hotels will arrange a pickup at similar prices on request. Travel time is about half an hour.
Local shuttle buses — really just converted pickup trucks (songthaew) — run from Ao Nang to Krabi (40 baht) and from Krabi to the airport (50 baht). The total trip between Ao Nang and the airport takes little less than 2 hours. To get to Ao Nang from Krabi town you should look for a white songthaew outside the 7-Eleven store.
As of late 2007 there is now a big bus service from the airport to Ao Nang, via Krabi Town, the Krabi ferry terminal and Noppharat Thara beach.
Rai Leh West and Ton Sai are only 10 minutes away while the less developed Had Yao (Long Beach) is 25 minutes away by long-tail. Boats leave constantly from the east end of the beach and charge a flat 80 baht/person during the day, 100 baht/person at night (after 18:00 hrs). There is no pier so expect to get at least your feet wet, probably more. Long-tail boat from Aonang is available at all seasons but subject to the weather permits. In case of the monsoon season (May - Oct), getting to Railay from Ao Nammao is recommended.
There are also public ferry services to Ko Phi Phi and Ko Lanta (usually twice daily), for which any travel agent will be happy to sell you tickets at around 200 baht/person. During the monsoon season, the ferry runs once day.
Boats from Ko Lanta now arrive at the new jetty, from there take a taxi (350 baht), or local bus to Krabi (50 baht) and then on to Ao Nang (40 baht).
There is a Songthaew(shared pick-up truck / taxi) service to Ao Nang from Krabi town, which runs throughout daylight hours in low season and up to 10PM in high season. The fare is 50 baht and they can be expected every 15-20 minutes. Songthaews are colour coded according to destination so make sure if you are coming to Ao Nang from Krabi you get on a white one.
Tuk-tuks in Ao Nang charge a flat 20 baht/person for trips around town. Songthaews also run all across Ao Nang onto the Shell Beach (See) and some all the way to Krabi town, fares from 10 baht up depending on distance.
Fossil Shell Beach (Thai Su-san Hoi, literally "Seashell Graveyard"). Some 7 km west of Ao Nang, this mildly traplike tourist attraction has slates of compressed 40 million year old shellfish, which bear not a small resemblance to concrete. There's also a small grubby museum and a huge slew of gift shops. Entry is a steep 200 baht for foreigners - but only 20 baht for Thais. This Tourist Trap is simply not worth the 200 Baht you have to pay as tourists unless maybe if you are a geology student.
Nopparat Thara Beach. Picturesque beach at the western tip of Ao Nang, zoned as a national park. During low tide you can walk up to some of the nearby craggy limestone islands. However ask the locals if it is 'jellyfish season' before plunging in if you are the only one getting ready to take a dip.
There is little to do immediately around Ao Nang, but Rai Leh and Ko Phi Phi are just around the corner and there are many tour operators offering activities such as sea kayaking and elephant treks.
Andaman Camp and Cruise, tel: +66 87 885 1125, . Private, customised day trips and camping trips to many islands. They can also help plan individual itineraries, accommodation and transfers. Fast, helpful,English speaking service with emails answered within 24 hours. Highly recommended.
Rock Climbing - Climbing can be arranged through Ao Nang agencies who will arrange transfers, lunch, and as much climbing as your limbs can handle - alternatively, simply wander over to Rai Leh or Ton Sai and organize an introductory course yourself.
Most of the dive shops offer a very similar price for the dive courses and dive trips. You may get a slight discount if you are a group of 4 but not much more than 10%. Sites visited daily include the local islands in Ao Nang bay, Phi Phi Marine National Park, the King Cruiser Wreck site and Shark Point Marine sanctuary. It's now also possible to do a one day safari by speedboat to Hin Daeng and Hin Muang for the chance to see whale sharks and manta rays, or to do some spectacular cavern diving at the 5 islands of Ko Ha Yai. However speed boats are not the most comfortable way to travel unless the sea is very calm and there can be problems finding shade. Some of the more popular dive sites can become very crowded in the high season
Absolute Diving , (+66) 075-637 716, 290 Moo 2, Located on the main road, just a few minutes from Ao Nang Beach (opp. SSS-Recompression Chamber). Daily trips to the areas best dive sites on our own Speedboat. Small, safe groups for the better diving experience. PADI Courses from Beginner to PRO.
Ao Nang Divers , (+66)075 637 244, (+66)075 637 244, 08h00 to 22h00, On the main beach road just 50 meters from the Beach at the Ao Nang Palace Hotel - Most professional PADI 5-Star Dive Centre under Swiss Management, most European languages available. Runs the most beautiful day trip diving vessel in the whole region
Aqua Vision Dive Centre , (+66)075 637 415, (+66)075 637 415, On the main beach road 2 minutes up from McDonalds and at the Sheraton Krabi Beach Resort - Experienced PADI and SSI dive center, most European languages available including Russian. Runs one day Whale Shark and Manta Ray safaris on a flybridge speedboat.
Kon-Tiki Diving and Snorkeling Center , +66 75 637 826, 161/1 Moo 2, Ao Nang's only PADI 5-star IDC & National Geographic Dive Center and Go Eco operator. The fleet of 4 boats runs daily diving & snorkeling tours to Phi Phi Islands, Shark Point, King Cruiser Wreck, Hin Daeng/Hin Muang. The dive center is recognized as one of Thailand's leading eco-dive centers with several awards for educating environmental awareness. Any organisation and nationalty are welcome to join us. Find Kon-Tiki Krabi in front of Krabi Resort.
KrabiDivers.com , +66 075-695-480, +66 075-695-480, 24hr, Sea of Love Plaza (opposite McDonalds), Aonang, Krabi, 8100, Located in the heart of Aonang, the beachside town of Krabi, in the Sea of Love PLaza. KrabiDivers.com provides dive courses, trips, liveaboards, dive equipment sales and also helps customers with hotel bookings and other arrangements.
Manta Point Ao Nang Dive Center , +66 075-638-441, +66 075-638-441, 24hr, Near Sea Front (between Veranda and Peace Laguna Hotels), Aonang, Krabi, 8100, Located in the heart of Aonang, the beachside town of Krabi. Manta Point provides dive courses, trips, liveaboards, dive equipment sales and also helps customers with hotel bookings and other arrangements.
Scuba Addicts , +66 756637394 E-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org, 07:00-21:00, The only dive centre on the main beach road, Opposite the main beach steps and Tsunami warning tower, The premier PADI and SSI training facility in Ao Nang, Krabi. Scuba Addicts offers diving and snorkeling adventures for all ages and abilities, that are tailored to suit your individual or group needs. Our aim is to make your scuba diving holiday in Ao Nang, Krabi fun and memorable, for all the right reasons, and keep you coming back for more. Contact us at email@example.com for a friendly chat
For cheap eats, there are a few street carts scattered about, although most serve backpacker fare like banana pancakes (15 baht a pop). The fried chicken lady in front of the Tipa Resort does a pretty mean som tam (papaya salad) at 40 baht though, and also look out for the yellow-signed noodle stalls with a "4" in a bowl as their logo, which dish out a garlicky but tasty bamii muu daeng (roast pork noodles) for 25 baht.
The Pad Thai served in in a stall named "Kai Tieun Restaurant" is good and cheap. The noodle itself is not spicy and you need to add the condiments available on the table to make it spicy.
The stall in front of Adidas Store serves rice-type lunches at 20-30 baht a box. The "Kao Nam" (Similar to Nasi Briyani in Malaysia) is superb. Be careful before ordering "Keng Mu" (Minced spicy chicken meat with rice) though, be prepared to gulp in lots of water to counter the spiciness.
Generally the places along the beach are more expensive and the ones up the hill tend to be cheaper and better value. Even up past McDonald's on the right some do squid and fish at amazingly low prices.
Tonsai Restaurant, Ao Nang Soi 15 (15 minutes from the beach up Airport Road). Popular low-key eatery offering a good spread of good Thai food. Most dishes around 50 baht.
The Boat Cafe on Airport Road (opposite the 7-11) has no sign in English but is easily recognizable from the old long tail boat outside which they use to serve up thom yum and other Thai soups at lunchtime. Dishes cost 20-35 baht, and the best recommendation is the large number of locals coming in for an evening meal.
One More Restaurant on Airport Road (15 minutes from the beach up Airport Road on the right side). Low-key restaurant serving a variety of Thai dishes and seafood at affordable prices. The staff here are incredibly friendly.
Wanna's Restaurant, facing the beach in central Ao Nang, offers rather good Thai and Swiss dishes for approx. 100 baht. The home made swiss museli with yoghurt and fresh fruit is highly recommended. the pad thai here is quite good! Although go to burger king if you need a toilet as it is out the back!
Bernies Place,Offers a daily all you can eat BBQ for 250 baht or 150 baht for vegetarians. The food is great and well prepared, and there is a 2-for-1 happy hour from 4-6PM and again at 10-11PM. Located on the southern end of the beach road between the Irish Rover and the Ocean Mart.
Royal India opposite O'Malleys Irish Pub.
There is no shortage of places for a drink, and not very many Patong-style girlie beer bars or go-go joints. On the Ao Nang beach front there is now only one bar - Planet Ao Nang, paz (frizzy hair) and the gang down there are awesome, great fun! although a little further down towards the Railay end of the beach is Last Fishermans Bar. Both are good for watching the sun go down over the ocean. The newest bar in town is Traveller Bar , offering a modern and lively atmosphere with free pool, good music, an interactive jukebox and a Playstion 2. Center Point has a bunch of bars for men. If you're into live music and karaoke, Rocky Bar is a must. There are some new bars along the dirt road that leads down to Last Fishermans Bar, including Nature Bar, Relax Bar and Chilli Bar 1. These bars offer great views of the cliff in a relaxed, open-air setting.
Belgian beers starts to slowly invade some nice bar and restaurants. Indeed , under European management, in Ao Nang - Krabi has been importing German beers for 10 years and offer now the best beverage from Belgium (18 brands & 30 different kinds of beer) and their by-products (glassware and advertising media) for professionals thanks to direct partnerships with producers.
Ao Nang has no shopping malls or supermarkets, but there are plenty of convenience stores and souvenir shops. The vast majority of shops are lined nicely along the beachfront road. There are also a few side roads that branch off into the cluster of crowded shops found elsewhere in Asia. The regular tourist fare (e.g. postcards, magnets, trinkets, etc.) are plentiful as are clothes, shoes, and pretty much anything else you'll find elsewhere in Thailand.
The cliffs and beaches of Rai Leh, just 15 minutes away by boat, make a great day trip. Phra Nang is the next beach past Rai Leh and has dramatic limestone 'karst' rock formations. Names get confusing, as Ao Nang (the developed resort) is sometimes called Ao Phra Nang. From Phra Nang you can walk across to Rai Leh East, with its mangroves, and hire kayaks to paddle round the rugged peninsula. There's also a path from Rai Leh East to Rai Leh West where the most longtails call.
Poda Island is another good day trip - you come back with the same boat and only pay on return. There's even an area to the right of where the longtails come in to Poda that's just worth snorkeling (unspectacular coral but a fair few fish).
Ao Nang is one of the main gateways for travel to the Phi Phi islands, about 2 hours away by long tail boat, 40-50 mins by speed boat. Many tour operators in Ao Nang offer day trips to Phi Phi. Included in the price (900-1500 baht) is most often lunch, hotel transfer and insurance.
Nowadays, you may depart from Aonang to Koh Lanta easily. Ferry runs daily at 10:30 hrs by Aonang Princess.
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