Often cited as “Phuket 10 years ago,” the beach resorts surrounding the Thai port town of Krabi remain, for the time being, far less trodden than those of its famous island neighbor, some 100 miles to the west. Accessible only by long-tail boat from Krabi or from the more frequented beach resort of Ao Nang, the far-flung headland of Laem Phra Nang, or Railay (also called Rai Leh) Beach, is our preferred destination, thanks to its stunning surroundings of karst cliffs (making it popular with rock climbers), lush jungle and the warm waters of the emerald Andaman Sea. Here, four neighboring white-sand beaches unfold, of which Ao Phra Nang Beach is the most secluded with its snorkeling-friendly reefs, soft sands and singular luxury hotel. Visitors are free to relax in relative solitude, or to seek out adventure with a swim to “Happy Island,” just offshore, or by poking about in Tham Prah Nang Cave at the cliff’s base. Go now before it’s discovered by the masses.
By ShermansTravel Editorial Staff ShermansTravel.com

Ao Nang is Krabi's vibrant tourist centre. It has the relaxed vibe of a small town, the beauty of a beach resort, the modern comforts of home, and the friendliness that sets Thailand apart.

Terhe town itself is small; an hour-long stroll takes you from one end to the oth. Given that floating buildings are impractical and sheer cliffs don't readily lend themselves to development, this paradise won't be paved over anytime soon.

By road, Ao Nang is just minutes from Krabi Town and Klong Muang Beach and mere seconds to Noppharat Thara Beach. Via the sea, Railay's beaches - including Ton Sai - and a grab bag of small, intimate islands are nearby. Pick a direction and give your waterborne taxi thirty minutes. A world of adventure waits.

Of course, leaving Ao Nang is far from necessary. Great food, interesting people, cheap shopping, and a stellar beach make it a stand-alone destination. For plenty of travellers, this is the end of the road. Use it as a jumping-off point to see the rest of Krabi's wondrous secrets, or make it your only target. Either way, you'll thoroughly enjoy Ao Nang.

As the first holiday resort area in Krabi, Ao Nang has a range of accommodation from basic bungalows to smart resorts and guesthouses. Ao Nang's development - although rapid - has been carefully managed to keep the resort free of the high-rises which have blighted other places.

A number of low-rise hotels have incorporated Thai-style design features and offer good value for the money. It gets busy at peak holiday season (Christmas and New Year) and it's best to book in advance.

Source Photo : view photos graham agnew

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