• Tuesday, October 21, 2014

TRAVELOGUE

Krabi – people and peace

By Taskin Rahman

Krabi is the second most popular tourist beach destination for South Asians after Phuket in Thailand. It lies in the Andaman Sea and is not an island but a mainland. It is thought that Krabi has been home to humans since 25,000 - 35,000 B.C.
Krabi has a 6 month rainy season starting May and ending in November. If you are planning something during this time, please take this into consideration that the rain might spoil your plan completely. I took a chance and was lucky.
Ao Nang Beach is the tourist center of Krabi, Thailand.  Almost all tourists who travel to Krabi end up staying in or around Ao Nang beach.  There are shops, restaurants, dive centers and even a Starbucks and McDonald's now.  Some used to say Krabi is what Phuket was in its prime.   Although Ao Nang beach is full of travelers ranging from backpackers to retirees, it's worth a visit and maybe an overnight stay or two.  Ao Nang has a small town feel with not much to do other than some street food, a nice dinner at a restaurant overlooking the water.

Getting there
Air travel

Krabi has an international airport but there is no direct flight from Bangladesh. I flew Air Asia from Bangkok's old airport – Don Mueng. Besides Air Asia, you can also fly NOK Air for relatively cheap fares. The prices range from 50- 180 USD depending on when you buy the tickets and you will be entitled to only 1 hand bag with a limit of 7 KGs. Many larger hotels offer a paid transfer service if you specify your arrival time; otherwise there are efficient, regulated taxis available. The standard pre-paid fare to hotels in Krabi Town is 350 Baht per car; to Ao Nang, 600 Baht per car; to Klong Muang 900 Baht per car. These will take up to 3 passengers; 4 or more will be given a minivan and charged accordingly (e.g. 1000 Baht to Ao Nang). There is also an airport bus service, serving destinations in Ao Nang and Krabi Town only. Prices from 90 Baht – 150 Baht per person; buses leave 5 times daily, or when there are enough passengers to fill them.

Bus
Buses for Krabi leave from Bangkok's Southern Bus terminal on Boromratch Chonnani Road. Most travel at night and cost from 626-920 baht, depending on the levels of comfort inside. The journey time is around 10 hours.

Places to stay
Thailand has fairy tale hotels. Compared to any other country in the world, Thailand has the nicest and cheapest hotels and Krabi echoes the same. For those who like late nights, crowded beaches and lots of restaurant -- Ao Nang is the place to be while those preferring peace and tranquility should visit Noppharat Thara. I would recommend that you stay in Ao Nang and at Ananta Burin Resort. I stayed here last winter and was thoroughly impressed by the quality of services, interiors, pool and what not. The rooms even had a walk in pool. If you book ahead of time, you will probably get them for 60 USD.
You can easily find a decent hotel for 40 USD but those will be a kilometer off the beach. For honeymooners, I would advise that you look for hotels which are around the 100 USD mark such as Centara or even Ananta Burin for obvious reasons.

Food talk
Krabi is not the food capital of Thailand but this country rarely has a place that has bad food. Krabi is a predominantly Muslim area for which most places have halal meat unlike other places in Thailand.

Anantaburin
Food here is excellent if you are looking for authentic Thai. I would recommend sea food fried rice or plain rice with prawn red curry and steamed sea bass in lemon juice. As an entree you can order their sea food salad.

The hilltop
The hilltop view is indeed refreshing and beautiful, with the sunset in the backdrop of the town and the sea. The live music also creates a really relaxing atmosphere. It's a special place if you want to relax from evening till late night. The food is nothing special but coupled with the ambience, it definitely tastes great.

Carnivore Steak and Grill
One of the best restaurants in Ao Nang for sure if you are looking for steaks or grilled fish. In the high season, you should make a reservation if you are planning a dinner here.

Thai-Thai Restaurant at Golden Beach Resort
If you are looking for authentic Thai and have some spare time you can come here. This is by the sea, has outdoor and a pleasant seating arrangement. Their Larb Kai and Pad Thai is good and you can also try the grilled barracuda which I found very tasty.
The mango juice or mango shake are both really refreshing here and something that I would highly recommend.  Another recommendation would be to avoid Seven Eleven food and to try some local food like mussels; something that you will not get this fresh in the cities.

Things to do: The Hong Islands
Koh Hong is uninhabited, except for white-faced gibbons, beautiful birds and giant monitor lizards that can often be spotted on the main white sand beach. Hong's  interior is home to a large lagoon. This is best accessed at low tide by kayak, as the diminishing water level makes its colour change drastically from a deep emerald green to a clear turquoise; motor boats will go around mid-tide. The entrance to the lagoon is through a dramatic cliff passage that should be photographed on your way out.
It takes about 45 minutes on a long tail and 25 minutes on a speed boat. If you are a group of 12 then you can rent a speed boat for a whole day for 14000 Baht and act like the crew of the Miami Vice TV series.
There are 4 other islands that this trip will take you to and all of them have great spots to give you the Facebook profile picture that you were looking for. All of these trips come with snacks and lunches that cost between 1100 – 1900 THB depending on the boat and the season.

Thermal Baht
In the south of Krabi province in Klong Thom district (around 70km from town and near the Khao Phra Bang Khram Nature Reserve), are nature's own hot-tub jacuzzis, known as in Thai. The water here comes from thermal springs, originating deep underground in volcanic chambers. Located in the jungle, this site features naturally hollowed-out 'bathtubs' in the smooth stone, filled to the brim with fresh running spring water at a pleasant 35-40C. After a soak, take a refreshing dip in the cool river below

Nopparat Thara
Nopparat Thara in many ways is the best beach in this part of Krabi. It offers seclusion, tranquility and peace. In low tide you can just walk across to a tiny little island which feels like a great achievement. You can chill with friends or family for hours but its good to be back right before sunset if you are in the tiny island.

Massage
Ideally, after a whole day of travelling around the Hong Islands you might pamper yourself to massages near the beach. Massages range between 300 THB to 500 THB depending on what type of massage you want. I would recommend spa's which are open air and closer to the sea so that you can get the sea breeze and sound of the sea.

Motor Biking
If you can ride a bike, you will most probably be able to ride an auto-motor bike. Costs around 200 THB for a day and is the most ideal transport for anyone who doesn't plan on drinking alcohol. If you don't plan on using a bike, you will eventually end up paying a few times more in transportation fares. I think Krabi has the ideal roads, scenic views and a good mix of high and low lands with makes biking an awesome experience.

Driving
If you have the time, you might want to rent a car and drive from Krabi to Phuket and may be spend a day there. It's not the best island but there are also nice beaches and the drive is absolutely stunning.

Elephant Trek
This half day tour is highly recommended for elephant lovers. It costs 1000 Thai Baht. The camp is in the borders of the national park at Phanom Bencha. You will start the tour with a one hour trek through the forest, following the river. Then you will stop and learn about the elephants and you can opt to listen to an informative session on their bathing habits. Then it's time to go into the river with them! The water is shallow and you can be as "hands on" as you like. Note: there is a 40 min (approx.) transfer time each way for this trip.
 

Published: 12:00 am Tuesday, August 05, 2014

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