Visited by over 2 million tourists each year, the Krabi province of Thailand is an outstanding area of natural beauty, with gigantic limestone karsts, immaculate white palm fringed beaches, and a labyrinth of archipelagos and stunning islands emerging vertically from the southern Andaman Sea.
Whether you're looking for a totally relaxing beach holiday, you want to spend your vacation exploring the crystal clear waters, or trying to conquer those limestone peaks, Krabi is the ultimate dream beach destination. Here you can swim in the warm waters, discover the beauty of the underwater sea life and coral reefs, explore caves, waterfalls and mangrove swamps, try jungle trekking on foot, on a mountain bike or even on an elephant, or go island hopping on one of the area's famous long-tail boats.
While Krabi itself is not renowned for its scenery, the beaches to the west attract most people to this area; beaches such as Ao Nang and Pranang beaches, Nopparat Thara Beach and Railay Beach, with their many hotels and resorts and excellent scuba diving and climbing opportunities.
Many tourists choose to stay on one of the 154 Krabi islands, with the Phi Phi Islands of Leonardo di Caprio's film 'The Beach' being amongst the most popular, together with the stunning islands of Koh Lanta. The vast majority of the smaller islands are only suitable for day trips as they don't have any accommodation available on them.
With its quirky atmosphere, the town of Krabi is often used as a base for exploring all that the Krabi province has to offer. It's a popular place with the younger crowd, having a preponderance of small guest houses, travel agencies, western restaurants and gift shops. It's also an extremely popular destination for people seeking to participate in all kinds of adventurous activities from scuba diving and snorkelling, right through to rock climbing and jungle treks, or boat trips to the many islands dotted amongst the southern Andaman Sea.
While most holidaymakers prefer to stay at one of the resorts on the beaches to the west of Krabi, the town is a great place to stay if you're looking for budget accommodation and plan to spend most of your holiday exploring the islands or taking part in adventure activities.
Fringed with palm trees and backed by a good selection of holiday accommodation, including guesthouses, bungalows and resorts, Ao Nang has the reputation of being Krabi's most developed beach. Here you'll find many laid back bars, restaurants and Western fast food joints jostling side by side with souvenir and tourist shops, plus those all important medical centres and pharmacies.
Pranang beach (Princess Cave beach) is also famed as one on the most beautiful beaches in the area and is the location of a high class luxury holiday resort. It's the ideal holiday spot for people seeking a relaxing beach holiday with a lively nightlife and the option of trips into the interior, and is very popular with couples and singles alike.
Set between two soaring impenetrable limestone cliffs, Railay Beach, can only be reached by boat, but once you get there you'll be enchanted by the magnificent white sand beach and jade green waters, which is arguably the most stunning beach location in Thailand.
It's very popular with backpackers, its gigantic cliffs are perfect for rock climbing, and it's the ultimate place to watch a multi-coloured sunset. You won't find any roads here, just footpaths, but you will find several upmarket and stylish resorts, making it a popular choice for couples looking for an exotic holiday, or climbers looking to scale the limestone heights.
Part of Thailand's largest marine park, the Phi Phi Islands comprise two islands, Ko Phi Phi Leh, where you'll find Maya Beach, the location used for 'The Beach', and Ko Phi Phi Don, the northern island. These islands, with their sheer limestone cliffs and coral reefs, can only be reached by boat, and were very badly damaged during the Tsunami of 2004.
However, they're slowly being rebuilt and while it's not possible to stay on Ko Phi Phi Leh, Ko Phi Phi Don once more offers a good selection of places for holidaymakers to stay, plus restaurants, shops, internet cafés and diving schools.
The northern island, Ko Phi Phi Don is larger and boasts the stunning twin bays of Ao Ton Sai and Ao Lo Da Lam. You won't find any cars on either of these islands, but you will find good food and a totally peaceful and relaxed beach life, and they tend to be popular with the younger crowd looking for a place to kick back and chill out.
Famed for its backpacker community and groups of sea gypsies, Koh Lanta has developed into an extremely popular destination for package holidaymakers because of its exquisite beaches and its proximity to a great selection of superb dive spots, including Hin Daneng, Hin Muang and Ko Ha.
This lively resort caters for all budgets and, as it's reasonably level with good roads, it's perfectly suited for exploration by scooter or motorbike. As a popular tourist destination, it's filled with everything a holidaymaker could need, from bars and restaurants, to a range of guest houses and resorts, but it makes a great escape if you find the resorts of Ao Nang and Railey too touristy for your liking, or you're looking for some of the best diving in the area.
Comprising two islands, the northern island is covered with mangroves and doesn't have any beaches, while the southern island, Lanta Yai, has long pristine beaches backed with shady casuarina and palm trees, and a number of bungalows and hotels. If you love beach life, a relaxed atmosphere, simple but delicious Thai food and a laid back night life, you'll love Koh Lanta.
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