Ao Nang Beach is a hotspot for people looking for a lively place for their vacation in Krabi, Thailand. The main highlight of the town is the promenade that starts from the peer where long tail boats to Railay beach depart. The other major street is set perpendicular to the peer. Both feature shops, restaurants and mini markets. Although Ao Nang resort offers many opportunities for entertainment and nightlife, the beach can hardly be called beautiful.
It is quite similar to Patong beach, Phuket. The sea water is not clear and transparent and the beach is not great for sunbathing or swimming. That is why many tourists who stay at Ao Nang go on daily trips to other beaches in Krabi Thailand. Getting around Ao Nang is an adventure since in a close vicinity there are many secluded tropical beaches featuring a breathtaking beauty.
Just 10-15 minutes with a long tail boat, the peninsula of Railey is the most common spot for nature admirers. With majestic limestone hills, clear emerald water and powdery white sand, Railey beach resembles the beauty of heaven. This is the most photographed place in Krabi, Thailand.
The boats from Ao Nang Beach to Railey run from 8 am to 6 pm if there are eight people that have paid. One-way ticket cost TBH 100 (3 USD). The price is higher after 6 pm and sometimes you have to wait hours for other people to come and buy tickets.
Phra Nang Beach
There are three beaches on Railey. Phra Nang Beach is probably the most beautiful one. It is set on the southwest coast of the peninsula. Behind the beach, majestic limestone cliffs rise up. In front of the Phra Nang Beach there is a small island that could be reached by kayak or by walk when the tide is low. The landscape as in “Avatar”! Kayaks are available for rent right on the beach, so you can paddle over to Railey beach and Tonsai beach. The rental price for 2 hours is TBH 200 (6 USD).
A holly cave in the cliffs also attracts many tourists. Local people still believe in the legend of Phra Nang (Princess Goddess). They are convinced that she resides the sacred place. The name of Phra Nang is associated with fertility. The cave resembles a vagina and local people have assembled many wooden phallic symbols into the cave. In fact, all natural formations in the area – stalactites and stalagmites resemble human organs of fertility.
The cave is on the the walkway to Railay East. It is also very close to the luxurious Rayavadee resort. There are a lot of monkeys all over the beach as well as in the jungle area along the walking path. You can see two types of monkeys leaping from tree to tree – Langurs and Macaque.
There is a paid toilet on the beach which is part of Rayavadee resort. Tourist can buy drinks, fresh fruits and snacks from special boats. Prices are the same as in bars and restaurants in the area and the taste is great. We tries grilled corn, mango pancake, fruit shake and everything was delicious.
Railey beach is the second spectacular place on the peninsula. In comparison with Phra Nang beach it boasts many restaurants, bars and small shops. Railey is the most crowded beach on the peninsula.
Although the beaches in the area are not organized, both Railey beach and Phra Nang beach are very crowded from 11 am to 4 pm. So, if you wish to get these places to yourself, the best time is after 4 pm.
The fact that there are no chairs or sunbeds on the beaches is not a problem for tourists since the sand is soft and there are natural shades under the tropical trees along the coast. Lounging on the perfectly white sand of Railay beach is a great experience! Tourists can use toilets of the beachfront restaurants in Railey village resort and Railey bay resort.
In February 2017 there were signs warning of the dangers of jellyfish known as Portuguese man-of-war. Signs warned people not to use freshwater or vinegar to treat the irritated skin. We didn’s see any of them but felt stings from invisible sea creatures while swimming.
Tonsai beach is the most secluded one. It is the nearest to Ao Nang beach. Still, there are no roads that lead from the city to the beach. Tonsai is located north of Railey beach. The place is less accessible than Railay. On the beach we saw hippies. backpackers, tourists of the shoe-string budget and climbers. The atmosphere wass very laid back. Tonsai bay is among the most popular sites for climbing and hiking in Thailand.
Tonsai beach can be reached by boat from Ao Nang beach or Railay beach. The price of a one way ride is THB 100 p/person from 8am to 6 pm and TBH 200 (6 USD) after sunset. There is an alternative way to get there – a steep walking path along the coast. It takes 15 minutes to walk to the secluded area. This path is suitable only during the day so if you are staying at the hotel on Tonsai and want to get to Railay beach at night, you’d better opt for a private boat service.
When we took the walking path from Railey to Tonsai we expected to explore a hidden gem. Instead, we saw so much trash along the beach, quite disgusting! Still it could be a paradise with a breathtaking scenery if tourists collect their own trash.
The major part of the beach is not organized. There are people camping on the sand or in the tropical wood without too much bother. There are several bungalows on the shore or in the jungle. The sand is darker than the sand on Railey beach and features golden nuances.
There is a more touristic part – Tonsai Bay Resort. The hotel is clean and relaxing place by the beach. Yet the garbage literally is at hotel’s doorstep.
The Tonsai Bay resort is popular among rock climbers. It features a medical center, mini market and good beach bar.
On a low tide, there is a small beach on the east coast of Railey. It is close to the walking path from Phra Nang beach to Railey East. The beach faces the magnificent limestone cliffs or Railey as well as mystic mangrove woods. There is natural shade from the tropical trees. This part of the peninsula is very popular among climbers.
Ao Nang Beach Boat Tours
Ao Nang beach is a perfect starting point for a boat tour to Krabi National Park. The main attraction is a group of four islands connected with a sand path when the tide is low. The Four Island tour is a must-see experience when you are in Ao Nang beach, Krabi town or Railey.
The biggest island is Koh Poda. It is the only one with some facilities such as toilet, beach bar and wooden benches. The island features large sandy beach along the coast and a palm tree jungle at the center. It remind the exotic scenery of the Saona Island in Dominican republic or Phi Phi Islands, Thailand. We were so in love with the breathtaking beauty of Poda Island that went twice during our stay in Ao Nang beach. We were so excited sailing the Andaman, swimming the bright turquoise waters and relax on a perfectly white sand.
The most crowded part of the island is on the north side where boats park. A few families of monkeys complete the exotic picture.
The southern part is more intimate. It overlooks Chicken Island, Tup Island and a small rocky island.
We have been four times to Poda island and each time we rent a private longtail boat from Phra Nang beach. In February 2019, the best price we managed to negotiate was 2000 Baht (56 euro) for 5-hour trip for three persons. There is an additional Krabi National Park of 400 Baht (11 euros) per person. Poda and Chicken islands still boast the most beautiful beaches in the area with crystal clear water and powdery white sand. We prefer private boat tour mainly because we can choose the place to embark so that we could avoid the crowds from the organized tours. Moreoverq we can choose the time of the trip – if we want to see the walking sand strip between Chicken island and Tub Island we choose the low tide time. If we want enjoying snorkeling, we opt for high tide time.
It is cheaper to rent a private longtail boat from Ao Nang beach to Poda – 1800 Baht for for hour trip.
Chicken Island features a rock that is shaped like a chicken. It is visible from Ao Nang beach, Railey beach and Phra Nang beach. Chicken Island features an easy accessible view point with a view over the neighboring islands, Railey beach and Ao Nang beach. At low tide beautiful natural swimming pools emerge close to the shore.
Koh Tup is a few hundred meters from Chicken Island and Koh Mawr. A sand bridge emerges at low tide between this islet and Chicken Island. There is no toilets on this small piece of land. There is a canteen offering refreshing drinks, fresh fruits and light snacks. Tourists are not allowed to climb to the top of the hill.
Tup is a small island. You can explore it in a few minutes. Snorkeling around the island is great since you can spot different tropical fish.
This sandbar disappears at high tide quite quick! In twenty minutes the entire sandbar had gone. The water covered the land bridge. When the tide begun to come it seemed that the water would swallow us! Although there was a rope that helped to get from one island to another we could see panic among people caring small children on their necks. It was not easy to choose the right time to do an easy walk that leads from Tup Island to Chicken Island. So we could explore Chicken Island for no more than 40 minutes. In general, the low tide lasts 2 hours.
Still we loved the scenery – white sandy beach, lush tropical vegetation, crystal water.
To fully enjoy that beauty we decides to rent a private boat to the group of four islands. That way we could avoid crowds.
Moreover we were able to choose the time when the sea was at its lowest level. The boat parked on a less crowded, heavenly place under the blue sky.
First time we rented a boat to Koh Poda we negotiated the price just before the trip. It was TBH 2000 (62 USD) for a private tour for 4 hours. Additionally a national park fee of TBH 300 (10 USD) per person for the Island tour must be paid in cash on entrance to the park.
Exploring the beauty of Andaman Sea by private boat really made a difference compared to regular excursions. Other boats were overloaded. Tourists had tight schedule.
We loved the fact that we could leave whenever we wished. We were able to beat the crowds and enjoy the breathtaking scenery.
The second time we were on a boat trip to Poda and Tup Island, our boatman forgot to pick us up at the negotiated time. We were very upset because we did paid him half of the price of the tour. Luckily, guards from the Krabi national park helped us to find him. Each boat had a specific number and it was easy to find the vessel.
Getting around Ao Nang beach was a thrilling experience from the start to the end!