Krabi (Thai: กระบี่) is one of the southern provinces (changwat) of Thailand, at the shore of the Andaman Sea. Neighbouring provinces are (from north clockwise) Phang Nga, Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat and Trang. The Phuket province to the west is also neighbouring, but without any land boundary. The capital of the region is the city of Krabi.
- Hat Noppharat Thara – Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park (อุทยานแห่งชาติหาดนพรัตน์ธารา – หมู่เกาะพีพี) Covering the areas of Tambon Nong Thale, Tambon Sai Thai, Tambon Ao Nang and Tambon Pak Nam, Amphoe Mueang, Hat Noppharat Thara – Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park has an area of 242,437 rai in which 200,849 rai is water. There are 3 distinctive kinds of forest here: moist evergreen forests, mangrove forests and peat swamp forests.
- Mu Ko Phi Phi (หมู่เกาะพีพี) Located 42 kilometres from the provincial town of Krabi, Mu Ko Phi Phi (Phi Phi Islands) are an archipelago, formerly called Pulao Piah Pi. The surrounding sea is home to a variety of underwater anemones, coral reefs, and colourful marine life. The area is also a popular destination for snorkelling. Attractions of Mu Ko Phi Phi:
- Ko Phi Phi Don (เกาะพีพีดอน) covers an area of 28 square km. Popular attractions are the twin bays with curving beaches of Ao Ton Sai and Ao Lo Da Lam.
- Ko Phi Phi Lee (เกาะพีพีเล) Covering an area of only 6.6 square kilometres, Ko Phi Phi Lee Island is surrounded by limestone mountains and sheer cliffs plunging hundreds of metres to the sea. The sea is 20 meters deep and the deepest point in the south of the island is around 34 meters. Ko Phi Phi Le has bays such as Ao Pi Le, Ao Maya, and Ao Lo Sa Ma. In the north-east of the island is a large cave called Tham Viking.
- Hat Noppharat Thara (หาดนพรัตน์ธารา) Situated 17 km from the provincial town of Krabi, Hat Noppharat Thara (Noppharat Thara Beach) is a 3-km long sandy beach lined with dense casuarinas. The beach, paved with tiny seashells, was formerly called Hat Khlong Haeng. The area is a long beach and stretches all the way to the island of Ko Khao Pak Khlong.
- Su-san Hoi (Shell Cemetery) (สุสานหอย) Once a large freshwater swamp, the habitat of diverse mollusks of about 2 cm in size, Su-san Hoi features a slab formed from a huge number of embedded various types of mollusks which can be dated to approximately 40 million years ago. With changes on the surface of the earth, seawater flooded the freshwater swamp and the limestone elements in the seawater enveloped the submerged mollusks resulting in a homogeneous layer of fossilized mollusk shells forty centimetres thick known as Shelley Limestone. With geographical upheavals, the limestone layer is now distributed in great broken sheets of impressive magnitude on the seashore.
- Ao Nang (อ่าวนาง) Ao Nang Beach is Krabi’s most developed beach. Fringed by palms, the long beach is backed by a wide range of accommodation including resorts, bungalows and guesthouses. A large selection of bars, restaurants and western fast food chains can also be found here. Ao Nang is also one of Krabi main areas for purchasing souvenirs and other merchandise. The area also boasts the most tourist friendly doctors clinics and pharmacies which tend to be open until quite late.
There are more than 83 offshore islands, which some of them are shaped like a boot, junk, or parrot’s head. Ko Poda, Ko Mo and Ko Thap are popular destinations among tourists for their beaches and coral reefs. They are popular islands for diving and snorkelling.
- Hat Rai Le (Rai Le Beach East/West) Hat Rai Le is surrounded from both sides by breathtaking towering limestone cliffs, thus making the area isolated from the mainland – only accessible by boat. Rai Le or Railay West has a world class white sand beach and is the longest of the beaches in this area. It goes without saying this is also the beach that most tourists flock to. Railey East is popular ‘hippy’ hang-out and offers cheaper accommodation than the West side. Unlike Railey West, Railey East beach is severely affected by the tides and has mangroves. R.East has its own beauty but the mainstream tourist would choose Railey West for beach quality.
- Pra Nang Beach (Princess Cave Beach) next door to Railay, has a much comparable if not better beach to Railay West and is the home to the 5 star Rayavadee Resort and Spa. Krabi’s beaches are all public domain so the guests at Rayavadee have to share the beach with the day-trippers from Railay and Ao-Nang. This is not so bad but this also attracts a multitude of T-shirt, trinket and food sellers.
- Hat Ton Sai (TonSai Beach) Neighbouring Rai Le (Railay) West but vastly different in terms of beach and tourist scene. The hard core backpackers all hang out here as along with Railay is one of the best areas for climbing. Accommodation can be around a tenth of the price of Railay. This beach also has one of the best night life scenes of the whole Krabi area although is subject to taste due to the bohemian style of the area.
- Thale Waek or Separated Sea (ทะเลแหวก) During the lowest tide of the day, the sea is gradually separated by the white sand and limestone beach that will appear to connect two islands. From being the site of a meditation centre, it is also a place of archaeological interest, dating from the prehistoric into proto-historic times. Stone tools, potsherds, and unbaked clay votive tablets have been found.
- Than Bokkhorani National Park (อุทยานแห่งชาติธารโบกขรณี) The park covers an area of 121 square km. The landscape is dominated by a series of limestone mountains, evergreen forests, mangrove forests, and numerous islands. The main flora is evergreen forest, peat swamp forest, strand forest, and mangrove forest, as well as, various types of marine flora. Other attractions include: Than Bokkhorani (ธารโบกขรณี) which is home to various flowing streams and numerous pools of different cascades among a shady forested area and two caves Tham Lot and Tham Phi Hua To (ถ้ำลอดและถ้ำผีหัวโต)
- Namtok Ron Khlong Thom (น้ำตกร้อนคลองท่อม) This area is full of hot springs in a shady forest. The temperature is not too hot at 40-50 degrees Celsius. The hot springs and cool streams converge on a slope to form lovely cascades with warm water.
- Khao Pra – Bang Khram Wildlife Sanctuary (เขตรักษาพันธุ์สัตว์ป่าเขาประ – บางคราม) This is located at Tambon Khlong Thom Nuea. Comprising lowland forest, this area features the Emerald Pool or Sa Morakot, which are 3 hot springs with a temperature of 30 – 50 degrees Celsius. The forest is home to numerous flora and rare birds like Gurney’s Pitta, Rufous-collared Kingfisher, and Black Hornbill. There is also a 2.7-km nature trail known as the Tina Jollife (Thung Tiao) Trail, named after an English activist wanting to conserve this batch of rainforest.
- Mu Ko Lanta National Park (อุทยานแห่งชาติหมู่เกาะลันตา) Covering a total area of 152 square kilometres, Mu Ko Lanta National Park is located in Amphoe Ko Lanta and consists of many islands. Some major islands are Ko Lanta Yai, Ko Lanta Noi, Ko Taleng Beng, as well as, other surrounding islands like Mu Ko Ha, Mu Ko Rok, and Ko Ngai.
- Pa Phru Tha Pom Khlong Song Nam Pa Phru or peat swamp forest of the canal of Tha Pom features a number of water sources, which originate from the Chong Phra Kaeo pool. Tha Pom is called Khlong Song Nam by the locals, which in Thai literally means “two water canal”, because of its special feature location where crystal clear freshwater, which the pool’s floor and the roots of Lumphi palm (Eleiodoxa conferta) are virtually visible, meets seawater from the mangrove forest. Tha Pom features a natural trail made of lath.
Apart from its natural attractions, Krabi is also a popular place for scuba diving and snorkelling, kayaking, rock climbing, and jungle treks by foot, mountain bike or elephant. Famous spots for kayaking include Ko Hong, Ko Karot, Ko Phak Bia, Ko Ku Du, and Tha Len, while Tham Phra Nang and Hat Rai Le are a mecca for climbers from all over the world. Abseiling has currently become another popular sport in Krabi.
Located 35 kilometres from the provincial town, Ban Tha Len, abounds with mangrove forests and ghost crabs. Tham Khangkhao or the bat cave has impressive stalactites and stalagmites. There is a panoramic view of Krabi’s sea, offshore islands, and mangrove forests are visible.
- Diving & Snorkeling Diving in Krabi is one of the favorite pastimes of tourists because the waters are home to the likes of friendly leopard and whale sharks, turtles, moray eels and dolphins.
- Rock Climbing in Krabi has grown very popular over recent years.
- Sea Kayaking With a coastline composed of mangroves, limestone, small coves, caves and islands, and an interior with rivers lined with cave systems. Krabi provides a popular environment for kayaking.
- Bird Watching There are many hard-to-find birds such as: Gurneys, Finfoots, Bigwinged Brown Kingfishers, Egrets, Bitterns and Herons etc.
- Sailing & Cruising Krabi has plenty of anchorages but usually deserted.
- Fishing Fishers catch the likes of marlin, sailfish barracuda and tuna.
- Jungle Trekking Krabi’s forests with attractive flora and fauna are popular for trekking. The Khao Phanom Bencha National Park and the Khao Pra-Bang Khram are regarded as the two of the favorites among trekkers.
- Golf Krabi has one 18-hole golf course to the south of Krabi town with a new development currently underway by an international group including Colin Montgomery.
- Spa There are plenty of spas located in the major hotels and resorts. The treatment normally includes both traditional remedies and modern techniques.
- Thai Massage Traditional Thai massage, characterized by its holistic approach to health is aimed at enhancing not only one’s physical and emotional state but also to allow one to grow spiritually. Massage parlors can be found at all major hotels and outside at private enterprises.
Shopping / Souvenirs
Souvenirs of Krabi include turtle-dove cages, Toei Panan mats made from pandanus plants, shrimp paste, dried fish, and dried shrimp.
Most of the goods sold to tourists in Krabi are just the same as what is found in Bangkok, such as: Thai silk scarves, carved wooden objects, silver jewellery, sarongs, leather goods etc.
Krabi’s touristic areas have all the usual types of foreign-orientated beer bars. The provincial town is home to, again, the same type of Tha-style entertainment which can be found all over Thailand. That is: karaoke lounges, live music venues and discothèques.
Population and culture
Krabi’s population includes Buddhists, Thai-Chinese, Moken (sea gypsies) and around 42% of Muslims, which form a majority in the rural areas. Krabi however, has been little affected by the Muslim militant insurgency that has plagued other southern provinces of Thailand since 2003 and its population lives in peace and harmony. Outside of the provincial town, the rural folk speak with a thick Southern dialect which is difficult for even other Thais to understand.
Traditionally Krabi’s inhabitants were mainly engaged in works related to agriculture, for the province is rich in rubber, palm, oil, and oranges. In recent years tourism has become an important source of income.
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