Ao Nang is one of my favorite beach spots in southern Thailand. Located beside the Andaman Sea in the Krabi Province, Ao Nang is a quiet beach town nestled amidst the jungle and some limestone cliffs.
Because it is still a part of the mainland, getting to Ao Nang is actually quite easy. You can take a direct bus from other parts of Thailand to reach Ao Nang. Alternatively, you can also take a flight to the Krabi Airport which is located just 30 minutes away. If you are coming from Phuket to Ao Nang then make sure that you spend time at the Phang Nga Bay which is a Ramsar site.
One of the best things about Ao Nang is that since it’s not an island, the prices are generally low here. And because it’s so centrally located, you’ll have no shortage of jungle and beach activities to keep you entertained during your stay.
Also Read: Cambodia Itinerary: How I Celebrated My Birthday Alone
Top things to Do in Ao Nang
When you plan your Thailand trip, make sure that you take a few days to chill in Ao Nang. The beaches are gorgeous here and there are so many fun things to do in Ao Nang to pass time.
Here are a few things to check out to make your stay in Ao Nang a lot more fun.
Take the Krabi Jungle Tour
One of the most popular things to do in Ao Nang is to take the amazing Krabi Jungle Tour from here. You will find tourist kiosks advertising the Krabi Jungle Tour all over this beach town. So, you can either book an online tour for approximately $40 USD or you can go to a kiosk and try to negotiate a lower rate. I was able to haggle my tour price down to about $33 USD so, do try it out.
The Krabi jungle tour is a full day tour which includes three stoppages: the Tiger Cave Temple, the Krabi Hot Springs, and the Crystal Pool.
Krabi Jungle Tour Details
Your tour starts with a pick up from your accommodation in a private van. And you will be sharing your van with some other tour members. All of you will be taken to each attraction and then be dropped off at your accommodation in the evening. Your lunch and all the entrance fees are included in the tour.
Depending on your guide and season, the tour route can vary. When I went, we started from the Tiger Cave Temple which was great because it wasn’t too hot outside. Since you have to climb 1,237 steps up the limestone cliff to reach the top of the temple, the weather really matters here.
Don’t worry though, the view from the top is definitely worth the hike. Just be prepared and take plenty of water and a bug spray with you.
After the Tiger Cave Temple, we drove to the Krabi Hot Springs. The Hot Springs were surprisingly refreshing even though it was toasty warm outside. We didn’t stay here long but it was nice to stroll through the jungle to find this natural little oasis.
The Crystal Pool is just a short drive from the Krabi Hot Springs. This attraction is also referred to as the Emerald pool because of its vivid emerald color. The natural freshwater spring is again just a short hike through the jungle and you’ll see dozens of local families enjoying a cool dip.
While you could plan to do each of these activities separately, the tour made it easy since participants don’t have to worry about transportation. The tour takes your entire day but you see a lot of the natural beauty of Krabi on the way.
After touring Thailand, you can also pass on to Cambodia and spend atleast 2-3 weeks here. You can read our Cambodia Travel Guide for all visa, travel, and stay information of this country.
Spend the day on Railay Beach
Ao Nang is the perfect launching off point to spend a day in Railay. Railay beach is only accessible by longtail boats so you will need to hire one to reach this beach. But honestly, this is one of the most exciting things to do in Ao Nang so don’t miss out on it. The boat from Ao Nang to Railay takes about 15 minutes and costs $6 USD roundtrip.
Railay is one of those perfect white-sand Thai beaches surrounded by limestone cliffs. It is a quiet spot to spend the day reading a book, sipping on a beer, and enjoying the natural beauty of Thailand.
In Railay, make sure to explore the Phra Nang Cave and hike to the Railay Lookout point. If you’re hungry, Govinda’s At The Beach has amazing vegetarian and vegan options for cheap. There’s also a floating snack boat that sells fruit and hot Thai meals at Phra Nang Cave Beach.
How to Reach Railay Beach
To get the boat for Railay beach, you need to walk down to the longboat kiosk in Ao Nang Beach. Buy a roundtrip ticket to Railay and keep the ticket handy since you’ll need it to return to Ao Nang in the evening. After they gather 8 passengers for the ride, they will take you down to the boats and start the short boat journey to Railay.
Go Island Hopping on the Four Islands Tour
If you’re short on time in Ao Nang, then taking the four islands tour is definitely one of the best things to do in Ao Nang. It is a great way to see several beautiful beaches in a short amount of time. And like the Krabi Jungle Tour, this tour can be booked online for about $25 or bought at one of the tourist kiosks around town too.
The four island tour will pick you up from your hotel and take you to the pier to board the long tail boat. Over the course of the day, you’ll cruise around the Andaman Sea and stop at Poda Island, Tup Island, Chicken Island, and Phra Nang Cave Beach.
This tour includes a lunch buffet on one of the islands, drinking water, snacks, and snorkeling gear. I loved snorkeling with this tour because the guides knew the best spots to see ocean life. We stopped out in the middle of the water and explored places I never would have seen from the beach.
At the end of the day, you will head back to the pier and be dropped off at your hotel by a shuttle. Remember to pack extra water, a towel, and sunscreen for your island hopping tour. You’ll definitely get wet on this tour since you’ll be getting on and off the boat directly into the water so, keep your skin protected.
If you love islands then make sure that you plan a trip to Bali. There are some amazing amazing islands to cover here.
Eat outstanding Thai food at Jungle Kitchen
I have eaten my share of amazing Thai food. I have wandered deep into local alleys in Bangkok in search of perfect Red Curry and tasted Sam Tam at gourmet restaurants. But guys, I am serious, I had my best meal in Thailand at the Jungle Kitchen in Ao Nang.
There’s a reason this place is rated number one on the Tripadvisor. The first time I ate here, I was blown away by the simplicity and flavor in the classic Thai dishes. The craziest part is that Jungle kitchen is less expensive than many average restaurants around here. In fact, you could easily order an appetizer, entree, and dessert with just a few dollars.
The restaurant is decorated like a jungle hideaway and gives off a very homely vibe. The minute you enter, you will immediately feel welcomed and the food prepared here also reflects the love with which this restaurant was built.
So, don’t forget to make your reservation for Jungle kitchen right when you arrive because it books up quickly, for a good reason.
Go on a Pub Crawl
Even though it’s not known for its crazy nightlife, you can definitely have a wild night out in Ao Nang. Do an organized pub crawl like the one offered by Slumber Party Hostel or go on your own self-guided pub crawl here.
If you want a more lively night out, check out Get Rads Bar, Thailandia, and Chang Bar. If you want a quiet night out, stop by the Beach Bar under Phra Nang Inn for some amazing live music and gorgeous sunset views.
From Thailand, you can also head to Indonesia and have a blast here. You can read this Indonesia Itinerary: Java to Bali in 10 Days article to plan your trip.
Don’t Miss Ao Nang Beach
Finally, one of the top things to do in Ao Nang is to relax and laze around on the Ao Nang Beach. This sleepy beach town is brimming with charm, natural beauty, and affordable activities. So, make sure that you make the most of it. Also, don’t forget to watch the beautiful sunset views from the Ao Nang beach, they are completely magical and will make you forget that you are still on earth.
And if you are planning for a long Thailand vacation, then make sure you include other cities as well. Cities like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Ko Samui, etc. have a lot to offer. Trust me, Thailand has so many places with varying landscapes that you cannot miss out on. You can read this post on the best activities to do in Chiang Mai to plan your stay in Chiang Mai better.
Nicola Rae is an online English teacher, house sitter, and travel blogger. She’s known for getting lost in new cities, befriending big lizards, and eating impressive quantities of guacamole. Read more about practical long-term travel on her blog Seenicwander. You can also follow her journey on her Facebook and Instagram accounts.