Krabi – the Andaman sea





Krabi – The Emerald on the Andaman Sea

Located approximately 814 kilometers from Bangkok is Krabi Province, one of most attractive destinations in southern Thailand. Encompassing an area of 4,708 square kilometers, the western border of Krabi is the Andaman Sea, the norhern borders are Surat Thani and Phang-nga Provinces, the southern borders are Trang Province and the Andaman Sea and the eastern borders are Nakhon Si Thammarat and Trang Provinces. Krabi is an ideal getaway destination teeming with natural attractions including white sandy beaches, fascinating coral reefs, numerous large and small islands and verdant forests with caves and waterfalls.

Krabi’s topography is mostly mountains and highlands separated by plains in some parts. Flowing through Krabi City to the Andaman Sea at Pak Nam Sub-district is Maenam Krabi which is 5 kilometers in length. In addition, there are several canals originating from the province’s highest mountain range, Khao Phanom Bencha including Khlong Pakasai, Khlong Krabi Yai and Khlong Krabi Noi. Lush mangrove forests line the canals and the banks of Maenam Krabi particularly before it empties into the Andaman Sea. The provinces sandy soil conditions are suitable for growing various agricultural products, particularly rubber trees, palms, coconuts, cashew nuts and coffee.

Due to the influence of the tropical monsoon, there are only two seasons in Krabi; the hot season from January to April and the rainy season from May to December. Temperatures range between 17 C and 37 C.

Krabi is administratively divided into 8 Amphoes (Districts): Amphoe Mueang, Khao Phanom, Khlong Thom, Plai Phraya, Ko Lanta, Ao Luek, Lam Thap, and Nuea Khlong. The provinces jurisdiction covers not only in-land districts and sub-districts, but also extends to more than 130 large and small islands including the world famous Phi Phi Islands.

In addition, Krabi is the location of two world class beaches Ao Nang and Hat Rai Le which offer numerous diving trips, restaurants, shops etc. Additional attractions in the province are stunning limestone cliffs and rock formations which make it a heaven for rock climbers and a National Park located approximately 40 kilometers outside
of town with lakes, caves and spectacular natural scenery.

History of Krabi

Some archeologists claim that Krabi City is one of the older settlements in the country as there is archaeological evidence indicating that this area had been home to homosapiens during the prehistoric times or betwen 25,000 – 35,000 B. C. The assumption has been strongly supported by the discovery of stone tools, ancient colored pictures, beads, pottery and skeletal remains in the provinces cliffs and caves.

In 1200 A.D., the area was known as Ban Thai Samo, one of 12 royal cities that had a monkey as the town symbol. During this period of time, Krabi was under the rule of the Kingdom of Ligor, a city better known today as Nakhon Si Thammarat.

During the reign of King Rama V (1868-1910), the community was known as Pakasai Sub-county and remained under the direct jurisdiction of Nakhon Si Thammarat province.

Around 1872, King Rama V elevated Pakasai Sub-county to Krabi Province with the provincial administration office situated at Krabi-yai Sub-county (currently, the office is located near the estuary at Pak Nam Sub-district) and in 1875, ordered the separation of Krabi Province from Nakhon Si Thammarat Province.

During the present reign, the corps of civil servants, merchants, and the people of Krabi and nearby provinces have collectively organized the construction of a royal residence at Laem Hang Nak Cape which is thirty kilometers west of Krabi Town on the Andaman coast to be presented to His Majesty the King.

Origin of the name Krabi

There are two legends concerning the origin of the name “Krabi”. The first is that villagers presented a large ancient sword (or krabi) that was discovered by chance to the governor. Later when a smaller, on discovering a smaller one, it was also presented to the governor. Regarded as sacred and auspicious, the governor decided to keep them in the province. As the process for the establishment of the province was still in progress, the swords were placed crossing each other in Khao Khanap Nam cave. Since then, the crossed swords have remained a part of the provincial seal.

The second legend is that “Krabi” was derived from the name of a local tree known as “Lumphi”. The Malay and Chinese merchants mispronunciation of the name to “Ka-lu-bi” or “Kho-lo-bi” finally resulted in “Krabi” (or sword).


Krabi boasts countless natural marine attractions, including white sandy beaches, fascinating coral reefs, numerous islands and caves.

Apart from the world famous Phi Phi Islands, the province is also famous for the stunning limestone cliffs and rock formations which make it a mecca for rock climbers. Large numbers of tourists in Phuket usually make a side trip to Phi Phi Islands, or further eastwards to Krabi proper.

The most popular places are as follows:

Ø       Phi Phi Islands

Ø       Au Nang and Rai Le Beach

Ø       Susan Hoi (Shell Fossil Cemetery)

Ø       Mu Ko Hong

Ø       Ko Lanta Marine National Park

1. Phi Phi Islands

Famed as among the most beautiful tropical islands of the world, Phi Phi Islands have become one of the most popular tourist attractions of Thailand. It was here that the well-known movie “The Beach” featured by Leonardo DiCaprio was shot. The islands, together with the nearby Noppharat Thara Beach, were recently established as a national park with a total area of 390

As most visitors to Phi Phi Islands come from Phuket some 40 km. away, many of them think that the islands are part of Phuket. In fact, both Noppharat Thara Beach and Phi Phi belong to Krabi province, though the distance from Krabi to Phi Phi is about the same as that between Phuket and Phi Phi.

Also, it is usually misunderstood that the island group of Phi Phi Islands is composed of only 2 islets, Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Le. But actually, the area of Phi Phi Islands covers 6 islets altogether, namely Phi Phi Don, Phi Phi Le, Mai Phai (Bamboo), Yung, Bida Nok and Bida Nai. The islands and the coastal hills are mostly composed of limestone and are an extension of the limestone mountain range in Phang-nga province. Some of the characteristics of such mountains and islands are their steep cliffs, large caves and dwarf trees growing out of the crevices in the rocks, like those in Phang-nga Bay.

Among the islets of Phi Phi Islands, Phi Phi Don, the larger one which lies in the north, is well known for its fine beaches and coral formations around the island and is provided with an assortment of accommodation facilities along the two beautiful curved bays, Ton Sai Bay and Lodalam Bay, in the south and others at the northern end of the island. Several shops at Ton Sai can arrange diving and snorkelling trips around the island or the nearby islands — Phi Phi Le Island, Yung Island and Mai Phai (Bamboo) Island.

About 2 km. to the south is Phi Phi Le Island. Contrary to Phi Phi Don, this islet is uninhabited, not only because this is banned, but also because there is no beach around it. The island descends abruptly into the sea on all sides. Au Maya and Au Lo Sama among the scenic coves of the island are favorite places for snorkellers. The sea around the island is deep, especially the southern part, which is over 30 meters deep and is full of coral formations and so is a popular diving spot.

Yung Island is situated in the north of Phi Phi Don. The island has a stone beach in the east and small sandy beaches amidst valleys. It is teeming with various kinds of colourful coral reefs. Not far from Yung is Mai Phai (Bamboo) Island. There are marvellous beaches in the north and east of the island. The bank of coral reefs with antler corals, in particular, streches from north to south of the island, making it a paradise for diving. Other two islets located in the South of Phi Phi Le are Bida Nok Island and Bida Nai Island. With its emerald crystal sea, secluded beaches, wooded cliffed mountains, colourful coral reefs and undersea life, Phi Phi is a paradise in the Andaman. The best time to visit Phi Phi Islands is from November to April, when the sea is calm.

Phranang Bay (or Au Nang) 

Located 6 km. from Noppharat Thara Beach, this is a large bay with several scenic beaches and 83 islands of various sizes and shapes. Due to its unspoilt natural beauty both on land and in the surrounding waters and easy accessibility, Au Nang has gradually developed to be Krabi’s most popular tourist attraction after Phi Phi Islands, with a growing number of accommodations and tour operators. Some famous beaches in the area are Tham Phra Nang, East Rai Le, West Rai Le, and Ton Sai.

Tham Phra Nang Beach

This beach is said to be the most beautiful beach in the area, while West Rai Le is quieter and more peaceful. These beaches can only be reached by boat from Au Nang. Noppharat Thara Beach and Au Nang can be reached easily by songthaeo (minibus) from Krabi town. The trip takes about 30-40 minutes. From Au Nang, tourists may hire a boat to visit nearby offshore islets such as Ko Poda, Ko Kai (Dam Khwan), Ko Mo and Ko Thap. These places are ideal for snorkelling, diving and sea canoeing.

Susan Hoi (Shell Fossil Cemetery)

Located at Ban Laem Pho cape some 17 km. from town, it is a huge rock slab evolved from uncountable shell fossils of some 35 million years. This shell graveyard was once a large freshwater swamp populated by millions of snails. Over aeons, the dead snails gradually formed a layer of fossils, which is about 40 cm. thick. This wonderful site of nature has become one of the most popular attractions of Krabi and one of the three in the world.

Located at Ban Laem Pho cape some 17 km. from town, it is a huge rock slab evolved from uncountable shell fossils of some 35 million years. This shell graveyard was once a large freshwater swamp populated by millions of snails. Over aeons, the dead snails gradually formed a layer of fossils, which is about 40 cm. thick. This wonderful site of nature has become one of the most popular attractions of Krabi and one of the three in the world.

Mu Ko Hong 

Mu Ko Hong is a group of limestone islands with fine beaches and a lot of coral reefs on both deep and shallow water levels. It takes about one hour to go by boat from Au Nang to the islands. Canoe trips to Ko Hong are organized by some tour agents at Au Nang. There are many other limestone islands and caves in the park which are good for visiting. Detailed information about these places can be obtained from the park office at Than Bokkhorani in Au Luek county (Highway No. 4031).

Ko Lanta Marine National Park 

Covering a total area of 152, this marine park consists of 15 offshore islands, most surrounded by coral reefs. Some major islands are Ko Lanta Yai, Ko Lanta Noi, Ko Talengbeng, Ko Ha, Ko Rok and Ko Ngai.

Ko Lanta Yai

Ko Lanta Yai, the main island in the park, is where the National Park’s Office is situated and is also home to sea gypsies. The mountains in the northern part and southern tip of the island are covered with virgin rain forests. Several beautiful beaches are along the north and the south of its west coast, i.e. Khlong Dao beach, Khlong Nin beach, Phra Ae beach and Khlong Khong beach, where various styles of accommodations are available. There are coral reefs along some parts of the western side and Laem (cape) Kho Kwang at the northern tip.

Saladan pier at the northern tip of the island is where tour operators, shops and banks are situated. The peak tourist season is from November to April.

Ko Rok Nok 

Ko Rok Nok to the south of Ko Lanta Yai, has a lovely curved bay with a white sand beach and a lot of coral reefs to the southeast and the south of the island. Tourists can contact tour operators on Ko Lanta Yai for an excursion to Ko Rok Nok by speedboat.

Ko Rok Nai connecting to Ko Rok Nok is an island that is mostly steep cliffs. It offers superb beach and plentiful unspoiled coral reefs among rocks.

Ko Ngai (Hai)

This small island has white fine sandy beaches in the east and plentiful coral reefs lying along most parts of the coast. It is easily accessible from Trang province. Boats leave Pak Meng pier in Trang for Ko Ngai daily at 10.00 and 14.00 hrs. These islands are best visited during the non-monsoon months from November to April.

Krabi’s activities:

Canoeing & Kayaking

Among the best ways to enjoy the spectacular seascape, limestone cliffs and caves in Krabi’s waters arecanoeing and kayaking. These sports allow the travellers to explore the hidden areas offshore at a more leisurely pace. Canoeing and kayaking operators are available at Au Nang.

Diving & Snorkelling

Like Phang-nga, Krabi offers a great opportunity for diving due to its numerous natural marine resources including over a hundred offshore islands. Dive shops around Rai Le and Au Nang provide dive trips as well as diving and snorkeling gear for rent. Another nice dive site is Ao Ling or Monkey Bay.

Rock climbing

Apart from marine sports, Krabi is also an ideal place for rock climbing. Lines of sheer limestone cliffs along Tham Phranang and Rai Le beaches have attracted thousands of climbers from all over the world to challenge themselves every year. The routes are of various levels from low to high difficulty. So, even the inexperienced climbers can have a try. Equipment, instruction and guides are available at most lodgings.

Other activities

There are many other activities that can be enjoyed at this wonderful coastal province, such as game-fishing, sailing and mountain biking.


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