Friday, 18 May 2018

THAILAND: Krabi, A Tourist Destination That Sees Two Million Visitors A Year

Krabi Province is a popular beach destination at the Andaman Sea in Southern Thailand.

Krabi is the main town in the province of Krabi - thesaban mueang on the west coast of southern Thailand at the mouth of the Krabi River where it empties in Phang Nga Bay.

The town is the capital of Krabi Province and Krabi District. Tourism is an important industry. Krabi is 783 km south of Bangkok by road.

Krabi, a coastal province, abounds with countless natural attractions that never fail to impress tourists.

Such attractions include white sandy beaches, crystal clear water, fascinating coral reefs, caves and waterfalls, as well as numerous islands.

The distinguishing feature of both Krabi and neighboring Phang Nga is the massive limestone karsts, rising vertiginously out of the flat rice paddies on land and as islands from the sea.

Add in some gorgeous beaches and excellent scuba diving and rock climbing, and it's little wonder that tourism in the area has been booming.

While less commercialized than neighboring Phuket, Krabi Province cannot be described as undiscovered: it receives two million visitors a year, and the major tourist areas cater extensively to foreigners.

From archaeological discoveries, it is believed that Krabi is one of the oldest communities in Thailand dating back to the prehistoric period.

It is believed that the town may have taken its name after the meaning of Krabi, which means sword. This may have stemmed from a legend that an ancient sword was unearthed prior to the city’s founding.

Krabi Province was badly hit by the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004. Several years later, signs of the damage are now hard to find anywhere.

The town covers the tambon Paknam and Krabi Yai of Krabi district, and is subdivided into 10 communities or chumchon.

Facing the Andaman Sea, like Phuket, Krabi is subject to a six-month rainy season between May and November, often with sustained heavy rains for days at a time during the monsoons.

Krabi's highest ever recorded temperature was 39.1° C on 26 March 1998. Its lowest temperature was recorded on 11 January 2009: 15.3° C.

At the start of the Rattanakosin or Bangkok period in the late eighteenth century, when the capital was finally settled at Bangkok, an elephant kraal was established in Krabi by order of Chao Phraya Nakorn (Noi), the governor of Nakhon Si Thammarat, which was by then a part of the Thai Kingdom.

He sent his vizier, the Phra Palad, to oversee this task, which was to ensure a regular supply of elephants for the larger town.

Many followers immigrated in the steps of the Phra Palad that soon Krabi had a large community in three different boroughs: Pakasai, Khlong Pon, and Pak Lao.

In 1872, King Chulalongkorn elevated these to town status, called Krabi, a word that preserves in its meaning the monkey symbolism of the old standard.

The town's first governor was Luang Thep Sena, though it continued for a while as a dependency of Nakhon Si Thammarat. This was changed in 1875, when Krabi was raised to a fourth-level town in the old system of Thai government.

Administrators then reported directly to the central government in Bangkok, and Krabi's history as an entity separate from other provinces had begun.

Much of the province has been given over to several national parks. Top destinations are Hat Noppharat Thara - Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park, Ao Nang, Railay, and Ko Phi Phi.

The province includes over 80 smaller islands such as Ko Lanta and Phi Phi, well-known to adventurers, yachtsmen, scuba-divers, snorkelers, and day-trippers from Phuket. Krabi's beaches attract both native Thai people and foreigners alike.

Ko Lanta National Park, also in Krabi Province, includes several coral-fringed islands with well-known diving sites.

The largest island, Ko Lanta Yai, is the site of park headquarters, and is also home to Chao Le, or sea gypsies, who sustain themselves largely through fishing. The islands are best visited during the drier months of October through April.

Kayaking, sailing, bird watching, snorkeling are also among top activities.

In the interior, two predominantly mainland national parks, Khao Phanom Bencha National Park and Than Bokkhorani, offer inland scenic attractions including waterfalls and caves, and opportunities for trekking, bird watching, and eco-tours.

The rock faces at Railay Beach near Ao Nang have attracted climbers from all over the world and each year are the venue for the Rock and Fire Festival.

There are several rock climbing schools at Railay Beach. The rock is limestone and has characteristic pockets, overhangs and faces.

Railay has numerous multi-pitch areas most of which start from the beach itself. A famous example is Humanality. In addition, deep water soloing is popular on the numerous nearby rocky islands accessible by long-tail boat.

Cities In Krabi Province

- Krabi Town, the administrative capital and a common entry point into the region

- Ao Nang, Krabi's most developed beach, a long beach fringed by palm trees

- Had Yao or Long Beach, the last untouched beach in Krabi Province, and perhaps the most spectacular with its views of Jum Mountain and Ao Nang's cliff walls

- Rai Leh, Thailand's rock climbing Mecca, a craggy peninsula with several small beaches

- Ton Sai, cheapest bungalows in the area, referred by backpackers away from the hordes of tourists and an easy walk to Rai Leh

Good Places Worth Visiting

- Ko Jum, peace & quiet for those looking for solitude

- Ko Lanta, sleepy island, the new escape for those who find Ao Nang/Rai Leh too touristy

- Ko Ngai, part of Krabi Province, but easier to reach from Trang

- Ko Phi Phi, Thailand's largest Marine National Park and backpacker favorite where The Beach was filmed

- Ko Por, an ecotourism place near of the famous island of Ko Lanta, away from the hordes of tourists to find another kind of travel, to learn the true life of the Thai people and discover the nature

- Ko Siboya, rural Thailand with a difference

- Ban Ao Luek, some caves here well worth a visit.

- Ko Hong, perfect for kayaking and snorkeling.

The best time to visit Krabi is from November to April when the area's climate is not as hot.
During this time the island gets a lot of dry northeasterly winds, giving dry blue skies and starry nights. Then, down on the beaches one can enjoy nice sea breezes.

From June to November the area gets a lot of rainfall, more on average than the rest of the country. During this period the islands get a lot of moist southwesterly winds, which give a mixture of dry days and wet ones.

The sea stays a warm 29°C all year round. Visitors however, coming in this period will find it cheaper.

Bordering the Andaman Sea, Krabi is located 814 kilometers south of Bangkok and covers an area of 4,708 square kilometers.

Its mountainous physical geography is broken by highlands and plains, covering more than 130 large and small islands, and abounding with mangrove forests.

The Krabi River flows 5 kilometers through the town and into the Andaman Sea at Tambon Pak Nam.

There are also klongs or canals such as Klong Pakasai, Klong Krabi Yai, and Klong Krabi Noi, which all originate from Krabi’s highest mountain Mount Phanom Bencha.

- North, borders with Phang-nga and Surat Thani

- South, borders with Trang and the Andaman Sea

- East, borders with Nakhon Si Thammarat

- West, borders with Phang-nga and the Andaman Sea

You can get around on English alone in the more touristic areas, although a few words of Thai will come in handy off the beaten track and will be much appreciated anywhere.

A number of other European languages are spoken in dive shops

The most popular way to enter this province is via its capital, Krabi Town.

Krabi International Airport (KBV) is about 10 km from the city limits, 15 km from the city centre, 40km from Ao Nang and 23km from Had Yao.

Thai Airways operates daily direct flights to/from Bangkok, likewise Air Asia from Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.

Bangkok Airway flies to Ko Samui nearly every day of the week.

Destination Air Shuttle, Thailand's only Seaplane service also routinely flies in and out of Krabi (Ko Lanta) from Phuket and to the numerous outer islands.

Krabi is on Highway 4. Shared songthaews - pickup truck taxis from Ao Nang to Krabi are frequent and cost Bt 40. Originating in Phang-nga province, Highway 4 links many of the province’s districts. Other main routes include:

- Highway 4035 to Plai Phraya district (Krabi) & Phra Saeng district (Surat Thani)

- Highway 4034 links Ao Nang and Nopparat beaches

- Highway 4037 to Khao Phanom district towards Surat Thani

- Highway 4038 links Klong Thom and Lam Thap districts

- Highway 4206 links Klong Thom to Koh Lanta

Coming from Bangkok:

Proceed along Highway No. 4, passing Phetchaburi – Prachuap Khiri Khan – Chumphon – Ranong – Phang-nga, to Krabi. The total distance is 946 kilometers.

Travel along Highway No. 4 onto Highway No. 41 at Chumphon via Amphoe Lang Suan and Amphoe Chaiya, Surat Thani.

Proceed towards Amphoe Wiang Sa, change to Highway No. 4035 for Amphoe Ao Luek, and switch back to Highway No. 4 again to Krabi. This route is 814 kilometers.

From Phuket: Proceed along Highways No. 402 and No. 4. The total distance is 176 kilometers.

There are regular direct bus services between Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal and Krabi (~ 500 baht), but probably the best option is to take a VIP bus, which for 250 baht more makes the 10 hour ride much more comfortable.

Buses from Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal to Krabi take about 12 hours and depart as follows:

- VIP bus - 07:20 - 1055 baht

- First class bus - 19:00 - 680 baht

- Second class bus - 07:30, 19:00, 19:30, 21:00 - 378 baht

The nearest train stations are:

- Trang - 2-2.5 hours away from Krabi by bus

The nearest train station to Krabi is in Trang province just south of Krabi. From there, there are trains to and from Bangkok. Distances

The distance from Bangkok to Krabi is approx 950 km or about 12 hrs by car.

Route 1: Phetburi - Prachuabkirikhan - Chumporn - Phang Nga - Krabi = 946 km.

Route 2: Phetburi - Prachuabkirikhan - Chumporn (Highway No 41) to Chaiya (Suratthani) - Krabi (Viangsra) -

Highway No 4035 - Krabi (Ao Luk) and along Highway 4 again = 814 km.

Surat Thani - 3-4 hours away from Krabi by bus

Various tourist attractions can be conveniently reached by local Songthaew. Such attractions include Ban Huai To, Ban Nong Thale, Ban Khao Thong, Hat Noppharat Thara, Susan Hoi, Ao Nang, Ban Khlong Muang, Ban Nai Sa, Amphoe Khao Phanom.

Amphoe Nuea Khlong, Amphoe Khlong Thom, Ban Bo Muang, Ban Hua Hin, Ban Khlong Phon, Amphoe Lam Thap, Amphoe Ao Luek, and Amphoe Plai Phraya.

The local Songthaews depart from the Vogue Department Store on Maha Rat Road. Trips to other destinations can be made by taxi and rental car.

Krabi is mostly coast and islands, so you'll be spending quite some time on boats when getting around.

The most common boat type for shorter hops is the long tail boat or reua hang yao, which true to the name has the propeller at the end of a long tail stretching from the boat.

This makes them supremely manoeuvrable even in shallow waters, but they're a little under powered for longer trips and you'll get wet if it's even a little choppy.

Krabi roads are not as crowded as other Thai provinces and cities and driving here is a cost effective and convenient way to get around, especially if you are staying away from Ao Nang and want to go into town to go to markets, eat at restaurants, etc.

All major car rental agencies have desks in Krabi airport and cars are reasonably priced when compared to the taxi fares to and from Ao Nang.

Sights And Sites in Krabi

- Ban Ao Luek. Some 50km north of Krabi Town on the way to Phang Nga. Several interesting caves worth looking at here.

- Talay-Wak or Split Ocean. Talay-Wak is one of Thailand's unseen highlights claimed by Tourism Authority of Thailand. It is the miracle of nature.

When the tide is low, the quite white beach will appears and connecting from Koh Kai and Koh Tub.

The best time to visit Talay-Wak is five days before and after the full moon from December to the beginning of May.

- Huay Toh Waterfall. Huay Toh Waterfall is the most beautiful waterfall in Phanom Bencha National Park. It is 500 metres from the park headquarters.

This waterfall has eleven levels and originates from the Kao Panom Mountains in Tambon Tap Prik.

There are lots of large pools where tourists can enjoy swimming in each level with its own name, such as Wang Sam Hap, Wang Chong Loi, Wang Doi Prong, Wang Thewada, and Wang Ton Phrio.

Huay Toh Waterfall is the attractive place to go there.

- Emerald Pool or Sramorakod. The Emerald Pool or Sramorakod is in Khao Phanom Bencha National Park. It is one of Thailand’s unseen highlights. Emerald Pool has green color because of minerals in water.

This place is close to hot waterfall another unseen’s Thailand. It is 18 kilometers along public road No. 4038 from the district office of Klong Thom.

- Fossil Shell Beach or Susan Hoi. Susan Hoi was the large freshwater swamp. It is located in Krabi town. The age of Susan Hoi is around 40 million years ago, and it became landmass.

It is easy to go there from the municipal market, drive along Krabi Road and turn left to Highway No. 4034 all the way to Ban Sai Tai. Then turn left again to highway No.4024 for 19 kilometers.

- Rock climbing. Krabi is a world class rock-climbing destination, with the distinctive limestone karst formations offer a wide variety of climbs.

- Diving. Krabi rivals Ko Tao on Thailand's east coast as a centre for diving, with a number of renowned dive sites in the Andaman sea, with many dive shops in Ko Phi Phi and Ko Lanta in particular set up to cater for them.

- Boat Trips. Boat travel is one of the major ways to visit some of the more secluded beaches on the Krabi mainland, as well as the many islands and islets dotting the Andaman sea.

A wide variety of options to suit different budgets is available, from distinctive long tail boats used by the locals to speedboats and cruise ships.

Shopping in Krabi Town is by far the best experience and has everything from local art and handicrafts to the amazing local food which may be spicy for some peoples taste.

Ao Nang is the regular tourist trap and has the obligatory shops T-shirts and Billabong shorts. These are intermixed with the restaurants and bars of the area.

Perhaps unsurprisingly for a coastal region, seafood features prominently on the menu. Traditional southern Thai food includes milder coconut-milk based curries popularly associated with Thailand.

The dry, Malaysian-influenced Panaeng curry and Indian-influenced Massaman (Muslim) curry with potatoes and nuts.

A wide variety of international cuisines is available in the many resort towns, visited by millions of overseas tourists every year and home to many expats.

Tourism has also brought migrants from other parts of Thailand, and their food with them.

Most of people in Krabi province love to eat parkia. So parkia is very famous in this province and the southern of Thailand. Parkia is a bitter bean that have a twist shape.

Therefore, parkia is the popular ingredient for cooking food. For example, shrimp stir-fried with parkia, parkia spicy soup with fish, and so on. If you have go to Krabi you should try to eat food that make form parkia.

There is plenty of accommodation within the Province. Krabi Town, Ao Nang, Ban Ao Luek etc.

Krabi's more well developed tourist centres offer internet cafes and international calling cards.

Free wi-fi is increasingly available in bars and restaraunts.

Phang Nga, yet more beaches and strange limestone formations

Phuket, the original southern Thai beach resort island, just two hours away

Ko Samui, the paradise islands on the gulf coast, about 6 hours away by bus or ferry

Surat Thani, main land of tourist islands, wet forest and Srivijaya Empire. 3 hours by bus.

The Tiger Cave Temple, is a Buddhist temple northeast of Krabi, Thailand.

One of the most sacred Buddhist sites in the province, it is well known for the tiger paw prints in the cave, tall Buddha statues and the strenuous flight of stairs to reach the summit.

The foundation of the temple dates back when a Vipassana monk named Jumnean Seelasettho (Ajahn Jumnean) went to meditate in the cave.

During his meditation, he witnessed tigers roaming around the cave. This discovery led to naming the temple Wat Tham Suea.

Another legend says that an actual huge tiger used to live and roam the cave. The naming of the temple also comes to discoveries of a tiger paw prints on the cave walls, and also the bulge of the cave resembling a tiger's paw.

The surroundings of Wat Tham Suea consists of tropical rain forest including many old trees in the Kiriwong Valley.

There are many places to go, but the places to visit are the caves Tum Khon Than, Tum Lod, Tum Chang Kaeo, and Tum Luk.

Many Thanu ancient artifacts were found around the caves and temple grounds.

Mountains also cover most of the land around the Tham Sua region along with many other small caves that are not accessible to tourists.

In various parts of the temple, you can see human skeletons and decorated skulls.

The Tham Sua temple is a Thai Buddhist meditation center and also has places of archaeological and historical significance.

Examples of these historical attractions are stone tools, pottery shards, and molded Buddha footprints.

The temple has one stairway with 1,237 steps leading to the summit. Some of the stair risers are more than a foot (30 cm) high. The top of the stairs is 278 meters elevation.

Elsewhere on the compound, 184 steps lead to the foothills area where monks live in the caves. Monkeys roam the lower stairs and temple grounds.

Occasionally people are bitten and require hospital treatment. Do not tease the monkeys or get between the adults and young.

At the top of the mountain there is a large golden Buddha statue. This statue, other temple buildings, and much of Krabi town can be seen from shrine at the top of the stairs.

Tourism Observer
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