Ao Nang is a stunning beach town located on the Andaman Coast of southern Thailand. It boasts pristine white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, exotic coral reefs, lush jungle, majestic limestone karsts and a vibrant culture and atmosphere.
Ao Nang offers plenty of activities and attractions to enjoy, from exciting water sports such as scuba diving and snorkelling to leisurely swimming and sunbathing at one of its many picturesque beaches. There are numerous markets and shops where you can find anything from souvenirs to local artwork, while the nearby temple provides insight into Thai religious beliefs and traditions. For those seeking something more active, Ao Nang is home to a number of adventures such as kayaking, rock climbing and zip lining. Finally, for those looking to relax, there are plenty of spas and massages available.
It used to be called Ao Phra Nang (“Princess Bay”) although everybody uses the short form, Ao Nang is the most ‘Westernized’ beach in Krabi, originally a backpacker hotspot but now it is moving quickly upmarket as the nearby Krabi airport brings in more tourists. There is a good range of accommodation, many good restaurants, easy transport and travel/tour agencies ready to cater to your every whim, making it a good base for exploring Krabi.
Orienting yourself in Ao Nang is easy: almost everything is located either along the beach, which runs west-east, or along the Airport Road (Highway 4203) which goes up north from the east end of the beach. Long-tails arrive on the beach near the junction of the two roads.
Climate and Geography
Ao Nang has a tropical climate with generally warm temperatures throughout the year, although there are some extremes in temperature during the summer months. The average temperature ranges between 26 to 34°C, with humidity levels being fairly high.
Geographically, Ao Nang is situated on the east side of Phuket Island, surrounded by many islands and stunning limestone karst formations that create beautiful scenery. Its hilly terrain features steep slopes and valleys, while its seafront is made up of miles of golden beaches and sparkling blue seas.
Getting to Ao Nang
Krabi International Airport is about 30 minutes away by car. Private taxis can be hired to take you to your hotel for about 600 Baht.
Local shuttle buses, just converted pickup trucks (songthaew), run from Ao Nang to Krabi (50 baht) and from Krabi to the airport (60 baht). The total trip between Ao Nang and the airport takes little less than 2 hours. To get to Ao Nang from Krabi town you should look for a white songthaew outside the 7-Eleven store.
There is now a big bus service from the airport to Ao Nang, via Krabi Town, the Krabi ferry terminal and Noppharat Thara beach.
Railay West and Tonsai are only 10 minutes away while the less developed Had Yao (Long Beach) is 25 minutes away by long-tail. Boats leave constantly from the east end of the beach and charge a flat 80 baht/person during the day, 100 baht/person at night. There is no pier so expect to get at least your feet wet, probably more.
There are also public ferry services to Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta (usually twice daily), for which any travel agent will be happy to sell you tickets at around 200 baht/person.
Boats from Ko Lanta now arrive at the new jetty, from there take a taxi (350 baht), or local bus to Krabi (50 baht) and then on to Ao Nang (40 baht).
There is a Songthaew(shared pick-up truck / taxi) service to Ao Nang from Krabi town, which runs throughout daylight hours in low season and up to 10pm in high season. The fare is 50 baht and they can be expected every 15-20 minutes. Songthaews are colour coded according to destination so make sure if you are coming to Ao Nang from Krabi you get on a white one.
Getting around Ao Nang
Tuk-tuks in Ao Nang charge a flat 20 baht/person for trips around town. Songthaews also run all across Ao Nang onto the Shell Beach and some all the way to Krabi town, fares from 10 baht up depending on distance.
Things to See
Fossil Shell Beach (Thai Su-san Hoi, literally “Seashell Graveyard”). 7 km west of Ao Nang, this tourist attraction has slates of compressed 40 million year old shellfish. There’s also a small museum and gift shops.
Nopparat Thara Beach. Picturesque beach at the western tip of Ao Nang, zoned as a national park. During low tide you can walk up to some of the nearby craggy limestone islands.
Things to Do
There is little to do actually in Ao Nang town, but Railay and Koh Phi Phi are very close and there are many tour operators offering activities such as sea kayaking and elephant treks.
Climbing can be arranged through Ao Nang agencies who will arrange transfers, lunch, and as much climbing as your limbs can handle – alternatively, simply wander over to Railay or Tonsai and organize an introductory course yourself.
Most of the dive shops offer a very similar price for the dive courses and dive trips. Sites visited daily include the local islands in Ao Nang bay, Phi Phi Marine National Park, the King Cruiser Wreck site and Shark Point Marine sanctuary. It’s now also possible to do a one day safari by speedboat to Hin Daeng and Hin Muang for the chance to see whale sharks and manta rays, or to do some spectacular cavern diving at the 5 islands of Koh Ha Yai.
Ao Nang has no shopping malls or supermarkets, but there are plenty of convenience stores and souvenir shops. The vast majority of shops are lined nicely along the beachfront road. There are also a few side roads that branch off into the cluster of crowded shops found elsewhere in Asia. The regular tourist fare (e.g. postcards, magnets, trinkets, etc.) are plentiful as are clothes, shoes, and pretty much anything else you’ll find elsewhere in Thailand.
In Ao Nang, there is plenty of options when it comes to dining and entertainment. From fine dining restaurants serving authentic Thai cuisine to beachside cafés offering international favorites, there is something to suit every taste. As for nightlife, there are a selection of bars and clubs to choose from, each offering its own unique atmosphere and music.
Culture & History
Ao Nang is filled with rich cultural heritage and fascinating history. Many of the local traditions, stories and legends date back hundreds of years and offer a glimpse into the area’s past. Furthermore, visitors can get a sense of the unique culture of the region by exploring the surrounding villages, temples and other monuments that tell the story of generations gone by.
There is a wide range of accommodation available from cheap guesthouses to luxury resorts. Here are a few recommended resorts for you to consider when staying in the area:
Ao Nang Phu Pi Maan Resort and Spa is a cozy and comfortable oasis nestled amidst the tropical nature of southern Thailand. It features contemporary design infused with elements of traditional Thai culture, resulting in a tranquil retreat that blurs the line between indoor and outdoor living. Rooms range from standard rooms to luxury suites, all featuring modern amenities and comforts. Outdoors, the resort is home to a refreshing swimming pool and a restaurant, where guests can savor both Thai and Western delicacies. A shuttle service is provided to the nearby Ao Nang Beach, which takes less than five minutes.
Deevana Krabi Resort is located a short walk away from Nopparat Thara and Ao Nang Beach, offering stunning views overlooking the surrounding lush hills. The resort features sixty six rooms in four categories; Deluxe, Grand Deluxe, Duplex and Duplex Suite. Each room has been tastefully decorated in shades of earthy hues with splashes of blue, ensuring an unforgettable stay. Guests can take advantage of the many amenities available such as a swimming pool, bar, restaurant, massages, gardens, fitness area, spa, room service and laundry service along with 24 hour reception.
Panan Krabi Resort is a breathtaking retreat located just a few steps from Ao Nang Beach. Offering 19 beautifully furnished rooms, guests can enjoy the spectacular views of both mountains and ocean while taking advantage of the many facilities including two swimming pools on the rooftop and ground levels. The atmosphere is serene and peaceful, making it the ideal destination for relaxation and rejuvenation.
BlueSotel Krabi AoNang Beach is a stylish and modern retreat with the motto “Chic and Modern”. Located just five minutes from the beach, guests can enjoy stunning views of the limestone mountains, and access to an outdoor swimming pool, bar, massage salon, spa, fitness center, coffee shop, laundry and barbecue equipment. The hotel offers 130 rooms featuring luxurious amenities for an unforgettable experience.