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In a nutshell

Taste your way through seemingly endless trays of fiery curries. Take a stroll or longtail boat ride along the Krabi river. While away the afternoon at a laid back traveller cafe, or choose from a long list of national parks, mountains, waterfalls, caves, beaches and islands in the surrounding province.

The motto of the provincial capital city of Krabi is "Lively town, lovely people", and that just about nails it.

Nestled along the Krabi river a short ride from the Andaman coast, the city is home to 25,000 people who produce great food to go with a long-standing clutch of cheap guesthouses and traveller services. Unlike Ao Nang, the touristic hot spot some 15 km to the north, Krabi town retains a colourful local personality that's not overshadowed by the traveller scene.

If you're a foodie, or simply interested in experiencing an authentic southern Thai city atmosphere, Krabi town is worth at least a day or two. Muslim-Thais make up the most noticeable sector of the city's population; if you dig spicy curry, biryani rice and roti, you've come to the right place. Due to the constant presence of foreign travellers, food vendors are accustomed to selling to anyone and everyone, making Krabi an easily accessible place to sample local food without speaking a lick of Thai.

After decades of revenue from the province's booming palm, rubber and tourism industries, Krabi's affluence is beginning to show. Mansions line several side streets, upscale developments are popping up in the outskirts, pricey yachts sit docked in the marina, and during our most recent visit, builders were putting finishing touches on massive new provincial office buildings and life-size elephant statues next to the city pillar shrine on Chao Fah Road.

With hot spot tourist destinations like Ko Phi Phi, Ko Lanta and Railay Beach an easy boat ride from Krabi town, the tourism trade has been dug in here for decades. The city boasts a wide range of budget guesthouses, traveller-oriented cafes and countless travel offices that can arrange just about any tour or trip you can imagine -- even Phang Nga Bay and Khao Sok National Park are within striking range. While the town itself doesn't burst with attractions (apart from the food), outlying destinations like Wat Tham Seua and Khao Phanom Bencha National Park are well worth the effort.

With so much to see and do in all directions, many find themselves passing through Krabi town several times in a given trip. It may not be a highlight on its own, but as a home base, Krabi town delivers.

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Our recommendations

Many travellers view Krabi town as nothing more than a jumping off point for the surrounding islands and beaches. If you have the time, we feel the town itself is worth at least a full day. Also don't be surprised if a day trip to Khao Phanom Bencha national park and Wat Tham Seua turns out to be a trip highlight.

While the many traveller-oriented cafes are great for kicking back with a beer and meeting other people, don't overlook the town's countless local-style food shops and street carts. For less baht than you'll spend on a cup of coffee in the traveller cafes, you can enjoy curries, Thai sweets, fresh fruit and roti so good that you might head back from Ko Phi Phi a day early, just for another taste.

Accommodation-wise, Krabi boasts one of the best selections of inexpensive guesthouses of any city in southern Thailand. We'd recommend no less than 10 of them, including Chan-Cha-Lay, PN, Gafiyah and Baan Andaman. With similar transport options and far cheaper, often better rooms and food than what you'll find at the lackluster beach town of Ao Nang, we find Krabi town to be a far better base.

Text and/or map last updated on 30th October, 2013.

Last reviewed by:
Usually found exploring Bangkok's side streets or south Thailand's islands, David Luekens is an American freelance writer & photographer who finds everyday life in Asia to be extraordinary. You can follow his travails here.

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All the beaches
By tezza, 10 May 2013
4.0  stars

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By lilnzowl, 12 September 2011
3.0  stars

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