Photo: So much to eat.


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Capital of one of Thailand’s most heavily touristed provinces, Krabi town is a mash up of funky bars, Western restaurants, old-school markets slinging intense curries and the same sorts of modest shophouses found in any Thai provincial capital. Somehow these pieces fit together beside mangrove-lined rivers, limestone massifs and a busy stretch of the Andaman Sea.

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Some travellers use the town for a quick pivot to the islands and mainland beaches. Others stick around to laze in the cafes, stroll the riverfront and settle into a good-value guesthouse as a base for launching day trips. The area boasts all sorts of travel possibilities, including cliff-top chedis, waterfalls, caves and crystal waters of both the fresh and salt varieties. While some of these spots have become uncomfortably crowded in recent years, the province also retains its share of lesser-known destinations that reward those willing to explore.

Out on the river near Krabi. Photo taken in or around Krabi, Thailand by David Luekens.

Out on the river near Krabi. Photo: David Luekens

Though Krabi town lacks the tourist-driven tackiness of nearby Ao Nang while retaining much of its local character, its “traveller area” has expanded to cover much of downtown in recent years. Sleek hotels, hostels and cafes have risen to join an older set of businesses geared towards backpackers who have been arriving for decades. While we find the gentrification alarming, we still like this “lively town with lovely people”, as a local motto accurately states.

Thai Muslims make up a large portion of the population: if you dig biryani rice, roti and curries laced with enough chillies to make you cry, you have come to the right place. Vendors in Talad City and elsewhere are accustomed to serving travellers from around the globe, making Krabi an easy place to sample authentic Southern Thai fare without speaking a lick of Thai. You might not know exactly what you’re eating, but most likely it will be tasty.

Pleasantly low-key. Photo taken in or around Krabi, Thailand by David Luekens.

Pleasantly low-key. Photo: David Luekens

Decades of revenue from the palm, rubber and tourism industries have made Krabi a lot more affluent than your average Thai province. In recent years, millions of baht were poured into massive new provincial office buildings, a marina, life-size elephant statues and a “cultural walk” on Chao Fah Road with bas reliefs depicting scenes from the area’s notably long history. As evidenced by several ancient burial sites and cave paintings, people have lived around here for many thousands of years.

Groomed and landscaped to a level not often seen in Thailand, the city boasts a series of riverfront parks where you can watch longtail boats sputter into the impressive mangrove forest that thrives just across the wide Krabi River. The left bank also includes Ko Klang, an island of cows, fish farms and empty, windswept shores. Looking upstream, the view encompasses the twin massifs of Khao Kanab Nam as Wat Tham Seua’s chedi twinkles in the distance and the 1,397-metre Khao Phanom Bencha towers above it all.

The view from Wat Tham Sua. Photo taken in or around Krabi, Thailand by David Luekens.

The view from Wat Tham Sua. Photo: David Luekens

And don’t forget the islands, scores of which can be reach directly by van/ferry transfer direct from Krabi town. Islands that are part of Krabi province include hotspots Ko Phi Phi and Ko Lanta; less-touristy options like Ko Jum and Ko Si Boya; and smaller national park islands including Ko Hong, Ko Poda and Ko Haa, to name a few. The province’s northern reaches include part of Phang Nga Bay, where the hammock culture continues on Ko Yao Noi and Ko Yao Yai.

You’ll also find spectacular beaches and a world-class rock climbing scene on Railay, a peninsula that’s eight kilometres from Krabi town and only accessible by boat. Throw in the diving and snorkelling sites, hot springs and mainland beaches, and you could easily use up a full two-month Thai tourist visa without ever leaving Krabi province. Have fun choosing where to spend your time.

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Krabi province’s eponymous capital lies wedged between a series of rivers, canals, mangroves and limestone cliffs, with mountains rising further north and the Andaman Sea to the south. Passing through at the far northern end of town, Phetkasem Road (aka Route 4) is a major highway that continues north to Ao Luek and Phang Nga province; and south to the airport, the car ferry pier for Ko Lanta and Trang province.

Relaxing at Than Bok Khorani. Photo taken in or around Krabi, Thailand by David Luekens.

Relaxing at Than Bok Khorani. Photo: David Luekens

Marked by gorilla statues placed on traffic lights, Maharaj Road is a main thoroughfare that begins in downtown Krabi amid blocks of rowhouses and markets before cutting north and then north towards the bus station. Highway 4034 (aka Krabi Road) branches west off Maharaj to access several mainland beaches, including Ao Nang, Ao Nammao, Haad Noppharat Thara and Khlong Muang. All of these are only 15 to 25 kilometres west of Krabi town.

Back in the city, Uttarakit Road also runs north-to-south alongside the Krabi River, passing small longtail boat piers for Railay and Khao Kanab Nam before hitting Khongkha Road, which runs parallel to Chao Fah Road in the quiet and scenic south end of town. Down this way you’ll find the large Thara Park, the pier for Ko Klang and the larger Khlong Jilad pier servicing ferries to Ko Phi Phi and Ko Lanta at the far southern tip of the city.

Plenty of old-school guesthouses to choose from. Photo taken in or around Krabi, Thailand by David Luekens.

Plenty of old-school guesthouses to choose from. Photo: David Luekens

The majority of guesthouses used to be found on Uttarakit, Khongkha and Chao Fah just south of downtown, and while many of these remain, the downtown area hosts dozens of lodgings that have mostly opened in more recent years. Many of these are found on and around Maharaj Soi 10, which also accesses the cheap and delicious food served up at Talad City in the heart of downtown. Banks and ATMs are plentiful downtown, especially on Maharaj and Uttarakit.

Medical, police and immigration
The public Krabi Hospital stands on Uttarakit Road, about a kilometre north of the city centre, while the private Krabi Nakharin International Hospital is located another kilometre further north off Maharaj Road. The police station is found to the south of town, just south of the imposing provincial hall and elephant statues on Uttarakit. You’ll also find a police box downtown along the riverfront, across Uttarakit from Maharaj Soi 6.

We agree. Photo taken in or around Krabi, Thailand by David Luekens.

We agree. Photo: David Luekens

The provincial immigration office moved since our last visit to the far southwestern corner of town, about one kilometre north of Khlong Jilad pier, a location that’s convenient if you’re coming from Lanta or Phi Phi to extend your stay in Thailand by 30 days. Some German bloggers have put together a helpful article on extending a tourist visa at Krabi immigration.

Krabi District Police: Uttarakit Rd; T: (075) 611 222
Krabi Hospital: 325 Uttarakit Rd; T: (075) 626 700
Krabi Immigration: Southwest corner of town off Tha Ruea Rd; T: (075) 611 097; open Mon-Fri 08:30-12:00 and 13:00-16:30
Krabi Nakharin International Hospital: 1 Soi Pisanpop (off west side of Maharaj Rd); T: (075) 626 555


What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Krabi.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Krabi.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Krabi.
 Read up on how to get to Krabi, or book your transport online with 12Go Asia.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Krabi? Please read this.
 Buy a SIM card for Thailand—pick it up at the airport when you arrive.
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