Ao Nang is the main tourist hub in the Krabi area, with a more international flavor than the traditional Krabi town. Situated only 20 km from Krabi, it has been flourishing in recent months with the arrival of large, up-market resorts to complement the more humble backpacker style accommodations it has been well known for.
Ao Nang is very easy to navigate through; it consists of 3 roads in a ‘U’ shape off of Route 4034 from Krabi. Approaching from the Krabi area, the road becomes busy with street vendors selling all sorts of delicious food – you know you’re getting close when you can smell BBQ chicken! Dive shops and motorcycle rental places announce your arrival to the beach road, where it all happens. Most restaurants, bars and shops operate on this strip and you will find ATMs and tuk tuks every few meters. There are also a few pharmacies here that can dispense the usual remedies as well as some prescription busiest roads in Ao Nang so please take care when crossing over. Be advised that the zebra crossings you see are rarely acknowledged, so don’t assume that traffic will stop for you as soon as you start to cross on them.
Longtail boats to pretty much anywhere you like to leave from here also. You will find prominent booths at either and of the road where you can buy your tickets to Railay, Poda, Hong, etc for a fixed price – no more haggling with the driver! The long tail boat drivers wait until they have enough people to fill their boat before leaving, so be prepared fo a wait if things are quiet. In theory they should only take 8 people at a time, but sometimes this can be more. In high season, they leave fairly regularly.
Ao Nang Facts
There are 3 clinics in the town at present and are all situated on the ‘Mc Donald’s’ road on the way towards the beach. They have large signs outside so are easy to spot. The original doc in town in Somboon, who is located across from the Lai Thai resort. You can walk in without and appointment, but be prepared to pay in cash for any treatment and medication. Pharmacies are a great alternative if it is of a less serious nature. They can advise and dispense all manner of medication, including prescription, very quickly. Be advised though, that both doctors and pharmacists tend to like treating every complaint with lots of brightly coloured pills! They come in small, generic, plastic bags with their details written on in pen. Antibiotices are usually on the list, but about what you are being given, please ask the dispenser to make it clear to you.
There are 2 police stations in the town: the Tourist Police are situated on the road going towards Noppharat Thara Beach, next to the night market, near Krabi Resort; and traffic police are based on the corner of the beach road, beside the logntail ticket booth on the beachfront.
Out of Ao Nang heading towards Krabi town, pass Mac Donalds, pass Ao Nang village about 1 km on, on the left hand side just past the big bend. They are open 8:30 – 3:30 weekdays, closing for lunch from 12 for around and hour. Saturdays they operate from 8:30 – 12:30
Taxis, tuk tuks, busses, samlors, and pick ups with benches bolted into the back all roam the area, hooting their horns and shouting ‘Taxi’, so there is no problem in getting a ride somwhere! You need to negotiate a price with your taxi and tuk tuk driver BEFORE setting off in order ot avoid any nasty surprises at you destination. The pick ups with the benches in the back are called ‘songthaews’ and have set prices depending on where you go. As a rule, expect to pay around 20 Baht per person for anywhere in and around Ao Nang itself. Taxi rands with air conditioned saloon cars have their prices displayed on sandwich boards, but it can’t hurt to haggle a little, always with a smile, of course!Mopeds and motorbikes can be rented all over the place, for around 200 Baht per day for a basic 125cc. You will need to leave you passport with the rental agency and they usually provide helmets which are mandatory on the roads, although you wouldn’t think it. Please wear one, as there are many roads you may have noticed already. Besides, if you are stopped by the police without one, you will be fined.
These should be an essential part of your holiday to Thailand. At different locations every day, they are colourful, noisy, hectic places where you will get to mix with the real local Thai residents – the farmers and fishermen that have lived here for generations. Don’t expect anyone here to speak any English, so this is a great opportunity to try some of your Thai! Selling everything from the freshest fruit and vegetables to clothes and DVDs, the stalls are run mostly by Muslim Thais. Try some fruit you have never seen before – I guarantee you’ll find a few! There are also local sweets and pastries for sale, as well as BBQ meat and tofu that will have your mouth watering.The markets in Ao Nang are on Mon, Tues & Fri at the Ao Nang/Shell cemetery junction, Thurs & Sat near the mosque in Klong Haeng and Sun & Wed in Ao Nammao. They are open from 2 – 8 pm.
Where to Eat
You are spoiled for choice in this country that worships the very act of eating. Unlike in most western countries, you can find food at almost every hour of the day or nigh here, and I’m not talking about popping into and all night minimart. Krabi is famous fo it’s seafood and it is everywhere. Many restaurants have an impressive array of fresh produce on display outside their establishments from around sunset. Across from the Vogue minimart and post office there are a few touting their wares where you can stroll past them see what they have to tempt you. They can suggest different ways of cooking and preparing your choice, or will make it your own preference if they can. There is also‘Seafood Street’ which is an arcade of just seafood restaurants, idyllically situated on and elevated platform above the beach. As you walk down the beach road with the ocean to your left, you will see it right at the end. Of course it is always a good idea to make sure your food looks and smells as fresh as possible, but you are spoiled for choice here. A trip would be to come early for dinner or reserve ahead so you can eat at one of the tables overlooking the beach, enjoying the sunset and gentle crashing of the waves on the beach as you enjoy your meal.As well as Thai food, there is an extensive array of international cuisine available to cater for every budget. Swedish, Italian, French, Swiss, German, Irish and Indian influences, to name but a few, can be found here if you fancy a taste of home. They come prepared with varying degrees of success, but on whole they are pretty good. The international food is generally more expensive than the Thai, as the ingredients tend not to be locally grown. But it is still very reasonable compared to what you might pay back in your country.Don’t be afraid to try eating at a local place. Even if the menu is scribbled in Thai on blackboard, or maybe there is no menu at all. Pointing and smiling can get you a long way. There are a few roadside ‘tuk tuk restaurants’ outside McDonalds as well as outside the Krabi Resort on the other side of town. Here you can get some of the best Phad Thai and BBQ chicken anywhere, for a fraction of the price in a restaurant, as long as you don’t mind eating it on a plastic garden chair on the pavement.Opposite the Krabi resort, there is the Ao Nang night market, where you can peruse a selection of stalls that will shamelessly pounce on you and try to get you to eat with them. They all serve much the same produce, namely extrememly fresh seafood, so whichere one you opt for should be ok. By the way, for any non-seafood eaters amongst you, fear not, for you can always get the usual array of Thai food at these places!Must Try! Phad Thai, Som Tam, Tom Yam, Tom Ka, Noodle Soup, BBQ Chicken & Stricky Rice
Where to Sleep
Although Ao Nang is going more upmarket with the introduction of new resorts, there are still good value places for the backpackers to crash for the night. The Nopparat Thara area is good for places like this, as it is a little further away from the main beach road. The cheaper rents tend to be wooden or bamboo bungalows with fans instead of air con and maybe a shared bathroom, but the price will reflect this. In and around the town there are more and more places springing up all the time, but they tend to be more expensive, catering for families. There are frequently offers on more than 3 nights stay, especially in the low season from May to September.
One thing this area is not short on is places to entertain yourself of an evening. There is something for everyone – even the kids. If you are after some cheap and cheerful shenanigans, then there are 2 main places you need to head to. Center Poingt is cunningly concealed behind the shops smack bang in the center (hence the name) of the beach road. They have recently made a big sign to advertise the fact the exist, as before it was only the lucky, and most probably lost, There are stumbled upon this secret area. Here there is a collection of open bars. There are rarely walls or doors to define a boundary between them, and you will be accosted by well meaning employees and scantily clad women alike as they vie for your custom. Here, under multicolored lights and the sounds of a dozen music system and TVs, you can drink anything from local beers like Chang and Singha, to the more potent ‘buckets’ that contain the local rum, red bull and cola with lots of ice. The atmosphere is upbeat and a lot of fun, and sometimes a wandering magician dressed as a cowboy will come round to entertain you for a few baht. Although, as with everywhere in Thailand places like this can be argued that they attract a ‘seedy’ element, families with children, couples and those just wanting a quiet beer and watch some sport can all be seen here enjoying the whole experience. Bar games such as Jenga and Connect 4 are everywhere for customer’s to use, and many places offer free pool. If you are after more of the sme, then try ‘The Soi’, which is situated just next to the Koto Mart mini mart on the same Mc Donald’s road. This is a small lane filled with open air bars called ‘bar beers’ – simple wooden places with a pool table, TV with continual sports coverage, and lots of loud music. If you are looking for something more refined for your evening’s entertainment, try walking down the beach road at the other end from the seafood street, in front of the Krabi hotels and resorts, until you come to another beach bar. Here you can listen to some chilled out music and feel the sand between your toe as you sip a cocktail and watch the sun go down. There are also loads of massage huts here where you can get a fantastic Thai massage for around 200 Baht for an hour