Exploring Krabi Again!
After living in Phuket for so many years I am not sure why it took us so long to start exploring the Krabi area. I think maybe it's the distance .. a bit too far for a day trip really, but when we have a longer holiday we have tended to head further from Phuket to places like Hua Hin, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon, Kanchanaburi ... Last year we finally decided to try Krabi and booked a 2 night trip in April 2017 (see : Holiday in Krabi) and we liked it so much that we did another 2 nights in July (see : Another Krabi Trip). In 2018 we spent all our holiday time and money on a trip to England in June/July. But we just about managed to squeeze in a 3 night Krabi trip in October 2018 before the high season kicked off. Another very nice trip, very relaxing, explored some new places, nothing too strenuous! We had thought about another hike at the Tiger Cave Temple, but laziness got the better of us (plus a bit of rain put us off).
We arrived late afternoon and checked in at Just Fine Hotel in Krabi Town. It was only 700 Baht per night for a room, cheaper than when we stayed there last April! Location great for us, with parking, right by the river, lots of food / street stalls nearby. In the evening we took a walk along the river where (just south of the hotel) there are lots of food stalls and seating. I just got myself a roti (pancake) ...
Just a snack before dinner! We'd found some very tasty noodles last year and the same place was still there - just a simple mobile cart plus a few streetside tables and chairs. I had noodles with beef, my wife had noodles with chicken. 50 Baht, no extra charge for drinking water. My kind of dinner! Krabi Town is small and easy to manage and has everything you need.
Next morning .. we planned to get out quite early to visit the Emerald Pool again. Sky was blue, perfect weather. Getting my family up early is a challenge. 2 teenagers!
(above) Blue skies over the Just Fine Hotel
The Emerald Pool opens 8am and we already knew we had to get there fairly early - last year 9:30am was OK, and this year we managed to get there a little after 9:30am. We're planning our next Krabi trip and next time we WILL get to the Emerald Pool at 8 and have the place to ourselves! As it was, we arrived before the crowds and for a few minutes we had the pool to ourselves. Photos below taken when we arrived.
It really is a gorgeous place when nobody is there! Over the next 30 minutes people arrived slowly in small groups. Lots of local visitors as it was during school holidays. Then 1 big group of Europeans arrived and suddenly the pool looked busy and the water was already starting to lose it's clarity as everyone stirred up the sediment. The photo below was taken about 40 minutes after the photos above ...
By 10:30am we were walking out and passed about 100 people on the way in. Like many popular spots, if you visit during "tour time" like 10am - 4pm you are likely to see plenty of other people. Same goes for plenty of other very popular places around here like James Bond Island, or the Phuket Big Buddha. Back to town for an easy lunch of Khao Man Gai (chicken on rice) - a new shop had opened up right by the river road about 30 seconds walk from our hotel. More cheap and easy food! Much of the afternoon was spent at the hotel dozing .. or in my case answering emails for the dive shop. I sent 54 emails that afternoon! Then another nice walk by the river ...
(above) Looking up river from Krabi Town. The 2 little limestone "mountains" jutting up by the river make the view very scenic and there are caves too. The mountains are called "Khao Khanab Nam" which means something like "mountains surrounding the water". I had been wondering about asking a longtail boat at the riverside about taking us there, so we asked. They said 500 Baht for an hour (for the boat, not per person). Deal! It was getting dark and the longtail guy asked "you want to go now?". Very funny! We said we'd find him in the morning.
(above) Early evening, plenty of people go walking or running by the river in Krabi Town
That night, 17th October happened to be the last night of the vegetarian festival. I figured they'd be doing something in Krabi, although probably not as big as Phuket (for more about the festival see Phuket Vegetarian Festival). During the night a procession was walking all around the town. We were eating noodles when we heard firecrackers coming along the street ...
Next morning .. no rush, it's holiday! No harm in having a lie in now and then! After coffee and breakfast we walked to the river and were quickly approached by a longtail boat guy. Same price given as the guy we saw yesterday - 500 Baht for the boat for an hour to ride up river and visit the Khao Khanab Nam caves, then he said we'd head downriver and cruise along a mangrove creek. 5 of us for that price seemed like a good way to spend the rest of the morning and do something new.
(above) heading up river from Krabi Town. It's a short ride, about 1.5km to reach Khao Khanab Nam where there's a small wooden pier and a path leading to the caves. Entry fee is 30 Baht per person. Thai or foreign. There's a little hut with someone collecting money and handing out tickets. And there were quite a lot of monkeys too! Very quiet and well behaved monkeys.
Just a short walk to find the cave. There are a couple of ways into the cave, the entrance is above ground level ...
And once inside the Khao Khanab Nam cave is quite impressive ...
(above) Inside Khao Khanab Nam cave. The cave also has a few "educational" displays ...
Certainly worth a little visit. And the scenery is great!
(above) Heading back towards Krabi Town with Khao Khanab Nam behind us. We passed the town and into a small side channel in the mangroves. I thought this was just for sightseeing, but there was actually a small village and looking at the map I can see that it's actually on an island with the main river on it's west side, another mangrove river on the east, the narrow channel to the north and open sea to the south. The island is called Koh Klang and from Google Earth you can see it has several small villages, lots of agriculture and shrimp farms. Boats are hopping across from Krabi Town all day and we heard longtail boat engines after dark too. We did not know there were a couple of restaurants there and our longtail boat stopped at one of them. We'd had a late breakfast, but nonetheless the kids ordered food - not expensive at all, and we all had a cold drink too. Quite a nice place and another we can re-visit next time!
(above) Restaurant in the mangroves at Koh Klang near Krabi Town. By the time we were back at the pier in town nearly 2 hours had passed, but the longtail boat dude only asked us for 500 Baht (though he had said 500 for 1 hour). As it was such a lovely sunny day we asked for an extra night at the hotel (midweek, low season, plenty of space). In the afternoon we drove north of Krabi Town a little more than 20km in search of a waterfall that we'd seen on websites and looked fairly impressive. Huay Toh (or Huay To) Waterfall is located in Khao Phanom Bencha National Park. Easy to find and thankfully no silly foreign entry fee - just 100 Baht for me. There's parking and a small restaurant at the entrance and a little walk of about half a kilometer, maybe a little more to reach Huay Toh Waterfall. The path near the falls is narrow and rocky. I found a rock to sit on and admire the falls from below .. rest of the family continued up a narrow path to the next level of the falls where the kids did take a little dip in the water.
(above) Walking to Huay Toh Waterfall
(above) Huay Toh Waterfall. There are several levels. The photo does not really do it justice. Beautiful and peaceful. Only a few other people there.
Our day of exploring was cut short by rumbles of thunder. Thunderstorm coming! We just made it back to the carpark before the rain started and got heavy, so we sat in the restaurant, ordered a few drinks and then since my wife and I had eaten a late breakfast, but no lunch, we decided to have an early dinner right there. And of course the kids ate too. Rain continued for an hour as it often does at this time of year, and then the skies cleared as we drove back to town. Another evening stroll by the river and we started to think "we could live here"! No time for beaches this time although I really loved visiting Railey and Phra Nang beaches last year. I like to have a mix of relaxing, revisiting places we've seen before and discovering new things to see. Krabi is now firmly in our minds as a great place for a long weekend. And I am sure we'll be back yet again!
Map of the Krabi Area