An independent girl’s guide to an easy and fabulous beach getaway in Ao Nang, Krabi!
Words and Photography: Irvin Hanni
Cool as cucumber. That’s what I would call this charming getaway nestled in the southern part of Thailand. Blessed with beautiful shores and modern amenities, yet without the crowded commercial developments other more popular islands contain (whose names I shall not mention), Krabi was a true holiday destination, away from all the over-publicized ‘ultimate island getaways’. The beaches, the food, the atmosphere—it’s all goooooood.
Being the free-spirited gal that I am, the thought of committing to a holiday package that’s been planned from the word go was a little bit inflexible for my fabulous lifestyle. I believed that the ‘free & easy’ element is what makes travelling so much fun! Still, it’s always good to be prepared…so this one’s for the girls (and guys too!) who are looking to enjoy the sun, sea, sand and more at this beautiful paradiso–free and independent style, baby!
1. Research, research, research
So important that I said it thrice – it is the most important part before any trip and yet taken so lightly by many. One with aspirations to be a free and independent traveller should make research their priority! Case in point: while there are perks of being a girl with inbred skills to haggle for the best prices, it’s still always good to know what you’re going to be living in. For example, I like my holidays with style yet keep my wallet closed tight, and so I’ll look for good budget accommodations with my kind of facilities – bike rental, clean bath, massage, etc. For a more extensive guide, then download the free AirAsia Islands & Beaches Travel Guide (www.airasia.com/awesomeislands). IT’S FREE!
2. Pack for the waters!
Yes, it’s the most basic rule of all and yet I still have friends who pack their stilettos…for a beach holiday! Make sure you pack smart, and don’t forget your handbag hanger for convenience too! The weather in southern Thailand is pretty sunny all year round, so even though you visit during the monsoon season (Nov-Mar), you’re still going to get some pretty good tanning action. So pack wisely—shorts and tank tops, dresses and flip-flops will do just fine. Trust me honey, you can still look sexy with a bikini top, a lovely sarong and bare feet. For the guys, you can even bend it like Beckham and wear a sarong to the beach. 200 bonus man points if you do that.
3. Camera set, action, go!
A photograph is worth a thousand words, and I couldn’t agree more. I love my gadgets—my micro four third camera, my GoPro, my Instax and yet I still managed to max out my iPhone’s photo storage capacity. Why? Because Krabi is such a beautiful place, with much to see and snap! I like to capture the moments that count, especially so when in a distant land. Speaking of which, check out the cute inflated puffer fish below that got me 52 likes on my Instagram picture. If puffer fishes are not available, a cute hunk on the beach with his perfect tan will do just as well.
4. A lil’ bit of culture and adventure
When you’re done checking out the ‘heavenly bodies’ on the beach, it’s time to flex some adventurous muscles and experience the other type of fun that Krabi has to offer. Rock climbing and kayaking is just one of the few. Avid divers can go to nearby dive spots such as Koh Ha, Koh Dor, Koh Si and many more. I am not a diver but I promised myself that I would brave my weak knees and try out rock climbing on my next trip. Tiger Cave Temple is a must visit, where you’ll love the harmonious ambiance surrounding the temple, pagoda and shrine…along with its friendly neighbourhood cats, dogs and monkeys! I loved boarding a longtail boat from Chao Fa Pier for a little trip to Koh Klang. Live it up with an amazing lunch at one of the many floating restaurants and hop onto a tuk-tuk for a scenic village ride.
5. Thai massage
Every girl needs her TLC, and it’s time to for me to get some muscles straightened out. Ahhh, only in Thailand, it gets this good. Well-known for its unique technique that involves twisting and stretching in ways that you never thought was possible, you must not be alarmed by the sound of bones cracking as the massage progresses. It’s all about ironing the pain and stress away from your body, and rest assured by the end of the session, you will truly feel light, fresh, and rejuvenated.
6. Who needs fast food when you have these?
Sometimes it takes a little getting used to when it comes to meals in a foreign land. Surely you must have heard stories of vacationers bringing instant noodle packs and even a rice cooker! For the less fussy ones, there are McDonalds and Starbucks. But if I can vouch for one thing in Thailand, it’s their street food! Don’t be afraid to try them out – from the rich aroma of green curry chicken to a delicious plate of fresh-from-the-wok pad thai, crispy prawn tempura and more. The array of tummy-filling food here is simply gastronomical! Cheap, quick and delicious—that’s a true happy meal in my book!
7. Thai crispy pancakes!
Oh, if there is one best kept secret of Thailand, it’s the truly appetizing crispy pancakes. Prepare to sink your sweet teeth into one of these bad boys! Way cheaper than your usual cupcakes and macaroons, these pancakes can be found at almost every corner where there are tourists – just look for the stalls that say “pancakes”. The beauty of this heavenly snack lies in how the dough was flattened and grilled, add in slices of banana, a generous dollop of nutella, and topped with a dash of sweetened condensed milk—believe me when I say IT IS SIMPLY AWESOME.
8. Prepare your cards
It’s vital to prepare local currencies before stepping foot onto a foreign land. But let’s face it, sometimes we tend to go overboard and end up with a luggage full of stuff to bring home. Beautiful batik sarongs and elephant-print pants are my kryptonite, not to mention the touristy fridge magnets. No monies? No worries! Banks and currency exchanges are easily available where you can find civilisation (by that I mean the main streets). Krabi is a relatively well-developed place, and some restaurants and big brand shops do accept credit cards if you want to keep your Thai Bahts for other expenditures.
9. Buy local products
It’s embedded into our XX chromosomes that we, as the supreme gender of women, like to shop! Okay, maybe not all of us are shopaholics but whether you are one or not, you will want to buy something to bring home (for yourself and for others) as a memento. While fridge magnets and key chains are the usual suspects, think outside of the box and look for the local-made products. Souvenir items like wood carvings, seashell jewellery and batik scarfs are always good options. Just remember to flash your prettiest smile and say, “Lot dai mai ka?” (a little discount, please).
10. Send a postcard home
Ahh finally, it’s time to say goodbye to paradise and head home. But not before sending one last memento to my friends just to remind them of how fabulous it has been in Krabi. In this golden age of internet, we are able to update and post about our trip within mere seconds. But while Instagram pics of sunsets and breakfasts are such joy to post and be ‘liked’, nothing beats the warmth of a handwritten postcard…with my signature kitten sketches! I was more than joyful in describing how my evening at Ao Nang Beach was perfected with a cup of mandarin juice in hand, watching a stunning pink sunset to my hard-at-work co-workers back at the office. Don’t be jealous, guys! Hope you liked the postcard I sent you.
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WHERE TO STAY
Pilanta Spa Resort
Ao Nang Princeville Resort
Ao Nang Beach