This was a trip my husband and I went on in November 2016. We chose to go to Krabi as we read it's similar to Phuket but just a tiny bit less crowded.
Arrived at Krabi via Bangkok. We took a bus from the airport to our airbnb as recommended by the airbnb host. Checked in at Bancha Ma's. which was a short walk away from bus stop. Our host was an artist and architect. The house was designed by him and was full of his original of watercolor art (which was also for sale). The couple lived downstairs and they rented out the 2 upstairs rooms. The rooms were comfortable and air conditioned. They also gave us a (watercolor!) map of Krabi with all the sights to see highlighted.
Before we reached Krabi, we had booked a number of day-trips on Viator and similar websites. When we got there, we learned that we could have altogether skipped the pre-planned tours, or at least booked them at location - they were much cheaper that way.
After dropping off our stuff in the room, we walked to Noppharat Thara Beach, and saw some vegetable markets on the way. We had some shrimp salad, noodles, and Chang beer for lunch at the restaurants on the beachside road. Continued walking along the road to Ao Nang beach and spent some time in the water. The water was warm and pleasant- not super clear water, but it was clean. Overall, a nice beach with a few cliffs in the distance, and a few boats coming in and out, and not very crowded.
Had some tempura at one of the food stalls at the Ao Nang area, and enjoyed some really well-made hookah at 'Cairo Nights'. The guy who was assembling the hookah was from egypt and didn't speak much english, but he bought out this cool shisha with sparklers on the top that we really enjoyed.
In the evening we booked a shared tour to the Krabi night market. In retrospect we probably didn't need to actually book a tour, as the tour was really just shared transport to and from to night market.
The night market itself had lots of food options we tried, stalls selling trinkets and some artists who would sketch or paint on the spot for you. We got a sketched portrait of the two of us drawn and filled our bellies with lots of sushi.
We started the next day with a lovely breakfast at our AirBnB arranged by Bancha's wife- we really enjoyed these breakfasts. They usually had some kind of rice, fried chicken, and some sweet fried dough balls served with some kind of sweet dipping sauce. We also tried a number of different sweets that were steamed in (Banana? Pandanus? ) leaves. 10/10 way to start the day.
For our second day, we had pre-booked a shared boat tour of Hong island. A mini-van came to pick us up, after some help from our AirBnB hosts to help them find the address. The van picked up a few other tourists and we were driven to a pier, where we each got a dry bag, life jackets and snorkels.
The boat ride was through lovely scenery with tiny green island dotting the sea. We stopped on the way to Hong Island at one such tiny island to do some swimming. The island had a tiny isolated beach, and our tour group was the only one there. We got out our snorkels here and although the water was clear, there weren't any fish to actually see.
Once we were done there, we got back into the boat and headed to Hong Island. Hong Island is a larger island with a few small restaurants and places to rent kayaks. The tour we booked included lunch and kayaking. Our tour guides had us sit down on some tables in the shade of some tress beside the beach. They had brought a lovely packed lunch of chicken, vegetables, rice and fresh fruits. The food was less spicy than what we had had at restaurants- probably to cater better to the palate of tourists.
Once we were done with lunch, we headed off to pick up our kayaks. We had a guide who led our group as we kayaked around the limestone island and around mangroves. There was a small lagoon that we went to that only fills up during high tide- the water was barely 2 feet deep.
After we were done with kayaking, we got some time to spend as we wished at the beach on the island. This was a slightly larger beach that was somewhat enclosed by rocks on either side, so there were barely any waves and it was possible to swim out quite a bit into the water.
By this point it was late afternoon, and after a quick coffee at the beachside restaurant, we got back on the boat to head back to Krabi. The minivan dropped us off at the Ao Nang Market, which we explored the rest of the evening. The market is full of little shop for tourists setting souvenirs, hand-carved soaps, and other decorative items.
We ended the day with dinner (at McDonalds, haha) and took a Tuk-Tuk back to our AirBnB.
It's probably easy enought to do this trip in a rented car or bike- the furthest point (the hot springs) were about 65km away and the roads were excellent.
We had a minivan come pick us up like the day before. The first stop was the hot spring. The hot spring was located in a park of some kind and we had to walk a little way inside from the parking area. The water was clear and almost uncomfortably warm and was flowing into a number of rocky pools where it collected and you could sit in them. Further downstream they mixed with some cooler river water and some people who liked the cooler water could go there. There weren't and changing rooms, so we had to just change behind some trees with our towels :)
Next stop was the Emerald Pool at the Khao Pra-Bang Khram Wildlife Sanctuary. The whole area was marshy and there weer boardwalk trails that you could go around. The Emerald Pool was a small pool that was a bright shade of blue with warm spring water. Swimming in this pool was not allowed. There was a larger blue pool further inside where swimming was allowed- here the water was a comfortable cool temperature. The entire area had some lovely landscapes and many species of butterflies flying around.
Once we exited the National Park, we had a pre-arranged buffet lunch at a restaurant right outside the park. Again, this was organized by the tour company. It seemed like most tour companies followed the same itinerary and went to the same restaurants, because the restuarant was extremely crowded with tour groups. If I had to go a second time, I would probably drive independently to see all these sights.
After lunch, we headed to the tiger cave temple. Like many temples in Thailand, we were required to have covered knees. Those of us who had come in shorts were given cover-ups to tie around out waists. The temple is on top of a mountain and one has to climb around 1200 stairs to reach the top. There were a whole lot of monkeys on the way up looking for tourists to steal food from. The top had panoramic views of the area and a number of different golden Buddha statues and pagodas.
After climbing down, the tour ended with dropping us off once again at Ao Nang, where we explored the karaoke bars and had dinner at one of them.
On the fourth day, we packed our bags and moved to another accomodation- Jungle Village Bungalows, just for the heck of it. We had a small bungalow to ourselves, complete with kitchen, although we never made use of it. The property also rented out scooters which we took that day. We drove to Ao Nang beach from where we decided to catch a boat to Railay Beach. The boats were at a fixed rate and you could buy round trip tickets to the different island at the pier.
We spent the rest of the day just enjoying the beach and beach-side restaurants at Railay.
Another island tour today! After breakfast, we were picked up by a minvan to head to a pier. This time, we were headed to 'James Bond' island, which was alot further away and we had to take a speedboat.
The speedboat ride itself was quite exciting and I spent the entire time enjoying the wind at the front of the boat.
The boat took us into a closed off lagoon where we could take some pictures and then we headed off to James Bond Island, or Khao Phing Kan
Some scenes from James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun were shot here and plenty of people (us included!) took photos in front of the iconic tall rock with finger-guns. We were free to roam around the island for an hour or so. The island also had a few small souvenir shops.
From there, we got back into the boat to visit a floating village (Koh Panyi)
where we also had lunch. Once again, the lunch was a pre-arranged buffet-style restuarant mainly for tourists ( I wish we had gone somewhere else!). Post lunch, we had a couple of hours to wander around the village, all of which was built on stilts, including a school, a mosque and even a basketball court! We roamed around tiny alleyways selling all kinds of food and souvenirs.
Later in the afternoon, we got back into our boat to head back to Karbi, stopping to see some inetersting pink jellyfish on the way.
We ended the night with some more hookah at Cairo Nights and dinner at the beautiful beach resturant.
Headed back to airport to go home!