My escape to Krabi with my girlfreinds had everything needed to make an “all girls” vacation awesome – exotic white-sand beaches, charming locals, interesting markets, intoxicating nightlife, adventure galore and not to forget ‘safety’
Who says family vacations aren’t great? But a time away with your best friends is an emotional necessity. You got to go for it to know it. If you haven’t yet, add it to your bucket list now! This way, you not only get to know them better but also get a chance to create loads of memories – these shared stories will be things that you and your friends will reminisce and laugh about forever. In June last year, I decided to take off to Krabi (in Thailand) with my gal pals and it was one of the best travel experiences I’ve ever had. Since we were a trio – each with competely different and craziest travel sensibilities – we did have disagreements on things like where to eat and what mode of travel to opt for. Being an undisputed nomad, I would want to explore most places on foot, sample the wierdest of street foods and dive into all kinds of adventure while my best friend, a complusive shopaholic by passion and a desi (jain) vegeterian out of choice, wouldn’t refrain (in spite of all my attempts to demotivate her) from hunting for an Indian restaurant that serves her the tastiest paratha and biryani in town! And trust me, she succeeded every single time! You’re definitely heaving a sigh of relief if you’re another ghaas phus person (as we non-vegeterians call them), but if you’re not one, you can imagine my plight! Thankfully, the third one among us was pretty much okay with anything, as long as we let her put on her ‘selfie-clicking’ mode. Yes, she has this uncanny ability of clicking some amazing mirror selfies even in the loo, pouting with the pot in the background! Nonethless, it was a joy ride as Krabi somehow manages to seduce every kind of globetrotter.
EXPLORING AAO NANG ON FOOT
We started the trip on a lighter note by relaxing a little post the five-hour flight and then exploring the area around our hotel at Aao Nang (40 minutes from Krabi airport) – one of the most happening and attractive spots in Krabi. Compact, easy to navigate and comparatively cleaner than Krabi town, Aao Nang has plenty to offer. Apart from offering midrange and luxurious stay options and tons of restaurants, massage parlours (if you know the art of bargaining here, you know it all!) and local stores for a fun shopping experience, it’s the central spot from where all the adventure tours like snorkelling and island tours are organised. For a dose of relaxation, we straightway hit a decent-looking, no-frills massage joint that had more than 20 beds in a row and a host of over-friendly masseurs; it pretty much did the trick for us! Whether it’s a foot massage with shea butter cream, just a plain head massage or a full body coffee scrub, the menu will make it tough for you to zero in on one treatment. We spent the remaining evening strolling around, picking up some souviners and sampling some local dishes. If shopping or therapy isn’t what you are looking for, think spending a laid-back evening on the beach under the stars. The area is known for its fairytale limestone crags and beautiful beaches with turquoise blue sea, tied together by narrow strips of golden sand.
MARKETS ARE A MUST
If you happen to be in Krabi on the weekend, Krabi Weekend Walking Street or the night market is a good place to keep yourself occupied for an hour or two. It is at a 25 to 30 minute distance from Aao Nang so your best bet is to travel by a tuk-tuk. We found a really cool one with colourful disco-esque lighting and loud English music. We just hopped onto it and thoroughly enjoyed our journey to the town. The market is setup every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday between 5 pm and 10 pm in central Krabi Town and easily gives you a glimpse into the local culture with umpteen number of vendors selling local crafts, Asian food, artistic pieces like pen stands and lamps made out of coconut shells and recycled bottles, handmade jewellery, footwear, souvenirs, batik as well as stylish clothing and everything you can ever think of. We bought some cute-looking Krabi pen stands for gifting.
If you’re lucky enough, you’ll get to see some traditional musical performances by the little locals of Krabi town. Do not miss the delicious Thai foods and dessert specialties! Pick from Thai rice with curries made out of eggs and fish, pad Thai, fresh juices, hand-churned ice-creams, coconut water, papaya salad, fresh cut fruits, roasted peanuts and a lot more. Make sure you spot a vendor selling this special Thai ice-cream – a scoop of fresh coconut ice-cream placed over some fresh malai and served in a coconut shell with chocolate sauce and roasted peanuts on top. It’s simply irresistible!
A perpetual foodie like me would never miss going to a local food market to experience the unique sights, sounds and smells. If you can relate to me, head to the food market that isn’t very far from Aao Nang and sells local fruits, vegetables, loads of tid bits and knick-knacks. It is located at Soi 10, off Maharaj Road and you may not specially have to look for it; you’re likely to come across it when wandering around.
The market starts bustling post noon, around 2 pm and goes on till 9 pm. From bird eggs, chicken satay, kanom jeen (fresh rice noodles served with curry sauce) and pickles to exotic fruits and traditional Thai foods, you name it and you get it here. It’s all for really cheap prices! This market is certainly a paradise for fruit lovers with its wide range of exotic fruits like mangosteen, rambutan, lychee, mango, pear and guava. I bought these in dozens to relish them at my hotel room.
Also, you’re likely to spot a lady making these special flat dosa-like rotis or pancakes with a choice of some yummy toppings like nuts (alomonds and cashews), jams, jellies, chocolate chips, bananas etc. I opted for one with a mix of banana and jelly, and it was warm and finger-licking good.
GETTING HIGH ON NIGHTLIFE
Enjoy guzzling buckets of local beer, dropping on the dance floor and partying until dawn? Head to Phi Phi which is a tropical island paradise and there is a lot to enjoy there – nightly parties at beach bars and clubs with some of the best DJs, fireshows, magicians, Thai boxing and ladyboy cabarets; even Aao Nang has some cabaret shows, but Phi Phi is certainly a better bet. Phi Phi is around 46 km from Krabi and there are two options to get there; ferries and speedboats. Ferries take 90 minutes and speedboats take 45 minutes. I am sure you’d want to pick the latter and get to the party scene as soon as possible. Ao Nang is a place with nicely-lit resto bars and apt for sitting back, listening to the sound of the waves, enjoying a drink with your buddies and holding a conversation at normal volume. Krabi Town, however, boasts of karaoke bars and ‘nightclubs’ playing loud Thai pop music, often with a stage show. And the best part? The drinks are fairly priced – around 80 Baht for a small bottle of beer and 160 Baht for a basic cocktail. So, you’ll certainly be left with some money for splurging if you’re planning to proceed to the shopping capital ‘Bangkok’.
OF ISLANDS AND ADVENTURES
You haven’t been to Krabi if you haven’t embarked on some of its best island tours and adventure activities. We chose to go for the Four Island Tour (900 Baht per person) – exciting island hopping to the tropical hot spots in Krabi like Phra Nang Cave, Tup Island, Chicken Island and Poda Island. You can go swimming, snorkelling, sunbathing, try exploring your photography skills or simply find an ultimate place to string up your hammock and soak in the beauty of these scenic spots! We did have fun kayaking and canoeing at one of these islands. Expect plenty of sun, a rich variety of corals and fish, crystal-clear waters and white powdery beaches lined with coconut palms. Just perfect for every beach babe!
These tours are usually accompanied with lunch, but it is merely filling with a fruit or a sandwich and fried rice. So, it’s wiser to fill your tummy with a hearty breakfast at your hotel before you head out for this day trip, purely to avoid starvation. Hong Island Tour, Phi Phi Island Tour, rainforest tour, elephant trekking, river camping, white water rafting and nature safari are some of the other fun activities; you can combine the ones that interest you.
We spent a day at the rainforest which is at the Khao Nor Chu Chi National Park; the Emerald Pond, Blue Pool and Hot Spring was satisfactory. Hardcore adventure seekers can skip it though. For rock-climbing fanatics, Railay works as the ultimate jungle gym with difficulty levels ranging from beginner to advanced. Learn how to safely rope climb across Railay’s famous limestone cliffs. Or the curious chef in you can register for one of the traditional cooking classes with Thai home-style setting. Rustle up some quick Thai dishes in a clean open-air kitchen and return becoming the little Thai chef!
PS: Put your phone aside and simply rejuvenate, try new things, bond with your besties and click loads of fun pictures. Afterall, you’re creating memories for years to come. And most importantly, don’t return without your Krabi fridge magnet!