Krabi has a number of sites, but most visitors head straight for the beaches to relax. Popular activities are day boat trips, snorkeling, and rock climbing at Railay East.
Just north and east of Krabi Town, though, you will find Wat Tham Sua (The Tiger Temple), a stunning hilltop pilgrimage point. A punishing 30- to 40-minute climb brings you to the rocky pinnacle where a Buddhist statuary overlooks the surrounding area stretching from Krabi Town to the cliffs near Railay. There is a large monastery and temple compound built into the rock at the bottom of the mountain, where you may chance upon a monk in silent meditation or chat with one of the friendly temple stewards (most are eager to practice English). The abbot speaks English and welcomes foreign students of meditation. If you decide to climb the steep temple mountain, go in either the early morning or the late afternoon to beat the heat. The view from above is worth it. Note: Be careful of the many monkeys here. Ignore them at all cost, and don't hold anything tempting in your hands or it will be taken.
The beaches and stunning cliffs of Railay Beach are certainly worth a day trip, even if you don't stay there. Divided into Railay East and West, the former offers the best rock-climbing cliffs, situated next to mud flats. The West has the sort of soft powdery sands that attract beach bunnies, though longtails dock right here and the resulting noise of the motors can ruin the peacefulness of the gorgeous cerulean sea. At Ao Nang, longtail boat drivers try to drum up groups of passengers at a small pavilion just across from the Phra Nang Inn for the 80B ride (20 min.). From the docks in Krabi Town, it costs 100B and takes 40 minutes. (The trip is offered dawn till dusk only.)
The craggy limestone cliffs of Railay make it one of the best-known rock-climbing spots in the region. It is certainly not for the fainthearted; nevertheless, the whole cliff area is well organized (with mapped routes) and safety bolts drilled into the rock. There are a number of companies offering full and half-day courses, as well as rental equipment for experienced climbers. There are also many routes suitable for beginners. Climbing schools set up "top rope" climbing for safety, whereby climbers are attached by a rope through a fixed pulley at the top, and to a guide on the other end, holding you fast. The schools all offer similar rates and have offices scattered around Railay Beach, with posters and pamphlets everywhere. Try King Climbers (tel. 07563-7125; www.railay.com) or Hot Rock (tel. 07562-1771; www.railayadventure.com). Half-day courses start at about 1,000B, full-day courses are from 1,800B, and 3-day courses run from 6,000B. Deep-water soloing is on the rise. That’s a sport where strong climbers traverse the rocks without ropes until falling safely into the water below. Basecamp Tonsai (www.tonsaibasecamp.com; tel. 081149-9745) offers half-day lessons in that for 800B and full-day lessons for 1,500B.
Near Railay Beach is Phra Nang Beach, a secluded section of sand that is either a short 50B boat trip from Railay proper, or a cliffside walk east, past Rayavadee Resort and south along a shaded cliffside path (watch out for monkeys). From here, you can swim or kayak around the craggy hunk of rock just a few meters away offshore, or explore the Tham Phra Nang, or Princess Cave, a small cavern at the base of a tall cliff, filled with huge phallic sculptures where, legend has it, donors attain fertility. The cliffs are stunning and the sunsets spectacular.
Along the path to Phra Nang Beach, you'll find signs pointing up to a small cleft in the rocks. After a short hike up a steep escarpment and then an often treacherously muddy downward climb (use the ropes to avoid slipping), you'll arrive at a shallow saltwater lagoon. How it got up here is anyone's guess.
Full-day boat trips and snorkeling to Ko Poda can be arranged from any beachfront tour agent or hotel near Krabi, which will take you to a few small coral sites as well as any number of secluded coves and islets (or hongs), starting at 1,000B for a half-day or 1,800B for a full day. During the monsoon season, boats leave from Nam Mao Beach (near Krabi Town) only and are subject to cancellation in rough weather. Or you can rent snorkel gear from any of the tour operators along Ao Nang or Railay for about 100B per day.
Day kayak tours to outlying islands, or the mangroves near Ao Luk, are becoming popular for visitors to Ao Nang. Contact Sea Kayak Krabi (40 Ruenrudee Rd., Krabi; tel. 07563-0270; www.seakayak-krabi.com) to set up a trip. They run a number of half- and full-day excursions led by knowledgeable and fit guides. Most recommended is to Ko Hong (full day 2,200B) to see the famed emerald lagoon but there are other great trips to see karsts and sea caves at Ban Bho Tho (full day 2,200B) or half-day tours for 900B around the island. There are countless operators along Ao Nang or Railay that rent snorkel masks and flippers for about 150B per day.
There are some dive operators in Krabi, but you'll have to travel farther to reach the better sites. Most people prefer to book from Ko Phi Phi or Phuket.
Cycling is a fun way to explore the area. Krabi Eco Cycle (www.krabiecocycle.com; tel. 081607-4162) visits villages, hot springs and more on a half-day (1,500B) or full-day (3,000B) tour.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.