This is the dilemma loads of travellers face — whether to stay in Krabi Town or Ao Nang. And it ain’t easy deciding because both places have something unique about themselves. Having visited both places on several occasions I can compare the two and conclude which one is better. So here it is. Ao Nang or Krabi Town?
Nightlife in Ao Nang is literally limited to a few bars and restaurants with live music venues frequented by middle aged European holidaymakers mostly from Scandinavia. BUT. There’s a bar called Chang Bar, which is a really popular hangout in the whole of Krabi Province — everyone goes there, from tourists to the locals. And even if you find yourself in Krabi Town, if you’ll wan t to party, you’ll be hailing taxi down to Ao Nang and party until 6am in Chang Bar.
Krabi Town is a working Thai city, so expect less tourists and more locals. The bars in Krabi Town are more authentic and more chilled out, but don’t expect wild nights out until the dawn. For that, you’ll have to go to Chang Bar in Ao Nang.
Krabi Town is a lovely place to be during the weekend when the weekend market is on and there is a big karaoke stage in the middle of the town and everyone eats street food and drinks Chang. Everyone goes here, from young to old, and it has a really buzzy atmospehere.
By evening I prefer Krabi Town — its bars and the weekend market. But when it gets to around 1am — that’s the time when I make my way to Ao Nang’s Chang Bar.
Ao Nang is a purpose built tourist resort so many restaurants cater for holidaymakers and offer western foods, however there’s plenty of Thai restaurants to choose from too. Bear in mind there are two parts of Ao Nang, the main Ao Nang strip and Nopparat Tara Beach strip, both are walking distance from each other. On Ao Nang side I find restaurants to be overpriced and pretty mediocre but the other side, the Noapparat Tara Beach, the further you walk from Ao Nang side, the better the food. You can expect seafood, street vendors and authentic Thai restaurants selling Thai dishes really cheap.
I can’t really judge on Krabi Town as I didn’t eat in any restaurants but instead I ate all the lovely food from street vendors at the markets — be it the weekend or night market. The food is delicious, cheap and very Thai. In fact, I had one of the best curries here. There is of course a choice of western restaurants too.
If you want authentic southern Thai food like curries and loads of seafood and you don’t mind eating in markets go for Krabi Town. The food in KT is delicious and doesn’t cater for tourists but locals so it’s full of flavour. If you want to eat by the sea then Ao Nang, but finding good food in Ao Nang can be challenging.
Getting to Railey Beach
It’s by miles easier and cheaper to get to Railey Beach from Ao Nang. You just go to one of the piers, pay around 150THB and off you go. In Krabi Town you usually have to arrange it with a tourist agent or at your hotel and most often during the rainy season, longtail boats don’t go to Railey because of the rough seas so you’ll have to get a bus to Ao Nang and get the longtail from there. Ao Nang wins.
Ao Nang is very touristy so you get to see loads of sunburnt holidaymakers in elephants pants shopping for more elephants pants and souvenirs. You get people walking up and down the promenade like you would somewhere in Barcelona or Nice. However, Ao Nang’s got the beach and that’s hard to beat.
Krabi is definitely more authientic and Thai. You get people who work in the markets, you get the people going or comign back home from work and you get the odd tourist.
Things to do
Ao Nang has the beach. That’s a no brainer. Also, it’s easier to hail the longtail boats and visit the nearby islands. But I have to say, arranging trips to islands is as easy in Krabi Town as it is in Ao Nang.
You can easily do all of the beach activities in Krabi Town too, you just have to arrange tours with tourist agents but the price is very similar to prices you would get in Ao Nang. In Krabi Town it’s easier to do more of the jungle activites like the hot springs, waterfalls and the Tiger Cave Temple.
Tip for Ao Nang
If you’re in Ao Nang, walk to the Noppharat Tara Beach side or better, base yourself there. As the beach is really stunning when the tide is out, not so much for swimming, but for those iconic Thai sunsets. You can see the islands in the very distance, and hermit crabs are literally everywhere. You will also see local women searching for clams probably selling them to local restaurants. This side is also much more chilled and less touristy. Further you walk away from Ao Nang side along Noppharat Tara Beach you get to the very Thai bit of the beach with banyan trees.
I personally prefer Krabi Town. Krabi Town in fact is one of my favourite places in Thailand. But one thing Krabi Town is missing is the beach, however you can easily arrange sea activities from wherever in Krabi.