Welcome to Ao Nang, a breathtaking paradise nestled in the province of Krabi, Thailand! Known for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and limestone cliffs, Ao Nang is a dream destination for travelers seeking a tropical escape. With its mesmerizing landscapes, vibrant culture, and a plethora of exciting activities, this coastal gem has something to offer for everyone.
Located on the Andaman Sea, Ao Nang boasts some of the most picturesque beaches in Thailand. Picture yourself relaxing on the soft, powdery sands, basking in the warm sun, and gazing out at the azure waters stretching as far as the eye can see. Whether you’re seeking solitude or a lively atmosphere, the beaches of Ao Nang cater to all preferences, from the serene tranquility of Nopparat Thara Beach to the bustling energy of Ao Nang Beach itself.
Early 2023, we spent a month in Ao Nang and had all the time in the world to explore. We’ve listed all our knowledge in this complete travel guide for Ao Nang!
How to get to Ao Nang
We traveled from Koh Phangan to Surat Thani by boat, a bus to Krabi, and then a minivan to Ao Nang. It actually makes the most sense to fly to Krabi airport, especially when coming from Bangkok, unless you don’t mind roughing it and take a 10 (!) hour bus ride. Ao Nang is an easy 15 minutes away from Krabi. Wherever you come from, 12Go will always point you in the right direction.
Where should you choose to stay?
If you enter Ao Nang by car, you will drive down the main road filled with restaurants, bars and shops. The closer to the beach boulevard, the pricier, but don’t choose something too far away. If you book something behind the mosque, it’s a 20 minute walk to the beach and main strip if you’re not renting a scooter, and it’s not a vibrant area of Ao Nang to be in.
If you’re arriving on the pier behind Nopparat Thara Beach, take a songthaew. From Landmark night market onwards you’ll be good, but a scooter is recommendable. We were on Khlong Hang Road and thought it was perfect!
What to do in Ao Nang
Ao Nang has plenty beaches to choose from, from Insta famous to peaceful and quiet. The more effort it takes to get there, the more beautiful it will be!
Ao Nang Beach
Directly by the main strip and thus the closest, is Ao Nang Bach. This is where the boats to Railay leave and where you will find a handful of entertainers at night, but during the day it’s a good place to hang out. And an added bonus: you’ll only have to cross the street to get your beers!
If you, like us, don’t like monkeys, you’ll need to take a breath, but it will be worth it. All the way at the end of Ao Nang Beach, after the Last Fisherman, is a path going up the rocks. You’ll see all the monkeys hanging out there. The path up and over through the jungle will take you to Monkey Beach is about 10 minutes. Because there’s only one resort it’s not busy, and beautifully situated between the cliffs.
Nopparat Thara Beach
On the complete opposite side you’ll find Nopparat Thara. We walked all the way until the end, where there is a sandbank at low tide and you can walk between the rocks. A pretty, quiet beach, though the fact that there is no shade durning the afternoon might be part of the reason!
Klong Muang Beach
Our favorite! It’s a 20 minute scooter ride away, but you won’t regret it. A beautiful white beach where there’s few people, and good view and the best beach bar: Bali Bar.
Is there anyone left that hasn’t heard of Railay? Probably Thailand’s most photographed beach, and also the busiest. Yes, it’s gorgeous. Do choose Phra Nang Beach. Our experiences taught us that no matter the time you get there, you will never be alone.
Kayaking in Ao Thalane National Park
We wanted to go kayaking, but we didn’t want to go for a full day. Too much work. We landed on Sea Kayak Krabi, a small company run by locals. We went for about 4 hours with a small group, and kayaked through the mangroves, which was a lot more fun than we had thought beforehand. Our guide pointed out snakes, monkeys and other animals, and knew a whole lot. When you book, don’t forget to enquire about the tides, as the mangroves become impossible with low tide.
Explore the surrounding islands
Getting an excursion might be a bit of a cliche, but it is the easiest way to explore the islands around Ao Nang. We did a day tour with a longtail boat to Hong Island Bay and Lagoon, Daeng Island and Pakbia Island. There was time to snorkel, swim, do a small hike and we had a simple lunch. A long day, but all islands we visited were amazing.
You can’t escape the little cars that drive around Ao Nang day and night to promote Muay Thai fights through their speakers. The Ao Nang stadium is the largest Muay Thai stadium in southern Thailand, and organises fights 2 nights a week. It’s a fun experience on a rainy night!
Krabi Hot Springs and Emerald Pool
The hot springs and Emerald Pool are about 65 km outside of Ao Nang. We went there by scooter, which was a mistake. It took us 90 minutes in the heat and busy roads. We made it there without hiccups due to Jochem’s driving skills, but it was a little too exciting for our tastes.
When you’re almost there, you’ll first pass ‘Krabi Hot Springs’. Once in the parking lot we found ourselves completely alone and the lot deserted. The entrance looked a little run down and the photos outside were not very promising. After hitting up Google, we decided not to enter and continue to Hot Stream Krabi.
After paying the entrance fee we followed the road to the stream. You will pass a few artificial baths and finally get to the hot stream, which was smaller than we expected. The water was great, but only 15 to 20 people will fit into the natural pools at the same time. It was not busy when we were there, but on busy days you would literally have to wait in line.
To be completely honest, we did not think it was worth the drive there. There was trash around the park, and some pools were filthy. After an hour we had seen enough and were so done with the whole day we skipped the Emerald Pool. The long ride home loomed over our heads.
Explore the pools and caves around Ao Nang!
Thanks to a local we heard about Khao Tong, half an hour outside Ao Nang. An emerald pool by a cave, between the fields and farms outside the city. After a pleasant ride we indeed ended up by a super clear pond. It wasn’t big, but beautiful and no on else was there. The pond is said to be a 100 meters deep and have an entrance to the cave. Jochem went in to check it out, but it got a little too dark a couple meters in!
→ Check out our packing list for Thailand!
There is a lot to say about Ao Nang’g nightlife, but RCA Street might be the most famous, and an attraction in itself. This is the street where you will find the lady bars with poolgames and other games and where they will actively try to pull you inside. There’s cheap food here as well. We always kinda like it!
A complete travel guide for Ao Nang: the nightlife
There is no reason to be bored in Ao Nang. If RCA Street is a bit much and you prefer cocktails and a nice atmosphere, try Hilltop. High on a hill (very unexpected, right!) with a great view, and they make the best cocktails we’ve had in Ao Nang. Tribe Beach Bar is where you drink cocktails in a trendy lounge and where they have a (good!) live DJ later in the evening. Strawberry Moons is a tiny little bar down by the boulevard where you sit on plastic chairs directly by the beach. The owner is great, as well as her strawberry daiquiri’s.
An institution in Ao Nang is Center Point. The ground floor has bars with pool tables that serve simple cocktails, food and beer. We played quite a few rounds here! You can drink and party here until the wee hours of the morning. The second and third floors have go-go bars and a cabaret show.
You will find live music at Boogie Bar, Any’s and Moonshine.
Food in Ao Nang
When we got to Ao Nang and drove down the main strip we knew instantly; we would have to Google before sitting down anywhere. We appreciate good food, and there were so many flashy, neon tourist establishments, that not everything would be great. And we were right. These are the ones we did like:
- Ton Ma Yom Thai Food Restaurant. Good, spicy(!) Thai, at good prices.
- Kodam Kitchem. Well known, but the food is always good. Always busy though, and a little more expensive than you’d expect Thai food to be.
- 888 Ao Nang. Run by a very sweet family. They do delicious juices, and the food is of great quality.
- Plant-Erian. We are not vegans, but the food (and especially the smoothie bowls) were so good we kept coming back.
- Yenly Yours. Love dessert? This is the place! A very photogenic place that caries all mango varieties you didn’t know you wanted.
- Khokaprao Restaurant. Awesome food, great prices and good coffee.
- TAN Hostel X Cafe. Great for breakfast or lunch.
- Manana Mexican. Owned by a Thai lady that lived in Mexico for years. She’s a great cook!
- Carnivore Steak & Grill. This has a Belgian owner, that has trained his staff well. Good wines, and the meats are really excellent.
- Burger Bung. A little halal restaurant, where they serve good burgers for very little money.
- Tandoori King. Delicious Indian!
- Caesars Pizza. The best of all of Ao Nang’s pizzeria’s.
Where to sleep in Ao Nang
Fro exquisite luxury to proper budget, Ao Nang has it all. For a ‘regular’ budget, you will be able to find pretty nice places. These are our favorites!
→ BlueSotel Smart. We love Adults Only places, and this one did not disappoint. At around $40 a night you get a room with pool view.
→ Ao Nang Villa Resort. Wanna be in the center of it all but also at the beach? This resort is perfect. Nice rooms, a great pool and breakfast included for around $50 a night.
→ Close to Nopparat Thara lies Navinda Krabi, a beautiful resort with a rooftop pool, good wifi and pretty, light rooms. The studios start at $35, but the suites start at $75 already, if you’re looking to splurge a little bit.
Prefer a hostel after all? No better place than Ao Nang!
→ For $10 you’ve got yourself a bed in a dorm at Nomads Ao Nang. Clean rooms, close to the beach and a good pool.
→ Tan Hostel X. Yup, as in the above mentioned Tan Hostel X Cafe. Trendy spaces and sweet staff, and even cheaper than Nomads.
Wanna look for something yourself?
Ao Nang FAQ
What’s the best time to visit Ao Nang?
November to March is the best time to be in Ao Nang. The rain season will just have ended, and it’s not as hot as it will be come April yet. Rain season usually starts in June and lasts until October.
Is Ao Nang safe?
Generally speaking, Ao Nang is safe. You always want to be careful of scams and don’t flash stuff you won’t flash at home either. We always felt safe in the evenings and at night.
Can I extend my visa in Ao Nang?
Yes! We received (just after all Covid restrictions were lifted in November ’22) a 45 day stamp in our passports upon arrival. (Always check visa requirements for your passport here) We wondered if we would only get an extension of 15 days because of that, but we received the regular 30 days. The extension at the Krabi Immigrant Office was the easiest we’ve ever done. We were back outside, visa in hand, within 10 minutes.
How many days should I stay in Ao Nang?
Including an excursion or tour, 4 days should be enough in Ao Nang. A day on a boat, a day at Railay, a day at the beach and a day of exploration.
Know before you go!
Above tips complete our complete travel guide for Ao Nang! Have anything to add or something we missed? Let us know!