How Can You Be, Krabi?

I scooted to Krabi after Koh Phi Phi, arriving at Klong Jirad Pier. Similar to all other Thailand piers and similar to when Gandolf went to Saruman, I was greeted not by reason but by madness. “Official stands” selling over-priced taxi rides inside the arrivals hall urge you to book with them or you risk being stranded even though the town is 40 minutes away by foot away. Once you step outside, you are inundated with people offering you shuttle bus rides and- surprise! more taxis for half the price of the ones inside. It’s so disorganized and scamy. So much so that I made up a word and added it to a structured list.

For my first night, I ended up staying at Nomad Hostel Krabi, which is outside the small downtown core of Krabi Town. The shuttle bus driver drops everyone off near Pak Up Hostel (where I later stayed). The five-minute extra journey to Nomad Hostel clearly was an issue for the shuttle bus driver who wanted to charge me double even though someone else originally told me it was a flat fee. It was an amazing hostel but it was a tad far from everything and right near the highway. The owner was super sweet so I feel bad even typing what I just did. She suggested that I do the hike at Hang Nak Mountain (Dragon Crest Trail) but since I was alone (dem monkeys) and almost died hiking the 900 meters to Viewpoint 1 on Koh Phi Phi (dem hangovers), I wasn’t too keen on it.

There is not much in Krabi Town itself apart from markets. It is more of a central location to use as a base to go to other areas around Krabi. From Friday-Sunday there is the Krabi Town Night Market on Soi Maharaj 8, which has some tasty treats. Every night, there is also a Krabi market along the water’s edge near the Kong Ka Pier. There is a popular Western-influenced restaurant called May and Mark. It is expensive (burgers are 225 baht) but you are sure to find whatever you are craving in their novel-sized menu. As you can maybe guess, I was dragged here with some people since I would never pay those outlandish prices normally. Across the street from there, is a food market. Mostly selling raw foods but there is the odd restaurant as well. The walk along the waterfront is also nice. Going too far will take you on a wild nature walk complete with rabid monkeys.

What I did do, was go to Tiger Cave Temple (Wat Tham Suea). From my first hostel, I split a taxi with 3 others, costing 200 baht each. We left at around 8:30 AM to get there before the crowds. There are 1237 steps up to the top, which Wikipedia refers to as strenuous. I am glad we avoided the crowds because that meant there were fewer witnesses to my weak, out-of-shape body straining to go up some steps. I would suggest going when it is daylight and when it is not raining.

A Canadian I met did it part way when there was a storm and she told me it was similar to a waterfall cascading down on her while simultaneously having zero visibility and nearly being electrocuted by loose, swinging wires. On her way down, she realised that she had only a few baht left and her taxi driver wasn’t due to come back for another 1.5 hours if he came back at all. After spending her last baht on a beer, miraculously, her ride showed up. I love a good spicy travel tale.

The Tiger Cave Temple is housed in a large complex. We did the 1237 steps first and then went to The Wonderland, which is a small walk to visit a monk who lives in a cave. We followed the sign and then came to a halt since we saw more steps. My legs were wobbly so I didn’t think I could go on (not to be dramatic). After asking someone who confirmed it was only 20 steps up and then the rest of the walk is flat, we decided to go. It was tranquil. I think we asked our taxi driver to come back after 3 hours and we were tight for time so we didn’t see everything in the complex. That being said, he probably thought we would do the 1237 steps quicker than we did.

I was debating doing a tour leaving from Krabi, especially after the epic one I did in Koh Phi Phi. I asked the sweet hostel owner and she suggested the Hong Island Tour since she did it herself and liked it better than the one that goes/ drives past Chicken Island. I ended up paying 1200 baht, which included the protected park fees. Be aware if you are purchasing this from outside your hostel since most will quote you without the park fees, so you think 500 baht is a great deal but then realise the 800 baht park fees will be charged while you are in the boat. I bought mine from some guy at the King Kong/ caveman intersection, which was 200 cheaper than at my new hostel (Pak Up Hostel). I went with a speedboat since they are quicker than long-tail boats. Although, it doesn’t make too much difference since everyone ends up at the same spots at the same time anyways. The tour was overwhelming. Picture wall-to-wall boats, tourists in neon orange life jackets while on dry land and electricity hook-ups on an uninhabited island to cook up meals for tourists. Don’t get me wrong, the islands were gorgeous. There was great snorkelling and wonderful views. It was just a bit much with so many people. Every time I went in the water, I ended up pulling trash out with me. There must be more expensive ways to do a tour that doesn’t follow the tour group trail but I don’t know since the word expensive stopped me.

I went to Krabi because I heard good things about Railay Beach. It didn’t disappoint, it was a slice. To get there from Krabi town, you will need to go to the water (Kong Ka Pier) where there are long boats waiting. To get to Railay, it costs 150 baht each way, a standard fee. What I did not know was that you need to wait until more than 4 people gather before the boat will leave. So when I got there at 8:00 AM, you can imagine how many young, party people were there. None. I waited 20 minutes and as luck would have it, one long boat needed to go to Railay for a pick up so I was able to leave with just one other passenger.

By the time I got to Railay, it was still early in the morning so there was basically no one in sight. I decided to hang out with this 60+ retired teacher from the USA. Although he was nearly double my age, he was in better shape than me. I saw on Google maps that there were a few viewpoints. One of which had Princess Lagoon. We found the start of the trail if you can call it that since all it was was a muddy rock-face cliff with a single, sketchy rope on it. We began climbing. The viewpoint was stunning. We continued this loop that led us in the direction of the lagoon. After about 10 minutes we thought hmmm maybe we took a wrong turn as we were military-style crawling on the muddy forest floor, foliage smacking our faces. We reach an opening and see in the distance the lagoon. Immediately, I think no way in hell am I going down there. There were 3 steep cliff drops with no ropes leading down to the bottom. I was wearing Birkenstocks and a purse holding a bottle of water in my hand. The teacher decided to go since there were two others already making their way down. I waited up at the top thinking if anyone got injured there is no way to even be airlifted out. In other words, you’d be f’d if there was a serious problem. I am such a mature adult. On our way back, I saw that there was a sign that said “Lagoon closed, no entry”. Classic.

After our crazy, unsafe hike we went to the proper Railay beaches. White sand and blue waters surrounded by crazy cliff scenery. It was a delight- full of tourists but still fantastic.

After much searching and asking around, we couldn’t find the other start points to the viewpoints on the opposite side that was marked on Google maps but perhaps they don’t exit.

Getting back to Krabi town was a waiting game. The two of us arrived at the dock at 13:00 ish and there was no one there. We kept asking the 15 long-tail boat drivers how much it was to take us back alone and they quoted us 500+ baht each. The next “scheduled” time of departure was 3 hours away. I was playing chicken since I needed to get to the airport but at the same time, I needed to not spend money. Luckily, after 35 minutes, there was a group of girls that arrived so I was able to head back to catch my flight.

I ended up taking one of the local “buses”/flatbed trucks to the airport. It was cheap, only costing me major anxiety that I was going to miss my flight since the 20-minute journey took almost an hour. Super fun.

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