A Guide to Ao Nang, Thailand - #OddOdyssey

Landing at Krabi airport can seem like a dream come true, especially if you’ve been planning your trip for a long time. Palm trees and majestic rock formations line the horizon, if you’re lucky (or unlucky depending on your point of view)  you might even be greeted by a low flying bat at the airport. Unfortunately, things can seem like they’re going wrong pretty quickly if you’re staying in Ao Nang and haven’t done your research, a quick Google search might actually leave you more worried than you were before and if you’re not careful quite a bit of your budget can go out the window in a very short period of time, especially if you’re used to Bangkok prices. So, we wanted to put your mind to rest and help you have an unforgettable and affordable time in this lovely little town.

The first hurdle – Getting to Ao Nang from Krabi Airport (and back again)

If you booked your hotel thinking it was near Krabi Town, you might get a bit of a shock! Even though hotels in Ao Nang come up on most searches when looking for accomodation in Krabi, it’s not actually that close (30km) and getting there without personal transport can seem a bit daunting, especially if your used to Bangkok’s bargain taxi prices. A Taxi from the airport will set you back 600 Baht, which isn’t a lot at all if there’s three or four of you, but as we’re a couple who would rather spend money on yummy food than transport, we decided to avoid them and opt for the official airport bus.

The official airport shuttle, Krabi Bus, costs 150 Baht per person, goes the long way round and stops at quite a few different locations. The good news is it will actually leave you outside your hotel, you just let them know where you’re staying when you buy your ticket. This sounds amazing, but can make the whole thing a rather length ride, especially if your hotel is at the end of the line (which ours was), so allow anywhere from an hour to two hours to complete the journey, especially because the bus won’t leave the airport until it’s completely full. Fortunately, the views along the ride are pretty mesmerising, so we actually quite enjoyed it.

Most hotels also offer airport transfers, the price is generally the same as the official airport bus but they can be a tad faster, we opted for this on the way back to the airport as we had an early flight and the journey took exactly one hour as promised, so it’s definitely a good option to keep in mind. Just bear in mind, that if you have one passenger who takes their sweet ass time getting to the bus, it will take longer than you planned!

Odd Advice – If you haven’t had meals before getting on the bus you might want to pick something up beforehand, no one like a hungry, grumpy guts on a journey. Once you arrive in Ao Nang it will probably take you a while to check into your hotel and get your bearings.

First Impressions – Arriving in Ao Nang

Ao Nang has a reputation for being a bit of a tourist trap and when you first arrive, it can definitely feel that way. Restaurants serving every type of western food imaginable line the beach front, none really look that appealing or even different from each other, vendors will attempt to get you to buy, eat and drink on the streets practically every three steps and prices just don’t seem right, especially when compared to the rest of Thailand.
If you’ve not done any research, it can seem like a tiny town that revolves around a main stretch of beach, however, I can’t help but think that this is exactly what those beach front stores and restaurants are banking on; lazy tourists who can’t be bothered to ask for recommendations from locals or who are just too hot and bothered to explore further than a few hundred meters. Unfortunately, this means you will be paying more, seeing less, eating worse and probably leaving a tad disappointed. So, put your adventurous flip flops on and don’t be afraid to explore the side streets and to venture in the opposite direction as the rest of the tourists, you’re likely to find something good that way!

Odd Advice – Definitely invest in some good bug repellent that has a high concentration of DEET, otherwise you will be itchy in no time. If you’re extremely prone to getting bitten it might be an idea to cover up! This is especially true for the beach where tiny little sand fleas will eat you alive if you’re not prepared!

 



Eating well and affordably in Ao Nang

Walking the main stretch of beach in search for food seems like the obvious choice and if you’re after local Thai or Asian dishes, it can quickly become a bit overwhelming or even a tad disappointing. As previously mentioned, most restaurants seem to have exactly the same menus at incredibly high prices, they mostly focus on a mixture of western dishes, they seem to love pizza and they generally include the obvious Thai curries to try and sucker you in. If you do a quick Google search you may become even more enraged as reviews are pretty damn average and everyone seems to have gone to exactly the same places.

Never fear, Odd Odyssey is here with our favourite food recommendations:

Ao Nang Boat Noodle

My favourite place to eat in Ao Nang, it’s completely inconspicuous and chances are you probably wouldn’t look twice if you walked past, but the staff are super friendly and the food is delicious, plus it’s incredibly affordable. For 60 Baht I got a big bowl of their famous Boat Noodle Soup with Beef and I couldn’t have been happier. Jayne opted for a Green Curry which was a tad more at 150 Baht, but still incredibly affordable and delicious, if a bit spicy. Fortunately, they also serve you free watermelon slices, which was incredibly useful for counteracting the spicy food! The restaurant is about a 15 minute walk up and away from the beachfront, back the way you would have come in from the airport, keep walking up the road until you see a big mosque and the restaurant is opposite, it also has part of a boat as decoration outside, so you really can’t miss it.

Family Restaurant

A 10 minute walk from up from the beachfront, back towards the mosque again and up a suspicious looking side street is Family Restaurant, don’t worry though, you shouldn’t miss it as they have a big sign on the main road too. Once again, it doesn’t look like much from outside and it’s not obviously aimed at tourists, which is exactly what appealed to us. We payed very little for a huge plate of food and left feeling stuffed and the kind of happy that only food can bring, which is exactly what you’re after when eating in Thailand. For 70 Baht I had a massive plate of Pad Thai, it was actually my first time eating this dish, which is kind of embarrassing after spending a week in Bangkok, but it was absolutely delicious and I would definitely repeat. Jayne opted for a Red Curry and paid a tad more for another huge plate of food. Our whole meal came to around 350 baht, including a fresh coconut, two soft drinks and all the yumminess you can possibly imagine.

Ao Nang Night Market

By far our favourite find was Ao Nang Night Market, for some reason most people seem to get lured into restaurants before actually making it this far, which seems a bit strange as it’s not far from the main bit of beach at all and probably takes less than 5 minutes to get to. Once there you will be greeted by live performances, the smell of great food and an unforgettable atmosphere. We actually ended up coming back two nights in a row because we loved it so much! We opted for meat skewers at 50 Baht a plate and prawn spring rolls at the same price, we also got huge pitcher of beer for 200 Baht which was enough for us both to share. I can’t remember exactly how much we spent each night, mainly because if I fancied something extra it was cheap enough to get, but I can guarantee it was a quarter of what we’d have spend if we’d have eaten in anywhere and the atmosphere was so good that you really can’t go wrong! It’s worth visiting for the performances alone which included a fire show, traditional Thai dancing, singers and Saxophone players.

Hippies Bar

Our last meal in Ao Nang was one of our most memorable; partly because once we got back to the hotel room I realised I’d left my bank card (R.I.P.) at an AT< and had a bit of a stress before realising we’d planned for something like this and it wasn’t actually that bad. Hippies Bar had  the most delicious cocktails and amazing curries at one of the friendliest places we’ve been to. The staff are incredibly nice (although pretty much everyone we met in Thailand was lovely), the music is great and the food is tasty, the name kind of describes the vibe perfectly. It does cost a tad more than other options, but it also feels like more of a treat and it still comes to a fraction of the price you’d spend at most restaurants on the beachfront. In order to get there you basically walk the way no one else seems to be, away from the main part of town, past the road you go up to get to the night market and over a wooden little walkway, it will feel like you’re leaving town. Once you turn the corner you will probably be surprised at how much cool stuff there is on this side of town, if you left it till the last night like we did, you’ll probably be kicking yourself for not having more time to explore it further, but it definitely goes to prove that going off the beaten path often gets the best results. Cocktails at the restaurant were only 150 Baht, which is a good 50 cheaper than anywhere else we’d seen in town, curries were 120 Baht and we opted for a delicious Massaman Curry and an equally as scrumptious Green Curry. We’d definitely recommend paying this place a visit, as we went off-peak they weren’t playing live music, but we hear the atmosphere gets pretty awesome when there’s more people in town.

Odd Advice: The smaller restaurants generally have a couple of dishes they specialise in, if you’re adventurous and go for those you are pretty guaranteed to be paying half the price and discovering something delicious!

Walked along Ao Nang beach yesterday evening in search of monkeys, apparently they come down to play sometimes, unfortunately none could be bothered last night, but we did get to watch the locals fishing and setting traps which was pretty cool. We also think moneys were on our upstairs balcony last night, but we were to scared of them getting into the room to go find out. . . . . . . . . . . . #ig_exquisite #ig_shotz #global_hotshotz #superhubs #main_vision #master_shots #exclusive_shots #hubs_united #jaw_dropping_shotz #worldshotz #theworldshotz #pixel_ig #photographyislifee #photographyislife #photographysouls #photographyeveryday #photographylover #worldbestgram #iglobal_photographers #ig_great_pics #ig_myshot #shotwithlove #justgoshoot #xposuremag #icatching #collectivelycreate #wanderlust #heatercentral #highsnobiety #shotzdelight

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What to see and do in Ao Nang

Let’s get the obvious bits out of the way:

The beach is obviously the lifeline of the town and it’s a great place to take some photos of the islands that line the horizon, just be warned, you will get stopped a lot by people selling every variety of goods.

A quick Google search will also show up some pretty incredible island and beach tours that can be done from Ao Nang, including Chicken Island, Phi Phi Island, Railay Beach & more. All of them sounds pretty amazing and it’s a great base if that’s what you have in mind, however, we stayed there during Monsoon season because we were catching a flight to Singapore a few days later, plus we already knew we would be heading back later in the year for some sunnier/dryer island tours, so we decided to focus on exposing Ao Nang’s rather shady reputation as downright filthy lies (which we soon found out they absolutely where).

A wooden stairway at the end of the beach

We heard that if you head towards the end of the beach between 5pm and 6pm, monkeys sometimes come down to play, unfortunately, they must have had better things to do that day, but we did find an amazing wooden walkway that makes its way up the craggy rock surface. We only made it halfway up as it had got dark and we weren’t prepared with water, but I’m heading straight there on our next visit and you should too! It feels like something out of Jurassic Park and probably isn’t for the faint of heart. Although, we did see a family trying to get a pram up it, which definitely wasn’t going to work as it involves ducking under trees whilst balancing on a rickety wooden walkway that doesn’t always have handles. I’m sure if you head up far enough you might stumble across some of these notoriously hungry monkeys. Even if you don’t fancy the trek up, it’s still worth going all the way to the end of the beach, it’s one of the best views in town and in the evening you can see fishermen setting traps. It was one of the most memorable experiences of the trip!

What to see and do in Ao Nang, Thailand - An Odd Odyssey Guide on CMK by Misael Trujillo
Andamana Beach Club

The hotel we stayed at did free transfers to this incredible private beach club and we obviously had to go check it out, we got the first transfer there which meant we had the beach all to ourselves. The views are breathtaking and it feels like you’re on a film set. They serve cocktails, have high speed internet, beautiful views, hammocks and swings looking out to sea. We got picked up a couple of hours later feeling completely refreshed, although with some extra itchy bites (see our aforementioned tip on bug repellent). You can also get there by yourself and have a look round or I’m sure you could lure a tuk tuk driver or taxi into taking you, although it’s a 15/20 minute drive from town so it depends how much of a budget you’re on. The cocktail wasn’t the cheapest, but it was so delicious and we were in such a pristine location that I kind of didn’t really care, plus it had the freshest mangos and mint I’d ever tasted in it, so I was a very happy man! There’s also a family of dogs that live on the beach, so you’ll have some canine companions for your stay too.

Trying to save some money?

Grab some beers and head to the beach or if you’re lucky enough sit by the pool at your hotel, just remember in Thailand they stop serving alcohol between 2pm – 5pm, so you might want to stock up beforehand those times.

If none of that is really your vibe, you may want to consider staying somewhere else, it’s a chilled town that really centers around either island hopping, night life or just chilling by the beach, which was absolutely perfect for us after a week in hectic Bangkok, but we understand it isn’t for everyone.   

Where to Stay in Ao Nang

If you haven’t heard of Agoda yet, then this is your chance to up your game! Agoda is the go to website and app for booking accommodation in a lot of South East Asia and it generally gives you pretty good discounts! I would absolutely recommend booking around a week in advance in order to get the best deals, but there’s no need to have everything booked months ahead unless you want a very specific hotel or room. We stayed at Alisea Boutique Hotel, it was incredibly affordable and the rooms were lovely, we even had a second floor with balcony and outdoor bathtub. It also boasts an Italian restaurant downstairs (which we never used), an infinity pool (which we did use), a spa and it included breakfast, which in all honesty wasn’t amazing but did mean we managed to save a bit of our budget for Singapore. The hotel definitely needs a new paint job, but the staff are friendly, the beds are super comfy and the location is perfect, everything worked well and there was no aspect of it that was off putting in the least, we’d absolutely recommend staying here, especially if you’re on a medium size budget.

And that, my friends, is it for our odd guide to Ao Nang, we hope it’s helped you plan your visit and we really hope you enjoy this lovely town as much as we have. If you have any specific question or any advice for the next time we head over, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or send us a message. Keep an eye on out for the our series of South East Asia videos coming soon to the new Odd Odyssey YouTube channel. We’ll also be launching a Patreon soon and you can also support our content creation adventures by shopping via the CMK and Food Scouts shops. 

Events Manager, Graphic Design, Photography, Social Media @Kitschinc. Punk Rock Shows as @PSDead. Co-Creator of @WeAreFoodScouts. Songs for @LarkhillUK.

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