KRABI, Thailand “See this fish?” Mahn, our kayak guide, pointed to
a grayish fish with a boxy head, glassy eyes like two tiny marbles
on top of its boxy head and a rather amphibious stance. The fish
was perched out of the water, on top of a rock, but it didn’t seem
distressed. “It’s called a mudskipper. It can breathe under water
or up on land.”
The five of us on the day’s kayaking trip ogled the mudskipper,
then we looked at Mahn. Mahn looked as a New Yorker might while
riding the subway as if there were nothing even remotely unusual
about sitting there in a kayak surrounded by giant towering
limestone formations and observing an air-breathing fish. He had
grown up around here, in the mangrove-lined rivers, bays and caves
of Bor Thor, a stunning area in the Krabi region of Thailand.
Later, we paddled our kayaks to some of Bor Thor’s famous caves.
Mahn pointed out the giant stalagmites and stalactites in one cave.
Someone from our group tried to touch one and Mahn said, nicely but
decisively, “Don’t touch them. It takes a hundred years for these
to grow even an inch.”
Krabi is on the Andaman Sea approximately four hours by car from
Phuket. It has a lot of tropical attractions: a hot climate,
terrific beaches, dazzling scenery, wonderful food, soft-adventure
activities, great spas and access to hundreds of islands. What
Krabi doesn’t have is overwhelming crowds. Krabi is developed, but
it still has a very manageable pace.
Some of the activities and attractions here are remarkable. I
cannot recommend the kayaking highly enough, even for people who
don’t like to self-propel. (There are guides available who will do
the work while guests luxuriate.) In addition to the kayaking there
are countless other things to do, both on land and in the
Krabi has, for example, what is thought to be some of the
world’s best rock-climbing. (Those giant, beautiful limestone
formations jutting high into the sky aren’t just for show.) There
are also lots of caves, some of which have wonderful temples inside
or nearby. Krabi also has elephant riding, jungle treks, wildlife
tours, waterfalls and both hot and cold springs to enjoy. Just
outside Krabi’s main tourist area, Ao Nang, are some
several-million-year-old petrified shell fossils to visit, one of
the only such places in the world. Scuba divers can dive in the
clear, warm, fish-filled Andaman Sea, either on day dives or the
many available live-aboard, dive boats (and non-divers can learn to
There are lots of interesting villages in Krabi, too. Visitors
can drive themselves around in rental cars (as we did), or hire
other forms of transportation, including motorcycle taxis and
tuk-tuks, or long-tailed boats will take you all around the
If your clients prefer less active pursuits, there are upscale
spas, as well as places where you can get Thai massages for around
$10 an hour. And Thai cooking schools will teach you how to shop
for, and then cook, great Thai curries.
Around Krabi are hundreds of islands, some with hotels and a few
that are home only to monkeys. They all have stunning beaches and
some have a rather compelling film link, as well.
James Bond Island was in “The Man With the Golden Gun,” and is
now visited by tourists coming in speed boats, long-tailed boats (a
more traditional alternative) or, as Mahn said, by kayak, if you’ve
got six hours and very strong muscles.
|WHERE TO STAY|
There are hundreds of places to stay in Ao Nang. Here are a few:
Krabi National Park, Success Resort
10 percent commission
Krabi Seaview Resort
Between 10 and 20 percent commission
Lai Thai Resort
10 percent commission
Railay Bay sits on a nearby peninsula that is a
bit quieter than Ao Nang. There aren’t a lot of hotels on Railay on
purpose it’s being developed slowly. The people who run Railay
Bookings will make bookings for your clients and offer 5 percent
commission to travel agents who book through them.
Lanta Island is one of the most beautiful islands in the
province and is mostly protected as a marine park. D.R.
Lanta Bay Resort
20 percent commission
20 percent commission
NOTE: While Krabi, which is around four hours
by car from Phuket, and is on the Andaman Sea, was hit by the Dec.
26 tsunami, most hotels are open, Krabi’s activities are available
and the beach is clean. All the hotels listed here were contacted
after the tsunami both to make sure that the hotel staffs were
okay, and to check if the hotels themselves were operating. In the
words of Robert Reynolds, Lai Thai Resort’s general manager: “Yes
we are all okay, we were quite lucky here. Ao Nang is back to 100
percent and now all we need are some customers.”