Long tail boats that splash you with water every now and then; speed boats that take you island hopping and for beach lunches; or big boats that are almost like a huge floating party with music and food - Krabi has it all.
Also known as a resort town, Krabi is the capital of southern Thailand's Krabi Province. Often overshadowed by its popular neighbour Phuket, this place is serene in comparison. But the unspoilt beaches, the rich Thai culture, glamorous night life and the wide variety in food choices make Krabi a wholesome destination. Also, the angular limestone karsts jutting from the mangroves forest of Krabi are as magnificent as they are unique. But it is the vast selection of boat rides that make Krabi especially tempting!
However, for most travellers, Krabi features in their Thailand itinerary only for a two-day trip on an average. Can’t blame them, Bangkok and Phuket are far more popular, although this magnificent town deserves its fair share of travellers too. To utilise your two days and make the most of them, I suggest you dedicate a day (or two, if possible) to boat rides from Krabi. There are boat rides from almost every tourist-y city in Thailand, and you will find plenty of options in Phuket as well. But boat rides from Krabi are less crowded, and the archipelago facing the Andaman Sea with more than 130 islands is magical. Here is a list of the top five boat rides:
1. Sun Set Cruise
As the name suggests, this is a cruise on a wooden Siamese junk boat in front of the Krabi coastline which makes you witness one of the most splendid sunsets in the world. The ocean looks like it is set on fire, with the sun dipping low and the skies a riot of reds and oranges, this boat tour creates magic. It is about five hours long, and also takes you to five popular islands around Krabi before the sun sets.
2. James Bond Island
Made extremely famous by the Bond movie, this island is a sight to behold. Emerald green waters surrounding the lush island that stand tall - and that’s not all. This tour will then send you to a canoe to enter the beautiful stalactites and stalagmites caves. Lunch is arranged at an island on the way. Time taken is about 6 hours.
3. 7 Island Sunset Tour
This sounds like a long trip, but is equally fun. The 7 Island tour includes island hopping, snorkelling, swimming, surfing and spotting glowing planktons. Water, snacks (mostly fresh fruits), snorkel equipment, and a scrumptious meal (dinner) at one of the islands are included in the trip. While you can walk, snorkel and swim on a few of these islands, you can take a glimpse of the others while the boat circles them. Nonetheless, this tour is fun and by the end of the day, the entire boat becomes one big travelling family.
4. Mangrove Boat Tour
The mangrove forest of Krabi Province, covering an area of 160 sq km, is ranked in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. The protected area also covers 12 sq km of up to 2 km wide tidal mudflats. You can take a traditional long-tail boat to the mangrove forests of Krabi to see the enchanting small canals of the mangrove forest, different types of mangrove trees and local wildlife, if you’re lucky. A stop at the Khao Khanab Nam Cave is another high point of this tour. Lunch is a seafood bonanza at a floating restaurant near Baan Kanon on the banks of Krabi River, with vegetarian options as well. Have you heard about a fish show? Yes, you can see one here - with puffer fish, catfish, black kingfisher and crabs at a typical fish farm in the local Koh Klang community. The tour takes four hours.
5. Phi Phi Island Boat Tour by Speed Boat
There are a lot of options available for the Phi Phi Island tour, ranging from an extensive 11 hours to shorter trips. But the shorter version on a speed boat is the best if you want to save sailing time. Hire a speed boat and head to Phi Phi Islands - one of the most popular spots in the area. Phi Phi Don is the usual lunch stop, where you also have an hour or so to explore and shop. Swimming in Maya Bay is tempting enough to make most travellers book this trip. Opportunities to swim in one of the world's clearest water destinations, snorkel at Hin Klang and explore Viking Cave, where thousands of swallow nests are found - Phi Phi Island boat tour is exhilarating.
All rides can be booked from your hotel or from various counters in the market opposite Ao Nang Beach. Hotel pick-up and drop are available for almost all boat tours. But before you book a ride, make sure they are offering you the right price (bargaining is not off the table) and inform them about your special food requirements, like vegetarian or a kid meal, etc. All tours come in all quality and it is up to the traveller to pick the one that suits his requirement the most. Thailand thrives on tourism, and their processes are highly professional, so please feel free to ask questions.
Aditi Mathur Kumar is an avid travel blogger and author of two books.