It was a beautiful sunny day that we spent island hopping in Krabi. I should have been tired. But I was looking forward to an evening in Krabi. I wanted to go out and walk alone. The trouble with me and walking is that I have no sense of direction! So, I had to keep things simple. I would walk in direction of the sunset. The plan was click a few pictures and then come back to the room. The dinner pickup to Ao Nang was at 8.00 pm.
Mercifully it was a straight road I was walking on. I got out of the Krabi Front Bay Resort, took a right and kept walking straight. I saw a few patches of sand and open space but they looked like work places. I guess I could have gone in and clicked my sunset but I decided to walk on.
At the end of the road there were a row of local restaurants. They looked bit overwhelming because I speak no Thai (other than hello, thank you and good night) but more because I eat no sea food. But the view from the place was fabulous. I hopped in and decided to try my luck. I walked to the last shop and put my bag on a chair.
The attempt to communicate with the proprietor didn’t yield much. He gestured to wait and walked out of sight. He got out with a young girl in tow. Now we could talk in English. I asked for coffee and french fries, not because I am a fan but because it was vegetarian. The girl told me they were out of french fries! I asked if they had mushroom or eggs? She offered to make a mushroom omelette for me!
I will be honest, I stopped there only because it offered me a good vantage point for clicking pictures. I asked if they had a pint of beer but they had big bottles only. A big bottle by myself is a bit too much, so I settled for coffee only.
My coffee and omelette arrived. The proprietor was quite concerned that I did not take any rice with my meal! After clicking a zillion pictures, I started craving tea. I had a fabulous day beach hopping, and now I was watching a fabulous sunset.
I asked the proprietor if they had tea. He gave me the blank look. I said ‘chai’ and ‘cha’ thinking something would click. Tea was not written in the menu so I could not point it out. I still tried my luck because mushroom omelette was also not written in the menu!
After struggling for sometime I told him, “Aah give me coffee.” And magically he said, “Oh you want tea!” I wonder what made him understand that I wanted tea when I finally asked for coffee!
He served me a pot of Jasmine tea. I enjoyed leisurely all the three cups it contained! By now it was trying to get dark. I got up to pay. He gave me the bill. I pointed out they forgot to add the price of the tea! To which he replied, “Oh no it is free!” You see, it was a blessed day indeed!
PS. My trip to Thailand was in Collaboration with Byond Travel.
Island hopping is the most popular activity in Krabi! There are two popular island tours in Krabi, the Phi Phi Island Tour and the Four Island Tour. I have now done both plus I have hopped over to Hong Island in a private speed boat. I love the beautiful islands of Krabi by the Andaman Sea. However, you need to keep a few things in perspective to enjoy your tour. The pictures in this post are from the Phi Phi Island Tour but many experiences are common to both the trips!
It is Going to be Hot and Sunny if You are Lucky, Else it Will Rain!
I have been to Thailand seven times by now. I have been there in various months. But whenever I went it was warm/hot and sunny! It is lot of fun if you are coming from a cold country! If you are from India it could feel a bit like home!
Be prepared mentally that you are going to be in the sun for the whole day when you go island hopping. But I would take sun any day on a beach rather than the rain!
Most of us will do the tours in a shared speed boat. Private speedboats are available but they cost a bomb. On both my trips, the four island trip last year and the Phi Phi Island tour this year, I firmly remained on the deck of the boat and got baked. But that is my choice. There is a covered area in the boat but I never ever considered it.
When they Say it is a National Park, It means no Commercial Activity
Our first stop on the Phi Phi Island Tour was the Bamboo Island which is a national park. That means, no resorts, no restaurants, nothing. You only get to enjoy the stunning natural beauty. If you ask me it is a very good thing. So, as soon as you hear the word national park forget shacks, forget beer, forget everything and enjoy the nature!
When they Say Snorkeling they Mean You Snorkel on Your Own
On the island hopping tours snorkeling opportunities are available. But they give you a snorkeling mask, a life jacket and assume that you know how to do it. Some of the snorkeling sights are in the bays and deep sea. If you do not know how to swim or use the snorkeling mask, chances are you will not be able to do it. Of the two, knowing how to swim is more important. If you ask nicely, someone will tell you how to use the mask but if you do not know how to swim then you may not have the confidence to venture in the sea.
Personally I liked the snorkeling more on the Phi Phi Island Tour. On the Four Island Tour the snorkeling was average.
The Lunch is a Buffet Lunch
Phi Phi Don is very popular with backpackers. It is the party island as well. You will find plenty of restaurants, shops, beer and hotels here. We had our buffet lunch on this beautiful island. Whatever is in the set buffet is included in your tour cost. If you want anything else, it will be extra.
They cater to vegetarians easily but it would be Thai food. Do not expect Indian food on the island tours. When I did the Four Island Tour, the lunch was a packed lunch, we didn’t even go to a restaurant.
The Maya Bay
The Phi Phi Island Tour includes a trip to the Maya Bay. This beach became extremely popular because of the movie ‘The Beach” starring Leonardo DiCaprio. But that is what, it became popular, so it is crowded. I wish I read this BBC story on the Maya Bay before I left for Krabi though. Most of the islands are popular with tourists and get packed during the season.
Baby on the Beach
We found this cute baby on the Maya Bay. The parents had gone in the water. They could see the baby all the time. Anyway this is a small island with nowhere to go without boat! There are no restaurants, hotels or hawkers. The cute baby got so much attention from everyone. People would come, coo and then go on their way! After a while the mother emerged but the baby and the people around were not willing to budge!
Your Guide Will Speak Some English
A lot of people speak some English in Thailand, particularly if they work in the tourism trade! But it helps to remember that English is not their first language. They are mild mannered and they expect the same in return. Or else they keep quiet and don’t cooperate, which I believe is fair!
Our guide (on another tour) in Krabi drove off in his Hilux Pickup Truck after the tour got over! We all were happy to see that he was doing well!
Wear a Swim Suit beneath Your Wrap
Island hopping means being in and out of water for the whole day. It helps to wear a swim suit and put a wrap over it. You need your beach slippers. On many beaches you will go bare foot! If you wear a dress that doesn’t dry off easily it can be a little difficult to enjoy the day.
A Blessed Day
There was an elderly couple on our boat. They spoke almost no English. The gentleman took this picture of mine. He signed to me to raise my hands, which I happily did. Later in the day they gave their camera to me asking to take their picture. I asked them to raise their hands too! Who says we need to know the language to communicate. Politeness, grace and friendliness get conveyed by gestures and body language!
I do not say this often, but I do feel truly blessed for the travel opportunities I get, the day in Krabi was one such day!
PS. I wrote this post with an Indian audience in my mind.
PPS. My trip to Thailand was in collaboration with Byond Travel.
I love being outdoors and if it is in the mountains or by the sea all the more better. So, when I went island hopping in Krabi, Thailand it was a lot of fun for me! I got such a lot of sunburn on this trip! Krabi is in south of Thailand by the Andaman Sea, which is truly beautiful.
There are many island hopping options from Krabi. Hong Island is offered as one trip, then there is a ‘four island trip’ and another to Phi Phi Island. I did the Hong Island and the four island trips.
It was a lovely evening with gorgeous blue skies when I went to the Hong Island from Krabi. I had a private speed boat all to myself for this trip courtesy Sofitel Krabi. The water was nice and warm, just the right temperature. I did a bit of snorkeling and kayaking too. There was sparkling wine for me on this trip, so I had one good pampering session.
Tup Island, Part of the Island Hopping in Krabi
The next day I went on the four island tour. All the islands carry Tsunami warnings, as they were affected in the past. Tup Island was our first stop. It is popular with tourists as well as locals. We could walk all the way to the island in the middle. I was told that one could actually walk to another island (not in this picture) if the tide was low. But when I was there it was high tide.
We went snorkeling a little ahead from Tup Island. It was the first time I went to snorkel in the deep sea. In all my previous experiences I did snorkeling off the shore. After a while I forgot that I was in the deep sea and had great time. I had a life jacket too, hence it was easier to concentrate on fish.
Poda was the third island we visited on the trip, and to me the most beautiful of the lot. We also had packed lunch here. They had a vegetarian packet, which was mighty nice of them. And if you are wondering that I gobbled up the second island on this trip, you are right. It was called the ‘Chicken Island’ because one of the mountains looked like a leg piece of a chicken dish! It was because of the high tide we could not get down at the Chicken Island.
Boats at the Poda Island, Krabi
I walked a bit and reached this serene spot on the Poda Island. The water once again was delicious. At one point, a school of fish went by me, visible to the eye. It was such fun.
Railay Beach, Krabi
Railay was the last island we visited. It is quite popular with rock climbers. It is a pity that I did not any decent pictures of the climbers. You can walk a lot inside as well from where the boat drops you. This was the only island which has five star property on it. I guess there are no other hotels on the Railay Beach. There is a Buddhist Shrine in a cave on the island right on the main beach.
The other islands are part of national parks and no one stay overnight. Maybe that is why they are so pristine. However, island hopping in Krabi is very popular and the islands are crowded for sure. I still enjoyed it a lot!
PS. My trip to Thailand was sponsored by TAT New Delhi