Thailand | Krabi & Ao Tonsai

By D


We are combining the next two towns we visited. Krabi is a province along the Andaman coast (the southwest coast) of Thailand. Krabi Town (instead of Krabi Town it is referred to as Krabi) is the main city in the province and it is usually a jumping off point to other places (such as Ao Tonsai). We liked Krabi well enough, but we found that a lot of the main attractions were quite a bit outside of the main city area. We weren’t in the mood to deal with taxi drivers or the like after our experience getting into town, and renting a moped can be a hassle in itself. Also, we were a little tired from our Khao Sok adventures so we didn’t end up doing a whole lot in Krabi.

A hop, skip, and a jump away from Krabi is Railay Beach (quite touristy and well known) and Tonsai. We didn’t spend a whole lot of time at Railay Beach, but we stayed in Tonsai for a night. Tonsai is a chill town, as well as being a rock climber’s dream. There were people climbing everywhere! It is the first place we have been that we wished we would have been able to stay longer, and it is also really the first time we made advance travel plans, so we couldn’t stay longer. Live and learn. Tonsai, we’ll be back!

Getting there

  • High level
    • Getting from Khao Sok to Krabi is inconvenient. Using public buses would require you to take one bus back towards Surat Thani, get off, and then get on another public bus heading southeast to Krabi. The best (and by best, I mean least time consuming) option is taking a ‘minibus’.
    • Getting from Krabi to Ao Tonsai. There are no roads to Ao Tonsai. The only way to get there is via longtail boat.
  • Detailed
    • Getting from Khao Sok to Krabi. This one ended up biting us in the rear. We had heard private minibuses could sometimes be a scam and this one definitely was. We bought the ticket under the assumption we would be getting a ride to downtown Krabi (we specifically asked the booking agent this question), but the minibus dropped us off at a random location 7 KM outside of Krabi. It was basically a shelter with taxis and expensive convenience food. The scam being, the minibus takes you to this location and then gets a cut of the fare you have to pay the taxi drivers to bring you the rest of the way into town. Overall, an extremely annoying situation. And once you are there, not much you can do about it. I guess the takeaway here – shit happens.
    • Getting from Krabi to Ao Tonsai. There are two options for getting from Krabi to Ao Tonsai. Both options cost the same (150 baht) and both depend on the longtail boat being full before departing.
      • Option 1 – Longtail boat from Krabi to Railay East. Walk to Ao Tonsai. We were told this longtail boat dropped off at Railay East, which means you would need to hike to Railay West and then to Ao Tonsai from there. Plus, we needed to get to Ao Tonsai by 8:30 AM and didn’t know if there would be enough demand for the longtail to depart in time.
      • Option 2 – Songthaew from Krabi to Ao Nang. Longtail boat from Ao Nang to Railay West. Walk to Ao Tonsai. This is the option we chose. The songthaew starts running at 7 AM. There are signs around town where it picks up. The owner of our hostel showed up where we could catch it. The longtail boats from Ao Nang to Ao Tonsai start running at 8 AM (or when there is enough demand) from the far southeastern corner of the Ao Nang beach.

Sleep

  • B Trio Guesthouse – We stayed at B Trio Guesthouse in Krabi for two nights. We stayed in the mixed dorms. I really liked the dorm area. It was clean, the beds were huge, and each bed had its own privacy curtain that you could shut whenever you didn’t want to chat with other hostel mates. The A/C worked well; it was turned on from around 5pm to sometime in the morning (after we left). There’s also an outside area attached to the bunkroom where you could go sit outside. The place is owned by a very nice family with an adorable little girl. Two thumbs up.
  • Chill Out Bar & Bungalow – We stayed at Chill Out one night in Tonsai. The bungalows are very basic in nature, but that was fine with us. There was one room with sparse furniture and a bed with a mosquito net plus a fan on the wall. The bathroom was through a door in the back. The bathroom was primitive, but there was running water and plumbing. The top of the wall was all open in the bathroom, so there were definitely some critters in the bathroom.. just bugs, nothing scarier than that. Well, actually, that’s not true. The bathroom had a lock on the outside of it.. as in, you could lock someone in the bathroom. We thought this was strange. But, we woke up the next morning, and we realized that monkeys had gotten into the bathroom and stolen banana peels out of our trash during the night. They are seriously little shits. Anyways, we liked Chill Out. It was a mix of cabin and camping. It really was very chill though. We had to walk around the area for like 20 minutes before we could figure out where to check in. I think the staff just watched us for awhile.. they were in no rush to see if we needed help!

Eat

  • Krabi
    • The highlight in Krabi was probably the market next to the guesthouse. There was one stand that had rows of plastic cups with different things in all of them. Some had mangos, some had bananas, some had oreos, some had chocolate milk and Oreos, some had carrots, etc. We came to realize that these were different smoothie options. So, you could select a cup with a mango and a banana in it, and they would whip it up into a mango and banana smoothie and give it back to you. It was life changing. Sam is still talking about the Nescafe 3 in 1 coffee mix and oreo smoothie. All of this for $1 or less. Thailand, you are doing it right.
    • There is a restaurant right across from the smoothie stand called May & Mark that had good coffee and a huge delicious cookie. It was one of our Western splurges. It is really highly ranked on Trip Advisor too.
    • I had coconut ice cream with slices of coconut in a coconut shell for $1 at one of the Krabi markets. I don’t think I’ve ever had anything more delicious in my life. I can’t even explain. It was probably loaded with sugar, but completely worth it.
  • Tonsai
    • Tonsai was a bit more “meh” when it came to food. It was noticeably more expensive than Krabi. Water (the metric we use for an overall cost indicator) was 40 baht (or a little over $1) for 1.5 liters, whereas in Krabi it was 13 baht (or around $0.30) for 1.5 liters. Food was likewise a bit more expensive (though not a x3 multiple) and not quite as delicious. Granted, we were only there a day, so we definitely didn’t see all it had to offer. At the same time, it is a small village you can only access via boat so it is bound to be more expensive.
      • We did find one place we loved in town – the coffee house right next to the Chill Out Bar & Bungalow. It’s on the main drag in town and it looks like a Bob Marley hangout. The Chai tea there was expensive (to us) but really delicious. The main lady there definitely put some love into that Chai. It’s different than any Chai I’ve had before, and I want more! Sam also said the coffee was great (proper Coffee! Not Nescafe).
      • There was also a pretty decent noodle stand on the main drag.

Do

  • Krabi
    • There were two markets close to B Trio Guesthouse. The one that was a little bit further away had live music. Sam and I grabbed some grub both nights and sat and listened to the music while we ate. It was a mix of Thai music (I think) and English songs.
    • We were in a funk in Krabi. We wanted to leave after 1 day, because we didn’t feel like putting in the effort to getting to any of the attractions, but we had already brought our laundry somewhere so we were locked in for an additional day. We ended up spending 2 days. Most of one involved me laying on a bed in the hostel and being worthless (and not wanting to do anything). Sam convinced me to go running which pulled me out of my funk.
    • Sam was looking pretty scruffy, so we found a barber shop so he could get a shave. It was his first experience at a legit barber shop, and I think it was a success. The cost was 80 baht, or a little over $2.
  • Tonsai
    • Deep water soloing. This has been one of the highlights of the trip so far. Deep water soloing is essentially rock climbing over deep water. When you want to be “done” climbing, instead of rappelling down, you jump into the ocean (very deep water, for safety). We did this on islands off the coast of Tonsai.

Fitness

  • One run in Krabi. We ran from our guesthouse around a park (Thara Park) and down some roads away from the downtown area. It was super easy to run here, and I think we could have done several more miles. We saw a whole lot of bikers, and there were a lot of other runners in the park. Strava data is HERE.

Yes, please

  • We really liked Tonsai. It was a good hippy rock climbing town, and we would like to go back and stay longer. It also made us want to do more rock climbing!
  • Deep water soloing through Basecamp Tonsai. Great company. The guides were friendly, experienced, and provided useful advice while you were climbing. They were also amazing climbers. It was worth the price of admission just to watch them climb all over the cliffs.
  • The coffee house by Chill Out. Everyone needs to drink a cup of that. #dreamingofchai

No, thanks

  • Sunscreen is crazy expensive in southeast Asia. And my travel partner requires a lot of it. If you are a sunscreen user, bring as much as you can. We brought 3 oz with us and have already spent $31 USD on reinforcements since we arrived.
  • Krabi – We wish we didn’t stay two nights in Krabi, especially without a motorbike. There were several things we didn’t get to do including Tiger Temple and a really cool hike. See the website in the “More” section if you are interested in details on these activities.
  • Tonsai – Expensive water. We learned later not to buy it in the 1.5 liter containers, but instead buy the 6 liter containers to save money. Our you could just bring a bunch with you from Krabi. Next time!

More

  • Krabi – We found this website for visiting Krabi. It’s a great resource if you’re planning a visit!
  • Tonsai – We experienced what seemed to be a monsoon-ish night in Tonsai. It poured (POURED, no exaggeration) rain for 2-3 hours at night. I have never seen so much rain
  • TonsaiThere is supposed to be a cool hike to a look out point and a lagoon in Railay beach, but we couldn’t find it. Another guy on our rock climbing tour was raving about it. We were bummed about this, so let us know what we missed if you know about it!

Pictures

 

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Smoothie stand with cups full of options!

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Serious crazy eyes for coconut ice cream.

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Sam’s adorable barber shop lady.

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Coffee at May & Mark’s Restaurant.

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Railay Beach.. very early, when the tide is still out.

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Chill Out coffee shop – home of delicious Chai.

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Chill Out Bar & Bungalow – inside the mosquito net.

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Railay Beach.

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Wise words in the form of Tonsai graffiti.

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7 comments

  1. Michelle Anderson · · Reply

    Life goals. Deep water soloing. WOW!!!!

    Like

    1. It was amazing! Come out and see us and we will go again. 🙂

      Like

  2. Now I REALLY want to go to Thailand!

    Like

    1. I like the way you think

      Like

  3. Who did that video editing? It was superb. Really A+ stuff in there.

    It all looks so exciting, thanks for taking us along! Especially diving and spelunking in the warm waters, man. Did I just come back from Macedonia, cause now I want to be travelling again. This is your guys’ fault.

    Like

  4. We will take responsibility! Come have fun with us!!!

    We heard that you are about to have some life changes of your own.. congrats on the new career path! Super exciting.

    Also, Sam takes credit for the video editing. Danielle barely touches the GoPro. =)

    Like

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