Ao Nang is probably the first place that people landing in Krabi visit as it is by far the biggest tourist spot. It also caters for all budgets from backpacker hostels to five star hotels. Idyllic it certainly isn’t, for such a popular beach destination, Ao Nang beach leaves a lot to be desired. However there are a fleet of longtail boats available to shuttle you to nearby Railay beach which is spectacular and can only be reached by boat. Unfortunately the amount of longtails tells its own story, when you get there you will not be alone, unless you book one of the hotels on Railay and come out after the day tourists have long gone.
One thing about staying in Ao Nang is that everything is accessible, I think there maybe even more tourist offices than laundry’s. It also has a lovely sunset, best seen from The Hilltop Restaurant which is set atop the hill accessible just off Khlong Haeng Road but If you book they will pick up and drop off from your hotel.
Ao Nang has a lively atmosphere and enormous selection of food and drink and if you tire of the beach it makes a good base for hitting Krabi province’s inland attractions as well.
Unfortunately most of Ao Nang’s restaurants are made-for-tourists with pushy “hosts” who try to persuade you to come in for an all in one Indian/Italian/Thai. They seem to rotate with the pushy “hosts” at the tailor shops. However authentic Thai food can be found if you look mainly on the side streets off the main drag. There is also a selection of seafood restaurants at the western end of Ao Nang beach. There are also a few decent western food outlets.
There are countless bars most with happy hours and live music, just follow your ears. The most raucous nightlife is located in centre-point, just off the beach road that has live bands and DJ’s and is open till late. This is also where the ladyboy cabaret is situated, before the shows the performers hang out along the beach road dressed in their elaborate costumes.
Our favorite hotel is the Peace Laguna which is set down a small lane, and its cottages are dotted around a lagoon with great views of the towering limestone cliffs, you would never think you were only 200 metres from the hustle and bustle of the main drag.
So our overall assessment of Ao Nang is, if it is your first time in Krabi it makes a great base. Would we return year after year – not with Klong Muang Beach just up the coast.