Krabi (กระบี่) is one of the southern provinces (changwat) of Thailand, at the shore of the Andaman Sea.
Neighboring provinces are (from north clockwise) Phang Nga, Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat and Trang. The Phuket province to the west is also neighboring, but without any land boundary. The capital of the region is the city of Krabi.
The province of coal mines, Fossil shell beach, towering mountains, beautiful streams, an abundance of islands, palm plantations, sandy beaches, wonderful sea world, Emerald of Andaman, and heavenly Phi Phi Islands.
The province is located at the shore to the Andaman Sea. Most notable are the solitary limestone
hills, both on the land and in the sea as islands
. Rock climbers from all over the world travel to Railay Beach
to climb. Of about 130 islands belonging to the province, Ko Phi Phi Lee
is perhaps the most famous, as it was the set of the movie The Beach
. The coast of the province was badly damaged by the tsunami on December 26 2004
Other islands include: Ko Phi Phi Don, part of the Phi Phi Islands, and Ko Lanta, a larger island to the south.
The limestone hills contain many caves, most having beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. Tham Chao Le and Tham Phi Hua To, both in Ao Luek district, contain prehistoric rock-painting depicting humans, animals as well as geometrical shapes. In Lang Rong Rien cave in 1986 archaeologists found 40,000 year old human artifacts - stone tools, pottery as well as bones. It is one of the oldest traces of human occupation in all South-East Asia. The caves of Krabi are also one of the main sources of nests of the Edible-nest Swiftlet, used to create bird's nest soup.
The first human remains in the province date back to 25,000 - 35,000 B.C., but the first recorded history dates back to Kingdom of Ligor
, when the city Ban Thai Samor was part of this kingdom. In modern Thailand, Krabi was administered from Nakhon Si Thammarat, even after 1872
when king Chulalongkorn
gave Krabi the status of a town. In 1875
it was made a direct subordinate of Bangkok, thus becoming what is now a province. In 1900 the governor moved the center of the province from Ban Talad Kao to its present location at the mouth of the Krabi river.
It is believed that this town may have taken its name after the meaning of Krabi, which means sword. This may have stemmed from a legend that an ancient sword was unearthed prior to the city’s founding.
||The seal of the province shows two crossed ancient swords (Krabi is also the name of an ancient Siamese sword) in front of the Indian Ocean and the Phanom Bencha mountain, with 1397 m above sea level the highest mountain of the province. The provincial tree is the Thung-Fa (Thai: ทุ้งฟ้า) or Alstonia macrophylla.
Krabi is subdivided into 8 districts (Amphoe), which are further divided into 53 communes (tambon) and 374 villages (muban).
Krabi International Airport (KBV) This recently opened airport is about 10 km from the city limits and operates regular flights to many foreign destinations. Thailand's only Seaplane service also routinely flies in and out of Krabi’s islands and Ao Nang Beach to numerous destinations.
Krabi doesn’t have a train station. The nearest one from Krabi is in Trang just south of Krabi.
There are both non air-conditioned and air-conditioned buses to Bangkok and other southern provinces. There are also non air-condition inter-provincial buses.
There are five major highways linking Krabi’s districts and neighbouring provinces.
There are frequent ferry boats to Ko Phi Phi, Ko Jum and Ko Lanta. These usually carry passengers as well as vehicles across the sides.
There are numerous companies on the island offering boat services around the islands and for those going diving.
Songthaew (public passenger pick-up vehicles)
The public passenger pick-up vehicles, also called Songthaew, are very common in Krabi. People usually use this facility cover their distances within the province.
- Hat Noppharat Thara – Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park (อุทยานแห่งชาติหาดนพรัตน์ธารา – หมู่เกาะพีพี) Covering the areas of Tambon Nong Thale, Tambon Sai Thai, Tambon Ao Nang and Tambon Pak Nam, Amphoe Mueang, Hat Noppharat Thara – Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park has an area of 242,437 rai in which 200,849 rai is water. There are 3 distinctive kinds of forest here: moist evergreen forests, mangrove forests and peat swamp forests.
- Mu Ko Phi Phi (หมู่เกาะพีพี) Located 42 kilometres from the provincial town of Krabi, Mu Ko Phi Phi (Phi Phi Islands) are an archipelago, formerly called Pulao Piah Pi. The surrounding sea is home to a variety of underwater anemones, coral reefs, and colourful marine life. The area is also a popular destination for snorkelling. Attractions of Mu Ko Phi Phi:
- Ko Phi Phi Don (เกาะพีพีดอน)Ko Phi Phi Don (Phi Phi Don Island) covers an area of 28 square km. Popular attractions are the twin bays with curving beaches of Ao Ton Sai and Ao Lo Da Lam.
- Ko Phi Phi Le (เกาะพีพีเล) Covering an area of only 6.6 square kilometres, Phi Phi Le Island is surrounded by limestone mountains and sheer cliffs plunging hundreds of metres to the sea. The sea is 20 meters deep and the deepest point in the south of the island is around 34 meters. Ko Phi Phi Le has bays such as Ao Pi Le, Ao Maya, and Ao Lo Sa Ma. In the north-east of the island is a large cave called Tham Viking.
- Hat Noppharat Thara (หาดนพรัตน์ธารา) Situated 17 km from the provincial town of Krabi, Hat Noppharat Thara (Noppharat Thara Beach) is a 3-km long sandy beach lined with dense casuarinas. The beach, paved with tiny seashells, was formerly called Hat Khlong Haeng. The area is a long beach and stretches all the way to the island of Ko Khao Pak Khlong.
- Su-san Hoi (Shell Cemetery) (สุสานหอย) Once a large freshwater swamp, the habitat of diverse mollusks of about 2 cm in size, Su-san Hoi features a slab formed from a huge number of embedded various types of mollusks which can be dated to approximately 40 million years ago. With changes on the surface of the earth, seawater flooded the freshwater swamp and the limestone elements in the seawater enveloped the submerged mollusks resulting in a homogenous layer of fossilized mollusk shells forty centimetres thick known as Shelley Limestone. With geographical upheavals, the limestone layer is now distributed in great broken sheets of impressive magnitude on the seashore.
- Ao Nang (อ่าวนาง) Ao Nang Beach, is Krabi's most developed beach. Fringed by palms, the long beach is backed by a wide range of accommodation including resorts, bungalows and guesthouses. There are more than 83 offshore islands, which some of them are shaped like a boot, junk, or parrot’s head. Ko Poda, Ko Mo and Ko Thap are popular destinations among tourists for their beaches and coral reefs. They are popular islands for diving and snorkelling.
- Hat Rai Le (Rai Le Beach) There are in fact two beaches at Hat Rai Le which are surrounded from both sides by towering limestone cliffs, making the area isolated from the mainland – only accessible by boat. Hat Rai Le is a recently found popular ‘hippy’ hang-out. Pra Nang Beach (Princess Cave Beach) next door to Rai Le is an area with limestone scenery, which dominates the entire region offering a fascinating network of cave systems, both inland and along the coastline. Phra Nang Beach (Princess Cave Beach) is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and so many Hollywood movies have been shot there.
- Thale Waek or Separated Sea (ทะเลแหวก) During the lowest tide of the day, the sea is gradually separated by the white sand and limestone beach that will appear to connect two islands. From being the site of a meditation centre, it is also a place of archaeological interest, dating from the prehistoric into proto-historic times. Stone tools, potsherds, and unbaked clay votive tablets have been found.
- Than Bokkhorani National Park (อุทยานแห่งชาติธารโบกขรณี) The park covers an area of 121 square km. The landscape is dominated by a series of limestone mountains, evergreen forests, mangrove forests, and numerous islands. The main flora is evergreen forest, peat swamp forest, strand forest, and mangrove forest, as well as, various types of marine flora. Other attractions include: Than Bokkhorani (ธารโบกขรณี) which is home to various flowing streams and numerous pools of different cascades among a shady forested area and two caves Tham Lot and Tham Phi Hua To (ถ้ำลอดและถ้ำผีหัวโต)
- Namtok Ron Khlong Thom (น้ำตกร้อนคลองท่อม) This area is full of hot springs in a shady forest. The temperature is not too hot at 40-50 degrees Celsius. The hot springs and cool streams converge on a slope to form lovely cascades with warm water.
- Khao Pra - Bang Khram Wildlife Sanctuary (เขตรักษาพันธุ์สัตว์ป่าเขาประ - บางคราม) This is located at Tambon Khlong Thom Nuea. Comprising lowland forest, this area features the Emerald Pool or Sa Morakot, which are 3 hot springs with a temperature of 30 - 50 degrees Celsius. The forest is home to numerous flora and rare birds like Gurney's Pitta, Rufous-collared Kingfisher, and Black Hornbill. There is also a 2.7-km nature trail known as the Tina Jollife (Thung Tiao) Trail, named after an English activist wanting to conserve this batch of rainforest.
- Mu Ko Lanta National Park (อุทยานแห่งชาติหมู่เกาะลันตา) Covering a total area of 152 square kilometres, Mu Ko Lanta National Park is located in Amphoe Ko Lanta and consists of many islands. Some major islands are Ko Lanta Yai, Ko Lanta Noi, Ko Taleng Beng, as well as, other surrounding islands like Mu Ko Ha, Mu Ko Rok, and Ko Ngai.
- Pa Phru Tha Pom Khlong Song Nam Pa Phru or peat swamp forest of the canal of Tha Pom features a number of water sources, which originate from the Chong Phra Kaeo pool. Tha Pom is called Khlong Song Nam by the locals, which in Thai literally means "two water canal", because of its special feature location where crystal clear freshwater, which the pool’s floor and the roots of Lumphi palm (Eleiodoxa conferta) are virtually visible, meets seawater from the mangrove forest. Tha Pom features a natural trail made of lath.
Apart from its natural attractions, Krabi is also a popular place for canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing, and abseiling. Famous spots for canoeing and kayaking include Ko Hong, Ko Karot, Ko Phak Bia, Ko Ku Du, and Tha Len, while Tham Phra Nang and Hat Rai Le have attracted many climbers. Abseiling has currently become another popular sport in Krabi.
Located 35 kilometres from the provincial town, Ban Tha Len, abounds with mangrove forests and ghost crabs. Tham Khangkhao or the bat cave has impressive stalactites and stalagmites. There is a panoramic view of Krabi’s sea, offshore islands, and mangrove forests are visible.
- Rock Climbing in Krabi has grown very popular over recent years.
Krabi’s clear waters have made these activities very popular.
- Sea Kayaking With a coastline composed of mangroves, limestone, small coves, caves and islands, and an interior with rivers lined with cave systems, Krabi provides a popular environment for kayaking.
- Bird Watching There are many hard-to-find birds such as: Gurneys, Finfoots, Bigwinged Brown Kingfishers, Egrets, Bitterns and Herons etc.
- Sailing & Cruising Krabi has plenty of anchorages but usually deserted.
- Fishing Fishers catch the likes of marlin, sailfish barracuda and tuna.
- Jungle Trekking Krabi’s forests with attractive flora and fauna are popular for trekking. The Khao Phanom Bencha National Park and the Khao Pra-Bang Khram are regarded as the two of the favorites among trekkers.
- Golf Krabi has only one 18-hole golf course.
- Spa There are plenty of spas located in the major hotels and resorts. The treatment normally includes both traditional remedies and modern techniques.
- Thai Massage Traditional Thai massage, characterized by its holistic approach to health is aimed at enhancing not only one’s physical and emotional state but also to allow one to grow spiritually. Massage parlors can be found at all major hotels and outside at private enterprises.
- Diving & Snorkeling Diving in Krabi is one of the favorite pastimes of tourists because the waters are home to the likes of friendly leopard and whale sharks, turtles, moray eels and dolphins.
Shopping / Souvenirs
Souvenirs of Krabi include turtle-dove cages, Toei Panan mats made from pandanus plants, shrimp paste, dried fish, and dried shrimp.
Most of the goods sold to tourists in Krabi are just the same as what is found in Bangkok, such as: Thai silk scarves, carved wooden objects, silver jewellery, sarongs, leather goods etc.
Krabi’s touristic areas have all the usual types of foreign-orientated beer bars. The provincial town is home to, again, the same type of Tha-style entertainment which can be found all over Thailand. That is: karaoke lounges, live music venues and discotheques.
Krabi is a meling pot of Buddhists, Thai-Chinese, Muslims and even sea gypsies. The majority of the population in the rural areas is Muslim. Krabi however, does not suffer from any religious tension and the folk live in peace and harmony. Outside of the provincial town, the rural folk speak with a thick Southern dialect which is difficult for even other Thais to understand.
With this kind of mixture, Krabi is always celebrating something be it part ofThai Buddhist, Thai-Chinese or Thai-Islamic tradition. Visitors can also enjoy the annual boat-launching ceremonies of the sea gypsies and various long-tail boat races.
Krabi is an agriculturally rich province, rich in rubber, palm, oil, and oranges.
Events and Festivals
- Krabi Boek Fa Andaman Festival (งานกระบี่เบิกฟ้าอันดามัน) This is annually held in November to inaugurate the province’s tourist season. Water sports competitions, cultural shows, and good-natured fun are the schedule.
- Laanta Lanta Festival (เทศกาลลานตา ลันตา) The festival is usually held in March every year at the Old Community in Ko Lanta called Lanta Old Town, which has a very old history of more than 100 years. Ancient Chinese style houses can still be seen here. In this festival, tourists can see the traditional culture, previously unseen ceremonial demonstrations, Southern local performances, folk games, water sports competitions and enjoy the tastes from various kinds of food booths which are provided by prestigious hotels on the island.
- Sat Duean Sip Festival or Festival of the Tenth Lunar Month (งานประเพณีสารทเดือนสิบ) This is the southern traditional merit making occasion to honour one's ancestors. Food offerings such as Khanom La, Khanom Chohu, Khanom Phong, Khanom Ba, and Khanom Kong or Khai Pla, are made offer to Buddhist monks.
- Chak Phra Festival (งานประเพณีชักพระ) The original waterborne procession, where Buddha images are put on elaborately decorated pulpits on boats are pulled along on the river, has been replaced by a land procession. The festival was formerly accompanied with a performance of traditional boat songs. However, the traditional waterborne songs have since disappeared.
- Loi Ruea Chao Le Festival (ประเพณีลอยเรือชาวเล) This old ritualistic tradition takes place on Ko Lanta during the full moon of the sixth and eleventh month in the lunar calendar. This is a religious rite performed by the sea gypsies of Ko Lanta, as well as, from other neighbouring areas, who gather on the beach near Sala Dan Village. They dance their famous "rong ngeng" round the boats of misfortune to be set adrift. Ceremonies feature singing and dancing. This festival is expected to bring prosperity and happiness to the participants.
Like Pa (ลิเกป่า)
An adapted play, Like Pa follows the adventures of an Indian merchant from Calcutta who married a local girl named Yayi. The story is then followed by other plays. Like Pa is accompanied by the music of folk instruments such as various kinds of drums, cymbals, and gongs. The lyrics are a mixture of the traditional Manora and Buranyawa songs. With its long history of popularity in Krabi, Like Pa performers are abundant here. It is believed that the play originated in this province. Many companies are still performing this dramatic art such as Mr. Truek Plodrit who won a cultural award.
Shadow Plays (หนังตะลุง)
This is an Indian influence. There are many shadow play or nang talung companies in Krabi.
The performance is native to southern Thailand, which truly reflects its traditional culture.
Rong Ngeng (รองเง็ง) and Phleng Tanyong (เพลงตันหยง)
A Malaysian adaptation, which is of Portuguese origin, rong ngeng is a traditional folk dance and music customarily performed in noble houses. It was later performed by the locals with Thai lyrics called phleng tanyong.
Even though it is Malay in origin, the art of batik has embedded itself within the local culture.
Traditional Cuisine / Food
In general, Southern Thai food is renowned for its spiciness. Much of the cuisine has its origins in Malay, Indonesian and Indian food. Favourite dishes from the south include Indian-style Muslim curry (massaman), rice noodles in fish curry sauce (Khanom Jeen) and chicken birayani.
As for Krabi, seafood is obviously what most tourists long for when visiting a coastal province like Krabi. In this connection, the wing shell (หอยชักตีน) is Krabi’s famous cuisine. In addition, stirred fried Spotted Babylon (หอยหวาน) is found in mangrove forests with chilies and basil; it is also famous.
Many foreign tourists regard Krabi Town as having one of the best food Night Markets in Thailand.
Medical Health Care
There are three main hospitals in Krabi: Krabi Hospital, Koh Lanta Hospital and Ao Lak Hospital. Besides those, there are plenty of clinics and pharmacies scattered all over the place.
There are currently more than 1,000 foreigners living in Krabi, many of them retirees. A favourite spot for them is Ao Nang Beach.
Nationwide television, cable TVs, local cable TV channels are available in Krabi province especially in tourist spots. International newspapers and magazines are available at some bookstores in downtown and tourist spots.
Landline telephones, satellite phones, all mobile phone systems, high-speed internet (ADSL), post offices and parcel services are available in Krabi province.