Located on the southwestern edge of Thailand’s popular Krabi district, Ao Nang is one of the most visited towns in the region, attracting thousands of tourists all year round. Ao Nang first picked up momentum as a getaway destination for the backpacking community, but over time, it has become a hub for big tourist groups. Not that there’s any harm in that, but it does mean that Ao Nang has become more and more crowded in the past few years.
Having said that, this is absolutely no reason to get discouraged from visiting Ao Nang. Even if you don’t want to spend too much time here, this vibrant little town makes for a great starting point to explore some stunning destinations in the surrounding areas. From exotic islands in the Andaman Sea to lush rain forests of Southern Thailand, Ao Nang is the perfect base for seeing and experiencing more of what the country offers.
Here are five of our favorite places to visit from Ao Nang that can be reached in less than three hours without having to take a single flight!
Lying right across the Andaman Sea to the west of Ao Nang is one of the most popular destinations in Thailand – Phuket. The largest island in Thailand, Phuket is known for its stunning landscape and for offering plenty of opportunities to indulge in Thailand’s food and shopping, outside of Bangkok.
Most Thailand travel itineraries call for flying into Phuket from Bangkok. However, we think that traveling from Ao Nang to Phuket is definitely one of the most convenient ways to get there. Transportation options on this route are plenty – ferry, bus, minivan and car, out of which, the ferry and the bus are the most economical. Additionally, the ferry from Ao Nang to Phuket also happens to be the fastest way to travel between the two places, taking 1.5 to 2.5 hours only, while the bus takes the longest, about 4 hours.
The only downside of taking the bus or the ferry is that they may be crowded by virtue of being popular modes of public transportation here. If you are looking for a more private and comfortable experience, hiring a car or a minivan may be better. This will also give you the flexibility of being picked up from and dropped off directly to your hotel.
Those looking for a more off-beat island getaway, here’s your chance. Koh Lanta, lying further down south from Ao Nang, is the quintessential exotic Thai island of our dreams! Laid back, remote and serene, Koh Lanta is unarguably one of our top spots to visit from Ao Nang.
The best (and the most scenic) way to travel from Ao Nang to Koh Lanta is by taking the tourist ferry that costs only USD 18 per person. In a little more than 2 hours, you cross the Andaman sea and reach Koh Lanta’s Saladan Pier. Another popular and related mode of transport on this route is a combination of the ferry and a bus ride. The only difference here is that, in addition to the ferry, your ticket also includes pick up from and drop off to your hotel by bus. The price is higher, but more convenience and seamless travel experience are what you pay for in this case.
Koh Phi Phi
Hands down one of the most popular islands of Thailand, Koh Phi Phi has only gained more popularity over the years courtesy of its appearance in movies and its unreal, seemingly untouched beauty. Typically visited as part of a trip to Phuket or Krabi, here’s the easiest way to travel to Koh Phi Phi from Ao Nang.
If you’re planning to take a trip to Koh Phi Phi, your only mode of transport to the island will be a ferry ride from Ao Nang. The ferry usually takes anywhere between 1.5 and 2 hours one way and makes for a delightful journey through the turquoise blue Andaman Sea.
There are 3 types of ferry that ply on this route – standard ferry, tourist ferry, and speed boat ferry. The tourist ferry is the cheapest out of the three, priced at USD 13 per person, and takes 2 hours to complete the journey. But given that the surroundings are beautiful, we don’t think you’ll mind spending a little extra time on commute!
Located in the south of Thailand, Khao Sok National Park has one of the most fascinating ecosystems in the country. With its dense rainforest cover, Khao Sok offers a great change of scenery from all the islands you may have been visiting, making it a perfect addition to your itinerary.
There are 3 ways to travel from Ao Nang to Khao Sok – by bus, car or minivan. Although super cheap, priced at only USD 18, the bus ride to Khao Sok National Park takes the longest, around 5 hours. Renting a private car or minivan would take you there much faster, in only 3 hours. The cost although is considerably steep – USD 102-109 for the entire vehicle. This would turn out economical if you’re traveling with family or a group of friends, especially in the case of a minivan since it can accommodate up to 9 people.
Koh Yao Yai
Here’s one more island on this list but we can assure you that each of the islands is unique and Koh Yao Yai stands out for being one of the most untouched islands you’ll visit in Thailand. It still retains its pristine beaches, dreamy palm plantations, and spectacular marine life that we seek in a getaway destination like this!
Although appearing last on our list, Koh Yao Yai is actually located the closest to Ao Nang, a mere 30-minute ferry ride away. This is also the only way to travel between the two places and costs USD 18 per person.
Our favorite places to visit from Ao Nang are ones that can double up as day trip destinations as well as overnight trip spots. We have purposely chosen destinations that can be reached in 3 hours from Ao Nang so you have the freedom to do a quick day trip if an overnight stay is not an option. Now that you know Ao Nang can be your gateway to so many places, plan your itinerary in a way that allows you to travel a little slow and delve a little deeper into the stunning southern part of Thailand.