Ao Nang is a popular beach town located in the Krabi Province. The main beach itself might not be everyone’s favorite but it’s the perfect base to explore some of the best beaches in Thailand famous for their jagged karst cliffs and calm turquoise waters. This on its own should be enough reason to visit, plus getting to Ao Nang from Koh Phi Phi, Phuket or Koh Lanta is pretty straightforward with ferries, buses and minivans available daily. So, get ready for a list of the absolute best beaches in Ao Nang!
There’s no doubt that Railay beach will always earn the number one spot on every list of Thailand’s most beautiful beaches. With limestone cliffs jutting from the ground, powdery white sand and crystal-clear water, Railay feels like paradise on earth.
The west side of Railay is more popular since this is where you’ll find the picture-perfect backdrop of the limestone cliffs that the Krabi beaches are famous for. It’s also the perfect spot for a dip in the ocean and you can rent kayaks or snorkeling equipment here as well. Make sure to head there in the evening for an epic sundowner best enjoyed from the beach bars or restaurants.
Railay East, on the other hand, isn’t ideal for swimming due to mangrove swamps but it’s quite popular among rock climbers. You can also hike up to the viewpoint for stunning views of both the east and west coasts or explore the princess lagoon.
Ao Nang Beach
Boasting a selection of hotels, bars and restaurants, Ao Nang Beach is one of the most accessible beaches in the area and a great spot to enjoy the sunset. Buses and taxis operate several times a day from Krabi to Ao Nang beach, so it’s the perfect place to base yourself.
The beach spans nearly 1 km in length and is dotted with longtail boats as it’s the main departure point for island hopping around Krabi. The main beach area can feel a bit crowded and loud due to the constant boat traffic, so I recommend heading over to the eastern end if you’re looking for an empty strip of sand. The beach here is much nicer and you can grab something to eat from the neighboring restaurants or food stalls and enjoy your meal directly on the beach.
And if you happen to be staying at Ao Nang Beach Cliff Resort, you can enjoy a panoramic view of Ao Nang beach and the neighboring islands from the comfort of the hotel’s infinity pool.
Pai Plong Beach
Located next to Ao Nang beach, Pai Plong is somewhat of a hidden gem that does require some effort to get to. Tucked behind a huge limestone cliff, Pai Plong beach offers the luxury of a private beach without the price tag. Despite being owned by Centara Beach Resort, it’s possible to visit for free. You’ll only be required to sign in with the hotel security before getting in.
The beach is lined with rows of palm trees and boasts a stunning backdrop of karts cliffs with plenty of shade to relax. The setting is pure bliss with powdery sand and almost crystal-clear water. Just remember to bring your own food and drinks as only guests are allowed to eat at the hotel restaurant.
Pai Plong can be reached by longtail boat (100 baht/US $2.99), walking along the shore from Ao Nang beach during low tide or by hiking the Monkey Trail. The 10-minute hike along the Monkey Trail takes you through the jungle with incredible views over the bay. You might also encounter some monkeys along the way, so watch out for them.
Phra Nang Beach
Coming at a very close second after Railay, Phra Nang beach is also rated as one of the best beaches in Thailand. It has a bit of everything – fine white sand, turquoise water, beach caves, viewpoints and lots of activities to choose from, including rock climbing and kayaking. Most people visit Phra Nang as part of a 4-island tour or as a day trip from Ao Nang (100 baht/US $2.99 for a one-way boat ride).
The most popular albeit unusual attraction at Phra Nang is definitely the Princess Cave which is full of wooden phallic shrines. It’s located right next to the rock climbing section and usually attracts a handful of curious onlookers. During low tide you can also access other cave formations located beside the shrine.
The beach is lined with longtail boats which also serve as food stalls where you can get cheap Thai food. Enjoy your day by swimming in the crystal clear water or getting a massage on the beach. You can also kayak to the small limestone formations scattered around the ocean or climb up to the viewpoint located on the west end of the beach.
The Railay Peninsula is very popular among travelers and thus more expensive compared to Ao Nang. So if you’re on a budget and looking for chill vibes, make sure to visit Tonsai. The beach is less developed than Railay but still boasts equally stunning views. Here you’ll find rock climbers conquering the limestone cliffs or backpackers enjoying a drink at the reggae bars. Since this part of Krabi is more budget-friendly, you’ll be able to find cheaper accommodations here.
Again, you’ll need to charter a longtail boat to get there. Alternatively, you can walk to Tonsai during low tide from the west end of Railay beach or hike for 30 minutes along the jungle trail that connects Tonsai to Railay East.
Nopparat Thara Beach
Nopparat Thara is one of the longest beaches in Ao Nang and a popular picnic spot among locals. The tall trees that line the beach offer plenty of shade with lots of seating spots to relax and enjoy the view. You can also visit the night markets located nearby for some street food.
In all honesty, it’s not the best beach to swim in due to the murky waters but it’s still one of my favorite places to go during sunset since it’s not too crowded. You can even walk to the neighboring islets of Koh Liao and Koh Khao Sam Nuai when the tide is low. So there you go, these are some of the best beaches in Ao Nang. I hope this guide will come in handy when you’ll be planning for your next trip to Thailand!