Ao Nang and its Railay Beach need no introduction. The giant stalagmite-shaped limestone cliffs that pierce the sky like skyscrapers fascinate rock climbers and beach lovers alike, and there’s scarcely a person who’s been to Thailand that hasn’t heard of the famous peninsula.
Divers also get their money’s worth at dive sites off the nearby islands, and Krabi with its Thung Teao Forest Natural Park and rich-tinted Emerald Pool is an area of outstanding natural beauty. In a nutshell, it’s a place you don’t want to miss.
Since the tour operator Krabi Taxi offered to choose any hotel as a pickup location from Ao Nang, I thought to myself, why not collect me from Thalane Pier instead? Lo and behold, they didn’t have a problem with that, and I was good to go.
Finding my taxi driver
I was pleased with Krabi Taxi’s goodwill. They saved me the astronomical cost of 450 baht for a gas-scented Songthaew ride from Thalane Pier to Ao Nang – almost double the price of a minivan ride from Ao Nang to Krabi. And to put things into perspective, a taxi ride from Thalane Pier to Ao Nang costs an even 800 baht, according to an ad I spotted near the jetty.
The longtail boat from the island I’d just visited moored at Thalane Pier at 1:15 pm and let us five farangs get off the rickety cockleshell – the only travelers in sight. A little early, I figured, because my cab was scheduled for 2 pm.
Sitting down on a bench in the shade, avoiding the scorching midday heat, I was wondering whether I still had enough time to eat some super spicy but scrumptious rice with beef, pea eggplant, cucumber and tons of chili sauce. This flaming dragon meal that I had on a previous trip apparently stuck in my mind.
The street vendor right there at the pier is definitely worth checking out if your taste buds aren’t too sensitive. As an alternative, you can also stock up on crisps and other snacks, but I only saw one vendor when I was traveling in August, 2020.
As luck would have it, my driver was already there. This is because I’d called and was pleased to find I didn’t have to wait at the pier for 45 minutes. Looking around, I was surprised to see a guy approaching me with a name tag. I nodded, and was like, “Yes, that’s me.”
I didn’t mind that this darkly-tanned guy had turned up in a minivan rather than a car, because this was a private ride. He slid the side door open, but then said, “Show booking.” Fair enough, I thought to myself, never hurts to play it safe. Considering that the other four farangs had already left and the next boat was scheduled to arrive 15 minutes after the agreed pickup time, there was a high risk this was somebody else’s name.
I showed him my voucher, got in the van, and was spoiled for choice. There were nine comfy pleather seats, and all mine.
Enjoying the short ride
The chauffeur turned the ignition at 1:30 pm and drove off, heading for Krabi bus station instead of Krabi airport, the “official” drop-off location according to my voucher.
While I could pre-select Thalane Pier during the booking process, Krabi bus station was not an option when choosing the drop-off point. However, there was a comment field, so I’d told Krabi Taxi about it in advance of my trip, and they were okay with my preference.
Going to Krabi airport might not always be your best option depending on your next destination and how you’re traveling. Taxi and motorcycle taxi rides from the airport will not be free, obviously, so planning ahead might save you a few bucks or baht.
Ao Nang’s paved roads ran along towering karst peaks so huge it was awe-inspiring. Other sights were coconut and rubber tree plantations that provided a glimpse of local life. Occasionally, Thai people with their kids between themselves and the handlebars passed by on motorbikes, radiating poise. They were the epitome of the Krabi region’s laid-back feel.
Looking out the window, listening to relaxing Thai tunes, I enjoyed the private minivan ride and decent legroom. The AC was working well throughout the journey, making me feel at ease, and before I knew it, I arrived at Krabi bus station after a smooth 35-minute ride.
The driver let me get off the bus, slid the side door shut, pointed at the check-in desk for my connecting ride to Surat Thani, and I was good to go.