Ao Nang and its Railay Beach are well-known for giant limestone cliffs that pierce the sky like skyscrapers – a paradise for rock climbers and beach lovers alike.
Only a short distance away is Krabi’s Dragon Crest Mountain, a haven of tranquility where hikers can enjoy mind-blowing views, and divers get their money’s worth at dive sites off the nearby islands.
In a nutshell, it’s an area of outstanding natural beauty that I didn’t want to miss. Continuing my travels after visiting Surat Thani, the gateway city to Thailand’s popular islands of Koh Phangan, Koh Samui and Koh Tao, I booked a trip online in a few clicks.
I wasn’t flying from Surat Thani to Krabi, but since the confirmed pick-up location for the private taxi ride was Krabi’s airport, I started my Bookaway journey from Krabi to Ao Nang there.
Getting to the airport
I guess it would’ve been child’s play to jump onboard a songthaew at Krabi’s bus station and use this shared taxi pick-up truck to get to the airport in the cheapest possible way. But another tour operator’s driver had other plans and dropped me off in the middle of nowhere rather than where the minibus ride from Surat Thani to Krabi should’ve ended.
Never mind, there was some friendly motorcycle taxi driver who was adamant about charging 150 baht ($4.80) and not one baht less. For Americans or Europeans, this might be a ridiculously low price, but don’t forget that we shouldn’t drive up prices. Wherever I was, 150 baht was just not how much a quick 8 km-ride to Krabi’s airport costs.“”
“Mai dai ((that price is) not okay),” I said, and took my leave.
Walking away, I was sure I’d find a cheaper ride somewhere, but there weren’t any songthaews in sight, and neither were taxis for that matter. A moment later, another motorcycle taxi driver who hadn’t been waiting at the drop-off location pulled up.
“Where you go?” he asked.
“To the airport.”
He was sizing me up, thought for a moment, and as though sensing I’d ditched the previous guy, he said, “120.”
I tried to haggle and offered 100, but he didn’t budge. He explained a cabbie would charge me 300 baht, and the way this dreadlocked personable Rastafari Thai said it convinced me he was telling the truth.
I arrived at the airport just a few minutes later at 5:45 pm and wasn’t really surprised there were barely more than a handful of tourists.
Finding my taxi driver
It was early August, and Thailand’s borders were still closed. The lack of travelers, coupled with the sound of heeled shoes clacking down the airport hall lent the place a spooky atmosphere.
There weren’t any announcements, no jabbering, just that tongue-clicking sound of heels plus the moaning of a bored ventilation system blowing fresh air into the waiting area. Most cafes and shops were closed. Only two snack shops and two taxi desks offering rides to Krabi town were open.
I’d arrived at the airport way too early; the scheduled pick-up time was 8 pm. Since loitering at the designated waiting area with some 60 seats for two hours didn’t appeal to me very much, I tried my luck and gave the tour operator “Krabi Airport Shuttle” a buzz.
“Please, could you collect me already now? I’m at Terminal 2 at the meeting point, the red line.”
The guy at the other end of the line spoke good English and was friendly. He said to me, “Let me check. I’ll call you back in five minutes.” Ten minutes later, a woman rang back and said a taxi driver would pick me up in twenty minutes.
Precisely twenty minutes later, another guy called and told me to wait outside as the driver would arrive in a jiffy.
Enjoying the short ride from Krabi to Ao Nang
That was true. Just a moment later, I met my taxi driver, who had turned up in his minibus in place of a car. The darkly-tanned guy asked me to show the voucher, slid the door open and let me get in, pointing at the sanitizer.
I enjoyed the legroom and also liked that the air conditioning was working well. This was going to be a convenient ride.
The affable guy didn’t turn on the radio and preferred to have a chat.
He also confided to me that he had six minivans but was only using one currently.
Talking to him seemed like a good thing to do because it was getting dark in the blink of an eye. Once we’d passed a few street markets and some towering limestone monoliths, I could only dream of the karst peaks hiding like soaring rock domes on a desert night.
Time flew. After a smooth 40-minute ride, the guy dropped me off at the hotel I’d chosen while making the booking, and offered to carry my bags to the reception. I tipped him and wished him well.
Then, I repaired to my room and collapsed into bed. Tired as I was, safe in the knowledge that Ao Nang and the surrounding region is a dreamland, I went out like a light.