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Did Leonardo Di Caprio’s film The Beach, make Krabi famous? Or was it the other way round? Travel to this dramatic holiday paradise in Thailand, and you’ll be awestruck by its beauty—and the surreal feeling that you’re in an adventure movie too.
Enormous limestone rocks rising majestically on the Andaman Sea in various shades of blue-green are Krabi’s most unique feature. Krabi and its islands are tourist-magnets for beach-bums, but for those not naturally inclined towards the sea, there’s plenty to do inland. November to March is considered the best season to visit, but as we discovered during a visit this year during a hot and humid April, the concept of an off-season probably doesn’t exist. This holiday town was still an ocean – of tourists that is. But when the sea turns rocky – literally, as the tide recedes – you wouldn’t want to bruise yourself. The number of non-sea activities – a selection of those listed below – will leave you spoilt for choice. The sound of Guns N Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle” should get you going.
Roar away on your ATV
Never ridden a normal bike before? Hop on! You don’t even have to know how to ride a cycle to master the All Terrain Vehicle (ATV). Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of these 4-wheeled bikes in minutes, and the roar of the engine is enough to keep your adrenalin pumping as you tackle slopes, puddles, plantations, rocky paths, narrow bends and sudden dips, simulating a motocross racetrack. A short ride down a tarred road serves as your “practise”, before setting out for the real deal. Midway, your guide might stop you for instructions on handling complicated slopes. You can choose your duration (30 minutes/one hour), but even 60 minutes on these machines doesn’t feel like enough. The bumpier, the merrier – a motorcade through the jungle is a unique photo-opp.
River-rafting races and tree-swings, like Tarzan!
Yes, it’s hard to stay off the water in Krabi, even in the interiors, but be prepared for a generous splash or ten as you ride the rapids. Expert guides are around to steer the boat, and while you have the option of paddling, it’s better to hold tight at the handles or risk capsizing! The speed rush, the screams, the playful intimidation by the guides, and the chances of multiple collisions with other boats all combine to keep your heart racing. And the boat “traffic jams” are a fitting salute to the kind of congestion this place is known for. Minus the pollution, of course.
Another activity often combined with rafting is the “zipline”. This thrill-seeking adventure lets you zip from treetop to treetop by a horizontal steel zip line, with a seat harness to support you. The freefall below might be intimidating, so unlike scuba or snorkelling, you would be advised to not look down.
Go bananas over an elephant ride
Time to give speed a break and settle for something more leisurely. Feel like royalty as you trek through the jungle atop an elephant. For variety, you may even be led through a river. Tipping with bananas after the ride will please your elephant friend. You might even get the chance to bathe the gentle giant. Your enthusiastic “mahout” will offer to take your picture (keep that selfie stick away) while you’re perched high on the jungle “observation deck”. Don’t be surprised if your guide breaks into song midway through the journey, with his mobile phone providing the background score.
Plunge into pools of hot springs
Forget the hotel jacuzzi for something more “natural”. A trek inside the jungle will lead you to picture-postcard “emerald” pools filled with spring water. Dip into the hot springs and take advantage of its healing properties, as its mineral salts are said to cure many ailments. The sight of cascading mini-waterfalls makes plunging in irresistible.
Get a dose of local culture
For the culturally-inclined, the new Illumanorah sound and lights dance performance showcases Thailand’s history and culture. The elaborate sets, props, costumes and occasional pyrotechnics leave many in the audience mesmerised, and you get to meet the performers as well after the show.
Binge at the weekend night-market
Bargains- and extra bags to put them in! You’re sure to return home with plenty after a visit to this shopper’s paradise. If you happen to be in Krabi over the weekend, head to the flea market in town, known as “walking street”. If the hotel food’s getting too predictable, then indulge in the best street food Krabi has to offer. The Thais’ skill in artistic presentation makes their famed local cuisine even more irresistible— particularly for vegetarians. Street artists and singers make up the entertainment while you dig in, and browse the stalls…(perhaps time to buy that extra bag).
Want to explore more of Krabi and Thailand for yourself? Well, what are you waiting for? Here’s your pinhole view of what Thailand has to offer!