Home ThailandAo Nang 16 of The Best Things to Do in Ao Nang, Thailand

16 of The Best Things to Do in Ao Nang, Thailand

by Krista
One of the best things to do in Ao Nang is take a long tail boat ride

One of the best things to do in Ao Nang is take a long tail boat ride

The Best Things to Do in Ao Nang, Thailand

If you’re anything like me, you’ve never heard of Ao Nang, Thailand. This small city is down the road from Krabi and serves as a jumping off point for sun seeking day trippers in Southern Thailand. I think people call the entire area Krabi after the airport. But when people saying they are heading to Krabi for a holiday, what they really mean is Ao Nang. Krabi is the city. Ao Nang has most of the boats. (Although you may need to go to Krabi pier for some of your tours.)

Honestly, I can’t really remember what made me book Ao Nang out of all the places in Southern Thailand, but it must have been something that said “cheap” and “fast WiFi.” I also think the fact that it’s got a Muslim population made me think, “Hmmm…probably not that many sexpats then. That’s good.” (Thailand has a sizable Muslim population in the south of the country, as you get get closer to Malaysia.)

I’m going to be honest here…After I arrived in Ao Nang, I wasn’t sure about my decision to stay here. Ao Nang is BUSY. It’s touristy. And my hotel was in the heart of all the busyness, located right off the main drag. But at something like $25 a night, the neat and tidy Whalecome Resort was a bargain. So I stayed. And because everyone at my hotel and in Ao Nang was just so gosh darn nice to me, I stayed some more. Even the tuk tuk drivers were amazingly chill and friendly and HELPFUL. I ended up really really liking Ao Nang. I’d go back in a heartbeat. Here’s what I got up to in town:

Spas in Ao Nang

One of the best things to do in Ao Nang is hit up one of the many spas and massage places. Get it all done while you are here! Massages, facials, scrubs, and manicures and pedicures are all very affordable. I didn’t think you could bargain but during many of my treatments, I saw a number of groups arrange group discounts, specifically. So don’t be afraid to ask! (Although for me, prices are so low, I feel really bad bargaining.)

Ruen Sukothai: I got a manicure, pedicure, facial and massage at this spa and found it to be friendly and clean. The guy that did my nails was amazingly friendly and even put me on the back of his motorbike one evening to take me to his favorite seafood place. (Krua Thara. See below.) The prices here were great and you can book via Facebook, which is handy. (They get very busy in the evenings.) My only complaint is that you don’t get an entirely private room for your treatments, presumably unless you ask. (It’s like a hospital bed situation with a curtain down the middle of the room.) So in the middle of my massage, they pulled a curtain closed and another tourist entered the room. (To be fair, it was pretty dark.) For the price though, it was hard to complain.

Thai Thai Massage at Golden Beach ResortDuring one morning walk, I found this massage place facing the beach and resolved to return later that evening. For a very bargain price of 200 Thai baht (September 2018 pricing), you can get a one-hour Thai massage while listening to the waves and the long boats as they make their way back and forth from Railay. I liked this place a lot and it was so cheap, I visited three times in total. It became a running joke between me and the staff, when they would see me out for my morning walk. “See you later!!” To find this place, go down to the Ao Nang beachfront where the big flight of stairs is to the beach. As you are facing the water. turn left and walk straight on the pedestrian-looking path. (There are still a few cars but I think it’s a “local traffic only” situation.) Keep walking until you see the BIG massage platform.

Exercising in Ao Nang

This might not be on the top of your list of things to do in Ao Nang but hey, exercise is always a good thing. Here are two suggestions for keeping fit on your holiday in Ao Nang:

Bull Muay Thai: I sorta fell in love with Muay Thai in Ao Nang. I found Bull Muay Thai online and organized a few private workouts. This is a bare bones boxing gym but sometimes, that’s all you need And for 500,000 baht per session (2018 prices), how could you not? This is an amazing workout. Note that if you take a tuk tuk to Bull Muay Thai, ask the driver to come back and get you because it can be very hard to get a tuk tuk back. (Or get the driver’s phone number so you can call or text them later..)

The Beachfront Path: Ao Nang’s waterfront is pretty walkable so I really recommend a sunrise or sunset walk either directly along the beach or on the promenade  right above the beach.

Restaurants in Ao Nang

You will not go hungry in Ao Nang, that’s for sure. There’s a ton of Thai food but a lot of Indian food and well, most cuisines that you can imagine. Exploring the food of Southern Thailand is, in my mind, one of the best things to do in Ao Nang.

Krua Thara: On one of my first nights in Ao Nang, the guy that did my nails at Ruen Sukothai put me on the back of his motorbike and drove me along the coast to Krua Thara. I was one of the only tourists in the place and enjoyed a load of delicious, fresh Thai oysters. (Served with slices of lime and all sorts of chilis.) If you’re up for a short ride, this is a great choice although it’s distinctly lacking in atmosphere. (Aluminum chairs, fish tanks.) Bonus: Krua Thara drove me  home??? For free?? There was a bit of a language barrier so no idea if this is normal or not but when I asked for a tuk tuk or taxi to go home, they put me in their SUV and drove me back to Ao Nang!

View from The Last Fisherman Ao Nang

The Last Fisherman: The place I ended up going to most often in Ao Nang was The Last Fisherman, which is right on the water on the end of the beach closer to the monkeys and Railay. I just really liked the kids that worked here and I liked the food a lot too. I had a great Thai omelette one night and a fantastic Massaman curry another night. They were also one of the few places I found that served wine a reasonable price and not in a thimble. I recommend heading here for sunset drinks. (Maybe get a massage from the massage place at the Golden Beach Resort I mention above first and then walk further south to Last Fisherman afterwards.)

Massaman: More than a few restaurant and bar managers recommended Massaman to me so I dropped in once and found the service so friendly and easygoing that I came back a second time. I really only had snacks here so I can’t comment on the full meal service but I felt very comfortable here.

Jenna’s Bistro: One day I just really wanted a salad. So I went to Jenna’s Bistro and had a great chicken Caesar and it was AWESOME. Honestly, it was so great. I was really happy here. Expensive but I needed a change from all Thai food, all the time.

Thailandia: I’m a sucker for atmosphere and this place looked great from the outside…all dark wood and foliage. Inside, the servers were in traditional dress and there was live guitar music. It was ALL tourists as opposed to Krua Thara which had a nice mix. Service at Thailandia was very formal and stiff. The food was okay. Nothing overly bad about it but afterwards, I sorta wished I had taken a motorbike ride along the coast back to Krua Thara.

Jose: This place was right down the hill from my hotel so I stopped in for a light dinner of chicken satay one night. It was nice to be up  a level, looking down on the street, but other than that…meh.

Cooking Class in Ao Nang

While we’re talking about food…whenever I am in Thailand, I can’t get enough of the food. So I love trying to make it myself. If you are like me, then I think one of the best things to do in Ao Nang is to take a cooking class. There are two schools that are located relatively close to downtown Ao Nang that are worth taking a look at. A bit further afield, there’s Krabi Thai Cookery School. And a little closer to Ao Nang, there’s Ao Nang Thai Cookery School. Both schools will include hotel pickups so definitely ask them if they can come get you.

Buy Wine at Mother Marche in Ao Nang

Wine in Ao Nang is either ridiculously expensive or just plain bad. (With the exception of The Last Fisherman on the waterfront who seems to get it right!) So if you are hurting for some wine, there’s a really great and amazing European/American-style grocery store in Ao Nang on the main drag. You’ll need to be wiling to walk 10 minutes up from the beach. It’s called Mother Marche and it is fantastic. It has an amazing wine selection with wines from all over the world. I highly recommend it!

Tours from Ao Nang

One of the top things to do in Ao Nang is to take a boat tour of the surrounding islands. There are so many options!! Before you book anything, make sure you understand the price of a packaged group tour vs the price of doing something just with your group. Also, consider speedboat vs long tail boat. Lastly, consider food…is food included and if so, will you get a basic lunchbox or will there be a fancier buffet involved? Personally, I decided I liked the buffet setups better because there was always more food.

Lading Island Ao Nang

Hong Island Tour. I really loved the islands we visited on this tour and just wish there hadn’t been 35 other tourists with me. Also, at every stop, there are like 12 other speedboat tours. Lading Island was particularly beautiful but also particularly crowded. Hong Island is really swimmable and big enough for everyone and was my overall favorite spot. Book a Hong Island tour

All the other speedboat tours during my Four Islands Tour

All the other speedboat tours during my Four Islands Tour

Four Islands including Koh Poda. Koh Poda is one of those “So near…but so far…” islands. You can see if from Ao Nang but unless you are traveling with others and can rent a long boat for yourselves, there’s no good way to get there. I tried to take the public boat service but they only go when full and no one wanted to go to Ko Poda because the national park fee makes it expensive. The public boats really just go back and forth to Railay all day long. We also visited Railay on this tour to see the “penis grotto,” which was less interesting to me because I had already done that myself when I stayed at Rayavadee. In short, I think if you can only do one boat tour, do the Hong Island tour. Mainly because it’s easy to do Railay on your own so to me, that discounts the value of the Four Islands tour. Book a Four Islands tour

Things to Do in Ao Nang: Take a Tuk Tuk to Tubkaek Beach

Things to Do in Ao Nang: Take a Tuk Tuk to Tubkaek Beach

Tubkaek Beach: After doing the two tours, I decided I wanted to get away from everyone so I got a tuk tuk driver for the day and had him take me all the way to Tubkaek Beach which ended up being much further than I expected. (The ride felt long but it was probably only 30 minutes.) HOWEVER, once I got there, it was perfect. There was NO ONE there and the beach was nice and there was just one restaurant on the beach, attached to the Tubkaek Krabi Boutique Resort hotel. I felt a bit bad making my tuk tuk driver wait for me while I sat on the beach for two hours ad read my book and swam but he seemed totally fine with it. On the way back, he even bought me some fresh watermelon from a roadside stand and a bottle of water. I mean…how much do I love Thailand?

Things to do in Ao Nang: Visit Railay Beach

Things to do in Ao Nang: Visit Railay Beach

Railay Beach: Guys, I was so excited to visit Railay Beach after reading so much about it and hearing that it was one of the best things to do in Ao Nang but then I was just…underwhelmed. It’s a working beach like Ao Nang and not very relaxing. (Lots of long tail boats coming and going. Basically, a taxi parking lot) Maybe I was on the wrong end of things (by Rayavadee) but it was’t for me. I just did’t think it was worth the trip. (I mean…compare the beach in this photo to the photos of the other beaches.) Note I also had food poisoning at this point though and was pretty miserable which may have colored my perspective.

Things to Do in Ao Nang: Visit Koh Phi Phi

Things to Do in Ao Nang: Visit Koh Phi Phi

Koh Phi Phi: There are many different options for getting to Koh Phil Phi but I had a private speedboat transfer because I was going to the Holiday Inn Koh Phi Phi. I really liked the north part of Phi Phi island where the Holiday Inn is. The beach is GREAT. I’ve been to the main part of Phi Phi before with the ferry and it was good but man…the beach at the Holiday Inn was amazing. Note there’s a public ferry that takes you to Tonsai Pier for the public beaches. Book a tour of Phi Phi from Ao Nang.

Summary of Things to Do In Ao Nang Thailand

Maybe you never heard of Ao Nang before you read this post. It’s a fun, affordable place to stay in Thailand with access to a ton of fun tours and outings.  There are so many things to do in Ao Nang! You will not be bored. (And if you do get bored, get a massage!)

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