We are suitably impressed with our accommodation and hosts at Groovy Bungalows – nice to splash out for Christmas! Included in the room is a 100cc scooter, so we ventured out onto the Thai roads… The scooter is a semi-automatic which I’ve not ridden before, but apart from being a bit clunky it seems to be okay with us both on it – though the drum brakes aren’t up to my old CBR600 twin disks!
Ao Nang is a rather pleasant place – a little touristy but not spoilt or pushy like Patong, and as such it feels a lot more genuine and is priced accordingly. Street food is far cheaper here than anywhere else. The Nopparat Thara Beach near Ao Nang is quiet and very beautiful, and it is possible to walk/wade to private beaches on islands just a few 100m away.
We ventured out about 30km to Tha Pom which is a unique place where salt water and fresh water mix creating a cross between a swap and a rain forest, making for some very pretty views. The only downside was the heavens opened (well I guess it is a rain forest ish!) and we got soaked – and the entire ride back was in driving rain and without full face helmets it was like being sand blasted!
When the weather dried out in the evening we ventured into town for a Christmas meal as it appears everyone thinks 24 December is Christmas day. (Due to the Sweeds?). So we had a Christmas meal in “Bernies” – which was a massive buffet. We skipped starters and I had 2 plates of “Carlsburg BBQ quality” food – e.g. 95% meat and a token potato. Superb but costly at about 10x street food meals. Still, we tried to get our moneys worth!
On Christmas day we ventured to the Tiger Cave, which was a little dull, but the main reason was a 1200+ step climb to the top of the mountain – so we thought it’d help burn off the preceding evenings dinner. The first few steps are tiny which lull you into a false sense of security, as after that they get a lot steeper… The climb was a challenge but the views at the top, with Budda, were stunning and worth the hike.
On the way back our motorbike broke down, and within 30 seconds a guy stopped with us, asked what was going on and proceeded to help get it started. Amazingly friendly and we got going again, only to brake down 1km later. Following the tips from our helper we managed to keep limping a km at a time, and for a second time we got asked if we needed help – all very genuine and very impressive from the locals. When we got back we found the fuel filter was crudded up, so we got another bike – this time with a disk brake that worked!
For tea we ate on the streets again and had a lovely walk along Ao Nang beach – a place we actually really like and recommend. It is pretty enough and really feels a nice place. All the trips we did from Patong can be done from Ao Nang which makes Ao Nang a really good place to base yourself.
The following day we took a longtail boat to Ao Phra Nang beach, which is rated as one of the top 10 beaches in the world and the best in Asia. Not sure about that, but it was absolutely stunning – very impressive. Lovely sand, superb limestone cliffs and formations (being climbed), and a beautiful blue sea. We were more than impressed, so much so we forgot to walk to Rai Lay beach.
On our last full day in Southern Thailand we took the bike into Krabi town. We must admit it wasn’t the most spectacular of places, but it did feel more local than many places we’ve visited, and we had a hassle free look around the town and a big market. So still worth a trip if you fancy a day away from other tourists.
After yet another lovely (and cheap) street meal in Ao Nang our time in Southern Thailand comes to an end with a flight to Kuala Lumpar in Malaysia in the morning.