Ao Nang, Thailand remains my favourite place in the world. To me, there was something so special about it. Visiting Ao Nang marked my first trip to Asia and I really didn’t know what to expect. I wanted to share some of the highlights with you, as I’d really recommend it if you’re planning a trip to Thailand.
It’s not a short journey. We flew with Thai Airways and the flight took around 10 hours to Bangkok and a further 1 hour to Krabi. On the way home, the flight is considerably longer, I think it took us around 15 hours from Bangkok, so that’s something to bare in mind. Jim & I travel quite a lot for work and so have a lounge card – if you do travel a lot, I’d recommend getting one because it makes any sort of delay so much more bearable!
I don’t like flying at all but I really loved flying there and back. There’s something about a long-haul flight that different from short-haul; everything seems just a bit more calm and organised. I’d really recommend Thai Airways. There was an extra touch of class to the entire flight procedure that I haven’t seen with any other airline before.
There also hasn’t been many experiences that have topped going from dark to light as we were landing in Bangkok; beautiful! I appreciate this photo doesn’t do it justice, but you get the idea!
We stayed in Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas in Ao Nang, Krabi. It was a complete paradise. The only way to get to the hotel was by boat (about a 10 minute boat ride) or by a really quite scary ‘monkey trail’; some rickety steps up the side of one of the cliffs and down the other side. Just to make the trek a bit more unsafe, there were monkeys everywhere! In my opinion, they made it even better! Check out the picture of the steps below – I don’t think they would’ve quite passed the UK’s health & safety test!
The hotel was breathtaking. It doesn’t even need words; the pictures below will give you an idea of the type of luxury we experienced whilst we were there. The staff (and all Thai people) can’t do enough for you and will go out of their way to help. For me, the hotel was in the best possible place. Away from the hustle & bustle of Ao Nang, but near enough that you could go there every day & night.
We got into the habit of walking over the ‘monkey trail’ in the day & getting the boat at night.
One of the best things about the hotel was the monkeys. Sure, they’re not everyones cup of tea, but for me, going on holiday is about experiencing things you don’t experience at home. I can’t say I’ve ever been woken up by a monkey trying to get into my room because it could smell food! We heard numerous hilarious stories about the monkeys. One tourist told us they came out of the shower to find a monkey on their bed eating Pringles from the mini bar! Generally, if you stay away from them they’ll stay away from you, but they’re certainly a lot of fun to watch, even from afar.
What To Do
Thailand really relaxed me. When you’re in a super-busy job, it’s so nice to really get away. I don’t think you can ever completely get away unless you go somewhere like this & it’s so worth it. Jim & I aren’t really sunbathe-all-day type of people, so we did a lot of exploring as well as going on a couple of day trips. If you’re going around this time of year (October-November), there’s rain most days around 5-6pm. So, it’s worth planning your day so you’re in the room at that time. It really does hammer down!
Ao Nang is a beautiful, bustling place that has a really authentic Thai feel to it. We spent a lot of time exploring it. During the day, when it’s too hot to be out, we got a massage by the beach. The massages were the equivalent of £5 for an hour and they were wonderful. I also got the best Shellac manicure for £4 there! If you’re staying in Ao Nang but not the Grand Centara, if you walk towards the Grand Centara, you’ll come across the massage places just before the ‘monkey trail’. They’re the best places to go in Ao Nang.
From the hotel, you can book trips to Phi Phi Islands, Maya Bay, James Bond Islands etc. You can get cheaper deals if you go into Ao Nang, but from our experience the tours from the operators in Ao Nang are sometimes over-crowded and not very well organised. Here’s a few pictures of what we got up to (all booked through the hotel).
Where To Eat
If you just go to Ao Nang, you’ll find options for all budgets & all tastes. Because the town attracts so many westerners, there are western places to eat – sometimes Thai food for every meal gets a bit much, but in two weeks I think we only had something else two or three times.
For the most authentic Thai experience, I recommend Thailandia or Wana’s Palace (Wana’s Palace is very cheap, too). If you’re looking for something up-market, try Jenna’s, Carnivore or Hagi. Hagi is a Japanese restaurant in the Grand Centara hotel. It’s really fantastic & very authentic Japanese. If you book a place at the chef’s table, you get a really unique experience.
If you’re looking for something really special, the Grand Centara Hotel allows you to private dine on the beach (picture below). It is more expensive that going to any of the other restaurants, but it’s such an unforgettable experience and something I will remember forever.
Ao Nang is a wonderful place with such a great history. They were hit extremely hard during the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004. They’ve rebuilt and flourished since then. If you’re heading to Thailand, visit this unique place, you won’t regret it!