Thailand is one of the most visited countries in the world, and received nearly 30M visitors in 2015, according to UNWTO (United Nation World Tourism Organization). Brazil, a much larger country, received only 6.3M in the same year.
The combination of gorgeous tropical islands, stunning beaches, breathtaking landscapes, rich flora, exquisite temples and monasteries, great cuisine, thriving nightlife and security, makes Thailand a perfect “dream destination.” Everybody wants to visit the country at least once, and spend time on its spectacular islands and get soaked in its crystal-clear pristine waters.
When I visited Aonang, a small town in Krabi, in southern Thailand’s west coast province, all I wanted was to visit its otherworldly beaches. Mainly because some of the beaches in Krabi have been nominated as the most beautiful beaches in the world, such as the famous Maya Bay (featured in the movie The Beach with Leonard DiCaprio) in Koh Phi Phi.
Maya bay is splendid, but there are many other breathtaking beaches in Krabi.
While I was in Aonang I found out about a 4-island tour, a day trip that takes you to Chicken Island, Poda Island, Tup Island and Phra Nang Cave. The pictures of the islands look unbelievably beautiful, so I did not miss the opportunity to take this tour.
The day after my arrival, I woke up early in the morning, had breakfast and was picked up at Aonang Cliff Beach Hotel. The weather couldn’t be better, and I was so excited to see those islands.
I joined other visitors and we took our long-tail boat, a traditional Thai boat, and headed to our first stop.
Our first stop was sensational!
Koh Poda, or Poda Island, is one of those places that didn’t look real. The island has crystal-clear turquoise water, powdery sand and a big rock shooting majestically from the water. I was completely in awe and exhilarated because after all, the tour was just starting!
The island is perfect for swimming, sunbathing and photography, and the view of Aonang and the rugged limestone rocks surrounding it is amazing.
I have visited several islands in Thailand, but Poda is so far one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.
This island has a funny name, because there is a long and narrow rock formation protruding from the island that from certain angles makes it look exactly like a chicken.
Chicken Island has limestone rocks partially covered with low vegetation, excellent coral reefs, and incredible crystal-clear emerald water that is perfect for snorkeling where you can see many tropical colorful fishes and clams.
After Chicken Island, we headed to a third island and the one that I wanted to see most.
Tup Island in fact consists of three islands that at low tide you can walk on a sandbank that connects them.
The contrast of the white sand, the turquoise clear-water, the green-yellowish vegetation on the top of the limestone rocks, and the blue sky, is beyond imagination.
While I was walking on the sandbank, I could not believe that a place like this could exist, OMG.
The only downside was that the island was packed because all the other tours stopped there at the same time, and it was hard to find a place in the shade to have lunch. Even though, I felt truly grateful for being there.
Phra Nang Cave
The final stop of the tour was a terrific surprise!
We got off the boat at Phra Nang Beach, an exquisite beach dotted by jagged limestone cliffs and beautiful trees, and walked on the golden sand towards Phra Nang Cave.
Curiously the cave is a sacred place and it’s full of phallic symbols in different sizes and colors. Of course no one understood why the cave was full of those objects, and some people were laughing and making jokes.
But the shrine located in the cave according to a legend, is dedicated to the spirit of a drowned princess who gave the beach her name. And the phallic symbols are associated with fertility and virility, and many fishermen and boatmen still make donations to ensure a safe journey.
After visiting the cave and taking some pictures, we took the boat back to Aonang.
The tour finished around 2:00PM and I still had time to enjoy the extraordinary pool at Aonang Cliff Beach Hotel, and watch the sunset from the rooftop.
I felt really glad I took the four-island tour, which I considered the best one in Thailand, for its interesting combination of impressive beaches, otherworldly landscapes, great snorkeling, and also religious and cultural sites.
Have you ever taken this tour? What did you think? If you find another tour better than this one, please let me know on the comments below.
- Where is it located?
Aonang is a small town located in Krabi Province, 20min from Krabi town, and 40min from Krabi International Airport.
The city is surrounded by colossal limestone cliffs, and has a great blend of jungle and beaches that attracts visitors from all over the world.
Aonang’s main avenue is full of backpackers, young people, hotels, restaurants, bars, stores and travel agencies.
The beaches in Aonang town aren’t wonderful, however the nightlife is very busy with live music in many bars, and also Muay Thai fights in the stadium.
It’s so interesting to see most of the local women wearing a head scarf (a Muslin tradition), and a big mosque on the main avenue, contrasting with the requirement to take your shoes off before entering some places (a Buddhist tradition), and a big Buddhist temple on the top of a mountain, in the middle of the jungle.
Yet Aonang is a hub and from there ferries depart to many islands in the South of Thailand. So, I believe it is worthy to stop there before heading to the islands and take some tours.
- Where Did I Stay?
I stayed in two different places, for two different reasons.
The first place was Aonang Cliff Beach, which is nestled into a forest hillside, and is conveniently located on the main avenue; a 5min walk from the beach, with easy access to Aonang bay and nightlife.
The hotel has 97 rooms and suites with private balconies, a spa, three bars and restaurants, a fitness center, two pools, a rooftop, a meeting room with capacity for 120 people, and even a private beach.
My ocean view room had a sophisticated décor, a king size bed, refrigerator, minibar, kettle, beach bag with facilities, and also an outdoor bathtub. The bathroom had a rain shower and is perfect for a couple because of its two sinks, and a seat in the shower area.
The service was excellent and attentive, the massage at the SPA was great, and the food was good especially at the Aonang Buffet Restaurant. But nothing compares to the remarkable infinity pool: a huge pool that provides a breathtaking view, and it is a good spot for pictures. The pool is great even when the weather is not good.
- Travel Costs?
• Five months travel insurance: US$ 256 with World Nomads
• The tour costs an average of 1200 baht (US$ 34).
• You can rent a private boat with a group of people: 6000 baht (3 – 5 people), 7500 (5 – 8 people), and 11,000 baht (10 – 20 people).
• Always bargain, and also ask with the 300 baht entrance fee to Poda Island will be included not he price you pay.
- Other things to do in Aonang
• Hong Islands Tour
• One Day Tour Phi Phi
• ATV Tours
• Elephant Trek
• BBQ Sunset Cruise
• I was invited by Aonang Cliff Beach and all the opinions here are mine and unbiased.