Ao Nang was our third stop on our Family Travel Adventure and to be honest, I had never heard of Ao Nang. However, Ross was insistent he wanted to return, as Ao Nang was one of his favorite places he visited while backpacking alone 10 years prior.
Ao Nang is a beach resort town in the Krabi province of southern Thailand. Roughly a 30min (25km) taxi journey from Krabi Airport. Ao Nang at first glance looks picturesque, with its long, narrow strip of golden sand, surrounded by vertical limestone cliffs and rows of narrowboats along the shore.
If you haven’t read our previous Family Travel Adventure blog post on our trip to Chiang Mai, check it out! Chiang Mai, Thailand – Second Stop
Flight Chiang Mai to Krabi
We had booked our flights from Chiang Mai to Krabi again through AirAsia. For some reason, it worked out cheaper for us to book our flight separately. So we booked Ross and Dylan and Orla and I separately, saving us £20. Unfortunately, this meant that we wouldn’t be sitting together, as Ross is too tight to pay for allocated seats. With Ross and Dylan in row 3 and Orla and I in row 30 (the very back), we couldn’t have been put further apart. No toilet breaks for me!
Flying with children seems to open up and make even the most miserable person break into a smile. However, I’m sure inside they are cursing their gods, they have to sit next to a 4-month-old baby. Now traveling alone and with only one pair of hands, I had an issue trying to organize everything and put my bags in the overhead compartment. Luckily for us, a helpful lady came to our rescue and offered to hold Orla. She also came well stocked with snacks, so there was no need for AirAsia’s pricey plane food! Now an experienced traveler, Orla was her usual happy self throughout the flight and didn’t even show a sign of a meltdown.
In preparation for a long journey, I make sure I have some essentials in my baby travel kit. Including the likes of;
- Baby Wipes
- Dummies x2
- Change of clothes
- Plastic bags
Let me know in the comments below, what items do you pack in your baby travel kit?
Arriving in Ao Nang
Now that we’d learn´t our lesson, we caught a Grab taxi from Krabi airport to the resort town Ao Nang. The ride took around 35 minutes and cost 600 baht. One of the reasons we’d chosen to stay in Ao Nang is due to its accessibility to nearby islands such as Railay and Phi Phi Island. It was also a chance for us to catch up with some work and get some much-needed beach time after our city trips to Hong Kong and Chiang Mai.
Ao Nang wasn’t quite what I expected. I personally felt the ‘Thai charm’ that I had experienced in other parts of Thailand, was lacking. Lots of the major brands you expect to see at a tourist destination can be found here, such as Starbucks, McDonald’s, Coffee Club, etc. Little thought had gone into the planning and organization of the beach town, with a mish-mash of various hotels, restaurants, and shops. Unlike Chiang Mai, the streets of Ao Nang were rife with restaurants/bars and tailors hassling you for your business. Ross assures me it wasn’t this bad when he was there last!
Glow Ao Nang, Krabi
The Glow Hotel, Ao Nang Krabi was fantastic and very good value for money. We had a large king-size bed with plenty of room for 3 (sometimes 4) and downstairs there was a large communal swimming pool across two levels. One of the main reasons I think Ross picked the Glow Hotel was down to its gym. The Glow Hotel gym offers two fully air-conditioned rooms, weights, and cardio. Although the rooms are small and compact, they have everything you need for a quick workout, and the equipment is brand new. Ross’ words, not mine!
Not only was Ross happy in his playroom, Dylan and Orla also had theirs too. Besides the pool and bar/restaurant was a glass, air-conditioned children’s playroom with two large beanbags, loads of toys, books and even two large TVs with PlayStations. This was one of Dylan’s highlights on this trip and soon became a pain trying to drag him out each evening. We stayed at the Glow Hotel for our whole time in Krabi, paying various amounts and finding deals as low as £16 per night.
Bidding for Accommodation
When it comes to booking our accommodation in Asia, we’ve found Agoda to be the cheapest. (Do also check Booking.com and sign-up for an account). This is mostly based on lower nightly rates as well as Agoda offering cashback on future stays. We also double-check the prices directly on the hotel’s website. During our stay at Glow Ao Nang Krabi, we found that we could bid on the price of their rooms. This allowed us to sometimes stay for 50% less than the room rate advertised on the likes of Agoda and Booking.com. Deals can definitely be had, with cheaper deals available for those who can hold their nerve until the last minute.
Unlike some parts of the world, Ross had travelled to, he had remembered most of Ao Nang. Facing the sea, we headed left and walked to the end of the beach to take Dylan to see the monkeys at Monkey Beach. Unfortunately, we’d arrived early evening and there were no monkeys to be seen!
Pai Plong Beach is a secret beach reachable via a staircase trail from Monkey Beach. The stairs to Pai Plong Beach are steep and narrow,
The next day we returned to Monkey Beach and again were initially unable to find monkeys, much to our disappointment. After admitting defeat we went to paddle our feet in the warm blue sea. Then noticed a group of tourists close to the limestone cliffs taking photos of a couple of cheeky monkeys! Result!
Escalating Heart Rate
We had taken to eating our dinner in an outdoor street food market, across the road from the Noppharat Thara Beachfront, after watching its famous sunsets. The food court was perfect for noisy children and had a variety of food stalls to keep the family happy.
The staff were also very kind and helpful. So kind, that a lady offered to look after Orla whilst we ate our meals and started to walk around the courtyard. Unfortunately, society means we can be quite untrusting. So I went into full heart palpitations when she went completely out of sight and didn’t return for the longest few minutes of my life. It’s difficult because you don’t want to be rude and say not to touch/move her, but at the same time, it only takes a minute for it all to go wrong! Anyway, everything was okay and (minus the escalating heart rate) we enjoyed our meals and fresh juices.
Ao Nang Night Market
The Ao Nang night market is a small relaxed market selling souvenirs, clothes, and a great variety of food and drinks. Opening from 5 pm until 11 pm every evening, it was within a stone’s throw of the Glow Hotel and a great way to spend a hassle-free evening. We sat and ate a whole host of Thai street food, whilst being entertained by local performers. On the days we went, there were Thai traditional dancers and fire performers. I’ve also heard they have live bands there too. I’d definitely recommend the Ao Nang Night market for people staying nearby, but wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way to visit.
Yes, we love a McDonald’s burger, even in Thailand! After eating rice daily its nice to treat yourself with a good old Big Mac and fries. Although with prices for a single burger costing around £3.00 it was certainly an expensive treat and probably one of the most expensive McDonald’s, we’ve ever had.
We took our burger and fries outside to sit on the beach and watched the blood-red sunset, whilst the longboats returned to shore and enjoyed a lovely evening.
Boat Tickets To Phi Phi Island
We found booking our boat tickets to Phi Phi quite frustrating and a true test of our haggling skills. Every second shop in Ao Nang seems to be a Tourist Information stand, all offering essentially the same thing. Initially, we tried the stand closest to our hotel. First, the lady tried to charge us 100 baht more than she’d initially quoted. After dropping the price, she then put us on a stopping ferry, whereas we had stated we wanted to go direct, seeing as we had the children.
In no rush, we inquired at a few more stands on the way out to dinner. Finally, we found a boat that would depart in the afternoon, go directly to Phi Phi Island within 90 mins and cost 400 baht each (kids went free). This was perfect for us, as it meant no early checkout and we could take our time the following morning. The whole situation was a bit frustrating and time-wasting but finally achieved what we had wanted.
Unfortunately, we later found out all our negotiation and haggling was all in vain. Our direct sailing tickets we had purchased to Phi Phi Island, wasn’t direct!!
Next Stop – Phi Phi Island
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