We went to Thailand for my son’s wedding. Several days later, my husband flew home and my girlfriend and I went south to visit the beaches. After a hectic couple of days on the island of Phuket, we took friend’s advice and made our way to Ao Nang, back on the mainland. This move involved taking a high speed ferry all the way down to Phi Phi Island and then northeast to Ao Nang – which took the better part of a day. While the beaches of Phuket were beautiful (and crowded!) and Phi Phi had a remarkable lack of air conditioning (and breeze), our new home for six days was perfect.
Facing the large Phangnga Bay, Ao Nang is a charming beachside community. The town faces two beautiful beaches and is a perfect spot to stay awhile and explore the area. Our hotel (The Golden Moon for $39 USD a night) was up a small road away from the hustle and bustle of the main road, but within walking distance of everything we wanted to see. There is no need to rent a car here, and very little in the way of parking. Many tourists rent a motorbike, but taxis, tuk-tuks, and buses are cheap and everywhere.
We made friends with a tourist agency lady who spoke very good English and she helped us find good restaurants, sightseeing tours, and was our local “go to” for information. It always helps to have a little local knowledge! On our first night, we took a tour bus to nearby Krabi ($7 USD each – about 15 miles away) for the night market with music, vendors selling all kinds of goods, fabulous street food, and people watching. On another day, we took a taxi to the Tiger Cave Temple ($7 each) where my girlfriend climbed up 1200+ steep steps to the top of a small mountain to see a golden Buddha and the scenery. I stayed below (96 degrees!) in the shade and chatted up a monk who was practicing his English. Monkeys are everywhere, so I purchased a bag of peanuts and bananas from the vendor and fed the little beggars. We also took a wonderful all day kayak trip up a river $45 USD each with lunch).
On another day, we took the 7 Island Tour and went to several beaches where we snorkeled, took photos, and visited the large rock formations called “karsts”. We ended up on a beach at Phra Nang to watch the sunset. After dinner on the boat, we did a night swim to see the “glow in the dark” plankton. This all day tour was $40 including two meals.
Ao Nang has all the usual tourist shops, but also several places with local artwork and handcrafts. Be aware that there are signs everywhere that say “Buddha is not for decoration” but you see them everywhere for sale to be used in a home shrine.
When you stay in a neighborhood for several days, you get to meet the people in the shops and get the vibe of the place. A tailor shop down the street had a man from India who would come out and try to get visitors to have something made. He could charm the skin off a snake! A local massage parlor we visited (an hour massage is $6) had girls that would wave and ask about our day.
The weather in Thailand is very hot and humid. January and February are the coolest months (believe it or not!) but I would not come again during Chinese New Year due to the crowds and busloads of tourists who seem to loudly take over every establishment. The Thai are very polite, respectful people, who handled it pretty well, but we could see they were tired of it all. They were grateful to have quiet guests who said “So Wadee Kaa” (hello and goodbye) and “Kop Cum Kaa” (thank you) and we were treated very well.
We loved Ao Nang. Right up there with Chiang Mai as my favorite place in Thailand!
Click on the Map Below to see Ao Nang!