Krabi and Phuket trip report card

Probably the only thing that didn’t go as smoothly as planned during the entire trip was the immigration clearance at Krabi airport. I was among the last to disembark from the plane, and it took 40 minutes of queuing before it was our turn to get through immigration. Anyway, not a single hitch thereafter.

Day 1

After picking up the rental car, we headed towards the Emerald hot spring pool, and upon enquiry about entrance fee, i decided to only visit the hot spring waterfalls, which was also around the vicinity. It cost 200 Baht (S$8) to visit the Emerald pool, but only 90 Baht ($3.60) for the hot spring waterfalls. We had time only for one, and i had originally planned to only take a dip at the hot spring waterfall anyway. To me, there’s more novelty in a hot spring waterfall than a hot spring pool.

Take in the view of the river while dipping in the naturally formed pool from mineral deposits . Almost like a Japanese Onsen, except that the pools here are not man-made but natural. How cool is that.
At around 5pm, there will be intervals when you can have the pool to yourself.

On the way back to Krabi town, we stopped at the Outlet Village to pick up Wacoal bras. I suppose this place mainly serve guided tour groups and it was deserted in the evening.

Wacoal bras section in Krabi Outlet Village

Though i had planned to have dinner at the Krabi weekend market, i failed to locate the weekend market initially and ended up having dinner at Poo Dam. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The food at Poo Dam was pretty good, most definitely better than the street food offering at the weekend market.

Nice ambiance at Poo Dam
A revisit of the most memorable dish we had when in Bangkok last year – crab meat in curry powder. The kids loved this dish despite it being slightly spicy.
Fried fish seems to be the specialty dish in Krabi. Cotton fish was sold out and we had white snapper instead. Very crispy.
The Kang Kung is so light and crunchy in comparison to the ones in Malaysia. Highly recommended.

After checking into the hotel, i spotted the Krabi weekend market. We went to check it out immediately, as they were closing soon.

Krabi Walking Street, the official name of the Krabi weekend market

We didn’t have room for any more food, so we had some drinks instead. Anyway, the food sold here were mainly grilled seafood and various rice and noodle dishes, nothing i would deem as must-try.

Cocktail in the bamboo, an interesting concept, and pretty cheap too.
The Karaoke stage

Day 2

The next morning, we grabbed breakfast at Hub Cafe while enroute from Krabi town to Ao Nang beach. The food here is nothing to shout about, but it was fairly cheap. All in, 3 platters and two drinks cost about S$16.

Hub Cafe
Bread platter
Thai style egg onsen
Eggs Florentine, dissected. The bread was a little dry unfortunately.

We hired a private long tail boat from Ao Nang to visit Railay, Ko Poda and Ko Gai (Chicken Island). I was quoted 2200 Baht, and i was able to haggle it down to 2000 without much effort. Ko Poda and Ko Gai, together with Ko Tup and Ko Mor are popularly marketed as a tour called the 4 Islands tour. Unless you take up a private boat, you will not be able to visit Railay within the same day. I strongly recommend that you take up a private boat and just do Railay and the 4 islands in a single day if you don’t plan to stay at Railay. The boatman will be waiting for you at the shore, and you can just take your time.

Our long tail boat being prepped
Railay (west), the most beautiful beach we have been during the trip
Railay East is less of a beach, but very pleasant too
Magnificent stalactites in Diamond (Phra Nang) cave which you should visit at Railay
A very interesting structure that looks like a pearl bead curtain

At 130pm, we were ready to leave for the islands. By this time, the tide has fallen quite a bit.

Low tide
The low tide exposes the little crabs living on the sea floor
In trusty hands

We were taken to Ko Tup, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect for visiting Talay Waek, the sand bar connecting 3 islands.

The see-through water off Ko Tup
Visitors strolling the Talay Waek
This small section was still submerged under water. When we returned 5 minutes later, it was dry land! The entire sand bar would have been under water in the morning. You must time your visit properly.
A pleasant stroll on the sand bar, but be careful not to get sun-burned.

National Park rangers are stationed on Ko Poda to collect the entry fee for the four islands. At 400 Baht (S$16) per adult, it is not cheap, but still worthwhile for the visit.

A column of rock off Ko Poda. Ko Poda has a fine (pun intended) sand beach.

Due to the low tide, the boat was anchored very far out from Ao Nang beach when we returned there. I had completely forgotten about the phone which i have always kept in the pocket of my shorts. It went kaput as i stepped into waters that had waves beating about my thighs. Oh well, no better excuse to get a new phone.

I had reserved a table for dinner at Lae Lay Grill a few weeks before, and true enough, the best table was reserved for me. To be honest, the view wasn’t as spectacular as i had imagined. I guess the slightly overcast weather didn’t help. The food was above average and overall the experience wasn’t too bad.

Sunset at Lae Lay
Lobster with 3 sauces and scallops
Pad Thai with grilled prawn. Quite tasty.

Day 3

Pa Phru Tha Pom Khlong Song Nam – a mouthful, and that’s the name of the first attraction we visited the next morning. The boardwalk takes visitors through a fairly large mangrove area which would require about 45 minutes to cover, well worth the 100 Baht (S$2) entrance fee.

The highlight – twisted roots in emerald coloured water

Can you tell where the reflection begins?

A picture of serenity. These are some of my favourite scenes in the entire trip.
Golden canopy
A decorative rainbow coloured plant item (fruit?) at the park entrance

Yokkok is the only restaurant in Ao Luek that is listed on TripAdvisor. The menu is entirely in Thai, and the staff do not speak Thai, but we could communicate through Google Translate.

The staff recommended this grilled pork neck dish and it was delicious
This rice dish was under S$2

The entrance fee to Than Bok Khorani National Park was a prohibitively high 300 Baht (S$12), the reason being it also covers the nearby river caves, the main highlight for most visitors. Anyway, the main park also presents many spectacular sights.

You start seeing river cascades right near the park entrance
The main showcase of the park. The water originates from the cave at the far back.
As with other water attractions in Krabi, a pool forms from mineral deposits over time
The river spreads out and cascades down over a wide area, a really pretty sight

We arrived rather late at the river pier to see the river caves that is part of the Than Bok Khorani National Park, but there was no cause for worry as there is always someone waiting there for incoming tourists. The boat trip cost 600 Baht (S$24) and the boatman doubles as a tour guide.

The last kayakers were heading back to the river pier as we set out
The sights are quite pretty along the way
Approaching the cave
Entering a magical world
The centrepiece, literally speaking, is this circular shaped stalactite
Truly other-worldly and awe-inspiring
The boat glides through this narrow opening under the skillful maneuver of the boatman
The iconic cave painting at Tham Pee Hua To
The six fingered hand. The boatman would go on to show us every painting in the cave which does get repetitive after a while.
A beautifully shaped mound which the boatman says is “same-same” as diamond

You could say time was on our side. Even after the river cave visit and the hour-plus drive to Phuket, we had time to pop by Central Festival Mall before dinner at Suay.

Entrance to Suay
Braised beef cheek in Massaman curry. Ordered this dish mainly to find out what the curry taste like. Heavy in coconut and slightly sweetish. Beef was very tender. Thumbs up for this one.
Grilled sea bass. Ordered this because they couldn’t fulfill the order for baked Andaman seafood. This was a little dry, and the taste wasn’t outstanding.
Lobster and crab pasta just to fill the stomach.
kaiserschmarrn parfait with rum and raisin. This was nice.

Capping the day – a visit to Bangla Road, probably the thing every first time visitor to Phuket probably needs to do.

Bangla Road
Lined with noisy night clubs
Human powered VR experience

Day 4

Honestly speaking, i thought Patong beach was not bad. Probably a quarter of the tourists to Phuket would be found lingering here. We took a 15 minutes look around here and left for the next item on our itinerary – old Phuket town.

Patong Beach

I think Thais are hard to beat when it comes to upkeeping. The buildings around old Phuket town seemed mostly intact and not too run down.

The third level was probably added on later
Do and Re on an antique toy tricycle
Built during 3 different eras
Soi Romanee
Spotted this old style barber shop along Soi Romanee. Just perfect! I was able to collect my favourite souvenir here.
A haircut! The barber used a razor to trim hair off towards the end, something the modern hairstylist don’t do anymore. I wonder how long he would continue doing this, but i was glad i added this piece into my memory.
I have seen this mural on Facebook before
I suppose this is what they call Sino Portugese style
Lock Tien, local food centre. The stall owner spoke in Mandarin.
The must-try fried noodles (Hokkien noodles). The gravy was thick and savoury. The portion isn’t too big, just nice since we had a heavy breakfast and we were planning to have dessert afterwards.
Fried Bee Hoon and soup combo. Apparently, pork soup is commonplace in this region.
Oh Aew (see below). Despite the colour, it did not taste artificial. Perfect for cooling down on a hot day.

The preservation effort is to be lauded
This is not the best example, but Thais (most likely Thai Chinese who own these hardware stores) are extremely well-organized. There are quite a few hardeware shops around Thalang road.
Thalang Road
We popped over to Kopitiam by Wilai for Kopi and dessert. Good quality food, you will find here.
Thai iced tea and Thai coffee. Nice.
Mango with sticky rice also came coconut ice cream. Delicious! The Mango was very sweet.

Next stop, Phang Nga Bay. I found out from a TripAdvisor forum posting that there was a dock (Nai Ngob Pier) for smaller boats, and i thought it must be less busy here. Anyway, we arrived at around 330pm and most of the tourists would have already completed their visit at least an hour ago. As expected, someone was there waiting to catch any business. It cost 1500 Baht (S$60) per boat, which is not an insignificant amount of earning, and the boatman was evidently feeling elated.

Prices are printed on the banner. I did not haggle. I feel reassured that they do not even try to quote an inflated price.
A dog shaped rock
Very low tide at the time we set out
Cruising towards the ocean
Every new house that is added to the edge of Panyee island is evidence of the bountiful tourist dollars they are receiving
Sea cave
The famed James Bond island. The lighting isn’t so good in the evening, but this place would be swarmed with tourists in the morning. We chose to not pay 300 Baht (S$12) to set foot on this tiny island.
Panyee Island
This side of the island is lined with restaurants which I imagine would be filled with tourists during lunch
Dry land during low tide
Many photo opportunities here
The residents don’t seem to mind the loss of privacy

Dried fish in the making

Seashells wind chimes
For emergency use?
Panyee FC

Having completed the last sightseeing item for the trip, we were off to Ruenmai, back in Krabi, for dinner.

Nice garden setting
Beef Panang curry, just for trying sake since I have not tried Panang style. Has rich coconut taste as well.
Local vegetable that was recommended to us. Nice fragrance and nicely stir fried.
Unfortunately cotton fish was unavailable and we ended up having white snapper again. Can’t get tired of this dish.
Fried local chicken. Very tough. For those who love to chew I suppose.

I highly recommend going to Ruenmai to sample fine dining Thai. The meal would cost one third more than the seafood restaurants in Krabi town centre, which is quite reasonable.

We popped by Big C to do the last round of shopping before checking into the hotel, where we were able to enjoy room service massage, a perfect ending to our holiday.

Big C, virtually empty at 830pm
Picked up these cheap Thai whisky from Big C. Only 200 Baht (S$8) for the 350ml Mekhong and 155 Baht (S$6.3) for the 300ml Sang Som.
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