Wednesday, September 5, 2018

When in Thailand: Krabi Island (Day 1)

This 2018 has been a busy year for both R and I. Most, if not all, of our trips were work related. Though we get to manage to get a few days as "vacation", it was far from enough to be considered a relaxing trip. But this time around, we decided to extend our Thailand trip for 9 more days for us to visit Krabi. 

Hello, Krabi!
This island is the less popular counterpart of Phuket. A home to beautiful and unique limestone karsts with some ideal for rock climbing, Krabi is the perfect alternative for those who want a relaxing vacation. 
No flight from Manila can fly directly to Krabi. You have to take a connecting flight from Don Mueang (DMK) in Bangkok to get to Krabi. 
There are two ways to get to your hotel from Krabi airport--taxi or bus. To Ao Nang, the area with the most hotels and resorts, taxi fare would cost about 500 to 600 Baht (PHP800-960). Airport bus on the other hand would only cost 150 Baht (PHP240) per person. It is best to take taxi if you are with two to three other travelers. Note that the airport bus may or may not stop in front of your hotel. But in the event it doesn't, it will stop at the nearest corner. It also has an ongoing promo where return fare is just 100 Baht (PHP160) per person.
The first stop of the bus will be at the place where you can catch the ferry to Phi Phi island, the best place for party goers. Since we were past that phase, we opted to stay at Ao Nang, the relatively quieter area. 
Another good option is Railey Beach which was the second stop of the bus. This area has less options though in terms of food and accommodation making every day expenses a bit higher compared to Ao Nang. But this place has better beaches which I will share in another article. 
Since it was our first time in Krabi, we played it safe on our first day and stayed at Holiday Inn Express
We stayed in a Standard King Room (PHP2,650 or USD50.48) which includes breakfast for two. 
The room is spacious and equipped with basic necessities to make anyone's stay pleasant. 
The washroom though is not that big but ample enough for one person to move around. Note that toiletries like toothbrush, comb and razor are available upon request. 
I love that we have a small balcony to hang our wet clothes. 
There's also a small work desk and sofa.
The pool is simple but big enough to accommodate several guests. There are also sun beds around perfect for sun lovers! The only downside is that the pool closes at 8 p.m. and they are strict with that.
We decided to explore the area nearby and spotted this group of food vendors in front of our hotel offerings Thai dishes and fruit shakes at very reasonable prices. Since it was hot and we had no idea where else to eat (Holiday Inn Express' in-house restaurant is only open for breakfast), we opted to try it out. 
We went with Phad Thai (50 Baht or PHP80) and Chicken Fried Rice (50 Baht or PHP80). We also got Strawberry Shake (30 Baht or  PHP48) and Kiwi Shake (40 Baht or PHP64). 
I wasn't really expecting much from an PHP80 dish but I was surprised with the generous serving of phad thai and fried rice. 
And it wasn't just pocket friendly, both dishes were delicious! I love how the phad thai had that delightful balance of sweet and savory flavors. It wasn't overly oily and the noodles were cooked just right. 
The chicken fried rice had a lot of chicken chunks and even mouthfuls without any was flavorful. Seasoned with butter and pepper, each bite was pure bliss. 
And the shakes were not bad at all! Both drinks were made with real fruits!
We opted to have dinner there again and we had some grilled shrimp and squid to go with our fried rice with a grand total of 250 Baht. 
We walked a bit in search of Centerpoint, the party place of Ao Nang. It is about 20-30 minutes away by foot from Holiday Inn Express and it was more of a place for men than couples. With two bars catering to men and one celebrating lady boys, and a few more bars offering cocktails at 150 Baht (PHP240), expect a lot of tourists frequenting this area. One of the nearest resorts here is L Resort, one of the top 10 resorts in Ao Nang. (We checked out L Resort and 
Still tired from our morning flight, we headed back early and sleep. Unfortunately, it was hard to get a good night rest when we could hear rowdy guests in the corridors and doors slamming. And the pillows, though great to have soft and firm options, have this strong musty smell that we had to request for it to be replaced. These issues made us decide to move to another hotel.
We woke up around 9 a.m. the next morning to enjoy Holiday Inn Express' breakfast spread. 
It was a lot simpler and limited than I imagined. But it had the breakfast basics like sausages, bacon, eggs, cereal and fruits. There were also a handful of drinks to choose from. 
I love the coffee/mocha/chocolate machine where you can opt to have small or big cup serving. There are also to go cups for those who have a tour to catch. 
But if you want to start your day the healthy way, there's also a fitness center on the second floor of the dining area. 
Equipment is limited but enough to make you sweat. There are also yoga mats, towels and water on the shelf by the door. 
Tired from... eating, we took a two hour nap after. We also managed to do late check-out free of charge. 

We noticed that Holiday Inn Express and Holiday Inn Resort seem to be favored by Chinese tourists. Expect more than half the guests to be Chinese with a handful from Middle East and Europeans. 

Service was pretty good though as we had no trouble with checking in and out. We also love its prime location of being near the main road. And kudos to the staff who assisted us on the little accident we had on the road. We were impressed with its first aid kit. We didn't take a photo of it though as we were too busy at that moment.  

But with hotels just as good and at half the price as Holiday Inn Express, we suggest that you look around first before you book this hotel. 

Stay tuned for Day 2 at Krabi Island. 

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