Monday, September 17, 2018

When in Thailand: Krabi Island (Day 4 and 5)

Time sure flies fast when you're on a vacation. It felt like days went by as quick as a blink of an eye. Before we even realized it, we were about to leave Krabi and we were just not ready yet. But we tried to maximize our last full day with another island tour and checking out one of the highly rated restaurants in the island. 

Day 4 and 5 at Krabi Island

We decided to spend our last full day at Krabi checking out 4 Islands which is the tour recommended for those who prefer snorkeling over relaxing by the shore. 

We booked our tour again from Aonang Andaman Resort & Tours. Our 900 Baht (PHP1,440) fee covers island transfer via speed boat (saving us more than an hour compared to taking the long tail boat). Also included in the tour fee are hotel transfer, lunch, beverages, use of snorkeling mask, insurance, and National Park Fee. Make sure to clarify with your travel agent if the fee you are paying covers the 4 Islands National Park Fee of 400 Baht (PHP640) as some travel agencies offer the tour at the same rate but excluding National Park fee. 

This time around, our call time was at 8:15 a.m. and it was a struggle to get up. We had our bags ready for check out the night before as we wanted to stay in another hotel on our last night in the island.
Our tour bus arrived on time and we were the first ones picked up. And after stopping by several other resorts, we were off to the pier again. 
We were all confused when there was not a single tour guide in sight when we got to the assembly area. We saw Ice, our former guide a couple of minutes after and he suggested that we just wait for our guide to arrive. True enough, our guide, Ploy, arrived about 5 minutes after. 
And after the necessary head count and collecting National Park fees from some tourists who availed of different packages, we were off to our speed boat.
This time though, our tour guide took all our slippers as they didn't want sand in the boat. Some of us were left having to be barefoot the rest of the trip. The snorkel masks were also given to us to use on one island instead of the whole tour. And we were bummed as we decided to leave our own masks that day. 
Our first stop was Pra Nang Cave, a place we've visited a few days ago. And since we've been here already (see Krabi Adventures Day 2), we decided to swim at the other side of the beach, near the dome-like rock formation which turns out to be a small cave. R went in and said that it was the highlight of the tour. Unfortunately, I can't swim and with the waves, I couldn't paddle my way near it even with a life vest. 
We headed to the next stop, Tub Island, 30 minutes later. 
I found this island crowded and too small for the number of tourists doing island hopping. The water tends to be shallow too and the rocks sharp, making it scary to swim around. In fact, R got into a small accident here. And this was when we realized that our tour guide was not equipped with a well supplied first aid kit. 
The third stop, Chicken Island, could be a bit misleading for some as we didn't dock here. The boat parked several meters away from the island for us to do some snorkeling. 

And though there were some fish to see, there weren't a lot and far from the biodiversity our Philippine seas offer. 

Note that waves here are strong and we were advised that if you can't swim or not a strong swimmer, it would be best to stay in the boat. I didn't listen though as I have R to help me swim around. An elderly lady though got her knee banged and got a rather deep and big cut. Sadly, the tour's first aid box only includes very few small bandages. It doesn't even have disinfectants or gauze for more serious accidents. So it is best to come prepared and bring your own first aid too. 
Our last stop was Poda Island where we had lunch (exactly the same food as the previous tour) and stayed for an hour and half. 

This beach is spacious and its fine sand makes it easy for us to walk around barefoot. Just watch out for ants.
Since it was noon and we just had lunch, we opted to take a nap instead of swimming around. Make sure to look for shade as the sun could be unforgiving. R got red just after a couple of minutes (even when we reapplied sun block before heading down).

We left Poda Island at exactly 2 p.m. and were left rather underwhelmed by the beauty of the islands. Again, I couldn't help compare it with the ones we have in the Philippines. I guess there was just not a lot of activities to do in Krabi except for those island tours and perhaps visit an elephant sanctuary. Though there's Phi Phi island that is deemed to be a lot better and Maya Bay made popular by the movie "The Beach", I think I'll save that for next time. 
We got back to our hotel past 3 p.m. and we decided to wait for the sun to go down a bit before we moved to our next hotel which was Buri Tara. Yes, it is under the same management as Ao Nang Buri resort.
We were greeted with welcome drinks as we fill out some forms and we were ushered to our Superior Room ($26.54 or PHP1,437) right after. I liked the front staff here best as they were a lot friendlier. 
Since it was low season, we were upgraded to a premium room with pool view. Though similar with Aonang Buri, Tara Buri also has rooms that are not facing the pool and having less spectacular view from the balcony. 
We took a quick swim before heading back out for dinner. This time, we opted to try KoDam Kitchen which ranks number 2 in must try restaurants in Ao Nang according to TripAdvisor. 
The ones who reviewed Kodam Kitchen were not kidding when they mentioned that this is a hidden gem. It was hard to find this restaurant! Though it appears in Google Maps, we failed to see the signage to the restaurant and we ended up getting lost. Thankfully, R saw its busted signage and we were directed to this stairs leading us to the lower ground where we finally saw the almost full and bustling restaurant.
The place was packed with tourists and the only locals around were the staff and the owner himself who knows a few Filipino words. 
We went with Satae Gai (120 Baht/PHP192), Tom Yum Goong (150 Bath/PHP240), Phad Thai Goong (150 Baht/PHP240), and Seafood Jan Ron (180 Baht/PHP288). I also got Fresh Coconut for 70 Baht (PHP112).

True enough, food was pretty good in KoDam Kitchen. Not a single one was bland and all dishes came with good serving sizes. Eating here though meant spending double than if you eat at one of those street food vendors. 
Satae Gai was perfectly grilled, giving it a nice smokey flavor yet not charred in any way. The peanut sauce was also great as it added a slight sweet taste to the dish. 
Tom Yum Goong was a bit too spicy for my liking but I couldn't help have several spoonfuls of this sweet and spicy dish as it was great to have on a cool night. (I couldn't finish an entire bowl though as I didn't want to buy an overpriced bottle of water from the restaurant.)
Seafood Jan Ron reminded me of seafood teppanyaki. Good but we could have skipped this one. 
Phad Thai Goong was served last and its plating reminded me of how Simply Thai Restaurant in Greenbelt serves its phad thai, with an egg net. And as expected, it was good too, and very filling. Best to eat this with some of the fresh bean sprouts for that lovely burst of freshness. 

I was a bit bummed with the coconut though as it was not as sweet as I thought. I guess the good ones are the smaller coconuts. 
As we were about to head out, the owner showed us another path to the main road which turns out to be a lot closer to our hotel. (Turn left from 7-Eleven and not right!)

We headed back to our hotel after and decided to just sleep more instead of going to the elephant sanctuary. But our slumber was cut short by the loud music from the other room and followed by the chattering of the staff cleaning the same room after the guests checked out. 
We had this yummy soft boiled egg for breakfast for days! It only costs 16 Baht for a pair! 
Note too that Tara Buri is strict with check out. They charge 300 Baht if you do not check out by 12:00 noon. We managed to get an extension though of 30 minutes and decided to just wait at the lobby for the airport bus to pick us up.

I had our pick up reservation done online and I got an email confirmation that same morning so I was quite confident that we would have a ride back to the airport which was an hour away. But come 1 p.m., our supposed pick up time, I grew worried as no bus was in sight. Apparently, by pick up at the hotel, they meant pick up at the nearest corner along the main road. It was a good thing that we were just 200 meters away! Thankfully, the staff helped us get in touch with the airport bus provider.
Pro Tip: Save the coupon from your trip from airport to Ao Nang as it serves as your discount coupon for your trip back. Instead of paying 150 Baht, you just have to pay 100 Baht from Ao Nang to Krabi airport.

And we got to the airport with 2 hours to spare. 

Note that there is no free wifi available at Krabi Airport unless you book one of the airlines that have lounges. Make sure that you have all the necessary information and e-receipts ready prior to heading towards the airport. 

Pro Tip #2: Skip getting drinks from Black Canyon and check out the mini marts at the airport instead. It offer food and drinks at very low prices and even the same as convenience stores outside the airport! Bottled water for just 10 Baht? Yes please!

Check out my Krabi Adventure here:
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3

And if you are too lazy to read all four articles, here's a summary you should know:

#1 Going to Don Mueang airport could be a pain given the traffic around the area. Make sure to head out early as to avoid missing your flight.

#2 There is no wifi in Krabi airport. Make sure to have offline copies of the information or e-tickets you need.

#3 There are a few ways to get to places from Krabi airport. You can rent a car, hail a cab, or take the bus. Bus is most economical if traveling alone or in pairs. But if you're a group of three or more, consider getting a cab instead at a fixed rate of 500 Baht. Airport bus cost 150 Baht to Ao Nang.

#4 Ao Nang beach, though okay for swimming, isn't spectacular. The water is brown and not something I'd recommend. Best to go to Railey beach or do island hopping. But bargain as they usually offer the published price first. Also make it clear if what you're paying for includes National Park fee which ranges from 300-400 Baht. 

#5 If on a budget, skip the restaurants and go local. Check out street food and Ao Nang Night Market.

#6 Tuktuk costs 50 Baht per person/way.

#7 If you want to party, there are several bars at Centerpoint, near L Resort. But I'd recommend that you just grab some beer at a local beer shop or 7-Eleven and drink at your hotel. 

#8 Hotels are cheap in Ao Nang compared to Bangkok. Most hotels are accommodating and would let you check out some of their rooms prior to check in. 

#9 For more information about Krabi, check out Though a bit dated, we found this website very helpful. 

And that wraps our Krabi adventure! 

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