For the casual tourist, must-visit places when you are in Krabi, Thailand include Phi-Phi Island and James Bond Island. However, there are much more beautiful and less-trodden beaches that are hidden gems to a photographer.
Here are some of my favourites. Trust me, they are not easily accessible and many of the tourist centres might not want to entertain your request (more like pleas) to get you to these place. And this is especially so as the timings for visiting these places are pretty out of the ordinary. So the whole area around Krabi is facing south to west and hence the best times to photograph these places are around sunset.
Check the actual sunset hour and work around an hour or so to get there and then plan to spend another hour for the Blue Hour. So for instance, if the sunset is at 6:30pm, be sure to be at the pick-up point around 6:00pm. Arrange for the boat to then leave the beach around 7:30pm. There might be some nice photogenic spot around the pier where the boat leaves, so do allocate time to explore. An example is Nopparat Thana Pier. Here you can get some good shots of the long-tail boats docked at the pier.
Even the usual tourist spots such Ao Nang Beach are great places to photograph the sunset. Position yourself at the key locations and wait patiently for the sun to set. It is definitely well worth the effort.
Some beaches take a bit more effort to reach. An example is Pai Plong Beach in from of the Centara Grand Hotel. Here you have to walk all the way past Ao Nang Beach and way beyond the Last Fisherman Bar. Take about a 15 minute hike round the cape using the Monkey Trail to get there. Don't worry. After taking your sunset shots, you can take the same trail back as it is well-lit at night. Just have to beware of the many monkeys jealously guarding the path.
You might need to get past the guard at the check-point of the Centara Grand Hotel, but the place is a haven for photographers wanting the off-the-beaten track photos.
For the more exotic beaches, you have to get the help of a reliable representative/tour operator to arrange for you a long-tail boat to where you want to go, and more importantly for when you want to hire the boat. Most of the long-tail stop operating after sunset and so you will need to pay a bit more for the service. One that I can recommend is the Mu Ko Phi National Park Tourist Information Center just next to the Nopparat Thana Pier. There, you will find more reliable services rendered.
Ao Phra Nang beach is a beautiful beach to visit, especially during the sunset hours. Be aware though, there are no eating places and if you really want to, you can arrange (months in advance) for a table at the exclusive Grotto Restaurant. Admission is by reservation only, so be warned - you will not be entertained if you show up at the doorsteps of the restaurant.
But I digress. Ao Phra Nang beach is only accessible by boat, and the best time to visit is during the sunset hours. Here the cliffs surrounding the beach get illuminated by a last rays of the sun. Certainly a sight to behold!
You need to quickly make your way to the many caves, such as the Phra Nang Cave and the Princess Cave next to it. Oh and did I mention, you need to be wary of the tides. At high tide, the caves are all covered and inaccessible.
If you have any queries, do drop me a line and I will be more than glad to help. If you want any of the pictures here, contact me, and I will make it available for download. Prices start from GBP 10.
It is M.K. Wong's dream to visit at least 50 countries before his feet can carry him no more. With over 35 countries under his belt, M.K. is planning for his next escapade.