I didn’t have very high expectations for Ao Nang, Lonely Planet warned that it “provides ‘civilisation’ instead of scenery” and that it’s “not the tropical hideaway that most people are looking for.” Friends had warned me that it was too touristy. But I had to get out of Bangkok. I needed to be by the sea and Ao Nang seemed like a good place to use as a base while exploring the Krabi area for a day or two.
It turned out I spent 7 nights there. Relaxing after the intensity of Bangkok, I just enjoyed this sleepy, half-empty town thanks to the low season. I enjoyed wandering on the beach and resting in the sea breeze.
I kept extending my stay there because of all the little things. A family of cheeky monkeys surprised and distracted me while I walked along the beach one day, throwing things from trees at anyone who dared get close enough to them and posing for photos on the beach (but fortunately not stealing our stuff as they tend to do elsewhere).
I enjoyed going back to a restaurant called Boat Noodle every day to eat the most delicious Pad Thai I could find so far in Thailand, at a price of 50 baht (about $2).
I was wowed while walking home along the waterfront from Boat Noodle one evening, when I ran into a family letting off wish lanterns.
Most of all, I enjoyed just how beautiful the day trips from Ao Nang were. Railay Bay (literally around the corner from Ao Nang, but inaccessible by road) was picture perfect on a day-trip-turned-adventure. A mid-afternoon rainstorm cut up the ocean, leaving the boat services back to Ao Nang cancelled for the day and us stranded. Abandoned and looking a little hopeless, a kind Bangkokian lady and her daughter adopted us, took us on the only ferry that was still running (in the absolute opposite direction to Ao Nang), waited on the corner of a dark and empty street to find a songthaew (local share-taxi) with us, made sure we got local prices, not tourist prices and got us home safely. There are some real rogues in Thailand (tuk tuk drivers, ‘travel agents’ etc.) but we’ve been lucky to meet only kind, happy and helpful Thai people.