Ao Nang or Krabi Town (Which Town to Choose)

Ao Nang or Krabi Town (Which Town to Choose)

Do you only have a few days in Krabi and are wondering whether you should stay in Ao Nang or Krabi Town? Or are you wondering whether any of those towns is worth visiting? What’s the difference between Ao Nang and Krabi Town?

I got you!

In this short guide, I’ll give you my opinion on the differences between Ao Nang and Krabi Town so you can make your own informed decision.

There are countless great destinations in the Thai province of Krabi and many travellers head straight to the best beach resorts around Railay, Koh Phi Phi or Koh Lanta.

But maybe you are the type of traveller who prefers to base themselves in a larger town with good transport links and explore the best of Krabi from there. If so, you’re probably wondering which is better – Ao Nang or Krabi Town?

Why would you want to choose between the two? Both Ao Nang and Krabi Town are the largest towns in Krabi and offer a great choice of accommodation to suit all budgets as well as plenty of restaurants, tours and lots of great things to do.

So if you want a little more than just lazing on the beach and partying in Koh Phi Phi, making a base in a bigger town is a great choice. But which one should you choose? Ao Nang or Krabi Town?

As always, the answer to this question is not so straightforward. It largely depends on what type of traveller you are, what your budget is and what you want to do. But I’ll break it down for you in this post so that hopefully this decision will be an easy one to make.

A quick Answer:

If you only had a few days in Krabi and had to choose between Ao Nang and Krabi Town, I would recommend Ao Nang. Simply because the tourist infrastructure is better and it’s much easier and cheaper to get to places like Railay Beach by boat or public transport.

Ao Nang is definitely more touristy and less authentic than Krabi Town. Therefore, many things like restaurants or accommodation are more expensive.

But while you might save on accommodation or food in Krabi Town you will save on the cheaper tours (competition!) and cheaper long-tail boats in Ao Nang.

With everything in one place like great tours, restaurants, bars and hotels, Ao Nang is the best town in Krabi for the first-time traveller. 

Finally, there is no beach in Krabi Town so if this is a non-negotiable for you, the choice is easy – Ao Nang wins again.


It is not as easy as it sounds at first. 

So if you want to hear more, continue reading.

Ao Nang Overview

Ao Nang is a popular resort town located in the province of Krabi, in southern Thailand. It’s renowned for its stunning beaches, limestone cliffs, and access to various nearby islands. 

Ao Nang or Krabi Town (Which Town to Choose)

I wasn’t a big fan of Ao Nang. And to be frank, if I were to visit Krabi province again, I wouldn’t stay in Ao Nang. But that’s because Ao Nang is a type of place where you stay once and then move on. The town doesn’t have enough charm to keep you coming back over and over again.

Although Ao Nang has a reputation for being overrated and touristy, and some even refer to it as a backpackers’s party town, for the first-time traveller or a typical vacationer, Ao Nang is a great choice. This is mainly due to its excellent tourist infrastructure.

I met all kinds of travellers in Ao Nang. Backpackers in my hostel, but also regular tourists staying in resorts and hotels, digital nomads and retirees.

The town definitely has something for everyone.

Great choice of hostels as well as wonderful hotels, infinitive amount of restaurants and bars, all kinds of tours you might want to do and finally the beach.

Ao Nang or Krabi Town (Which Town to Choose)

Pros of Ao Nang

Great tourist infrastructure.

  • The town revolves around tourists. Whatever type of hotel or hostel you need, you will find in Ao Nang. And the hostels were not too expensive either.
  • There are tonnes of restaurants, bars, clubs, anything you might need!
  • It is very easy to take a half-day trip to Railay Beach without any tour. The longtail boats leave frequently from Ao Nang beach and the return ticket costs only 200Baht.
  • There is a great choice of all the possible tours you might want to take like 5 islands, Emerald Pool or Tiger Cave Temple for a very reasonable price.

Ao Nang has a beach (or two).

  • And although it is not the most glorious beach for Thailand standards it is more decent than I originally expected. The promenade is cute and lovely to walk along.

Plenty of things to do.

Ao Nang is a great place to travel onwards from.

  • There are many tourist agencies offering shuttles and transport to many places around Thailand and even Malaysia. 
Ao Nang or Krabi Town (Which Town to Choose)

Cons of Ao Nang

Ao Nang is very touristy

  • And as much as it comes with pros as mentioned above, it lacks authenticity. It is busy, loud and at times irritating. Especially when you walk down the main street in the evening when every single restaurateur is asking you if you are hungry.
  • Eating out is pricy. Although for many it is still going to be super cheap, but especially if you are travelling from the North, you will prices to be well inflated. But that’s the case around this region of Thailand anyway. 
Ao Nang or Krabi Town (Which Town to Choose)

Disappointing and super tourist night market.

  • There are actually 2 night markets in Ao Nang but one of them, Night Market Place is smaller and located in the town centre. 
  • Ao Nang Landmark Night Market is the most famous but very much geared towards tourists rather than Thnai people. But If this is your only chance to see a night market in Thailand, don’t skip it!

The beach isn’t the greatest.

  • But it also isn’t the worst. It is perfectly fine to spend the afternoon chilling and soaking in the sun and the views are pretty awesome too!

But if you are looking for one of those famous dreamy Thai beaches you can easily hop on a boat and visit Railay instead 🙂

Ao Nang or Krabi Town (Which Town to Choose)

Krabi Town Overview

Krabi Town is definitely much more authentic and what comes with the territory, is more rugged.

It’s a great town, but more for curious travellers. I love visiting authentic towns where no one gives a damn about me, but if you’re looking for a holiday resort, Krabi Town is not the place for you. There is no beach in town and Krabi Town does feel a bit rough around the edges at times.

If you want to experience authentic Thailand away from the tourist spots, Krabi Town is the place for you. It boasts an authentic atmosphere, some of the best night markets in the area and some really cool things to do!

Ao Nang or Krabi Town (Which One is Better)

I’m super happy I spent a few days in Krabi Town and I very much enjoyed it!

But if I were to give advice to a first time traveller in Krabi with limited time, I would probably say that Krabi Town is not the best choice. Especially if you want to do tours and have easy access to public transport.

Heading to Bangkok next?

Read my comprehensive guide to visiting Bangkok for the first time! And if you are not sure where to stay, this is my complete guide to the best areas to stay in Bangkok, especially if you are a solo traveller visiting for the first time.

And if you are feeling overwhelmed by the thought of using public transport in Bangkok, I got you covered too!

Pros of Krabi Town

Krabi Town is much more authentic

  • And definitely less touristy than other places around Krabi. You will not be bothered much and will be surrounded by more Thais than tourists. A rare thing in this region.

Great restaurants and cafes with equally great prices.

  • I was very surprised by how many awesome little cute cafes I found in Krabi Town and there are plenty of great restaurants too!
Ao Nang or Krabi Town (Which One is Better)

Krabi Town is great for exploring Thai night markets!

  • There are many fantastic and authentic night and daytime markets.
  • Black Crab (Poo Dam) Night Market and Krabi Street Night Market are some of the best.
  • You will also find an authentic wet market in Krabi Town – the Maharaj Market

Good place to travel onwards to Malaysia

  • Although you will find shuttles from Ao Nang I found Krabi Town to be more convenient and cheaper to travel onwards from Thailand to Malaysia. 
Ao Nang or Krabi Town (Which One is Better) Ao Nang or Krabi Town (Which One is Better)

Cons of Krabi Town

There is no beach in Krabi Town.

  • A deal breaker for some. 
  • Also, it isn’t so easy to visit nearby beaches without a tour or a motorbike.

Not much nightlife

  • Krabi Town is pretty chilled. No busy restaurants and bar promenades like in Ao Nang. Just a regular life.

Fewer accommodation options than in Ao Nang (but some are really great!)

  • In this department, you will not find beach resorts in Krabi Town.
Ao Nang or Krabi Town (Which One is Better) Ao Nang or Krabi Town (Which One is Better)

Ao Nang vs Krabi Town Based on Travel Style

Ao Nang or Krabi Town – which is better for backpackers

Ao Nang is known as a backpacker’s party town so if this is what you are looking for Ao Nang is the best choice. There are tonnes of great hostels in Ao Nang and this might be one of the best towns to meet other travellers.

Ao Nang or Krabi Town – which is better for a beach holiday

As there is no beach in Krabi Town, Ao Nang is the clear winner here. Ao Nang’s beaches may not be the most spectacular, but its proximity to places like Railay Beach or Tonsai Beach makes Ao Nang a great place for a beach vacation. The beach promenade in Ao Nang is also pretty cool!

Ao Nang or Krabi Town – which is better for couples or honeymoon

Ao Nang is definitely a better place for a romantic getaway. Unless you are a curious couple who like to explore off-path destinations and doesn’t like spending days on the beach. But if you are looking for a great place for your honeymoon or a romantic escape, then Ao Nang is a better choice than Krabi Town.

Ao Nang or Krabi Town – which is better for an authentic experience

If you don’t want to be surrounded by more tourists than locals and are looking for a truly authentic experience, then Krabi Town is the place for you!

Ao Nang or Krabi Town – which is cheaper

Although Krabi Town is theoretically cheaper, especially in terms of food and accommodation, you may have to pay more for tours or for getting to places like Railey. So if you are just looking for accommodation and do not want to do much outside the city, Krabi Town is cheaper. But if you want to go on excursions and visit the nearby beaches, the costs are similar. It might even be cheaper to stay in Ao Nang.

In Conclusion

As unusual as it is for me to recommend touristy places, Ao Nang wins in this comparison for practical reasons.

I feel like I’m slightly betraying the authentic and cool Krabi Town and I still very much recommend visiting it!

Yet if you had to choose just one place, it would be Ao Nang.

Or maybe…

A completely different place in Krabi!

Let me know! Did you go? What are your thoughts?

Until then, enjoy Thailand and happy travels!

Pati x

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Are you looking for more of the off-the-beaten-path Thailand?

Then you should definitely visit the incredibly authentic town of Phitsanuklok!

And while there be sure to visit Sukhothai Historical Park on a day trip!