Ao Nang – Tourism of the masses

After the chaos of Bangkok we were very much looking forward to the slower pace of low season Krabi province, which is an hours flight south of the capital.


The low season means rainy season and although we have experienced some heavy downpours, generally the weather has been good.  The main benefit of traveling in the low season is a reduction in the number of people visiting the area.  On the flipside, the sea is more churned up and not the crystal clear blue that you see in the brochures.


Our accommodation for our time here is in Ao Nang, which is about 30 minutes outside of Krabi town.   It’s not a great destination to be honest, lots of tacky tourists shops and restaurant fare offering much more western options. (McDonalds and Starbucks have a presence here).   We were expecting the worst from these restaurants however to our surprise the food was actually very good.  We also discovered that the roadside food stalls do delicious pancakes with numerous fillings, banana being the favourite choice.  


First point of interest on the “to see” list was Railay Beach. The beach is only accessible via long-tail boat, which costs THB100 (NZD4) per person each way. What a disappointment!  The beach was heavily littered and we don’t recall ever being on a beach with so much rubbish lying on the sand.  The resorts that are there make no attempt to clean their beach (how hard would it be, in a country of high unemployment and very low wages for someone to walk over each morning and pick it up?).  Another issue we had there was the constant attention Callum attracted.  At one stage he had a group of 20 locals grabbing him, kissing him and photographing him.  He was not impressed and neither were we.  Needless to say, we didn’t stay long.


We did a days boat trip to Bamboo Island, Maya Bay (where the movie “The Beach” was filmed) and Phi Phi Island (home of the now declared worlds best donut!!).  This was mass tourism at its worst.  Hundreds of people all piled into speed boats, all arriving to the same destination at the same time and only getting to spend a small amount of time in each place.  When we got to Maya Bay you could hardly see the beach from boats and people on the sand.  It was interesting to see Dominic totally oblivious to all the hoards and he just jumped straight into the water having the time of his life.   I don’t think he could of had a better time even if the beach was deserted.  It made us forget a little about the masses also, joining him for a fun swim.   If it were just Trina and I, we would have spent our whole time there just moaning about the effects of mass tourism to these pristine areas (Maya Bay is undeniably stunning).


ImageWe also had some concerns with the tour operators who displayed little or no care for the environment of which they are totally reliant on for their livelihood, for example, when it was time for some snorkeling, just dropping the anchor wherever and if it happened to land on some coral, so be it.  Had we known what this trip was going to be like we would never have done it.  Tourism is good, if it’s it done the right way.


On the boat we met Mandy, a teacher from London.  She got on famously with the boys and in fact, was spurred on to jump off the boat by Dominic who did it, saying, “ If a 7 year old can do it, so can I”.  It is so pleasing to see the boys starting to interact with people from different countries and different backgrounds.  It was also pleasing to hear from others how wonderful our two boys are.


Our final last few days in Thailand will be spent in Ko Lanta.  Ko Lanta is a laidback, quieter version of Ao Nang, not yet ravaged by the tourism market.  We are vey much looking forward to it.




5 responses to “Ao Nang – Tourism of the masses

  • Megan Lawrence

    You don’t need to go to Thailand to get mopped by Asians. Happened to Millie and Ari at Muriwai Beach this morning. We turned our backs and next thing a whole bus load of Chinese tourists were taking photos of them. Weird!!!

  • Pat and Gary

    Think you mean mobbed, Megan.

  • Nic Sherrock

    Your blog is amazing Dave. Paul, myself and the kids have just booked to go to Bangkok and then on to Phuket (Karon Beach) in October. Weather may be quite iffy then but we are looking forward to it. Your travels are very exciting to read about. Great to use as part of my research!

    • davidll7

      Hi Nic,

      Thanks for your note. Bangkok was hard work (but we were on a budget so would be easier staying in a nicer hotel). Phuket will be great. The boys will love the attention! Hope all is well in NZ. Cheers.

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