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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Budgeting for Krabi 101

Hello. When it comes to holidays I'm a very simple person.

1) I like a comfortable bed to sleep in.
2) I like friendly locals who are willing to help me and not steal my money.
3) I like the beach.

I've just about narrowed down several beach destinations in Asia, but my favourite - for the time being - is Krabi. I love their little resort town, Ao Nang.

Island off Krabi! One of those Phi Phi Islands I think.
The sleepy little town is about a 2 hour drive from Phuket, and a 1 hour 45 minute plane ride from Singapore. Perfect for a quick getaway. Also perfect for my virgin holiday with my best friend of over 14 years, Jihan.

See the thing about Krabi is that it's such a relaxed, easy holiday destination, you can definitely use it to test waters the waters of your friendship/ new relationship/ work-team relationship while not having to invest too much into it! (It was also the first holiday destination for my fiance and I. Made me realise that I could put up with his nonsense for the next xx years of my life, and I guess.. made him realise that he could put up with me too! hahaha)

Before I get into the details of what there is to do, here is how much I spent:


Disclaimer: I didn't go completely budget because I like my luxuries, like not having to squeeze with 13 sweaty people in a back of a shelter-less speedboat, quality steak, and a sun bed to tan on. Considering this is pretty atas, I think what I spent on was way decent.



Hotel: Red Ginger Chic Resort Price: $56.80 per person for two nights. Booked on Agoda.

Thanks Trip Advisor! It led me far from the Groupon crap. Always be sure to check Trip Advisor before you choose a holiday destination from Groupon. Most of the hotels on the site have been given really low ratings. So don't go there! My advice to always check trip advisor before choosing a hotel. My hotel was given great reviews, looked great in pictures, and was conveniently located close to a tuk tuk stand with plenty of convenience stores and street food around. Especially a fantastic prata pancake stalls - yum.

It was sunny most of the days we went, and the beautiful pool was so inviting! Doesn't it look amazing! We spent plenty of time lounging by the pool or out on our balcony relaxing.
The room, which had no bathtub (no problems there) was humongous with an equally large balcony. It overlooked the beautiful pool and was extremely comfortable. The room was also wi-fi enabled... in certain corners of the room... But it was enough for Jihan and I. 

How to get there:
Airport transfer is provided, do remember to email the hotel a week in advance so that they can prepare your transport for you! Here's our lovely cab driver who was dressed so fabulously and had an Usher song as his ringtone:

He spoke little English but played good English music and helped us with our bags. 













































Remember, don't be a dick and forget to tip! - Thank you for pointing that out and being the better of both of us Jihan. - 50BHT is good enough! 100BHT if you feel generous.

What to do in Krabi: Join tours. Go for massages.
As I mentioned, Ao Nang is really a sleepy resort town. Everything there is catered for tourists at good prices. There's all your Starbucks and several fast food joints (yuck. don't know why they bother.) tattoo parlours which double as fish spas/ cafes/ shoe shops etc, countless souvenir stores that sell the same thing, cheap alcohol, and plenty of good live music. If you're going to experience local culture, I suggest going to Bangkok or Phuket instead. Ao Nang is truly for lazy tourists. Like me.

Just one of the many places you can find tours if you don't want to ask your hotel for help. Practically every two minutes you come across a tour agency, a restaurant selling Western, Thai, Italian and Indian food and a money changer. Very convenient, but definitely not for people looking for the "authentic" Thai experience.
There are a ton of tours to join when you head to Ao Nang, I'd suggest booking through your hotel if you're looking for a generic tour and you're too lazy to email folks before hand. You can go trekking to the hot springs, visit Krabi Town, leisurely strolls through temples, night market shopping and my favourite, snorkeling.

Ao Nang, while it's advertised as a beach destination, actually has an awful beach. Pebbles instead of sand, and light brown sea water like Singapore's giant longkang river. 

I don't know how the two ang mors can sit there and be so chill. It actually HURTS to sit on that sand. And the water.. Meh. But it was very breezy on the coastline. Jihan couldn'g get a light hahaha!


Phi Phi islands is where the water gets awesome!  So be sure to take a boat out to one of the other islands if you want clean clear water  and soft white sand.
So pretty right! One of the places we stopped at!
Generic snorkeling tours where a local guide brings you and 100 other tourists on a shiny speed boat costs about $65 per person. It's very easy to find such tours, but I've tried those and I didn't like it. So I went for something a little more private. Thalassa Tour

I was so impressed by this bloke Jorge (Hor-hey). Jorge's a Spanish dude who quit his job back in Spain and has been in Thailand for over two years leading snorkeling tours because - as he says in his sexy Spanish accent - "he likes the water and the people." Swoon. Here's his picture, and another one he took with us. What a friendly guy!
Our super wonderful guides.
He works in partnership with local guides too so you don't have to worry about him getting you lost. His tours are private, so 10,000BHT should get you a one on one with him for you and your folks. But because my best friend and I are pretty broke we asked if he had any tours we could join. Luckily enough, he had! So it was 2,000BHT each and we joined a lovely couple for a private late afternoon to night snorkeling tour! We whizzed past tour groups of about 20pax on long boats and had the whole boat to ourselves. The tour was so flexible too because it was so personalised.

I just thought the trip was fantastic and the people so friendly.

The little private tour! The couple's from Singapore too, so lots to talk about!
Here's what we did. Snorkeling somewhere off Chicken Island where there were NO tourists at all. As usual, I threw up after I snorkeled and got back on the boat. Throwing up's not gonna stop me from viewing the depths of the sea!!
Such an enchanting dive spot! The sea urchins were aplenty and the fish, swimming with us in droves. Wish I had brought my gopro with me!

45 minutes of chillout time along a beautiful beach! 
Just gorgeous!

I exfoliated. And then I tanned and squinted into the sun.
Like a little private, deserted island. That hut apparently USED to sell cans of soft drinks.
Private picnic with chillout jazz music and great conversation by the beach. We watched the sunset and waved as the tourists left us all on our wonderful lonesomes. We shared a few anecdotes about our lives and I was strongly attracted to our candid tour guide. (Shout-out to fiance: Sorry hon! I love you very much! hahaha)

Our Thai guide setting up the picnic for us and cutting little heart-shaped watermelons. We stayed till the sun set on us and all the tourist left.
Very friendly and chatty guide! You can find out tons of info on Krabi from him. He knows the best places to go.

He even invited Jihan and I to go drinking and party with other foreigners who live in Krabi. It was to celebrate someone's birthday and was on a separate island further out from Ao Nang. But because the island was so far out, no boats would return that night, which meant we had to stay overnight and might have to miss our flight :( We just went back to the hotel and got drunk instead.

WE SWAM WITH BIO-LUMINESCENT PLANKTON
I wish I had pictures to show you. But it was impossible to take images! If you search youtube for bioluminscent plankton in krabi, you just come across a black screen. Sad.

It was terrifyingly beautiful. You jump into pitch black waters, put on your snorkel, dunk your head into the water and flounder while waving your arms like a mad person. The more you wave your arms, the more the plankton glow and surround you like underwater fireflies. Absolutely stunning.

Also, life jackets are a bitch. But as mama always tells us, be safe, not sorry. Use protection.

Here's a picture of the beautiful sunset though:


Massages
As with all lazy tourists, I love me some massages. My go-to place at Krabi is definitely a little pricier than the many other massage palours in Krabi, but I go for service. And I like the service I get at Atta Rak Let's Sea, Let's Relax.


This is the entrance, look for this as you walk along the road, it should be somewhere opposite Starbucks or Macdonalds.



It's about 300BHT for a 60 minute Thai massage but 250BHT for the same thing at other places. But the service is well worth the extra 50BHT.

Beautiful interiors with a treatment written on the wall.
I also had a manicure, where, after inspecting my fingers and giving me pastel pretty nails, my sweet manicurist said in her strong Thai accent, "Your finger, like baby." What? "So small. Like baby. Smooth." Alright. Thanks I think? And I looked sadly at my stubby nails. But she was sweet. So extra BHT for you! Bwahaha. Tipping is so hard. When do you know how much to give right?

Food in Krabi
Everywhere you go, and your resort too, you'll find that all restaurants serve the same thing. Thai food, Indian food, Italian food and good ol' Western food. If you're looking for quick nourishment, head to any one. They're literally all the same. Worst that could happen would be that the food is mediocre at best so it doesn't matter.

Amazing Pad Thai from the hotel. So full of flavour. Cheap and good.

But if you're looking for something special, I highly recommend Carnivore.


It's this little hole in the wall up a hill. You have to walk past a convenience store and a tailor, walk past an empty field and suddenly you see a ton of motorbikes and BAM! You're at Carnivore.

Run by a foreigner (I have this idea he's French... But then again I'm not sure. He could be Aussie too?) the food comes in American-sized portions and the food so sinfully delightful.


I started with a lobster bisque and ordered a steak, which is what everyone should order when they're here. Come on people! Make use of the good prices!

My steak came with a gigantic salad:

A delicious side of a baked potato:
Which was so mindblowing because they basically scooped out the insides, mashed it and mixed it with milk, cheese and bacon, stuffed it back into the potato, covered it in cheese, baked it in the oven and then used a flame torch to scorch the cheese.
Jihan loved it so much she ate my leftovers:
Please blame shitty camera for ugly photo.
The main show:
Sadly my picture isn't great because the lighting at the restaurant was very dim, and I have horrible shaky hands. But my steak, sprinkled with mushrooms was cooked to pink perfection.

The place mostly hosts foreigners because by Krabi standard's it's pretty pricy. But tell me where you can get a 200g tenderloin steak with all the sides for $34.55?! So amazed.

The restaurant ends the night with a shot of Sambuca with two coffee beans to chew on and ice cold towels to refresh you for the warm, humid evenings.


Street food is equally delicious:



But by far, my favourite of the street foods is the prata pancake.


It differs with every stall you go to. Some offer thick, chewy prata pancakes, others, like this one, offer thin, crispy pancakes. But I love the same toppings on all my pancakes: nutella mixed with peanut butter and topped with bananas. It is, as with all holiday foods, sinfully delicious. The savoury prata together with the sweet nutella and bananas are amazing!

As for drinks, I only drink one thing when I go to Krabi, Watermelon juice.


It's a world of difference from the awful mashed up pulp you get back in Singapore. Ice blended, sweet and fresh, the taste is perfect for any hot summer day. I've had watermelon juice at three different places in Krabi but they always taste the same and always taste as good. You should really try some!
Oh, I also drank a lot of alcohol because the prices can drop to about 100BHT per cocktail.
We drank nearly five cocktails in two hours at the hotel bar.
Unnecessary things
You really shouldn't shop in Krabi. There's nothing you can't buy in Singapore and the souvenir shops are literally the same, it's just how far you are willing to bargain.
Shit you can buy from any souvenir shop in krabi. Yes. Those are wooden dicks next to the fake lizards. Why would they place lizards next to dicks? Hmm..
The only think I bought were boxing shorts for the fiance if not he so poor thing stay at home and slog while I tan in the sun.

Shampoo, conditioner, suntun lotion are easily available at all convenient stores, so don't worry about those. Speaking of convenience... There are tattoo parlours everywhere, they usually double as a separate shop AND a tattoo parlour like this:


Jihan was contemplating getting a new one, but then she didn't know what to get.

It's also a fish spa.

HORRORS! I will NEVER put my feet in that. Ever.
!!!!!
You'll find palours like these everywhere. It's really an analogy for Krabi. A mixture of everything, with no real identity, and a deep need to attract tourists.

Well. Hoped you enjoyed my little Krabi budget plan! If you do go and you have questions, drop me a mail and tell me how much you love it!


Ahh.. Beautiful Krabi. How I miss you already.

I love holidays with my best friend!

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