Formally Ao Phra Nang ("Princess Bay") although everybody uses the short form, Ao Nang is the most "Westernized" beach in Krabi, originally a backpacker hotspot but now moving slowly upmarket as the airport brings in higher flyers. While not quite as scenic as Rai Leh, there is a good range of cheap accommodation, many good restaurants, easy transport and travel/tour agencies ready to cater to your every whim, making it a good base for exploring Krabi.
Orienting yourself in Ao Nang is easy: almost everything is located either along the beach, which runs west-east, or along the Airport Road (Hwy 4203) which goes up north from the east end of the beach. Long-tail boats arrive on the beach near the junction of the two roads; these long-tails, though, create a problem: the level of noise pollution arising from an endless stream of undampened boat motors during high season is substantial. As long as visitors are ever increasing this problem will continue to worsen and detract from the beauty of this beach. Another problem getting more acute with the rising number of tourists in high season is the raw sewage carried directly into the sea, responsible for occasional bad smells which can be strong depending on the daily currents and the disgusting aesthetics.
Krabi International Airport is about 40 minutes away by car. As of 2005, the local airport limo monopoly charges a fairly steep 600 baht for a transfer (up to 4 people). Many hotels will arrange a pickup at similar prices on request. Travel time is about half an hour.
Local shuttle buses — really just converted pickup trucks (songthaew) — run from Ao Nang to Krabi (40 baht) and from Krabi to the airport (50 baht). The total trip between Ao Nang and the airport takes little less than 2 hours. To get to Ao Nang from Krabi town you should look for a white songthaew outside the 7-11 shop.
There is a big bus service from the airport to Ao Nang beach and Noppharat Thara Beach (just after Ao Nang). There are about 4 services a day. It travels from the airport to Krabi, the ferry terminal, then onwards to Ao Nang and Noppharat Thara. Good for some sight-seeing. Rates are 150 baht per person and travelling time to Ao Nang is 1 hour.
The buses are not new and are quite noisy. But, the best part is, the bus can drop you off at the doorstep of most hotels in Krabi, Ao Nang, and Noppharat Thara. Just let the driver know the name of your hotel in advance. Language is not an issue, as most of them speak some English.
For the return trip, you can call the hotline 1 day before to arrange pick-up at your hotel. Or you can wait at any of the 4 bus stops in Ao Nang (one is in front of McDonald's) and Noppharat Thara. You need to be there at least 10 minutes before the bus is due to arrive. You can buy tickets on the bus or in any of the tourist information points.
Rai Leh West and Ton Sai are only 10 minutes away, while the less developed Had Yao (Long Beach) is 25 minutes away by long-tail. Boats leave constantly from the east end of the beach and charge a flat 100 baht/person during the day, 150 baht/person at night (after 18:00). There is no pier so expect to get at least your feet wet, probably more. Long-tail boats from Aonang are available at all seasons, but subject to the weather. In the monsoon season (May-Oct), getting to Rai Leb from Ao Nammao is recommended.
There are also public ferry services to Ko Phi Phi and Ko Lanta (usually twice daily), for which any travel agent will be happy to sell you tickets at around 200 baht/person. During the monsoon season, the ferry runs once a day.
Boats from Ko Lanta now arrive at the new jetty, from there take a taxi (350 baht), or local bus to Krabi (50 baht) and then on to Ao Nang (40 baht).
There is a songthaew (shared pick-up truck/taxi) service to Ao Nang from Krabi, which runs throughout daylight hours in low season and up to 22:00 in high season. The fare is 50 baht and they can be expected every 15-20 minutes. Songthaews are colour coded according to destination so make sure if you are coming to Ao Nang from Krabi you get on a white one.
To find one of these white ones in Krabi, go to the Vogue Shopping Centre on Maharaj Rd (the main road). They go from here and cost 50 baht. They apparently go also from the bus station.
When coming from Krabi, the songthaew came along the beach before climbing the hill at the end. Going back to Krabi, it was the opposite direction to get to town and the bus station.
Tuk-tuks in Ao Nang charge a flat 20 baht/person for trips around town. Songthaews also run all across Ao Nang onto the Shell Beach (See) and some all the way to Krabi town, fares from 10 baht up depending on distance.
Renting a motorbike is a great way to explore some of the sites outside of Ao Nang. There are shops up and down the major strips and you can get a reliable bike for 24 hours for 150-200 baht.
Fossil Shell Beach (Thai Su-san Hoi, literally "Seashell Graveyard"). Some 7 km west of Ao Nang, this mildly tourist trap-like attraction has slates of compressed, 40 million year old shellfish, which bear a small resemblance to concrete. There's also a small grubby museum and a huge slew of gift shops. Entry is a steep 200 baht for foreigners, but only 20 baht for Thais. This tourist trap is simply not worth the 200 baht you have to pay as tourists unless maybe you are a geology student. As the official Krabi tourism website (rather honestly) states "most are either engrossed in this or totally indifferent".
Nopparat Thara Beach. Picturesque beach at the western tip of Ao Nang, zoned as a national park. During low tide you can walk up to some of the nearby craggy limestone islands. However ask the locals if it is 'jellyfish season' before plunging in if you are the only one getting ready to take a dip.
Rai Leh Beach. A nice beach near Ao Nang, which can only be reached via a long-tail boat. It is actually part of the mainland, but is cut-off by the limestone hills. The beach is cleaner than the ones at Ao Nang and Nopparat Thara, and there are some caves worth exploring. There are also hotels and resorts on the beach. In the off-season, it can be a drama to get there! The long-tails want to collect 800 baht for the crossing, so they wait for the required number of passengers. There are two companies who do this, one at the left end of the beach (facing the water) and the other some several hundred metres to the right. If you do not get a return day ticket you will have to return with the other company. In the off-season, from May, there are few tourists and you may have to wait a long time to get the required number of passengers, or pay the 800 baht yourself!
Rai Leh and Ko Phi Phi are just around the corner and there are many tour operators offering activities such as sea kayaking and elephant treks.
Andaman Camp and Cruise, tel: +66 87 885 1125, . Private, customised day trips and camping trips to many islands. They can also help plan individual itineraries, accommodation, and transfers.
Rock Climbing - Climbing can be arranged through Ao Nang agencies who will arrange transfers, lunch, and as much climbing as your limbs can handle. Alternatively, simply wander over to Rai Leh or Ton Sai and organize an introductory course yourself.
Ao Nang Climbers, . Will give you all the information and courses from beginner to experienced climber; children welcome.
KrabiTrek, tel: +66 81 27 31313, . Can arrange private boats trips, All Kayaking, rafting, climbing and sightseeing activities.
Most of the dive shops offer a very similar price for the dive courses and dive trips. However, take a good look around as there some good seasonal bargains to be found. Sites visited daily include the local islands in Ao Nang Bay, Phi Phi Marine National Park, the King Cruiser Wreck site, and Shark Point Marine sanctuary. It's now also possible to do a one-day safari by speedboat to Hin Daeng and Hin Muang for the chance to see whale sharks and manta rays, or to do some spectacular cavern diving at the 5 islands of Ko Ha Yai. Some of the more popular dive sites can become crowded in the peak of high season late-December to early-January.
Absolute Diving, 290 Moo 2 (on the main road, just a few minutes from Ao Nang Beach, opposite SSS-Recompression Chamber), ☎ +66 75 637 716, . Daily trips to the area's best dive sites on a speedboat. Small, safe groups for the better diving experience. PADI courses from beginner to pro.edit
Aqua Vision Dive Centre (scuba diving krabi), (on the main beach road 2 minutes up from McDonalds and at the Sheraton Krabi Beach Resort), ☎ +66 75 637 415 ([firstname.lastname@example.org]), . Experienced PADI and SSI dive centre. English, German, Swedish, French, Spanish, Russian and Thai language dive guides. Dive trips by choice of speedboat including Hin Daeng, Ko Ha Yai, Racha Islands, or day boat to Phi Phi, Shark Point, and local islands.Usual Ao Nang Prices. (8.03427,98.82854)edit
Kon-Tiki Diving and Snorkelling Center, 161/1 Moo 2 (in front of Krabi Resort.), ☎ +66 75 637 826, . Ao Nang's only PADI 5-star IDC & National Geographic dive centre and Go Eco operator. The fleet of 4 boats runs daily diving & snorkelling tours to Phi Phi Islands, Shark Point, King Cruiser wreck, Hin Daeng/Hin Muang. The dive centre is recognized as one of Thailand's leading eco-dive centers with several awards for educating environmental awareness. All organisations and nationalities are welcome to join us.edit
KrabiDivers.com, Sea of Love Plaza Ao Nang (opposite McDonalds), ☎ +66 75 695 480 (email@example.com), . 24/7. Located in the heart of Ao Nang, the beachside town of Krabi, in the Sea of Love Plaza. KrabiDivers.com provides dive courses, trips, liveaboards, dive equipment sales, and also helps customers with hotel bookings and other arrangements.edit
Phran Nang Divers, 32/10 Moo 2, . 100% English-run PADI dive centre with over 15 years experience diving in Ao Nang. Courses run in English and German, most European languages also available.edit
Poseidon Dive Center, 23/27 Moo 2 (on the main road, 70 m from Ao Nang Beach, opposite Ao Nang Villa & Ao Nang Orchid Resort), ☎ +66 75 637 7263, . 09:00-21:00 daily. Poseidon is a friendly and individual dive centre in Thailand that offers trips to Ko Phi Phi as well as to famous local dive sites, such as Ko Sii, Ko Haa, Ko Talu, and others. They offer a big range of courses from beginners up to professionals, fun dives, free-diving and specialities in different languages.edit
Raya Divers, 1/2 Moo 5 Tambol Rawai (about 2 km up Airport Rd), ☎ +66 76 280 074, . 100% Finnish-run 5-star PADI shop. Instruction also available in English. Good gear and an emphasis on safety.edit
Scuba Addicts, on the main beach road (opposite the main beach steps and tsunami warning tower), . 07:00-21:00. PADI and SSI training facility in Ao Nang and Krabi. Scuba Addicts offers diving and snorkelling adventures for all ages and abilities that are tailored to suit your individual or group needs. Our aim is to make your scuba diving holiday in Ao Nang and Krabi fun and memorable for all the right reasons and keep you coming back for more.edit
Ao Nang has no shopping malls or supermarkets, but there are plenty of convenience stores and souvenir shops. The vast majority of shops are lined nicely along the beachfront road. There are also a few side roads (sois) that branch off into the cluster of crowded shops. The regular tourist fare (e.g., postcards, magnets, trinkets, etc.) are plentiful as are clothes, shoes, and pretty much anything else you'll find elsewhere in Thailand.
Do consider a 3-piece tailor-made suit which cost roughly 1,000-2,000 baht depending on quality of wool. Most of the tailors can get the suit done within a day. As of October 2011, tailored men's suits are 4,500-6,000 baht (150-200 dollars) and tailor-made shirts are 850-1,000 baht (roughly 25-35 dollars).
In Ao Nang there are some restaurants that have a "Clean food, Good taste" sign. This signifies that dishes are prepared with boiled water and that the food is always good, all for a reasonable price. All restaurants with this certificate will be more than satisfactory in every way.
You will pay double the price in Krabi. Main courses are about 150 baht, and seafood very much more (starts at 250 baht). If you are a backpacker, look for the street stalls or restaurants at the top of the hill well beyond McDonalds!
For cheap eats, there are a few street carts scattered about, although most serve backpacker fare like banana pancakes (15 baht a pop). The fried chicken lady in front of the Tipa Resort does a pretty mean som tam (papaya salad) at 40 baht though, and also look out for the yellow-signed noodle stalls with a "4" in a bowl as their logo, which dish out a garlicky but tasty bamii muu daeng (roast pork noodles) for 25 baht.
The pad Thai served in in a stall named "Kai Tieun Restaurant" is good and cheap. The noodle itself is not spicy and you need to add the condiments available on the table to make it spicy.
The stall in front of the Adidas Store serves rice-type lunches at 20-30 baht a box. The "Kao Nam" (similar to Nasi Briyani in Malaysia) is superb. Be careful before ordering "Keng Mu" (minced spicy chicken meat with rice) though, be prepared to gulp in lots of water to counter the spiciness.
Generally the places along the beach are more expensive and the ones up the hill tend to be cheaper and better value.
Blue Bayou Small guest house with great kitchen, "Clean food, Great taste" sign, 20 m from the beach. Owner is very helpful and friendly, speaks very good English. 79 Moo 3, Haad Nopphara Thara. T: +66 75 637 558, +66 75 637 083.
The Boat Cafe on Airport Rd (opposite the 7-11) has no sign in English but is easily recognizable from the old long-tail boat outside which they use to serve up thom yum and other Thai soups at lunchtime. Dishes cost 20-35 baht, and the best recommendation is the large number of locals coming in for an evening meal.
One More Restaurant on Airport Rd (15 minutes from the beach up Airport Rd on the right side). Low-key restaurant serving a variety of Thai dishes and seafood at affordable prices. The staff here are incredibly friendly.
Pang's Kitchen on Airport Rd (just before OneStop Dive Centre and next to Hertz car rental). Small traditional Thai restaurant with really good food and prices. The 'Jim Jum' (very traditional Thai dish that few restaurants sell due to the need for charcoal cookers) was awesome and really good fun to eat with friends. The spring rolls were the best I've tasted in Ao Nang.
Tonsai Restaurant, Ao Nang Soi 15 (15 minutes from the beach up Airport Rd). Popular low-key restaurant offering Thai food with local scenery.
Bernies Place Offers a daily all you can eat BBQ for 250 baht or 150 baht for vegetarians. The food is great and well-prepared, and there is a 2-for-1 happy hour from 16:00-18:00 and again from 22:00-23:00. Located at the southern end of the Beach Rd between the Irish Rover and the Ocean Mart.
Blue Mango, Opposite Krabi Resort. Offers nice local food, as well as Western food. Has good selections of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, which also makes it a great place for after-dinner drinking sessions.
Wanna's Restaurant, facing the beach in central Ao Nang, offers rather good Thai and Swiss dishes for about 100 baht. The home made Swiss museli with yoghurt and fresh fruit is highly recommended. the pad Thai here is quite good.
There is no shortage of places for a drink, and very many Patong-style girlie beer bars. On the Ao Nang beach front there is now only one such bar, Planet Ao Nang. Paz (frizzy hair) and the gang down there are awesome, great fun! Further down towards the Rai Leh-end of the beach is Last Fishermans Bar. Both are good for watching the sun go down over the ocean. Center Point, on the main beach road near Burger King, has a bunch of bars catering for most tastes. If you're into live music, Rocky Bar, and KR Bar are best. There are some bars along the dirt road opposite Vogue Resort and Spaghetti House, including Magic Rock Bar, Football Bar, and and Chilli Bar . These bars offer great views of the cliff in a relaxed, open-air setting.
Belgian beers are starting to slowly invade some bars and restaurants. Golden Paradise Co. Ltd., under European management, in Ao Nang/Krabi has been importing German beers for 10 years and offer now the best beverages from Belgium (18 brands & 30 different kinds of beer).
If you fancy a chilled out drink and few games of pool in a friendly location, go for a drink in the bars adjacent to Noparat Thara Beach. Next to Luna bar are four chilled out separate bars where you can listen to the sea while enjoying a drink. There is Seemore Bar, Sweat Bar, Italy Bar, and Hunter Bar, all of which have very friendly staff and good travel advice. Speak to Nui in Seemore Bar for excellent drink deals and offers. Excellent fireworks can be seen here at New Year.
Some budget places can be found on the street near the Irish pub, 5 minutes up the road from the beach. In low-season the prices were 300-500 baht.
Aonang Paradise Home price: 650 baht fan/A/C, private bathroom, pool. Ask for Phoo phone +66 86 280 1223, speaks English and Thai or Helmar +66 86 278 3441 speaks English and German.
Blue Bayou price: 300-600 baht low-season bungalow with private bathroom fan/ac, 20 m from the beach. Owner is very helpful and friendly, speaks very good English. 79 Moo 3, Haad Nopphara Thara. T: +66 75 637 558, +66 75 637 083
The Krabi Forest Homestay, 68 Moo3 Tambon Ao Nang, Amphur Mueang, +66-75-661-500, +66-86-570-6524, +66-87-488-7199, 600-1,000 baht in low-season and 800-1,500 baht in high-season depending on room type. One minute walking distance to Noppharatthara Beach and 5 minutes walking distance to Ao Nang Beach. Owner and the staff are very helpful and friendly. They speak fluent English and can provide you with excellent tourist information. The bungalows come with private room and private bathroom. You can pick between the bungalows that have one king-size bed, 2 twin-size beds, or 3 twin-size beds. All of the bungalows/rooms come with private terrace, standard toilet/bathroom, and standard shower with hot/cold water heater, shampoo/conditioning, air conditioning, multi-channel cable TV, blow-dryer, coffee/tea pot and small refrigerator. All bungalows/rooms come with 2 bottles of water daily. Facilities and services are massage, spa, beauty salon, tour office service, bar, transportation services, tailor service, Thai restaurant, Indian restaurant, laundry/dry cleaning service, high-speed WiFi, motorcycle rental, car rental, bicycle rental and private parking.
Seaworld price: 300-600 baht, low-season. Fan/A/C. Ask for Jenny: phone +66 81 111 3913. By the Irish pub. Very sassy but incredibly helpful owner. Speaks English, French, and Dutch.
Laughing Gecko price: 500 baht. Ask for Nui phone +66 81-270-5028, speaks English, German and Thai. Modest bamboo bungalows including a fan and intermittent wifi. The gentleman overseeing the property is named Nui and is incredibly friendly, helpful (for booking activities and other travel) and a fantastic cook—if enough guests express interest, he'll cook a buffet each night for 150 baht/person. Lovely place to relax and chill. Located around 100 m from the beach in the western end of Hat Noppharat Thara next to Cashew Nut Bungalows.
Ananta Burin Resort, 166 Moo 3 Ao Nang, Soi 8, ☎ 66 75 661 551, . All rooms equipped with king-size or twin bed, air-conditioner, 32-inch LCD TV, WiFi, and coffee/tea maker. Some of its facilities and services are swimming pool, Jacuzzi, and massage service, car rental, and laundry/dry cleaning.From 1,350 baht. edit
Ao Nang All Seasons Beach Resort, 162 Moo 3, Tambol Ao Nan, Amphur Muang 81000, ☎ +66 75 661 598, . Air conditioning, cable TV, and WiFi. Swimming pool, car rental, and parking.From 1,188 baht. edit
Chatchada Guest house, 596/6 Moo 2 Ao Nang Rd., ☎ +66(0)75-695 420, . A short walk from the beach, this homely establishment is run by a very hospitable Australian expat and Thai owner. Rooms are clean with very comfortable beds. One of the best breakfasts in Ao Nang. Scooter hire can be arranged.From 900 baht. edit
Ao Nang Palace Hotel, a couple of hundred metres from the beach on the road up the hill. Can be expensive in high-season, but normal off-season price is 940 baht. Breakfast is included, and there is a reasonable buffet choice. Hotel has a swimming pool, a travel agent on-site, as are Internet computers. No lift. There may be Internet discounts. Rooms are OK: two single beds pushed together with hard mattresses (usual for Thailand).
Ao Nang Terrace Hotel, 131-131 /3 Moo.3, Ao Nang, ☎ +66 75 637 091-2, . 42 rooms, all of which have an air-conditioner, cable TV, hair dryer and a refrigerator. Games room, and high speed Internet.start at 1,700 baht. edit
Beach Terrace Hotel, 154 Moo 2, T. Aonang, ☎ +66 7563 7181-3, . At Ao Nang Beach. All rooms have air-conditioning, mini-bar, cable TV, safe deposit box, hair dryer, DVD player, WiFi. Swimming pool with water power stream jets and child pool, pool bar service, tour desk service, car and motorbike rental.From 1,200.00 baht. edit
Duang Jai Resort, 152 Moo 3 Ao Nang, ☎ +66 75 63 82 114, . 21 rooms, air-conditioning, cable TV and Internet access. Swimming pool, room service, and restaurant, cafe, bar.From 1,450 baht. edit
The Emerald Bungalow, Nopparat-Thara Beach 80 Moo 4 Tambol Ao-Nang, ☎ +66 81-9562566, . Standard and family rooms, all equipped with fan, private toilet, and bath. Garden, gym, restaurant, and bar.From 1,500 baht. edit
P.K.Mansion is clean value for money. A centrally-located accommodation in a quiet street close to the beach. The very large rooms are en suite, with TV, fridge, and balcony. Low-season price, 150 to 500 baht, High-season 500 to 1,500 baht. Tel.+66 75 637 431-2, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Probably the best value in Ao Nang.
Palm Paradise Resort, 165 Moo 3, Ao Nang, ☎ +66 75 661 667, . Resort is located between Ao Nang and Nopparattara Beaches in Krabi. Resort is 500 m from the beach.From 1,000 baht. edit
Top view Some rooms have a sea view. Located next to P.K. Mansion. Low season price 600 to 1,000 baht, High
season 1,500 to 2,000 baht. E-mail email@example.com 
The L Resort Krabi (formerly Wannas Place), . The beach is just in front of the hotel, so there are beautiful views of the Krabi Mountains and the islands of Ko Talu and Ko Poda. This property is built with the nature in mind, but also has modern amenities. All rooms include WiFi, 40-inch LED TVs, air-conditioning, mini-bar, safe, and breakfast.2,800-11,000 baht. edit
Naga Pura Resort & Spa, . Offers luxurious and comfortable accommodation as well as professional hospitality and friendly services in Krabi.3,100+ baht. edit
In 2011-2012 season there were troubling reports of robberies in Ao Nang. Groups of local teenagers robbed a number of houses rented by foreigners, stealing stuff like laptops, cameras, smartphones, clothes with keys and money in the pockets. In addition, there were reports of local teenagers attempting to rape foreign females. The criminals who commit the sexual assaults often have weapons such as knives with them. Police have not conducted serious investigations of crimes against foreigners, and the thieves are smart enough not to invade the homes of wealthy locals. So if your laptop is stolen, nobody is going to help you get it back.
Here are some simple hints to avoid trouble:
Close doors and windows at night. Some people say they were robbed at night while watching TV.
Never leave clothes or bags with documents and money on the floor. Hide all valuables.
Phra Nang Beach at Rai Leh and Poda Island in the distance
The cliffs and beaches of Rai Leh, just 15 minutes away by boat, make a great day trip. Phra Nang is the next beach past Rai Leh and has dramatic limestone 'karst' rock formations. Names get confusing, as Ao Nang (the developed resort) is sometimes called Ao Phra Nang. From Phra Nang you can walk across to Rai Leh East, with its mangroves, and hire kayaks to paddle round the rugged peninsula. There's also a path from Rai Leh East to Rai Leh West where the most longtails call.
Poda Island is another good day trip - you come back with the same boat and only pay on return. There's even an area to the right of where the longtails come in to Poda that's just worth snorkeling (unspectacular coral but a fair few fish).
Ao Nang is one of the main gateways for travel to the Phi Phi islands, about 2 hours away by long tail boat, 40-50 mins by speed boat. Many tour operators in Ao Nang offer day trips to Phi Phi. Included in the price (900-1500 baht) is most often lunch, hotel transfer and insurance.
Nowadays, you may depart from Ao Nang to Koh Lanta easily. Ferry runs daily at 10:30 by Ao Nang Princess. Book it at your hotel, price should be about 400 baht (as at Nov 2009), and you will be picked up from your hotel and taken to the departure point, as well as met on the other side and taken to your hotel there.
The Tab Kak Hang Nak Hill Nature Trail is found northwest of Ao Nang close to beaches/resorts, a couple of kilometers north of Klong Muang Beach. It will take you through the jungle and up to a peak with a fantastic view over Ao Nang and more. A sign claims the hike to be 3.7 km but it sure felt like more. There is a small ladder that needs to be climbed, but the trail is an easy one if you have decent shoes.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!