Before heading to Thailand's Andaman coast, I had to make a decision: islands, or mainland?
It wasn't an easy choice to make, however. Partially because there was a lot I wanted to see, and partially because, well, I'm really bad at making decisions. In the end, I opted to basically just not decide and split my time between Ao Nang/Krabi on the mainland and the island of Koh Lanta.
My decision to stay in Ao Nang was borne from really wanting to visit the nearby Railay peninsula and the beaches I'd heard so much about there. I tacked on a multi-island day tour, too, just for good measure. (More on both of these soon!)
But this still left me with some free time on the mainland.
Instead of just sitting in my hotel room, I decided to go on a slightly different adventure.
My first kayaking experience had taken place just a month or so before, at Ha Long Bay in Vietnam. I was by no means a kayaking pro, but a kayaking tour through some mangroves and into a canyon, culminating in a sunset barbecue on a private beach, sounded like the perfect way to get a unique taste for the Krabi region.
The tour began in the late afternoon when I was picked up from my hotel and transported out to Thalane Bay, where we got a brief introduction to kayaking and began boarding our 2-person boats. I was paired up with a guy from Quebec, who turned out to be a pretty excellent kayaker (and who didn't complain when I frequently put down my paddle to snap photos).
We headed out into Thalane Bay, skirting along some mangrove forests and tall karst cliffs, keeping our eyes peeled for monkeys. The karsts burst out of the water much like they had in Ha Long Bay, though they were even greener here in Thailand, especially when paired with the mangrove trees.
We paddled around the bay, and then into a quiet canyon where even a whisper echoed. Here, at the mouth of the canyon, we finally spotted some monkeys!
After about an hour or so out on the water, we headed back to land and were then driven to a secluded beach to catch the tail-end of a brilliant sunset and chow down on some delicious barbecue. Chicken, prawns, fresh fish… we ate it all beneath the glow of tiki torches as small waves lapped at the sand near our table.
As we licked barbecue sauce off our fingers and went through the usual “questions” that all travelers ask one another (the “where are you from, where are you going” set), we commented more than once on how surprisingly awesome this experience had been.
Yes, Thailand is known for its beautiful beaches. But it should be known for the other natural features that it boasts, too. Thankfully, this tour helped make me aware of the “other” side to this part of Thailand.
Is this an adventure YOU would like to have in Thailand?
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TOUR: Ao Thalane Sunset BBQ Dinner with Krabitrek
WHEN: 3 p.m./3:30 daily, with pick-ups in both Krabi Town and Ao Nang; you'll return around 8 p.m.
WHAT'S INCLUDED: Transports, kayaking gear and guide at Thalane Bay, BBQ dinner on a beach
HOW MUCH: 1000 baht (just under $31 USD)[/stextbox]
*Disclaimer: I received a free kayaking tour from Krabitrek, but, as always, all opinions are my own.