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Krabi is an amiable port on the Andaman Coast that provides easy access to host of fascinating tourist sites like the Tham Lod cave and Tiger Temple, as well as being the jumping-off point for many popular Andaman Islands, including Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta, Ao Nang and Rai Leh. Overlooking the distinctive limestone coastline of Phangnga Bay and backed by the peaks of Khao Phanom Bencha National Park, it is the perfect place to either prepare for or recuperate from island-hopping, with plenty of sights and activities on its doorstep: rock climbing, river trips, bird watching, hiking at national parks and reserves, motorcycle treks and sea canoeing are all available.
Krabi is also famous for the large prehistoric human skulls that were found in nearby Tham Phi Hua To (Big-Headed Ghost Cave), along with 70 rock paintings in red and black of people and animals. These and other archaeological finds are proof of the area’s status as the site of the oldest human settlements in Thailand. Tham Phi Hua To is just one of many sea caves in this area, located amid the towering limestone outcrops that characterize the Andaman coast. Travel by boat from Krabi to Tham Lod Tai and Tham Lod Nua, caverns in the limestone karst through which you can float at low tide along narrow passages filled with stalactites and stalagmites. The boat ride to the caves passes mangroves rich in birdlife and mysterious karst outcrops.
Inland, Wat Tham Sua (Tiger Cave) is a forest monastery with dozens of kutis (monastic cells) set into the limestone cliff. It takes its name from the large tiger that apparently once lived here and left his paw prints behind as proof. The site is surrounded by ancient mangrove forest and rocky hillsides dotted with caves and offers fantastic views from the summit.
Foodies should note that Krabi has excellent bakeries and, in recent years, the burgeoning Muslim population has clearly influenced the food, so that, along with hot Thai salads, you can also find halal meat, roti and Malaysian-Thai fusion cuisine. For a nocturnal nibble alfresco and a promenade walk, head to Krabi pier, which is thronged with people at twilight.