The area around Krabi is anything but undiscovered - in fact, it has been a tourist hotspot for decades. Depending on your preferences, this can be seen as an advantage. For example, the infrastructure is very well developed. But for a hardy, adventurous, experienced traveler, the downside is obvious. Karst landscape and sandy beaches, lagoons, and natural springs, beautiful as you would expect them to be, are overcrowded with busloads of vacationers. Nevertheless, all tourists go where all tourists go, and quite a few spots remain relatively untouched. Most of them are hard to reach without your own wheels - or someone else's for hitchhikers.
This place falls somewhere in between: it is pretty far from Krabi town, and not very popular, but some organized tours do visit it. Additionally, on weekends it attracts masses of Thai picnickers. You will have to choose your timing carefully to enjoy this natural setting properly. If you manage to avoid the crowd, it feels like a secret fairyland: freshwater pools colored bright green spread amidst twisted tree roots. Beware the monkeys! You could reach the turn-off for the Emerald Pool by any public vehicle heading east, but then hitchhiking would be the only option.
This attraction is technically easier to access. The start of the hiking path is not too far from Nopharat Thara Beach, served by songtaews from Krabi town. Then, it takes about an hour of easy trekking to reach the summit of Ngon Nak Mountain at 565 m asl. The trail passed some lovely rainforest with a couple of shelters for breaks. The panoramic views of the karst landscape from the top are predictably gorgeous, and a rock jutting horizontally out of a cliff face provides an opportunity for one of those “daredevil” selfies. To stay for the sunset, choose Nopharat Thara as your base: there will be no way to get back to Krabi after dark unless you have a motorbike. Camping may be a good idea too.
Another series of freshwater streams and pools, this time striking blue, Klong Som Nam is the most remote of all listed attractions. Few people have ever heard of it, and on weekdays solitude is assured. It is a beautiful natural spot, and completely off the beaten track. Definitely worth a visit, perhaps instead of the Emerald Pool, if you have to choose one. Here, the brook is longer, the roots are even more gnarled and twisted, and you will not have to dodge monkeys and tourists.
Finally, one activity that does not require renting a motorbike or relying on the kindness of local drivers, but may be adventurous enough to entertain an energetic traveler, is rock climbing. Krabi seems designed for it by nature itself. Any tourist area will offer both climbing courses and single-day trips. To avoid commuting from your base to the rock site, it is probably best to stay in Ao Nang, where karst cliffs already marked for climbers are within walking distance. If you consider yourself sufficiently experienced to practice without the help of local agencies, the equipment can be rented there as well.
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