Why You’re Better Off Skipping The 4 Island Tour In Aonang, Krabi

If you find yourself in Krabi/Aonang, it’s likely that you’re en route to a different island and are just taking a break from your tedious journey from point A to point B to explore the small town for a day or two. It’s also likely that you’ll want to get away from the town, which is surprisingly crowded and has a less-than-stellar beach, and go on a tour of the outlying islands. One of the most popular tours on offer is the 4 Island Tour in Aonang. As the name blatantly suggests, you’ll be heading on a full day tour to see -you guessed it- 4 islands that are only a short boat ride away from shore. I’m usually a huge fan of island tours, since they’re a great way to explore a range of nearby islands (like the incredible ones I went on when I was in El Nido, Philippines), however I really would not recommend this tour to anyone. Here’s why..

Before I get into the tour itself, I want to take a second to talk about Aonang. I had thought prior to arriving that Aonang was going to be a bit of a quiet, semi-secluded part of Thailand. Little did I know that this area was crawling with tourists on a busy main street. Not only were there people everywhere, but there was a Starbucks and a Subway (one of the things I don’t like about travelling is obnoxious western chain restaurants and amenities that ruin the vibe of a small town) on the main street. Not only was there nothing that special or different about the town of Aonang, but the beach barely deserved such a title. The sand went out only a few meters and there were boats everywhere, which made swimming and enjoying the atmosphere a bit more difficult.

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Sturdy craftsmanship on these longtail boats..

Since we wanted to escape Aonang and explore the nearby islands, we chose to go on the 4 Island Tour, one of the most popular and recommended tours from the tourist stands.

The tour itself was from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm, though depending on where your accommodation was located, it’s likely you’re going to be picked up around 8:00 am and you probably shouldn’t  expect to get back to your hotel until about 4:00 pm.

They were charging adults ฿1,000 (Thai Bhat), but you can easily negotiate the price to around ฿800 or less depending on how many people are going on the tour.

Our Tour Went A Little Something Like This..

The alarm goes off at an unfortunately early hour in the morning, given that we’re on vacation. We took our time getting out of bed and got ready with eyes half shut. A tour guide promptly picked us up from our hotel at 8:00 am and we hopped onto a bus crammed with other tourists. After a 15 or so minute bus ride, we were all herded off the bus and into an open area by the water where not a single tourist knew what was going on.

The tour guide’s seemed unorganized and frantically went around putting us into groups based on the hotels we were staying in. After a solid 30 minutes of confusion, we were in our tour groups and were again herded onto cramped longtail boats that would be our means of transportation from island to island for the next six hours. I told myself that as soon as we got to the first island, everything would be okay and the messy start to our day would fade away. Unfortunately, I was wrong.. 

Where we got on the longtail boat to start our day
Where we got on the longtail boat to start our day

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Island Stop 1: Phra Nang Cave Beach

After a short longtail boat ride, we made it to our first stop at Phra Nang Cave Beach.  This beach is located on Railay; just a bit further south from the main beach, right at the southern tip of Krabi. We were given 30 minutes to explore the beach where there were beautiful limestone cliffs surrounding us, but there were also hundreds of other people surrounding us. The beach was crowded with other tourists, which really took away from the scenery that I’m certain would be breathtaking if there were only a handful of us on the beach.

If you walk further down, you’ll pass by some longtail boats selling food and eventually get to the end where the cave is. Here you’ll see people rock climbing up the limestone cliff (though we didn’t have enough time on the beach to try it out) and the cave itself, which is quite interesting to see. This is mainly because it has two shrines within it – one that seems like a normal shrine you would see at many other South East Asian destinations and another that is a bit more unique: a penis shrine. Yup, there was an area with a bunch of penis’s, in various colors and sizes, and people were actually praying to what I can only assume are the fertility Gods.

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The far end of the beach where we were dropped off

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Instead of food stalls, they have food boats
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The cave
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Rock climbing

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Behold the penis shrine!

Chicken Island 

Next up, we set sail towards Chicken Island; instantly recognizable due to the large “chicken head” rock sticking out at the one end of the island. Though it may have been easy to spot this island, it was easier to forget it. 

We were taken to a spot on the island where the boat was anchored down and we were given gear to go snorkeling. Unfortunately, there was really nothing to see in the water, save for a few unimpressive fish. Seems to me like this island is only on the tour for the rock that resembles its name. Though, in my ever-so humble opinion, the rock isn’t that chicken-esque and could be switched to another animal that could easily resemble the rock formation.

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Tup Island 

Lunch time – my favourite time of the day, however, the island we stopped at wasn’t an ideal spot to eat. If there had not been 20 other boats surrounding the tiny island and another hundred people on the beach, then it would have been beautiful. But, of course, that wasn’t so.

Tup Island is far too small to have every single longtail boat that is doing the 4 Island Tour in Krabi come and have lunch at. The scene during lunch on the island was chaotic and crowded, with people trying to find a spot to sit and eat without putting their blanket down right beside another person. Not exactly ideal or enjoyable.

If you’re above 6′ tall and can look above all the other people swarming the island at the picturesque surroundings, then you just might enjoy this stop. Otherwise, brace yourself. 

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Poda Island

This was our final stop for the day and, thankfully, they saved the best for last. As the beach is much wider on this island, it didn’t feel as busy – finally!

Our tour guide gave us 45 minutes to spend on the island and made sure to warn us about the monkeys that are scattered throughout before we got off the longtail boat. We wandered about the island for a bit where we came across an abandoned building and lots of camouflage tents, but -thankfully- no monkeys (’cause I really don’t like wild monkeys).

Poda Island was a really relaxed spot to lay down our beach towels and either soak up some last minute sun before we went back to Aonang, or take a short nap under the shade of the swaying trees.

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After a long and busy day, we were eager to head back to Aonang. I’ve found while travelling and having been on many island hopping tours, that a large part of your enjoyment of the day is dependent on the other people in your boat. Based on that, if you have enough people, I highly recommend getting a private longtail boat to take you on the 4 Island Tour. It’s advertised as ฿6,000 for 3-5 people, though I’m you can negotiate the price down.

If you’re looking for alternative things to do around Krabi, I’d recommend checking out Klook’s Krabi tours page!

 

28 thoughts on “Why You’re Better Off Skipping The 4 Island Tour In Aonang, Krabi”

  1. I went on a sunset version of this tour and agree that the snorkeling/islands were immemorable and the tour a bit disorganized…but I’d still recommend it for one reason: the night tour stops to snorkel with bioluminescent plankton. I’ll never forget the water glowing around us!

    1. Hi Becky, I’m in Ao Nang right now and was hoping to try and find the bioluminescent plankton on my own, without a tour. Any idea what beach you were at? How far from the shore were you?

      Thanks so much,
      Heather

  2. After spending so long in places in Thailand that are extremely busy, crowded beaches, jet skis, power boats, heavy traffic, I had similar fears about the Krabi/ Aonon location, given that all internet sites talk about the huge crowds of people there. So I got there are what did I find? The quietest place I have been to in the country. A few times I have walked along Aonone beach, supposedly the busiest in the area, and there have been less than eight other people on the beach. Went to TUP island on the seven island tour, and is was so lacking in people that it could have been a beach on the outer Hebrides of Scotland. Let me guess, you went there in December or January, the “best time to go to Thailand” ( read as WORST time to go )

    1. I’m glad you had such a great experience in Krabi.
      I went there at the end of February. I’ve been to Thailand before in December and absolutely loved it. I guess it can go both ways.

  3. The view from Aonone and the islands around are the most beautiful and quiet place I have ever been in Thailand. Aonone however, unfortunately is devoid of the Thai cultural experience. Tourist resteraunt after tourist resteraunt, after tourist resteraunt. No bar parties with singing of Thai music and people dancing to it. No motorbike carts or pushed carts with horns pamping at you. No bars with welcoming chat and humour. Bored looking bar staff who take your order, then go back looking at the street. Aonone and the islands are a truly beautiful place and a must see. What a breath of fresh air after busy crowded places, what a spectacular place, but
    where is Thailand? You go to a bar and there are no bar girls who talk to you. You request Thai music from the band, and they don’t play it, and continue with western music. Nearly all resteraunt said have menus with things called ” Appetisers” and ” Starters” . Eh? E- Ang Appetiser ( What is ” Appetiser” Mai Kow Chia Appetiser ( not understand Appetiser) J- owe ma die Sie ( where you come from ? – Isaan language ) , France Mai ( France, yes?). Ang kaya man can Appetiser, menu, meacrewa Mai Thai. ( If you read rubbish on a menu like “Appetisers” the cook cannot be Thai. Lan knee baa Manchester mai, Mai Thai ( this place is a Manchester bar yes
    Its not Thai).

  4. Im going on this tour today to check to which island to go for full day. This tour costs 400 baht this time of year. Btw ao nang beach sux bigtime

  5. Thanks for this advice. Based on your recommendation, I hired a private longtail to take me round these places for B1700 in the low season (end June) and was able to go at my own pace and avoid the tours. Consequently I had these places to myself. The sandbar at Tup Island was virtually empty when I was there. I’d say this trip was a highlight of my travels in SW Thailand, but I can see how it could have been a low point without prior knowledge.

    1. Hi Mark, do you have the tour operator’s name? I’m going to Krabi next week and your private longtail tour sounds attractive. Thanks!

      1. Any tour agency to recommend? Im heading there this friday. How much would it roughly cost to hire private boat since its low season

  6. I did the exact same trip in March and loved it. Perhaps you went when things were really busy? The snorkeling was great, but the giude did feed the fish with rice from lunch (which is really bad for wild fish!). Poda was the best part! I was the first to be picked up and last to be dropped, spent a lot of time in tuk-tuk, but started chatting with fellow travelers and bought a beer for breakfast!! I would highly recommend based on my experience.

  7. We are headed to this area starting Nov 23 & hoping we will ‘beat’ the crowds at this time of year-anyone out there with travel feed back for this time of year? Thanks for the valuable post.

  8. In Ao nang now and it is quite crowded, wish we had gone a little later as the weather has been very wet. I agree with ‘this
    Girlabroad’ comments. Hope you’re not staying at Golden Beach Resort, two days with no hot water.

  9. Hi.. i need your advice.. which is the best location i need stay if i want to go to snokling.. is it stay in krabi town, klong muang or ao nang beach.. we go for 4 people in a family.. we really need your opinion.. tqvm

    1. Hi there,
      I honestly wouldn’t be able to give advice on this, as I never went snorkelling there. Perhaps someone else reading this article might be able to help you. Hope you have a great vacation!

  10. Hi! Anyone have advice on where to go kayaking- ao thalane or hong island? Are they far from each other? Any way to do both in a day? Where is the “secret lagoon” I keep reading about? Thanks 🙂

  11. Sounds like you don’t like people much . The mythical “real thailand” exists only in people’s heads. Scruffy resorts, Starbucks, shambolic tours and Chang / Singh! oh and lots of people. That’s the real Thailand

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