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.
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..
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!