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While living in Ao Nang Beach, Thailand this little strip of Thai coastline definitely felt like home. This post will cover what to do in Ao Nang, as well as travel tips for digital nomads who want to make this their Thailand home base.
After a five-week house sit in Bangkok, Thailand, I was ready for some beach time. I was torn between visiting popular Phuket or Krabi, specifically Ao Nang Beach. I read that Phuket was more of a party place (which, of course, I’m game for), but that Ao Nang had a more chill beach vibe (which, of course, I’m also game for).
I ended up choosing Ao Nang because I figured there would be fewer distractions. I’d be the most productive digital nomad anyone’s ever seen.
I planned to crank out some online English classes, write a few novels, do yoga every day, teach myself the flute, you know, normal stuff. But only one of those things ended up happening. Unfortunately for my productivity, there were so many fun things to do in Ao Nang!
This post will cover my favorite Ao Nang things to do for travelers and digital nomads alike. If you’re wondering what to do in Ao Nang, Thailand, you’ve come to the right place!
Ao Nang for Digital Nomads
Ao Nang was a great place to hang out for a few weeks as a digital nomad. The WiFi was usually reliable and most restaurants and cafes were connected. When the WiFi crapped out (which happened occasionally due to rainy season), I was able to get fast enough 3G/4G mobile hotspot speeds to stream online English classes.
As far as Ao Nang attractions go, there is plenty to do but it’s also possible to retreat and be uber-productive if you have better self-control than me.
Ao Nang is a small town but it’s very accessible to other parts of Thailand – you can get there from Bangkok very easily and you can take weekend trips all around the Andaman sea with ease.
And because Ao Nang toes the line between small beach town and cool party spot, it was very easy to make friends here.
The cost of living is lower than its big sister beach town of Phuket and it’s less expensive than the islands since Ao Nang is on the mainland of Krabi. If you’re interested in a detailed expense report for Ao Nang, Krabi, you can subscribe below. You’ll get access to my cost breakdown for one month in Ao Nang as a mid-range traveler (wasn’t living it up in resorts nor was I slumming it in 24-bed dorms).
Getting to Ao Nang from Bangkok
Traveling from Bangkok to Ao Nang is easy! To get to Ao Nang, fly to the Krabi Airport. Airport transfer from Krabi to Ao Nang takes about half an hour and it should cost 150 THB in a shared van or around 600 THB for a private taxi.
You can also take a bus from Bangkok, but it takes around 15 hours and doesn’t look like the most fun thing you’ll do on your trip. Flights from Bangkok to Krabi are pretty cheap and run several times a day. Find cheap flights with Skyscanner.
Best Places to Stay in Ao Nang
You’ve got quite a few options for where to stay in Ao Nang. From private apartments to beachfront hostels, you’ll have plenty of options for accommodation in Ao Nang at any budget.
Since I stayed in Ao Nang for over a month, it made sense to get longer-term accommodation. I found a little studio on Airbnb and it was perfect. It wasn’t big but it had the essentials like a basic kitchen with a refrigerator and an awesome porch with a view. The host was accommodating and even helped me arrange transportation to and from the airport.
Here’s my specific Airbnb – I loved that it was in a quiet neighborhood but it was a three-minute walk to the grocery store, my favorite hostel bar, and the best restaurant in Ao Nang. It was about a twenty-five-minute walk to the beach.
For digital nomads: the WiFi here was strong but it did cut out occasionally during heavy rainstorms. That’s not the fault of the Airbnb – it’s pretty much going to happen during the rainy season anywhere in Thailand. To remedy that, I got a Thai Sim Card and had a mobile hotspot ready to use whenever I needed it.
**New to Airbnb? Use my special link and you’ll get $40 off your first booking of $75 or more! Yes for real!! You’re welcome 🙂 **
Hotels and Hostels in Ao Nang
Phra Nang Inn – Some friends I met on a boat tour were staying in Phra Nang Inn right on the beach. They gave the hotel rave reviews and I used their Spa and Beach Bar regularly. The location of this hotel is perfect, literally steps from the beach, and it has a pool and super easy access to the main walking street If you want to be close to everything, the Phra Nang Inn is one of the best hotels in Ao Nang.
Krabi Resort – If you’re looking for one of the best hotels in Ao Nang on the beach, the Krabi Resort is a great pick! With beachfront access, a large swimming pool, and an onsite restaurant, you’ll have everything you need to relax at the Krabi Resort.
Pop In Hostel – A great cheap accommodation in Ao Nang! If you’re looking for a hostel with some peace and quiet, check out Pop In Hostel. They are in a good location walking distance to the beach and off free dinner every night. The people I knew who stayed here gave it great reviews on cleanliness and organization. For backpackers and budget travelers, Pop In Hostel is one of the top Ao Nang hostels.
Slumber Party Hostel – If you’re looking for a party hostel, check out Slumber Party. They have two locations in Ao Nang and both were filled with some of the nicest people I’ve met in my travels. Slumber Party Beach is tucked back from the main street a little bit but still only steps from the beach. Slumber Party Corner is about a mile up the main road but this is where the main party action happens. There are shuttles available around town at both locations and the hostel organizes tons of awesome tours, free dinners, and events. But more on that later.
Where To Stay In Ao Nang Map
Best Cafes in Ao Nang For Digital Nomads
For those of you digital nomads lucky enough to be able to work from cafes (I usually cannot because I have to sing the ABC song for five hours straight at astounding volumes), Ao Nang has some great places to choose from. Also, if you’re unsure what kind of technology you’ll need as a traveling digital nomad, check out this dope digital nomad technology packing list.
- Owl Cafe in the Srisuksant Resort – This stylish cafe has lots of comfy seating and floor to ceiling views of the town
- Ideary Cafe – Located right on the beach, known for good smoothies and coffee
- Lion and shark – Great views of the cliffs from this second-story open-air cafe, also excellent brunch
- Cafe 8.98 Ao Nang – Over 600 5-star reviews on Tripadvisor, excellent coffee and brunch and a great atmosphere
Best Restaurants In Ao Nang, Thailand
Jungle Kitchen – Jungle Kitchen serves some of the best food I had in Thailand, hands down. Eating there for the first time was a transformational experience, both in worldview and waistline.
I ordered enough for nine people and slowly but surely worked my way through every single bite.
From the opener of spring rolls with a fresh coconut to the first course of spicy coconut chicken soup, to the tofu green curry, all the way down to the warm bananas in coconut milk, this meal was heaven.
And dangerous, since Jungle Kitchen (aka the best Thai food in Ao Nang) was a three-minute walk to my apartment.
Here’s the craziest part: Jungle Kitchen was the same price or cheaper than the average restaurants around it. They’re doing something special at Jungle Kitchen, and it’s definitely one of the best restaurants in Ao Nang Beach.
Kodam Kitchen – Another rockstar traditional Thai restaurant on the Noppharat Thara beach side of Ao Nang. This one was a bit of a hike for me and difficult to find since it’s on a back road, but oh so worth it when you do.
Kodam Kitchen has traditional Thai food for a low price and at the end of the meal, they bring you a complimentary warm banana and coconut milk dessert. Kodam Kitchen is another one of the best restaurants Ao Nang has to offer.
The Last Fisherman – I love this restaurant for the view. It is right on the beach – while you eat your feet are in the actual sand. This is one of the best places to eat in Ao Nang for an afternoon smoothie with a view or a sunset dinner on the beach.
Lion and Shark – Another awesome view for you veggie/vegan nomads. Lion and Shark has delicious smoothie bowls and brunch options, as well as a second-floor view of the famous limestone cliffs.
Street food by the Mosque – Ao Nang has a large Mosque about a mile from the beach. On the street outside the mosque, there are rows of vendors selling hot and spicy halal food. And it is goooooood. I highly recommend the veggie Samosas and of course, mango sticky rice.
Govinda’s Restaurant – A huge and beautifully designed vegetarian buffet right by the beach. This is a must stop place for the veggie fans and they have a smaller walk-up location in Railay Beach as well!
Zaika Indian Restaurant – There are tons of Indian restaurants in Ao Nang and as an Indian food enthusiast, I tried many of them. This one was my favorite. I highly recommend the samosas. They come with two delicious dipping sauces and if you’ve read anything about my Belgian frite experience, you know I love dipping things in sauces. They also have a divine Butter Paneer and Garlic Naan. It’s classic Indian food done absolutely right and it’s just a short walk from the beach.
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Best Things to do in Ao Nang, Thailand
Ao Nang makes a great home base for exploring Krabi and neighboring islands in the Andaman Sea. Make sure to take a few days off from your digital nomad-y ways to take one of these best day trips from Ao Nang.
Explore the Ao Nang Night Market
Ao Nang is home to a buzzing night market located just outside of the main walking street. Even though it’s smaller than other markets around Thailand, the food is delicious and the atmosphere is upbeat as travelers and locals enjoy street food, cheap beers, and the occasional show.
Visit Railay Beach
This is probably the easiest day trip from Ao Nang because it requires zero pre-planning. Because Railay is surrounded by mountains, you’ll need to take a boat from Ao Nang to Railay.
Just walk down to the beach and buy a 200 THB ($6.00 USD) roundtrip ticked on a long tail boat and you’ll soon be on your way to Railay – one of Thailand’s famously beautiful beaches.
On Railay, you can visit Phra Nang Beach, relax on Tonsai Beach, or go rock climbing all within a few minutes.
Read more about how to get to Railay Beach and what you can do there in my Ultimate Guide to Railay Beach post.
Do you have to climb over 1,200 steps to get to this temple? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely. Bring water and give yourself time, this hike is a bit more intense than your average vacation stroll. But the views from the top are spectacular, making this one of the best Ao Nang things to do.
The Tiger Cave Temple is less than a half-hour from Ao Nang and you can see it as part of an organized tour or on its own if you work out a deal with a driver.
The Emerald Pool is pretty cool if you want to see the jungle side of Krabi. The Emerald Pool is a natural cool water spring about a kilometer into the jungle and it is a perfect, clear shade of, well, Emerald. This is a popular local swim spot so there are lots of families and kids around enjoying the water.
Bring and bathing suit and be careful around the edges of the pool because it is slick slick slick. Usually, trips to the Emerald Pool are bundled in with the Tiger Cave Temple. You can read about my experience seeing the Tiger Cave Temple and Emerald Pool here!
If you stand on the beach at Ao Nang and look out to the sea, you’ll see four main islands. These are the islands you get to visit on the Four Islands Tour. It takes a day and is an awesome way to see a lot in a short amount of time.
Typically, the 4 Island Tour Ao Nang includes Poda Island, Chicken Island, Tup Island, and the Phra Nang Cave Beach at Railay (not technically an island, but I’ll let it slide…). It also includes lunch, water, and snorkeling equipment.
If you’re looking for Ao Nang beach things to do at sea, the four island tour is a great place to start.
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This is an excursion offered by Slumber Party Hostel and it was one of the most peaceful and incredible things I did in Ao Nang. I don’t know of anyone else offering this tour and I didn’t see it advertised at the tourist kiosks around town. Stop by slumber party and check out their schedule board to find out which days this tour is running.
In the morning, you take a songthaew out to a local kayaking and swimming spot. After kayaking through a place that looks like the actual Jurassic Park, you paddle your way into the jungle to crystal clear swimming holes.
It was relaxing and absolutely gorgeous, even when my new friend and I got our kayak hopelessly stuck on a rock and almost just gave up and decided to live in the jungle forever. This half-day tour included transportation, water, lunch, kayaking and swimming, and a beer.
You can do the Phi Phi Islands as a day trip. If you’re short on time it’s better to see it for the day than not see it at all. But if you can swing it, I highly recommend you do an overnight trip to Ko Phi Phi.
I ended up doing it twice. Phi Phi is one of the best little nightlife spots around and since it takes two hours to get there from Ao Nang, you want to make the most of your travel time.
Still, if you’re tight on time, you can do a day trip with Phi Phi Island with many tour companies. You’ll get to see the island and snorkel and lunch is included. Read about why you should do a weekend in Phi Phi here!
A sidebar about Slumber Party Hostels – I lived very close to their hostel and spent a ton of time there over my five weeks in Ao Nang. Everyone there was wonderful, super friendly to weird ole’ me, that tall, clumsy American gal who works online and who just kept hanging around even though she wasn’t staying in the hostel.
Solo-travel as a digital nomad can get lonely. Having a bit of a home base where there was always something going on – where the people were fun and welcoming – was awesome. Slumber party offers its own version of the 4 Islands Tour, the Jungle Tour (Tiger Cave Temple, Hot Springs, and Emerald Pool), and they also run the Kayaking Trip.
If you’re a youngish (in body or spirit) solo traveler looking for a great time with other adventurers, do your tours with Slumber Party instead of the Tourist Kiosks scattered around town. It’s a great way to meet friends and in my experience, the tours were less crowded and less expensive than the ones sold on the street.
Best Things to do in Ao Nang at Night
These were my favorite things to do in Ao Nang at night, In order from most chill to most wild. Bear in mind this was in low season and based on only my experience… and I’ve been known to go to bed at embarrassingly early hours.
The Beach Bar – If you’re wondering what to do in Ao Nang, head down to the beach! There you’ll find The Beach Bar, super relaxed beach-front place to grab a beer, located under the Phra Nang Inn Hotel I mentioned earlier.
Every night they had live music starting around eight and it was lovely! The band they had was so good I went back to hear them like three nights in a row. I’ve never enjoyed a bar band that much. This is one of the best bars in Ao Nang for a quieter evening out.
Thailandia – Live music, good drink specials, and an in-house entertainer who will do magic tricks that absolutely blow your mind. Thailandia has plenty of games to keep you entertained like Jenga and connect four but if the magician challenges you to connect four, just plan to lose. That guy is a wizard!
Get Rads Bar – Excellent drinks and fun atmosphere, also this is the bar where ladies can trade their bra for six shots… My friends and I never tested it but we did wonder what would happen if we showed up with, like, ten bras stuffed in our purses.
Chang Bar – This is a late night dance spot, good to go in a group. This should be your last stop of the night because it doesn’t really pick up until midnight but the dancing continues until late, every day of the week.
Slumber Party Hostel Bar – Ah yes, we’re back to my favorite. Four nights a week, Slumber Party does a pub crawl that includes a shirt, a bucket filled with a mixed drink, shots at each bar, and transportation to the first bar. The other three nights a week, they host beer pong tournaments with pretty big payouts. Both are great ways to go out in a group if you aren’t sure where to go and want to meet other travelers.
Is Ao Nang the best Thailand Beach for Digital Nomads?
Ao Nang Beach, Thailand is a great little town to check out on your Southeast Asia itinerary. While it makes an excellent jumping-off point for other adventures, there are also plenty of things to do in ao nang Thailand. And Ao Nang managest to do this while maintaining its relaxed, beach town vibe.
In Ao Nang, I rarely had to stress about internet issues. When the WiFi did act up, which was not often, my mobile hotspot had a strong enough 3G/4G connection to pick up the slack. When I wasn’t working, it was easy to explore awesome restaurants, try out cool cafes, and meet new friends.
What more could a digital nomad want?