Ao Thalane Kayaking in Krabi – Everything you need to know
Welcome to our guide on one of the most epic kayaking adventures you’ll ever embark on! When we think of Krabi, Thailand, we image its stunning beaches, limestone cliffs and film set locations. But what about activities that are away from the beaten track? Navigating through the mangroves on an Ao Thalane kayaking tour is one of the most unique things to do in Krabi. It’s far less popular than other day-trips and a welcome escape from the tourist crowds.
We did a half day tour kayaking through the peaceful and serene Ao Thalane and it was without a doubt one the best day trips we did in Krabi. If you like a spot of adventure, jungle scenery and a good workout, read on. In this guide, we share all of the information you need on Ao Thalane kayaking. We share how to get there, tour options, costs, and answers to many frequently asked questions.
What is Ao Thalane? Why is kayaking a popular activity here?
Ao Thalane is a small, local fishing village located around 30km from Krabi town. It sits at the mouth of Nai Sa river, right next to a series of mangroves, caves and towering limestone cliffs. The main reason why tourists visit is to embark on a kayaking adventure. The scenery you’ll see here is simply remarkable!
The sole reason people visit Ao Thalane is for kayaking. There’s not one route, but many routes to choose from. Each kayaking adventure is made up of mangroves, river streams that lead between limestone cliffs and underground caves. The jungle surroundings and wildlife on each route is also amazing.
Is it worth visiting?
We had the best time exploring Ao Thalane and we recommend this trip to anyone, no matter what your age! Here are some of the main reasons why we loved it so much:
Whilst visiting Krabi, you’re likely to spend most of your time relaxing on the stunning beaches, sipping on fresh coconuts. However, if you find yourself getting itchy feet and fancy doing something to get you moving, this is definitely the activity for you. It’s good exercise, you’ll see lots of nice scenery, and most of all, it’s very adventurous!
Boat trips, beaches, bars and restaurants are all common in Krabi. A jungle kayaking adventure is not! Ao Thalane kayaking is a welcome escape from many of the activities you’ll find in Southern Thailand. It’s also completely different to sea kayaking, which is a little more common. The vast complex of mangroves and limestone cliffs is unlike many of the places you’ll visit in the country.
Off the beaten path
The beauty of kayaking through Ao Thalane is that it’s not a hugely popular activity to do. That’s because a lot of tourists don’t know about it. As it’s around an hour’s drive away from the heart of Krabi town, you’ll soon realise that you’re in the middle of nowhere and will get to experience the beauty of Krabi away from the tourist trail.
Ao Thalane kayaking options
There are a few different ways you can see Ao Thalane:
A guided group tour
The most popular option is to explore Ao Thalane on a guided group tour. This option is great for couples, families, and even if you’re travelling alone. The tour is even more fun when doing it with other people. We went with Sea Kayak Krabi and would highly recommend them to anyone! They have excellent reviews and their guides are very friendly and knowledgeable.
A number of other tour companies offer kayaking adventures at Ao Thalane too. View the full list here.
Book a tour with a private guide
The second option is to book an Ao Thalane kayaking tour with a private guide. This option is great for those who are looking for a more intimate experience. You’ll get the guide all to yourself and you’ll learn more about the area. Private guided tours are slightly more expensive compared to a guided group tour, but if you’re not on a budget, this is the way to go.
Rent a kayak and explore yourself
The final option is to rent a kayak and explore Ao Thalane yourself. This is the cheapest and most convenient option for some. You have the freedom to go when you want and kayak at your own pace. This option is best for those on a budget or if you’re confident explorer and like to do things yourself. If you’re not, we personally feel that it’s best to go on a tour as you could get lost along the way. You’ll also miss some amazing hidden spots without a guide! You’ll soon find that Ao Thalane is a labyrinth of many river routes and following a map can be difficult.
The top things to see on the Ao Thalane kayaking adventure
Ao Thalane is so much more than giving your biceps a workout. Here are some of the things you’ll experience on the tour.
- Mangroves – The entire Ao Thalane area is covered with hundreds of mangroves. The roots are above water at low tide, creating an eerie labyrinth of jungle scenery.
- Wildlife – There’s plenty of wildlife deep within Ao Thalane. You may even get lucky and get up close and personal with a few creatures. Monkey’s, monitor lizards and some beautiful bird species all live here, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled. Take it slow and keep an eye out for moving trees or bodies of water.
- Ancient caves – When you kayak around Ao Thalane, you’ll encounter a collection of ancient caves that date back thousands of years. Some areas of the limestone cliffs are said to have ancient carvings.
- Limestone cliffs – Krabi is known for its limestone cliffs and you’ll find plenty in Ao Thalane. Once you kayak past the mangroves, you’ll paddle downstream with towering cliffs on either side of you. They make an excellent backdrop for a picture, or two!
- Amazing jungle scenery – The jungle scenery is second to none. Each area of Ao Thalane is completely different, ranging from mangrove forest to jungle terrain full of monkeys and overhanging trees.
- Stunning coastal scenery – When you emerge from the forests and limestone cliffs, you’ll reach the mouth of the river. Here, there’s a few hidden beaches where you can stop off. As they’re so secluded, you’ll likely be the only ones at the beach
- The sand bar – On the way back to Ao Thalane town, you’ll find a huge sand bar at the mouth of the river. At low tide, this is a great place to walk around, taking some cool photos. If the sun’s out, you may also want to take a break from kayaking to relax and catch some rays.
What to bring with you
Before visiting Ao Thalane, we recommend checking the weather forecast. This will help you decide on all the essentials you’ll need to bring. We’ve listed some general things that we recommend packing ahead of your kayaking trip. If it’s sunny, you really don’t want to forgot your sunscreen! Bottled water is also a must.
- Bottles of water
- A camera/ go pro
- A wet sleeve for your phone
- A change of clothes
- Insect repellent
- Water shoes/ flip flops
- A waterproof jacket in case it rains
The best time to visit Ao Thalane
Ao Thalane is a destination that you can explore year-round, even if it’s raining. The most comfortable time to visit is when it’s not too hot and sunny. Those rays of sunshine can make kayaking extra difficult!
Another key consideration for visiting Ao Thalane is high tide and low tide. You ideally want to kayak when the tide is low. You’ll be able to explore much more of the mangrove forest at low tide and there’s a lot more to see. We recommend checking this website to monitor tide levels during your visit.
Most tour companies offer both morning and afternoon tour options. If you’re going on a private tour or self-kayak tour, you can visit any time you wish.
How much does it cost?
Costs vary depending on whether you do a guided, private, or self-guided tour. The duration of your tour and how long you kayak also affects the cost.
Expect to pay around 1200 Thai Baht for a half day group tour and 1800 Thai Baht for a full day tour. Private tours will cost more and will priced by the tour company you choose.
How long is the Ao Thalane kayaking tour?
Most tours last around 2-hours for the standard Ao Thalane adventure. If you want to embark on a different route or want a full day of kayaking, separate tours are also available. We recommend enquiring about tour options with a company such as Sea Kayak Krabi.
If renting a kayak to go and explore by yourself, you can rent by the hour. You can have the kayak for most of the day if you wish. You’ll just pay more.
For first-timers, the standard 2-hour kayaking tour is perfect.
Do you need prior kayaking experience?
Kayaking is a fun and leisurely activity that’s suitable for people with basic levels of fitness. You won’t need any prior kayaking experience, and even if it’s your first time stepping into a kayak, you’ll get the hang of it after a few minutes. If you’re a little bit nervous, we recommend booking a private tour. This way, you’ll be able to kayak at your own pace and will have one-on-one advice from the guide.
Top tip: If you’re an experienced at kayaking and adventurous activities and want a tour that’s challenging, enquire about the longer ‘adventure’ routes. Sea Kayak Krabi offers more advanced, longer tours that feature underground caves.
Ao Thalane and Hong Island Tour
If you fancy doing two action-packed activities in one day, you can opt for the kayaking trip with the Hong Island tour. The day trip is a great combination of activity and relaxation. It’s perfect for both adventurers and sun-seekers, or those only visiting Krabi for a short amount of time.
Our top tips for visiting Ao Thalane
- Go on a tour at low tide so you can explore the mangrove area in full. A large section of the mangrove forest is covered during high tide.
- Pack a pair of sunglasses, a hat, sunscreen and lots of water. It gets really hot in the open water, especially on a sunny day.
- There are quite a few mosquitos in the area. Spray yourself with insect repellent before arriving in Ao Thalane.
- Bring snacks and drinks as there aren’t many/any restaurants or snacks stalls nearby.
- Let the guide know your level of kayaking experience so they can adjust the speed of the tour.
- We recommend wearing a pair of water shoes and either a bathing suit or clothing you don’t mind getting wet. The weather can be quite unpredictable and it may rain all of a sudden.
- A dry bag is provided for tours, but you can bring your own to protect your belongings.
- Bring along a camera as you’ll be able to take photos and videos along the way. A GoPro or waterproof camera is perfect!
- Book your tour in advance to avoid disappointment. You can book direct with an Ao Thalane tour company or online with Get Your Guide.
- There’s not one, but many tour routes. Enquire in advance and choose a tour that suits your fitness and experience level. Most people will have a great time with the standard 2-hour tour. It’s a perfect first-time-visit to Ao Thalane.
Our overall thoughts on the Ao Thalane kayaking adventure
Overall, we had a fantastic experience exploring Ao Thalane and its vibrant wildlife. We highly recommend this unique experience to anyone, regardless of your age and ability. It’s something for everyone and it makes such a fantastic day trip, away from all of the Krabi tourist crowds.
We hope you enjoyed reading our complete guide on kayaking through Ao Thalane kayaking in Krabi, Thailand. We’d love to hear about your experiences, so be sure to leave a comment down below. Equally, if you’re considering embarking on an adventure and have a question, please drop us a message and we’ll be more than happy to help. 😊
By SusieAuthor bio:
I’m a passionate traveller that loves a sunny beach holiday, but also appreciate the cultural side to a trip and checking out undiscovered destinations. I’m the go-to Toucan Traveller for great holiday stories, cool photos and foodie recommendations.