Backpacking isn’t necessary in Thailand, because it’s so cheap there that pretty much anyone can afford to “glampack.” That means you can ditch the hostels and fill up on some delicious meals, all while staying in a “backpackers” budget.
But don’t just run off and go crazy in the beautiful beach towns of Thailand, there are some areas that are still more expensive than others due to tourism, which you should avoid anyway. Phuket is one of those places; it’s notorious for partying but also notorious for being overpriced due to the high volumes of tourists it attracts.
That’s why I opted for a local-recommended beach town called Ao Nang, that’s only about thirty minutes south of Krabi Town. I was able to live like I was on vacation there, all for a fraction of the cost! Here’s how:
1. Take the Tuk-Tuk bus
Instead of paying full price for a taxi from Krabi to Ao Nang, hop on the blue Tuk-Tuk buses that the locals use, which only cost around .12 cents. It’s a little less on the glamorous side, and you’ll likely share it with school kids, but it’s open-aired so you’ll get the view of the jungles on the way there, plus it’s easy to hop on and off of.
2. Research rates before but don’t book
My friend who lives in Krabi literally told me to just “go to the beach, walk around, and look for hotels that looked nice”. I’m a bit of a planner so I went ahead and checked out some hotels on Booking.com, but mostly to get an idea of pricing.
Instead of booking online though, I really did walk to one that looked nice to get pricing, and found that most hotels and resorts are only around $30 a night!
3. Bargain the 4-island tours
You definitely need to go on one of the island tours in Ao Nang, but here’s a secret — since there are tons of tour kiosks, check them all out for pricing first, and then try to bargain for a lower price. You can also try to combine tours for an even lower price on package deals.
4. Relax at the spa
Ok, so it’s probably not going to be an actual spa…but I’m sure you’ve heard about how cheap it is to get massages in Thailand. Most hotels have their own little spas that are less sketchy than the massage parlors that are every other block, but they’re all fairly inexpensive either way.
5. Take a day trip to Railay Beach
If you go on an island tour, you’ll only have a certain amount of time on each one before the boat leaves for the next one. But, you can pay for the water taxi to take you to Railay Beach, a gorgeous island with warm waters and breathtaking cliff views!
6. Bring your own sunscreen
This is essential for glampacking in Thailand, because they don’t sell regular sunscreen there, and if you can find it, it’ll probably be extremely expensive. You’ll be spending a lot of time outside on the islands and I learned the hard way that the sun is extremely strong there! Plus a lot of the Thai sunscreen has bleach in it because they prefer to be pale rather than tan.
7. Go to happy hours
Most of the restaurants along the main beach road in Ao Nang have happy hour, AKA cheap prices for food and drinks. Check out a few different specials before you settle on one because there are quite a bit of unique and fun places along the entire strip!
8. Use Wi-Fi at restaurants
Getting Wifi to work at the hotels was close to impossible. But if you eat at a restaurant, even if it’s for happy hour, they will give you a code to use their Wifi there. There’s no better way to unwind from a fun filled day on the islands or beach than with happy hour and free Wifi to upload your pics to Instagram!
9. Take a tour of the Krabi jungle
The same kiosk that sold you your island tour will be able to get you on a tour of the Krabi jungle as well. This is definitely worth seeing because you get to go to natural hotsprings, and then to a really pretty sink hole in the middle of the jungle called the Crystal Pool.
10. Taste test food at the night market
After your tour of the Krabi Jungle, one option is to bring your glampack with you in the van (we paid extra to let us bring our bags and drop us off in town) and head straight to Krabi Town for the Night Market afterwards. It’s on Saturday and Sunday nights and there’s tons of things to do there from shopping the local handcrafted gifts, to taste testing the various Thai dishes while listening to live music!
Photos: Alyssa Ramos