During my recent stay in Bangkok I was recommended to visit Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas at Krabi, Ao Nang for a short getaway since it’s easy to reach and there are numerous daily flights.  I also wanted to visit a few of the local islands in the Phi Phi archipelago, swim in the Andaman sea and also have some me time and relax at a resort.

I’ve heard that Ao Nang has become increasingly popular over the past several years with many new hotels opening and with an in-flux of tourists I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  Is Ao Nang still a place to relax or has it become overcrowded with visitors?

AirAsia flight from Bangkok to Krabi.

Taking an early morning flight from Bangkok to Krabi. Excited about arriving to Ao Nang!

Arriving to Krabi, Ao Nang

Once you reach Krabi Airport you have a choice of taking a private or a shared van to Ao Nang. I would recommend taking a private van if you are traveling in a group of 4 or more persons. Otherwise a one way ride from Krabi airport to Ao Nang in a shared van is a reasonable 150THB (3.8 eur) for a ride which takes about 40 minutes. Alternatively you can make an arrangement with your hotel in advance and have the driver waiting for you upon your arrival.

Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi is not reachable by road so you will be taking a speedboat transfer from Nopparatthara pier which takes about 15 minutes. That’s a small event in itself and it was fun taking the speedboat transfer. However if the weather turns speedboat transfers may be delayed or rides choppy, but rest assured that it’s worth it once you reach the resort!

Longtail boat transfers are provided during low tide as opposed to a modern boat during regular transfers. A bit of a welcome cloudy (and less hot) weather during the month of November in the evening time.

Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi - view from the long tail boat

A view of Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi from the longtail boat

The Resort

As with most resorts, upon arrival you are greeted with with a refreshing drink and a welcome cold napkin. What sets Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi apart from other places in the vicinity is it’s unique location, it is set in a private cove surrounded with mountainous hill tops and lush jungle.

Taking in that view and energy from sea and sun.

The resort, built on hillside blends in naturally with it’s environment and since the rooms are spread around the cove you will enjoy privacy as well. To reach some rooms you may need to do a bit of an uphill walk or you can simply call in a cart for pick-up/drop-off service. I found the walking part energizing especially after a meal to burn some of those calories!

Spacious rooms are perfect for those moments when you need a bit of break from island hopping, kayaking or swimming.

There are a number of activities you can engage in during your stay, from daily exercises that are done by a a fun team of friendly animators, kayaking, stand up paddling, to various island visits.

My favorite was swimming and since the resort is next to the beach you also have horizon sea which is particularly spectacular during sunsets which are usually around 6pm for those of you who would like to catch the “golden hour” to take photos. It’s definitely worth it to set some time apart for the sunset and make some photos that will make for great memories. You can even book a professional photographer at the hotel!

Yummy cocktails are served by the pool area!

Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi sea view from the swimming pool

From the pool area you are greeted by horizon sea view. You can also find some pockets of shade for those moments when it gets too hot!

The Monkey Trail

I’ve read so many negative comments about the Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi “Monkey Trail” that I was almost deterred from staying there, they (reviews) made the resort seem inaccessible and isolated from Ao Nang. Sure, you will break a sweat but for me it’s a rewarding experience. The next day you will feel it on your thighs and on the plus side along the pathway you will be most likely rewarded with company of monkeys. I recommend you to be along the Monkey Trail just before sunset and you will be rewarded with some of the most amazing views.

One of the magical moments along the Monkey Trail.

The walk along the Monkey Trail may take between 10-15 minutes and you should be somewhat fit, as mentioned earlier you will break a sweat. But remember, you can always book a boat transfer! I found the walk an enjoyable experience, something out of the ordinary and I would recommend you avoid flip flops and wear closed walking or running shoes.

The Sunset

Sunsets at Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi are simply put, stunning. Whether you are by the beach, pool or even in your room the view is something special and one of my favorite moments during my stay. IMPORTANT: make sure you book a room that’s facing the sea.

Sunset at Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi

One of favorite moments during my stay was observing those magical sunsets.

Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi beach during sunset

Not only are the sunsets nice but the beach is not crowded as well.

If you are heading to Ao Nang for dinner you can walk via the Monkey Trail or by speedboat; if you are going with boat I suggest to book the ride earlier in the day as most guests tend to go to town around 5pm or 6pm so the boat is usually full during those hours.

The Deep Blue bar at Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi

After dinner you can have a drink by the beach or at the underground Deep Blue bar at Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi.

The Breakfast

Breakfast at Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi

Breakfast is one of my favorite parts of the day!

International buffet is plentiful and in addition to many typical western breakfast varieties there’s choices of Thai, Chinese and Indian foods.

Breakfast at Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi

Some of the breakfast varieties

Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi

My visit to Ao Nang turned out to be great and I really enjoyed my short stay at Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi. What made it special for me was the sense of serenity in those morning and evening moments and connectedness with the surrounding nature. I really feel that the resort was built around its surrounding an not imposed on it, and when you’re there you can feel that positive energy.

Guest at Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi

The scenery at Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi is beautiful and there are many great location where you can take photos.