Krabi is well known for its white sandy beaches, coral reefs and island-hopping adventures, but have you ever explored Krabi’s greener side?
By green I mean verdant rainforests, emerald pools, mangroves and waterfalls, as well as eco-certified tour guides who can teach you a bit about Krabi’s unique cultural heritage and the delicate balance of nature.
My green exploration of Krabi starts with a walk through Tha Pom Khlong Song Nam, a tidal mangrove forest on the edge of the Andaman Sea. As I walk inland from the coast, the water changes from brackish salt water to crystal-clear fresh water.
The trees lining the banks of the estuary are Camphor trees, known locally as ‘Lumpi’ trees, and have adapted to the mix of salt and freshwater by lifting their roots up, exposing a gnarled root system above ground, which makes for quite a fairytale landscape.
Inland from here in nearby Ao Leuk, a peaceful bay in the north of Krabi, there’s more green to be found in the nearby jungle, with a touch of adventure.
The Tree Top Adventure Park is almost hidden under a thick rainforest canopy surrounded by tall limestone mountains. It’s one of the most creative high ropes courses I’ve ever seen, incorporating the trees as well as the surrounding cliffs with a system of rope bridges, high wires and ziplines.
There are a number of tricky obstacles to get past including a rope bridge I need to cross via pushbike, a flying broomstick and even a flying skateboard.
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Next, we head for Koh Klang Island, where green equals mangroves, rice fields and unique local culture.
The island is a little Muslim enclave, and while its only a five-minute boat ride from Krabi town, it seems a million miles away. It's a peaceful little rural community, where the locals grow organic rice and live off the fruits of the sea.
We’re taken on a tour of the foreshore for a lesson on how to dig up shellfish in the low tide, and then out to sea on a long-tail boat with a local fisherman to inspect his fish traps. He shows us how they use a bit of clever engineering to trap fish overnight as the tide turns.
The trapped fish are taken back up the estuary to one of several floating seafood restaurants, where we are presented with a seafood feast. The fish and crayfish caught in the traps here are kept in floating tanks for guests to choose from.
Afterwards, we head further upstream and transfer to kayaks for a paddle around the thick mangroves, stopping along the way to climb up and into a large cave on the side of a limestone mountain, once used by Japanese troops to hide from the Allies during the war.
Back on mainland Krabi, our next green exploration is at Khao Nor Juji, supposedly the last piece of virgin rainforest left in Thailand. It’s famous for the concentration and variety of birdlife found here, along with clear fresh water pools.
I take a peaceful stroll along a boardwalk that meanders through lush rainforest, past crystal-clear pools and bubbling streams as I wind my way up to the famous Emerald Pool. Coloured by limestone deposits in the water, the pool is more turquoise than emerald, but beautiful none-the-less, and in this heat dangling my toes in the cool water is bliss.
Our last stop on our green tour of Krabi is well and truly the best way to end a short break.
Warareek Hot Springs Spa is located nearby in Klongtom. Their rather innovative treatments here include a mix of hydrotherapy and traditional Thai massage.
We’re given swimming attire (a halter neck top and baggy drawstring pants) and guided to massage tables next to the thermal pools. Here we’re scrubbed with some gorgeous smelling salts, before entering the first pool.
The pools range in temperature from 38 to 41 degrees Celsius – we start off at 38 degrees and work our way up, somewhere along the way enjoying a 15-minute massage with herbal compresses.
Having soaked for the best part of an hour, we dry off and change into massage pyjamas, before heading to a thatched cabana overlooking the valley for a relaxing 90-minute Thai massage, which stretches and cajoles every stubborn stiff muscle into submission.
Eco tours are available throughout Thailand, an initiative of the Thai Ecotourism and Adventure Travel Association (TEATA), which is supported by the Thai Ministry of Tourism.