Krabi's charming Koh Klang community is where you should be heading next
Here's a trip with a difference. It's right in the heart of Krabi—and you didn't even know that it was there.
Krabi is known for its postcard-perfect beaches and rocky islands. But this southern Andaman beauty has a lot more to offer. The little-known Muslim community on Koh Klang provides an entirely new travel experience, from snorkeling excursions and picture-perfect guesthouses.
Where is it?
Located in Pak Nam Krabi, the giant rivermouth leading out to the Andaman Sea, Koh Klang is a 10-minute ferry ride away from Suan Chao Fah Pier, with many local ferry operators on standby so you don’t even need to book a long-boat in advance (a trip will cost you around B60-100). Along the way, you’ll be greeted with waterside houses on one side and a mangrove forest on the other—a little bit like going to Kanchanaburi. On our last trip, in May, the weather was warm and humid, but the water was calm and boat ride peaceful.
What to eat:
Throw away all perceptions that you have of islands and terrible food, as the first thing you’ll notice as you approach the dock is a line of restaurants run by the local Muslim community. We recommend stopping by Baan Ma Ying, one of the most well-known on the island. Here, they specialize in southern Thai cuisine, but of course every dish is halal.
The seafood is extremely fresh and comes in massive sizes, so simple dishes like grilled crab, prawns or just fresh oysters are best recommended. Every dish is cooked according to the age-old recipes of the owner's grandma, which means that you can expect a genuinely authentic meal, a little bit on the spicy side but well-balanced and flavorful. Order the red snapper gaeng som, shrimp coconut curry and bai cha plu, as the kitchen uses freshly squeezed coconut milk and you can definitely notice the difference. The pla sam rod (fried fish with sweet and sour chili sauce) is another highlight—fresh and almost double the size of the usual local seafood places. Make a reservation in advance as they do get quite a crowd during the long holidays.
10 Moo 1 Tambon Khlongprasong, Muang District, Krabi, 081-271-6102
On the Island:
Right outside the restaurant, you can call a tuk tuk for a tour around the island, where 80 percent of the population practices Islam (the first settlers here came from Malaysia). Parts of the island have been turned into homestays, while others are used to grow Sangyod rice, which locals harvest during January. Visitors will get to witness the unique two-story houses along the two sides of the road, with the occasional motorbike stopping to refuel at tiny petrol stations. This is worlds away from the mainland Krabi that we're familiar with.
Make a stop at the Baan Khlong Prasong. Here, you’ll get to see how Indonesian batik fabrics are made, with pots of natural dyes and white sheets lying on working tables. These are dyed fabric with patterns drawn using candle wax—a craft passed on from generation through generation and not dissimilar to the trending slowlife workshops we get in the city.
On our last trip, we met an auntie who says she was one of the first to bring the craft to the island. Locals use batik fabrics to make dresses and to decorate their homes. The cute little goats walking around the complex are a bonus.
You can also learn the history of Krabi's signature long-tail boats here. Locals carve and assemble pieces of wood into boata themselves. In fact, the sea is a part of everyone's daily lives, from fishing to commuting to the city. Visitors who are interested in learning more can take part in long-tail boat model-making workshops, organized by the local OTOP group here (28 Moo 1 Tambon Khlongprasong, Muang District, Krabi 081-569-0224)
It is possible to do a daytrip to Koh Klang, but an overnight homestay completes the experience as you get to learn more about people's daily routines, the religious practices at the island's mosque, see the boats leave for fishing trips and learn more about the ecosystem on the island, all of which sets the area apart from the Krabi that we thought we knew.
- Five-star resorts such as Sofitel Phokheethra Krabi can organize a day-trip to Koh Klang and other natural attractions nearby such as Khao Khanab Nam and its beautiful caves. Find out more at www.sofitel.com/krabi
- Social enterprise LocalAlike also organizes trips to Koh Klang every now and again, and many more community tourism programs – check out their itineraries here.