The majority of travelers who end up in Krabi, Thailand are on their way to Phuket and other islands of the Andaman Sea. Because the port of Krabi acts as a springboard to these popular destinations, this small city and surroundings are typically (and wrongly) overlooked as being sites of interest.
Although folks purely interested in white sands, clear waters, and beach life won’t have any reason to hang out in Krabi, eco-travelers who spend a few days in the area will be pleasantly surprised by some of the natural offerings around town. Of particular interest are the abundant mangrove forests that grow in the estuarine waters in the area.
Mangrove forests sprout out of the brackish mud in many tropical regions of the globe but those found along the coasts and river mouths of southeastern Asia are among the most biodiverse and oldest of their kind on Earth. In some places (including Krabi) they grow as tall as rain forests and harbor a variety of tropical wildlife ranging from macaques and langurs to brilliantly colored kingfishers.
The only problem with visiting mangrove forests is that they thrive in some of the muckiest, most mosquito-ridden places on Earth. You can’t exactly go for a forest stroll in mangroves even with the tallest of rubber boots because the sticky mud would stop you in your tracks. Krabi actually has the solution to this problem, however, in the form of a mangrove boardwalk.
It’s free to use and provides a rare glimpse into this difficult to access habitat. Colorful crabs scuttle around the roots of the trees, mudskippers make you think of missing links between fish and terrestrial creatures, and the melancholy calls of hidden birds are issued from the dim recesses of this semi-aquatic forest.
The other way to experience the mangroves is with a ride on a traditional, Thai boat. Tours are easy to arrange through travel agencies in town or by simply walking down to the wharf where upon seeing you, local boatmen sporting traditional sarongs shout out, “boat tour…mangroves!” and attempt to show you faded pictures of mangrove wildlife.
In general, the mangroves are quiet, peaceful places but several species of beautiful Asian kingfishers are typically seen as are other birds and monkeys. Unlike the Sunderban mangroves of India and Bangladesh, you won’t see any Tigers, but then again you won’t have to worry about getting eaten by them either.