Destination Guide

Krabi Province

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Courtesy of Rayavadee Resort

Located in southern Thailand on the Andaman coast, Krabi Province is home to roughly 100 miles of pristine coastline and more than 150 islands and works best for those who are interested in a more off-the-beaten path destination than Phuket or Koh Samui but still want a top-tier resort. Krabi’s signature characteristic is its spectacular landscape, punctuated by dramatic limestone karsts rising hundreds of feet from the Andaman Sea.


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Exterior view - Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Krabi Province, Thailand - Courtesy Christopher Cypert

Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve

After a 1.5-hour flight from Bangkok and a 30-minute drive past tin-roofed villages, lush mountains and pineapple trees, the mighty teak doors to Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve appear without much fanfare. That a spectacular stretch of Andaman coast sits behind these doors is not immediately apparent, but Lek Bunnag, the Thai architect behind Phulay Bay, knows how to make an entrance.

Guests are led through towering aubergine walls, not to a check-in counter, but to a gorgeous pitched-roof Thai pavilion accessed by stepping stones across a pane of water. By night, the pavilion is lit by 2,000 candles. A gong sounds as guests are handed a cold towel and a glass of lemongrass ginger tea and introduced to their personal butler. There is no concierge here; the butlers, many of whom are locals, will tend to every need.

Guests will travel to their rooms by cart over wooden bridges and through lush plant life, possibly passing a slinking monitor lizard along the way. The best of the 54 pavilions and villas offer direct views to the limestone karsts rising from the sparkling Andaman Sea.

All pavilions and villas are plush and oversized with soaring ceilings and the largest beds we’ve seen at four meters in width (a king bed is two meters). The décor is clean, modern and light, the main source of color coming from the beautiful northern Thai Lanna-style paintings throughout the space. Each room features a unique set of paintings; the complete collection took the artist two years to complete. The sprawling bathrooms were inspired by a Moroccan hammam and are flush with water features. The Reserve Pool Villas feature an indoor bath, outdoor bath, shower and a private pool. The Royal Villas with a sea view are the ones to get, with nearly 5,000 square feet of outdoor space and a large pool with unbeatable views.

Those without a private pool will not be disappointed by the spectacular public infinity pool that overlooks the sea. As the property does not have its own beach, days will be spent sipping coconuts in the pool cabanas, where attendants are friendly and attentive. Guests craving beach time can take advantage of the daily complimentary transfers to nearby Hong Island. However, as the beach is public, there will be other tourists there and it can get crowded. Those looking for a more private experience are advised to book a private boat early in the morning to explore Hong Island or the other less-visited beaches.

The other facilities include a gorgeous ESPA spa, the first in Thailand, featuring soothing treatment rooms with picture windows overlooking lush gardens. There is a full gym and a wellness center set in the jungle that offers yoga, pilates and meditation classes. The outstanding Thai restaurant, Sri Trang, serves authentic classic Thai cuisine (there are also five other restaurants on property).

Evening view at Rayavadee, Krabi Province, Thailand


Set on the stunning Phra Nang Peninsula, Rayavadee is surrounded by the Andaman Sea on three sides with direct access to two of the most beautiful beaches in mainland Krabi. The peninsula is only accessible by boat, as the limestone cliffs that surround the beaches are impassable by car. In addition to creating a dramatic backdrop, the cliffs act as a natural barrier, granting Rayavadee guests special access to the spectacular Rai Ley and Phra Nang beaches once the day-trip boats depart.

The 102 accommodations are scattered amongst coconut trees and tropical gardens in 98 two-story pavilions and four private villas designed with the natural beauty of a southern Thai village in mind. With entry-level pavilions starting at 900 square feet, the rooms are spacious and airy with oversized windows, comfortable beds and unique design touches that provide an authentically Thai sense of place. For families looking to spread out, the Family Pavilion with a pool is the room to get, with 1,800 square feet of space and dining area and large pool enclosed in a private garden.

The winding pathways that run through the property provide shade in the hot sun and make for a serene walking or running path. Monkeys, lizards and tropical hornbills, among other creatures, can be spotted in the lush gardens. The facilities are spread over 26 acres so even at full capacity, the property feels calm and peaceful.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Rai Ley and Phra Nang beaches. Since Rayavadee first opened its doors in 1994, the peninsula has become a popular day-trip from nearby Ao Nang and Krabi Town. The public longtail boats that start arriving at 10:00am and continue until 4:00pm can bring in substantial crowds, especially over holiday periods. As with all of Thailand, the beaches are public and resorts are not permitted to set up umbrellas and lounge chairs on the beach. As an alternative, Rayavadee has built a sandy platform a step up from Rai Ley beach and just off the resort’s expansive swimming pool. Here, guests have access to lounge chairs with umbrellas and beach service, making it simple to walk down for a swim in the sea and return to the privacy of the resort.

The other facilities on property include a large spa, tennis and squash courts, a full gym and four restaurants. Our favorite, The Grotto, features tables set in the nook of a limestone cliff and views out to the beach at sunset.

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