My new favorite, secret beach – Ao Nam Mao (southern Thailand)

Updated - May 16th 2022

I didn’t really want to write this post.

I don’t want to see this magical place change one single iota.

In fact, I’d rather you stop reading this post right now. Go on, read about some other touristy places around Krabi. I want to keep this one to myself.

Still with me? Damn. OK, fine then – in the interest of sharing the good stuff, let me tell you why and how it’s become my favorite:

  • It’s relatively easy to reach from Krabi Town or Ao Nang (a scooter or car is best, but a songthaew will get you close enough for a 10-minute walk).
  • It’s isolated from tourists and touristy stuff – the closest convenience store is a couple of kilometers away.
  • There’s no signage for it – we heard about it in one of the local magazines, and saw it while exploring nearby.
  • There’s no one else around.

The first time we went, we walked along the beach for over a kilometer and didn’t see a soul. The second time, we saw a single local. While you can focus on the rocks and waves (which during low tide are quite far out), what made the place feel otherworldly was the debris:

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Um… debris? Seriously, Chris? Well, it’s not my first choice of things to find on a beach, to be sure. I’d rather find the shell-encrusted rocks and waves (be careful climbing on or over the rocks – there’s a lot of sharp edges!). It’s the raw wildness I like – no food vendors, no one around trying to rent you an umbrella, no one period.  It’s smack dab between two more-traveled destinations (the Ao Nam Mao pier and the Shell Fossil Beach, also called the Gastropod Fossil Beach), and is easily overlooked from the road since it’s barely visible.

If you enjoy irony, there’s a bonus: you’re fairly close to the Shell Cemetery / Gastropod Fossil. Sure, that sounds pretty cool – until you look on TripAdvisor and realize it’s one of the lowest-rated attractions in town (as I write this, it’s #35 of 36 attractions in Krabi – only an unreviewed island is ranked lower). You’d pay 200 baht (10 times the Thai price) for the ‘privilege’ of seeing a fraction of what you can see on the beach for free. Go ahead if you want to have the full-fledged tourist attraction with souvenirs – or come here if you’d get lost in the rocks and waves.

While climbing up and around the rocks is easy, you do not want to walk on these barefoot. Keep your sandals on, and resign your shoes to getting wet – there are a lot of sharp edges around. I actually scraped the back of my leg after misjudging the stability of one rock…

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Looking west, away from the sunset – the sunset itself is sometimes hidden behind some trees. You can walk west (towards the Ao Nam Mao pier) to get past them in a few hundred meters.

If you’ve been to Pattaya or Phuket, you’ve seen what happens to Thailand’s natural beauties once development gets ahold of them. I’ve heard the government owns much of the land in this area, however, and only rarely sells some off. Hopefully this will slow development to a crawl and give more people a chance to take it in.

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Name: Ao Nam Mao beach
Address: Laemphopattana soi 2, Ban Sai Thai, Mueang Krabi District, 81000 (GPS: 8.021442, 98.880524)
Directions: If coming via songthaew, get on one heading for the Shell Fossil Beach Cemetery (saying Ao Nam Mao Pier will also work, though you’ll stop short by a few kilometers). You’re getting close when you see a teepee on your right – when you see an orange fish on your right, push the button to get off. You’re looking for Laemphopattana soi 2 on your right – it’ll be one of the only blue street signs around. Go down this side road for about 600 meters – the paved road dead ends in a small, open shelter – walk through the building to discover the beach.

If coming via scooter from Krabi, head west towards Ao Nang, then turn left onto route 4204 at the gas station with a 7-11. Head south towards the roundabout, turning left onto route 4203. Go about 2 kilometers and slow down when you see the orange fish on your right. You’re looking for Laemphopattana soi 2 – it’ll be one of the only blue street signs around. If you pass a mosque on your right, you’ve gone too far. Head down this side street until it dead-ends, then park and walk to the beach.

If coming via scooter from Ao Nang, head east towards the Shell Fossil Beach Cemetery on route 4203. At the roundabout near the pier, bear right to stay on route 4203. Go about 2 kilometers and slow down when you see the orange fish on your right. You’re looking for Laemphopattana soi 2 – it’ll be one of the only blue street signs around. If you pass a mosque on your right, you’ve gone too far. Head down this side street until it dead-ends, then park and walk to the beach.

Hours: open 24/7 – almost no artificial lights, however, so best to visit during daylight.
Admission: free
Phone: none
Website: none

 

Ratings out of 5 globes (How do I rate destinations?)

Ease to arrive:

3.5 globes

Foreigner-friendly:

3.5 globes

Convenience facilities:

0.5 globe

(there’s nothing for sale whatsoever on the beach – stock up at the convenience store and use the bathroom before arriving!)

Worth the visit:

5globes

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