The province of Krabi boasts hundreds of square kilometers of mangrove forests which are one of the most important ecosystems on our planet. I’ve seen quite a bit of mangrove in Krabi, and Tha Pom 30 km north of Ao Nang is definitely the most beautiful.
A wooden boardwalk takes you inside the forest (after you paid the 50 baht admission fee) and lets you explore this natural beauty with amazing tree roots wriggling above and below the crystal-clear emerald water. Many species thrive here, and studies have shown that mangrove forests store up to five times more carbon than most other tropical forests.
Along the first part of the stream, the water is less clear with swimming areas; you will see many Thai families here during weekends, but few tourists. Walk further into the forest, and the water becomes clearer with signs telling you not to swim to keep the ecosystem alive.
Ao Thalane, about 20 km from Krabi Town, is a bay with incredibly beautiful mangrove forest (perhaps the most beautiful in all of Thailand) with limestone karsts, canyons, and hidden lagoons. The tide makes a difference and the best time for kayaking is at a mid tide time, as it’s possible to go deeper into the forest. The mangrove forest is home to macaque monkeys who munch on crabs during low tide. We also saw a mudskipper, which is a fish that is capable of walking on land and climbing trees.
Ban Bor Thor, about 50 km north of Krabi town, is a small coastal village featuring mangrove forest, rivers, and spectacular limestone caves. This area, which belongs to the Than Bok Khoranee National Park, is one of the earliest sites of human civilizations in Thailand, and you can witness this by seeing cave paintings thousands of years old.
Many of these caves are only accessible by kayak, and you can hire one and have a guide with you in the kayak or not. My wife and I chose to paddle ourselves as we thought it would be more exciting that way, and it sure was a fantastic experience paddle down the river and into the caves. Take a look at the video I recorded below.
Bang Pat (Bang Toei subdistrict) in Phang Nga, located 1 hour and a half north of Phuket, is a Muslim village built entirely on the water next to a mangrove forest – connected to the mainland by a few hundred meters long bridge. About 80 families are living here which some of them offer homestays where you can sleep in one of the stilt houses, share meals with the owner, experience mangrove planting, fishing and cooking.