Krabi Report: The Upside to Traveling During Low Season

Longtail boats at Phi Phi Island.

Longtail boats at Phi Phi Island.

When people say monsoon season, you naturally think sheets of endless driving rain. What no one really tells you is that in Thailand it really means rain some of the time and sunshine the rest, with rainy days steadily outnumbering dry ones into August. On balance, that means May, June and July can be pretty gorgeous.

Krabi, beach paradise on the Andaman Sea in Southern Thailand, was just such a draw even for this Hawaiian that I couldn’t pass up the chance. Our gamble paid off and we’ve been treated three out of four days to full sun and, as a bonus, discounts galore!

To be sure, the weather can be fickle. It can be sunny with clear blue skies one moment and then a squall can blow in the next. Traveling here outside of the normal October to April high season is like rolling dice.

Beautiful water. See the squall coming?

Beautiful water. See the squall coming?

But Krabi is striking and beautiful and well worth the trip. Dramatic limestone karst mountains rim beautiful white sand beaches and jut out in the middle of the sea, forming more than a thousand little islands. So very different from the scenery in Hawaii.

I skipped the south last time I came to Thailand 10 years ago and so I was determined to make it happen this trip. The tricky part was when?

When we got to Bangkok in June, the news was full of reports of storms and flooding. Tourists even got stranded on those outer islands for a couple of hours due to sudden storms.

Friends in Bangkok said we’d be better off visiting an island on the inland gulf instead of Phuket or Krabi. After all, it’s hard to see anything when you snorkel with overcast skies and churned up seas.

We hemmed and hawed. I studied weather charts and analyzed hourly precipitation percentages.

I ultimately based my decision on crowd-sourced reports of weather conditions I found on Twitter and Instagram. They showed lots of sunshine despite “cloudy with showers” forecasts. I picked Krabi because it’s like Phuket’s little brother, smaller but prettier and with fewer crowds.

We waited until literally the last moment to book our tickets (the day before) and found a good hotel on discount and set off.

Some numbers to show the discounts we scored:

– Hotel room at Aonang Villa Resort, the biggest game in town, was half price or about $60 a night not including taxes. It’s not necessarily what I’d consider the fanciest hotel in town but it’s on the beach and in the center of the action.

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Now that’s a pool with a view!

– Speed boat tour of four nearby islands cost 700 baht ($21) instead of the usual 1200 baht per person.

– Hour-long massages for 300 baht, or about $8. The price drops to 200 baht between 10 am and 1 pm.

– Thai and Indian food was 25 percent off and happy hour specials lasted through 10 p.m. One requirement however is a super iron stomach. We both got a little sick off our first Indian dinner and Karl got food poisoning from eating chicken pasta at an Italian-Thai restaurant also run by Indians. Perhaps a trend?

The lesson here seems to be that if you’re willing to take a risk, it can pay off handsomely. Of course, last week we’re told it was overcast and rained every day. No sunshine.

Aside from the day we arrived, it’s been three days of blistering sun with late afternoon passing showers. I guess we just seem to always be lucky like that.

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