Ao Nang with Kids

Author: Celine Brewer

Last Updated:

We visited Ao Nang with kids on our first family trip to Thailand five years ago. We loved so many things about the area, especially the food and the many family-friendly beaches. Our latest Thailand family vacation took us to Koh Lanta with kids, and it was so close by, that we couldn’t resist visiting Ao Nang with kids again!

This post contains compensated links.

5 Best Family-Friendly Beaches in Ao Nang with Kids

As you might expect, most of the best things to do in Ao Nang with kids involve beaches. The most famous beach around Ao Nang is Railay Beach, but there are many beaches that we enjoyed more.

two small kids on a family vacation to Ao Nang, Thailand walk in the water along Noppharat Thara Beach.

Based on our two visits to Ao Nang with kids, here are our favorite beaches in Ao Nang:

1. Pai Plong Beach

One of our favorite family-friendly beaches in Ao Nang is Pai Plong Beach. First of all, it’s really fun to get to – you get to walk there via the Monkey Trail!

The Monkey Trail begins at the far eastern end of Ao Nang Beach and goes up and over a rocky patch of jungle. It’s a short trail, with some rather steep sections, but just about anyone should be able to manage it.

The entire trail is either wooden steps, wooden boardwalk or flat hiking trail. Apparently there are often monkeys seen on the Monkey Trail – we heard some in the trees overhead, but we didn’t actually see any.

the kids from the Family Can Travel blog climb wooden stairs on the Monkey Trail on their way to Pai Plong Beach, near Ao Nang, Thailand.
Stairs on the Monkey Trail.

As you enter a national park while on the Monkey Trail, you need to sign in before entering Pai Plong Beach. Look for a giant fish nearby which you can ‘feed’ empty plastic bottles to – what a great idea! I’d like to see this at more beaches around the world.

Pai Long Beach is a stunning family-friendly beach near Ao Nang. Compared to Ao Nang Beach and Nopparat Thara Beach, it’s reasonably small, but it packs in a ton of amazing scenery.

Surrounded on all sides by towering, jungle covered limestone cliffs, Pai Plong Beach is what you think of when you dream of beautiful beaches in Thailand. Adding to the beauty is a dramatic towering limestone island on the left-hand side – similar to the scenery you enjoy at Railay Beach.

Two kids play in the waves at the beautiful Pai Plong Beach near Ao Nang, Thailand.
The waves were perfect for our kids at Pai Plong Beach.

The sand is super soft at Pai Plong Beach and there were no sea urchins visible anywhere. There’s a roped off swimming area which had exceptionally soft sand underfoot.

There was also a beautiful 5-star resort behind the sandy beach area which had a restaurant with a beautiful ocean view. Palm trees sway in the wind overhead. You can rent kayaks and stand-up paddleboards from the resort.

A tall pam tree casts a shadow on a near empty Pai Plong Beach near Ao Nang.
Dobongsan Trail Map on AllTrails

AllTrails Map

Easily find the Monkey Trail with the trail map on the AllTrails app.

2. Phra Nang Cave Beach

Despite getting all the attention, Railay Beach isn’t the nicest beach in the area – Phra Nang Cave Beach is. Accessible only by walking from Railay Beach, you won’t see any of the loud, disruptive longboats common at Railay Beach at this stunning, family-friendly Ao Nang beach.

To get to Phra Nang Cave Beach, you need to take a longboat from Ao Nang Beach to Railay Beach, and then it’s a 20 minute walk from there. The walk takes you through the little village of shops and restaurants built around the popularity of Railay Beach.

a 10-year old girl on a family trip to Thailand, enjoys the amazing scenery on a longboat trip to famous Railay Beach.
Our daughter soaks in the views on the way to Phra Nang Cave Beach.

We loved walking the final stretch to Phra Nang Cave Beach. You leave town and start walking in the shadow of an enormous limestone mountain. This part of the walk is essentially through the mouth of a very long cave.

The kids from the FamilyCanTravel.com blog, walk to Phra Nang Cave Beach.
The walk to Phra Nang Cave Beach was so much fun!

There’s a large overhang the whole way with massive stalactites dangling from the ceiling. We were lucky enough to see a large monitor lizard and a troop of monkeys along the trail.

As with many of the family-friendly Ao Nang beaches, the scenery at Phra Nang Cave Beach is incredible. The water at this beach seems to be the most clear in the whole area as you can easily see little fish swimming around on the ocean floor.

As you enter the Phra Nang Cave Beach, your kids will want to stop and watch the rock climbers scaling the vertical walls adjacent to the beach. They’ll then want to venture a little further into the cave which continues past the entrance of the beach.

a 10-year old girl on a family trip to Ao Nang stops to admire the scenery at Phra Nang Cave Beach.
What an incredible setting for a beach!

There are many appealing tropical islands in the distance (including Chicken Island), but the star of the show is the massive limestone island erupting from the water just offshore. The main activity at Phra Nang Cave Beach is walking along a sand bar from the shoreline to this little island. The sandbar has a lot of coral pieces in it, so you may wish to wear water shoes.

Celine Brewer, walks along the sandbar to the island off the shores of Phra Nang Cave Beach.
The sandbar walk to the island was a great activity with kids!

There’s a secluded resort and restaurant near the entrance to Phra Nang Cave Beach, and kayaks and stand-up paddleboards are available for rent.

If you are looking for calm waters for small children to play in, the waves were nearly non-existent on the day we visited Phra Nang Cave Beach with our kids. There are “Beware of Jellyfish” signs posted, which indicates they may be sporadically present, but we didn’t see any in the crystal-clear water on the day we visited.

an 8-year old boy walks in the crystal clear water on Phra Nang Cave Beach near Railay Beach, Thailand.

Read More

Are you still planning your family trip to Thailand? Be sure to check out our post on visiting Thailand with kids. We share everything you need to know to have the best family trip possible.

3. Noppharat Thara Beach

One of the reasons we wanted to come back to Ao Nang was Noppharat Thara Beach. It’s not the best beach in the area for swimming, but it is stunning. Noppharat Thara Beach is a long golden brown sand beach with karst limestone mountains on either end, and many beautiful islands just offshore.

Noppharat Thara Beach Ao Nang Krabi Thailand with Kids

We loved going for long family walks along Noppharat Thara Beach. It’s very clean and has an astounding amount of seashells along the sand.

thousands of beautiful seashells on the sand at Noppharat Thara Beach in Ao Nang, Krabi.
So many seashells!

If you go into the water, be sure to wear water shoes as the sand isn’t the most soft in the area. It’s truly amazing how far out you can go at Noppharat Thara Beach before it gets deep.

Yet another reason we love Noppharat Thara Beach is that it is an amazing place to watch the sunset in Ao Nang. Watching the sunset over the water is always such a beautiful sight, and shouldn’t be missed during your family trip to Ao Nang.

A beautiful sunset over Noppharat Thara Beach in Ao Nang, Thailand.

Noppharat Thara Beach isn’t as popular as Ao Nang Beach due to its location, but we think it’s worth the effort to get here. It’s way nicer than Ao Nang Beach and way more fun too.

4. Railay Beach

Despite getting all the attention as one of the top beaches around Ao Nang, Railay Beach isn’t all that nice. Sure, the physical setting of Railay Beach is incredible – it’s a small beach with towering limestone cliffs and islands all around.

But, there’s a few pretty big downsides to Railay Beach. As with Ao Nang Beach, a significant amount of Railay Beach real estate is occupied by the armada of longtail boats which bring visitors in all day long.

a lineup of longtail boats at Railay Beach, Thailand.

The longtail boats are very noisy, so if you like the sound of waves crashing, this isn’t the beach for you. After you factor in all the longtail boats, there isn’t much beach left for sunbathing and playing in the water.

The amount of beachgoers adds to the problem. Railiay Beach is enormously popular, so the combination of a lack of beachfront and so many visitors means a jam packed beach.

We spent the morning at Railay Beach on our first family trip to Ao Nang. We were early enough that the crowds weren’t as much of an issue. We rented a couple of kayaks and explored the stunning offshore islands.

karst mountains and a longboats at Railay Beach Thailand.

As with most visitors, we still had a great time at Railay Beach with kids, but if you have the time and ability, the short walk to Phra Nang Cave Beach is a big upgrade.

Note, that there are no roads to Railay Beach and/or Phra Nang Beach. You need to take a longboat from Ao Nang Beach to Railay Beach. It’s inexpensive, and the 10 minute trip each way is stunning.

5. Ao Nang Beach

Ao Nang beach is really two beaches in one. The west side of Ao Nang Beach is purely functional with dozens of longtail boats and speedboats ready to take visitors to Railay Beach and many of the day trips from Ao Nang to the surrounding islands, such as Hong Island and Ko Phi Phi. The lineup of longtail boats looks pretty amazing, but it wrecks this half of the beach for using it for beach stuff.

a three year old plays in the sand on Ao Nang Beach.
Our 3-year old didn’t care that Ao Nang Beach wasn’t the best… sand is sand!

The eastern side of Ao Nang Beach is much different as there are no boats in sight and it’s just a long stretch of sandy beach. The towering rock cliffs at the far end add a beautiful Thailand touch to the aesthetic.

Although this beach is very popular for sunbathing due to the large number of Ao Nang hotels nearby, I wouldn’t advise going into the water unless you have proper water shoes on. The sand on this half of the Ao Nang Beach is littered with beautiful purple, but very spiky sea urchins. I stepped on one by accident and I didn’t enjoy it much.

Celine Brewer, owner of FamilyCanTravel.com, walks with her kids on the beach on a family trip to Ao Nang, Thailand.
Ao Nang Beach is very beautiful in spots.

Just about every beach in the Ao Nang area is better than the Ao Nang Beach. We recommend enjoying a walk along Ao Nang Beach on your way to the Monkey Trail and Pai Plong Beach (the best family beach in Ao Nang).

Things to do on a Family Trip to Ao Nang

Although we spent most of our two trips to Ao Nang with kids enjoying the world class beaches, we did find some time to enjoy some of the fun activities in the area. Here are two things to do in Ao Nang with kids which we enjoyed:

Long-Tail Boat Trip to Hong Island

On our first trip to Ao Nang with kids, we went on a day trip from Ao Nang Beach to Hong Island. Although there are many tours which go there, we elected to catch a long-tail boat to Hong Island, from the longtail collective on Ao Nang Beach. It was much cheaper, but the downside was having to wait over 30 minutes for enough passengers to fill the boat.

Taking long tail boat to Hong Island with kids on a family trip to Thailand.
Wishing we had brought our kids life jackets on this beach excursion!

Our first stop at Hong Island was a beautiful lagoon in the center of the island. The water was very shallow and turquoise green, with tall, lush hills all around. It’s a beautiful spot, only slightly dampened by the boat congestion within. Due to the demand to get in and out, our captain didn’t linger long and we soon left.

a traffic jam of longboats visit a beautiful lagoon in Hong Island, Thailand.

After the lagoon, our captain took us to the main beach on Hong Island. The longtail boats cannot park at the main beach, so they drop you off on a dock at the end of a long, floating pier. Be sure to note your boat number and agree with your captain what time he will pick you up at.

There are National Park employees at the dock who collect your payment for admission into the park (our kids were free). After paying the national park fee, you walk along a long, floating pathway from the dock to the beach.

Hong Island Thailand with Kids

The best place to enjoy Hong Island with kids is the very north end of the beach where a small lagoon resides. This beautiful area is nicely protected from the open ocean and has calmer water.

Swimmers are encouraged via signs and (somewhat annoying) loudspeakers to wear their lifejackets while in the water, although no explanation is given why. There is a decent amount of dead coral chunks and seashells in the shallow water, so bring water shoes.

a toddler walks on the beach in Hong Island on a family trip to Thailand.

The beach at Hong Island has true white sand, which produces a beautiful turquoise blue water in the lagoon when the sun is out. The sand here is so soft, it’s like talcum powder (although it sticks to your skin like crazy). As usual in this area of Thailand, the surrounding limestone mountains are the finishing touch on a truly stunning beach setting.

If you need a break from the hot Thailand sun, we recommend taking a walk on the island’s nature trail. There are a lot of good English interpretive signs along the trail, including some interesting ones about the events on the island after the December 26, 2004 tsunami.

Hiking trail on Hong Island Thailand

We even spotted a large water monitor lizard walking on the beach.

Monitor lizard on Hong Island Thailand

Our visit to Hong Island ended with an intense thunderstorm. Although local officials did a great job ensuring everyone was safe under shelters, it made for a very choppy longtail boat ride home.

The hour-long ride back was white-knuckle tense. The waves were very high and our little long-tail boat was getting tossed around. How did our kids handle this stressful boat ride home? They slept… 

Despite the rough ride home, I’m glad we took our kids to Hong Island. You can’t stay at home all the time on the off-chance something bad happens. Through these experiences, our kids are learning about adversity and how to react in stressful situations; both of which will serve them well as they grow.

Hong Island with kids in Thailand

Recommended Tour

We took a longtail boat to Hong Island. These days the fastest way to get there is on a speed boat tour to Hong Island.

Railay Beach Kayaking

Earlier in our first Thailand family vacation, we were in Kanchanaburi with kids, and we tried kayaking as a family for the first time. When we discovered we could kayak the gentle waters at Railay Beach and see the amazing limestone karst islands up close, we couldn’t wait.

Long tail boat to Railay Beach on a family trip to Ao Nang with kids.

We find most places don’t have small enough lifejackets for little kids, so knowing we’d be doing some watersports in Thailand, we brought our own from home. Our kids shared the front seat of our 3-person kayak for a little while, but inevitably they started wrestling, so our daughter got moved back to be in front of Celine in the middle seat.

The surrounding water was so tranquil, it made kayaking Railay Beach really easy. The only thing which interrupts this tranquility are the waves from the long-tail boats which seem to go past every few minutes, but the waves from these boats aren’t very big and go away pretty fast.

We began kayaking along the southern end of the beach alongside the bottom of a towering limestone cliff. The beauty of these limestone mountains is clear from a distance, but the small details you get up close are special. Dramatic stalactites dangle above the water, while many birds and interesting plants call these rocks home.

Kayaking with kids in Thailand - Railay Beach

We soon left the mainland and kayaked out to the two beautiful islands just offshore. There is a small gap between the two which was fun to glide through. Once on the other side, we explored the outer edge of both islands before splitting the gap once more on our way back to shore.

Railay Beach Thailand

Where to Eat in Ao Nang with Kids

You’ll probably laugh at me when I say this, but the main reason we wanted to come back to Ao Nang wasn’t the beaches – it was the mango sticky rice. I know, I know… but what can we say? We love mango sticky rice and our favorite place to eat it in all of Thailand was a few blocks from our first Ao Nang hotel.

Sadly, when we returned to our favorite mango sticky rice shop, it was no longer there…  it was now a cannabis shop. Sigh…  but that’s ok – the surrounding food market was still there, which is our favorite place to eat in Ao Nang with kids.

Holiday Beach Walk Food Market

There’s a little food market near Noppharat Thara Beach which we discovered on our first family vacation to Ao Nang. There’s all kinds of food stalls in here, including Thai, Halal, Indian and more.

It can be hard trying to find food for picky eaters in Thailand. We like it here as there’s several places which sell western standards, like burgers and chicken nuggets, which makes it a great place for a family meal. We particularly like the Arbadi Halal Restaurant and the fruit shake stand right next door.

a 10-year old girl shows off her meal of Thai food on a family trip to Ao Nang.

King Palace

As much as we want to eat at the Holiday Beach Walk food market for every meal, we also like a little variety. On our first night in Ao Nang, we took the kids to the night market for some fun shopping and hopefully a tasty meal.

a fruit stand at the Ao Nang Night Market.

We had fun browsing the stalls at the market, but a meal never materialized. So we walked a little further down road 4203 towards Ao Nang Beach and we stopped at the King Palace Restaurant (as it was the only one in the area which had strong Google reviews).

As with nearly every restaurant in Ao Nang, you can get Thai, Indian, Italian and Western food. We took advantage of the happy hour specials and got a yellow curry and red curry for ourselves and a Hawaiian pizza for the kids. The food was very tasty – in fact, Celine said her yellow curry was one of her favorite curry dishes on our Thailand family vacation so far.

a red curry dish from the King Palace restaurant in Ao Nang, Thailand.

S&D Restaurant

After visiting Phra Nang Beach with our kids, we went looking for a lunch restaurant near Ao Nang Beach. We decided on the S&D Restaurant as it had a varied menu with some kid-friendly options, and it was right next to our favorite iced coffee place.

We were really happy to discover they had Pad See Ew on the menu, which is one of our favorite Thai dishes, but can be hard to find. It was delicious! As our family trip to Thailand was nearing the end, we let our kids each order mango sticky rice for lunch. The mango was served in a large heart pattern, making it the most visually appealing mango sticky rice we’ve ever seen.

a 10-year old girl shows off her heart shaped mango sticky rice on a family trip to Thailand.

Getting to Ao Nang

Ao Nang does not have its own airport nor a train station, so it takes a bit of effort to get there, but we think it’s worth it!

Flights to Krabi

The closest airport to Ao Nang is in Krabi, which is a 30 minute drive away. From Krabi you can hire a driver or take the airport bus (which runs approximately once per hour) to the Ao Nanh hotel zones. Domestic flights to Krabi are very reasonably priced.

Ferry to Ao Nang

Ao Nang has its own ferry terminal, which makes it convenient to take a ferry from Phuket to Ao Nang or many of the islands in-between.

Flying from Bangkok to Krabi Thailand.

We recommend you use 12go.asia to research and book your travel plans to Ao Nang. We used 12go.asia several times on both our family trips to Thailand as they make it easy to see all your options in one place, from flights to ferries to taxis.

Where to Stay in Ao Nang with Kids

Holiday Inn Ao Nang

On our first trip to Ao Nang with kids, we stayed at the Holiday Inn Ao Nang. We loved its excellent location near Noppharat Thara Beach and our favorite food market. It had a large swimming pool and an equally large breakfast buffet.

For our second family trip to Ao Nang, the Holiday Inn was the first place we looked. It’s under new management now and is no longer a Holiday Inn. Recently renovated, it’s now called the Holiday Style Ao Nang Beach Resort. We nearly stayed here again, but for fun we decided to try somewhere new for our return visit to Ao Nang with kids.

Antana Burin Resort

For our second family vacation to Ao Nang, we decided to stay at the family-friendly Antana Burin Resort. It’s a little further from the beach than the Holiday Inn, but it’s more centrally located between Noppharat Thara Beach and Ao Nang Beach.

We chose the Antana Burin Resort as it had adjoining rooms (one queen and two twins) and a super fun fantasy swimming pool with two waterslides. Ao Nang was our final stop on our second Thailand family trip, so we thought the kids may be getting tired of the ocean, so we got the place with a great swimming pool as a treat.

The swimming pool and waterslide from our kid-friendly Ao Nang hotel.
Our kids loved the waterslides at the Antana Burin Resort.

The breakfast buffet at the Antana Burin Resort was very good, perhaps too good. Many days I wasn’t hungry for some yummy Thai food at lunchtime as I ate too much at breakfast. There’s a wide selection of Thai and Western breakfast dishes on offer, both in the healthy and unhealthy (but delicious) categories.

We really liked our stay at the Antana Burin Resort and would recommend it for any family visiting Ao Nang with kids.

the kids from the FamilyCanTravel blog, sit on their beds in the Antana Burin Resort.

Hotel Recommendation

Antana Burin Resort

With adjoining rooms and an awesome swimming pool and waterslide, families will love the Antana Burin Resort for their family trip to Ao Nang.

What to Bring on a Family Vacation to Ao Nang

We have a full post with a detailed packing list for family beach holidays which will work great for your trip to Ao Nang with kids. The one piece of travel gear we’d like to highlight is water shoes. There are several beaches where you’ll appreciate having water shoes due to sea urchins or some rocks in the sand.

Thailand beach destinations to visit with kids. An Ao Nang beach holiday is the perfect spot to take day trips to the famous Railay Beach and Hong Island with kids. #thailand #krabi #railaybeach #hongisland
+ posts

Celine Brewer is a dedicated family travel blogger with a profound passion for helping families create unforgettable adventures together. Her blog blends captivating travel narratives with practical tips for family-friendly destinations and enjoying active travel with kids. As a mother of two, she understands the unique challenges of traveling with children and offers valuable insights to empower parents.

When Celine isn't traveling with her husband and two kids, she's either working on one of her three travel sites (Family Can Travel, Baby Can Travel and Travel Banff Canada) or out enjoying the majestic Canadian Rockies her family calls home.