Addresses, maps and finding out where stuff is in Krabi

This is a long overdue post, inspired by a recent customer (thanks, Emily!) who had booked and planned her Krabi holiday based on the location of her hotel, which she had found on Google Maps.

She was slightly perturbed to discover (after writing to us) that the placemarker for her hotel was not just incorrect, it was totally way off – around 20km in fact! This happens more frequently than you would think.

When we looked it up, the hotel in question was – according to Google Maps – located next to a whole host of other places (banks, private schools, other hotels) that had also added their markers anywhere between 500m to 35km from their real location. Even more confusingly, there were four different locations listed on Google Maps for the same hotel. And the right one was spelled incorrectly.

“That doesn’t matter”, you may think. “I can just look up the address and find the place that way.” Well, good luck with that one. The address system in Krabi (outside of Krabi Town, which does use street names) follows its own peculiar logic, which is impractical at best, and at worst is downright confusing.

Which Ao Nang do you mean?

Let’s take Ao Nang as an example. For most people, Ao Nang is a distinct geographic area, encompassing Ao Nang Beach and the village behind it. In postal (and administrative) terms, however, this area is known simply as “Moo 2”, the second of eight separate villages belonging to the larger sub-district, also known as Ao Nang.

The other villages in the Ao Nang sub-district are:
Chong Phli (Moo 1)
Klong Haeng (covering Moo 3 – 5)
Nateen-Klong Son (Moo 6) and
Phi Phi (yes, the island of Phi Phi, Moo 7 and 8).

In a postal address, all of these places are also identified only by their Moo number and the sub-district name. So any address on any street in this vast area, covering mainland Krabi and islands 45km offshore, will be in the same format: house number, Moo X, Ao Nang.

12 Moo 7, Ao Nang –> somewhere on Phi Phi Island
134/8 Moo 3, Ao Nang –> somewhere in Klong Haeng Village

Even if I lost you a couple of sentences back, just remember the first and most important point of this explanation: an address with “Ao Nang” in it does not necessarily mean the place is actually in Ao Nang village – it could be 10km away, or across the sea!

But knowing your Moos is not enough. To complicate things further, there are no street names within each “Moo” or village to assist with location. Houses or buildings in a Moo have been allocated numbers according to when (not where) they were built. The original villagers in Moo 2 (Ao Nang) live in houses 1 – 70 or so, which are scattered everywhere from the beachfront up to 3km inland. Town planning? Ahahahaha.

With now more than 1000 numbers in Moo 2 (Ao Nang) alone, handed out in strictly chronological order, actually pinpointing where a place is located from its house number is something only the (highly skilled) local post office staff can do. In fact, if any of our postmen were to resign, the mail would be in chaos for weeks while the replacement learned the random location of every single house number in a village of 30+ side streets, plus a 5km long main road!

So, where exactly is 134/8 Moo 3, Ao Nang? Ask a postman. Nobody else – taxi drivers, policemen, helpful passers-by – will have a clue.

So what do the locals do?

We ignore the address entirely and use names. If the person or business is not familiar, we refer to landmarks such as established businesses, or a particular traffic junction, to locate a place. Somebody explaining where a new guesthouse was might say “it’s further down the road from Pakasai Resort, towards Klong Haeng, on the left hand side.” Having the street number will not help.

There are also now some street signs cropping up around Ao Nang, mainly on the side roads (Soi 8, Soi 10, Soi Suan Durian etc.). These are welcome and do offer some assistance in narrowing down your search if your hotel or restaurant has provided one for reference.

However the house numbers on that particular street are still attached to the Moo, not to the street, so “Soi Suan Durian” could for example contain house numbers 7, 34, 167/1-6, 476, 501 and thirty others in between, in no particular order, so you’ll still need to walk the length of the street to find the place you need. Google Maps sadly does not yet provide these street names (or even the Moo numbers) so that you can look them up in advance of travel, but all taxi drivers and locals will know them.

So what can a visitor do?

If asking for directions here, always provide the place name, not the address. A phone number is very useful if it’s a smaller establishment, as it’s quick and easy for drivers to call and find out where it is. If you want to know where something is in advance of travel, a good bet is to ask for a set of GPS co-ordinates.

You may also be reassured to know that the majority of hotels do seem to have sorted out their placemarkers on Google Maps. So the problem is not as prevalent as it once was – though do cross-check to be sure. But if yours is in the minority, you may not even realise it is wrong.

Always try to verify the location from other sources. Most online booking sites, for example have accurate pins. So this would be a good way of finding out. We also have other custom Google maps of Krabi showing various landmarks, again with accurate locations. There is also a custom map of Krabi with locations of markets, banks and government offices. Good luck!

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