Where are the best places in Krabi to sample authentic Thai cuisine?
Choosing the restaurants on this list was tough, but in the end it came down to one thing: consistency in cooking. While there are many great Thai restaurants in Krabi, the biggest problem is finding those that are always good, no matter when you go and whom you go with.
Of course, even in our chosen favourites, the chefs might still have an occasional off-day, but they’re usually on lip-smackingly good form. For lovers of Thai food, all of these establishments offer the genuine article, with little to no concessions to the tourist palate, and all are in the restaurant class. This means they offer full menus, the size of a small book, not just the standard one page tourist fare of “traffic light” curries, pad thai and chicken with cashew nuts! They also have proper table service.
Although you can find great Thai food at roadside stands or simple canteens, none of these are listed here – please see our separate article on street food in Krabi.
Best Thai restaurants in Krabi Town
If you are serious about Thai food, town is the place to come. In addition to the famed street stalls and markets, you’ll find some truly amazing restaurants – at a fraction of the prices found on the beach.
Ruen Mai Thai is the undisputed winner of best Thai restaurant in Krabi, where you can sample many southern Thai specialities, including seafood. Its strength lies in high quality primary ingredients, with freshness guaranteed – the organic vegetables and herbs used are grown directly on the property. Chefs are able to prepare non-spicy versions of the food without compromising on taste. The main dining room itself is spectacular, constructed entirely from bamboo, and other smaller pavilions are set in a beautifully lit garden, making meals here a special occasion day or night.
Ruen Mai’s closest rival is Ruan Tip, another excellent restaurant featuring a traditional Thai menu (try its delicious smoked crispy leg of pork, prawn beignets or crab curry) as well as its own innovations – the spicy Ruan Tip salad, with lansa fruit, cashew nuts and crispy dried seaperch is a must. Live music every night plus good service and an upmarket local crowd seal this restaurant’s position in our top ten.
Pathe is a new restaurant with a more contemporary feel. Run by a young couple, it offers well-seasoned dishes with a focus on quality produce and local cooking styles, with dishes such as crabmeat curry (mild) with vermicelli noodles; lemongrass salad; stir-fried long aubergines with minced pork. Menu varies daily according to market availability. The restaurant is located close to Ruen Tip, near the CAT Telecom intersection.
Jao Sua, another restaurant slightly out of the centre, would certainly be the people’s choice for best Thai in town. Open all night, it’s always packed with an eclectic crowd – especially after bar closing time at 1am – and thus offers a taste of the real Thailand. The menu is huge and cheap, with almost anything Thai you can think of, including dishes with birds and frogs.
Best are the southern specialities such as the hot and sour fish curry, kaeng som and the chilli prawn dip, nam phrik kung sot. The rickety old wooden building offers plenty of seating choice – you can even sit cross-legged on the floor.
Bai Toey’s pleasant dining room on the banks of the Krabi River provides tasty, reliable Thai cuisine, only a short walk from the old pier on Khong Kha Rd. The seafood here is excellent. Try the clams stir fried in sweet chilli paste and basil (hawy waan pat nam phrik pao) or the strange-sounding but excellent squid stir-fried with salted eggs – there’s plenty of dishes you won’t find on a tourist Thai menu.
Our final selection is Anchalee, located on the site of the former Ruen Mai (next to Tesco Lotus and diagonally opposite Jao Sua) and run by its former chef. While the restaurant gets busy with tour groups during the day, the evening is much quieter – and prettier with all the lights in the garden. Food is top-notch, as can be expected.
Honourable mentions for Krabi Town, though they didn’t quite squeeze into the top ten, are Sui Seafood (also offering non-seafood dishes), and the strip of restaurants in Thara Park, which is a good bet for a lunchtime dose of chillies – food is served until 6pm only.
Best Thai restaurants in Ao Nang
In the sea of restaurants near the beach, there are sadly less than a handful that made this list. Though there are plenty of good and authentic basic eateries in the area (the stretch from the mosque up through the village has the best of them), not to mention good street food, our mission here was to find the best in local dining: a place where Thai people would go for a nice meal out.
This is not to say that the Thai food served in the fancier beachfront restaurants is all bad: in fact, it’s improved considerably over the past few years and much of it is perfectly edible – it’s just that it does not resemble anything Thai people would eat.
Bussaba Thai is the first of the restaurants that pass the test. Open in Ao Nang for more than 15 years, the quality and authenticity of the food has remained pretty constant, even if the prices now mean its original clientele can no longer afford to eat there. The location is not ideal – a tent in a former car park, behind a row of street stalls – but the fact that it is packed every night is testament to the chef’s skills. Find it next to P.K. Minimart, across the street from the tourist police booth.
Another beachfront restaurant – this time on Nopparat Thara, round the corner from Ao Nang – that is highly recommended is Wang Sai Seafood. The restaurant of choice for visiting Thais, the open air, strip-lit dining room is short on decor, but the quality and freshness of the ingredients – including the non-seafood items – is unbeatable. Try a fiery Thai salad – grilled aubergine, or wing bean and coconut – alongside some plain grilled fish.
Thara Kitchen (Krua Thara) next to the National Park headquarters at the end of Nopparat Thara Beach has perhaps the best selection of seafood in Ao Nang, with a particularly large range of local shellfish. This is the place to come if you would like your seafood cooked Thai style, deep-fried with sweet chilli sauce, or in a curry or salad. Most days, there are also good crabs available – look in the tanks at the front of the restaurant.
Last but not least is De’Fish, located next to Tesco. It’s a hotel restaurant, and has that sort of ambience, but the food is excellent, with large portions and reasonable prices. There is a small section of southern Thai specialties, and the spicy salads are delicious. They also offer seafood. It is one of the few more upmarket Thai restaurants to serve an entirely Halal menu.
One final note on eating Thai food: it is best to order as local people do, with several dishes to share, rather than one dish for each person. Order rice separately and taste a little of everything. This way, you can get a balance of flavours and textures – soups, curries, stir-fries, salads etc. Don’t forget simple dishes like omelettes, which can really help you get through the spicy food!