White water rafting is a relatively new adventure activity being offered in Krabi by a couple of local companies. In actual fact, the rapids visited are on the Songpraek River in Phang Nga province, around 1 – 1.5 hours drive north of Ao Nang. The run used is from 5 – 9km in length, depending on the type of tour chosen, and is a manmade course with water periodically being released from a dam upstream. The difficulty level is classed as being between Grades 2 – 3 for the 5km route, and Grades 2 – 4 for the 9km route.
While this may sound – and even look – extreme, with the churned up, gushing water and giant boulders, the experience itself is somewhat tame. The rafts are essentially giant inflatable cushions, expertly manned with paddle guides at front and back, and they glide slowly rather than zoom and crash over the rapids. There is an occasional exciting splash, but not much in the way of sustained adrenaline. If you spend most of your time at a desk, you may find it exciting – we definitely heard screams and even tears on our trip – but for most people it is not going to rank as thrilling.
Nonetheless, rafting is still classed as an extreme sport, so there is a minimum age requirement of 6 years, and pregnant women or anyone suffering from back or neck problems should check with a doctor before proceeding.
For any route along this river, no experience is necessary and a short safety session is provided before climbing aboard. This explains how to move with the boat and hold on with both hands. As the paddle guides are in charge (and do an amazing job), paddles are not automatically provided for passengers. If you can get hold of one, it makes things more interesting, though you will be powering, rather than manoeuvring the boat.
The longer course of 7- 9km is only open to adults, and the available length depends on the time of year – during February – April, the river can be too dry to do the full length run. Again, no prior experience is required, as the guides do all of the work.
Because the rafting itself is very rapid (pun intended!), taking 25 – 45 minutes, and transfer time is long, most rafting tour programs have various “filler” activities to make it a full day. These range from elephant trekking, ziplines and ATV (quad bike) riding to vists to the Ton Pariwat waterfall, and Monkey Cave temple (both in Phang Nga). There are at least six or seven different combinations of activities possible and everything is seamlessly organised, keeping you moving from from one activity to the next fairly quickly.
Note that any of the full day itineraries are pretty exhausting, especially with the long transfer times to and from Phang Nga, so do schedule in a rest day either before or after!
The available tours (including combo tours) are listed below; click on the links to see full itinerary.