It’s not often that I plan more than a day just lounging around on a vacation but that’s exactly what I did when I went to Thailand. It’s a really long flight from the United States, and jet lag (as well as long-flight insomnia) is no joke. I decided to treat myself with some rest and relaxation in a Thai paradise. I also decided to splurge on a resort and chose Ban Sainai Resort. This post will include my thoughts about the resort, what I did there, and whether I’d recommend it. (Hint: I would!)
I picked Krabi Town, or more specifically, Ao Nang, for a couple of days of beach and relaxation to try to adjust to jet lag. I don’t sleep on long flights in the best of circumstances, but with four flights for a total of around 21 hours flying time, plus airport time and time zone changes—it made for an incredibly long and arduous two days of travel. When you visit, I highly recommend that you visit a beach in Thailand and this is a great one to consider.
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How I Chose Ban Sainai Resort
I started research Thailand beaches figuring I would stay in Phuket. It’s the most popular beach area, but also the most heavily touristed. Because of that, I decided to look at other places and Krabi Town hit my radar. I knew I wanted to do an island cruise which I HIGHLY recommend! If you have seen those stunning images of the shores and islands representing this Thai paradise, you know exactly what I mean.
When I did the research, most of the boats leaving for island tours leave from Ao Nang, right next to Krabi Town. Ban Sainai is between the two and closer to Ao Nang, which makes it very convenient to go on the cruises. They also have a shuttle that goes to the beach regularly. And since my time was limited, I wanted to spend it relaxing in my Thai paradise and not traveling.
Reviews were great and the price was reasonable—higher for Thailand in general, but very affordable by western standards, especially for a resort-style place at a Thai paradise. Decision made!
You May Also Like Krabi Sunset Cruises—Best Thailand Cruise
My Booking Snafu
I booked this really early through a site called Agoda. It’s a travel aggregator, similar to Expedia or Travelocity, and it’s big in Asia. The price was a little less than on the hotel site and though I had never used it, I’m always game to try something new. I was playing with a bunch of dates, and looking at different sites and decided to book.
For some reason, I got some trip reminders in June and didn’t think anything of it. I’m not sure why I didn’t really pay attention, but I didn’t. A few days before my trip, I went to pull all of the booking information and thought—how strange, it looks like the dates are in June. Huh. Why would that be?
Well, that’s a risk you run when you go to multiple sites to search out deals. I
have never done this before nor since, but when I went back to the site to book, I either didn’t notice that the dates reset to the current dates or I just never changed them. Either way, I had no room for the first two nights of my 2-and-a-half week trip.
This trip was a massive planning effort as I went to six different places while on vacation so it’s understandable I made a mistake. But still completely novice mistake. All I can say is I’m glad I figured it out before I got there!
My Attempt to Fix the Booking Error
I tried contacting the hotel but they couldn’t do anything as I booked through Agoda. Drat! Though, it wasn’t the resort’s fault as that lay squarely on my shoulders.
This is why though I often check many sites to book, I usually try to book directly when possible. I had to rebook and pay it all over again. Ugh. Read this as a cautionary tale and always, always double-check dates before you book!
Ao Nang and the Area
The ride to my hotel took around 40 minutes from the small Krabi Town airport. It looked like it could have been any town in Mexico. There are really lush tropical plants everywhere and it’s bathed in a green blanket of foliage in all different hues. May of the buildings have brightly-colored tin roofs and the buildings themselves are in various states of decay. Repairs made appear to be for need and not aesthetic and all sorts of materials are slapped onto the homes.
Roosters cross the roads in traffic and have figured out how to make it safely to the other side (hopefully). I said a silent “thank you” for deciding not to rent a car here as drivers drive on the left side of the road, as they do in the United Kingdom.
I proved my impressive inability to drive on the “wrong” side of the road when I was in Ireland and it’s best that I don’t try that again for a long, long time. (Though I have to admit, sitting at a traffic circle waiting for another car to come to figure out how to enter it after being completely discombobulated was quite funny!)
Ao Nang, from what I saw, is mostly one main road with some small side streets off of it. Then, there’s a number of shops, restaurants, and stores lining the beachfront area. It definitely has the feel of a small beach town.
I was thrilled to see no McDonalds on my way to the resort, no Kentucky Fried nastiness, and very little American presence on the way to the resort except for one 7-eleven convenience store. (Note: there is a McDonalds hiding towards the beach, but thankfully it was discreetly placed so I didn’t see it on the way in).
It was a nice change from many of the other places I have been as I don’t think that is the best of America nor what I’d like my home country to be known for.
This is definitely a very sleepy area of Thailand and there’s a rustic kind of quaintness to it. The town opens between ten and eleven so definitely plan to sleep in or walk around where you are staying a bit before heading there. Of course, you can also go to the beach early before most people are out to almost enjoy it by yourself, at least in parts.
My Thai Paradise
Ban Sainai Resort is just a couple of minutes by car off the main road in Ao Nang. They offer transportation to and from the airport for a small charge so I took advantage of that. The last thing my sleep-deprived brain wants to do is navigate transportation when I land after a long flight.
The Experience Checking in at my Thai Paradise
The check-in area is an open building where they had me sit while I waited for them to get my key and information. They instantly took care of me and presented me with a small cold drink which tasted like a light juice. They also gave me a nice, cold, wet washcloth. Ahhh… It felt good in the heat and humidity of the day. This may be a Thai paradise, but it’s a hot and humid one!
It was a short way to my room though they insisted on taking me in a small golf cart. Who am I to argue? Son was my “person” and he told me if I needed anything at all during my stay, I was to call the front desk and ask for him.
He told me all about the resort and what I had to offer. He then asked if I had any questions and let me into my cute room which was like a casita. I walked right in, then saw him kick off his shiny black shoes before entering. Whoops, I forgot about that local custom. He settled me into my room and left.
Home sweet home for the next three days.
I had originally booked a place right on their small pond with a hammock, and when I rebooked, I was in a standard room. It turned out to be a great thing: right next to the pool which had a lovely and soothing water feature. And near the little spa area so I could puddle my way back to my room with no fuss of a walk to speak of. It was perfect.
My Thai Paradise Room and Amenities
My room was surprisingly large with stained concrete floors, bamboo accents, a large porch, and a queen-sized bed with mosquito netting. (Mosquito netting always creeps me out a bit and makes me think of that hilarious Expedia commercial. You know, the one of the woman daydreaming about the vacation options and in one clip, she’s in a bed with mosquito netting. She wakes in the daydream to a large number of bugs buzzing around the bed and decides against it. It is definitely a good thing at night, especially for more open structures like this.)
The room was nicely appointed and comfortable. Of course, there were toiletries and nice, plush towels. And hot water, which isn’t always available in southeast Asia. They also offered a woven grass bag with a pool/beach towel,
There is a beautiful salt-water pool with a nice water feature of water spilling out around it. I could enjoy the sound of rushing water even from my room and it was really relaxing.
There is a (funny) sign on the door stating that guests are not allowed to bring durian into the room. Are you familiar with durian? It’s a fruit covered by a thorny outside and a sweet, soft inside. It’s popular in parts of southeast Asia and it’s known for its rather strong smell. There is some disagreement as to whether it’s a pleasant smell or horrible, but it can last for days and some hotels ban it.
My Stay at Ban Sainai Resort
My first order of business at this Thai paradise was to book a Thai massage. Oh, that massage! I have never hurt so good in my life. I was very stiff and in a bit of pain from the journey and my aching body was pummeled and stretched into submission. It started with my feet being warmed on sea rocks and a foot scrub. I’m crazy ticklish but she used good pressure and I got used to it fairly quickly without embarrassing myself. Much. 🙂
The little massage area was an open tent by the pool with sheer curtains. By the time she started the massage, I didn’t have a care in the world. Following the massage, I literally had to be helped up from the table of (sweet, sweet) torture and somehow slithered to my room. In truth, I’m not quite sure how I did it. I had the thought of how grateful I was that my new room was a minute walk from the pool area as I don’t think I could have made it much further.
I got my bearings (i.e. stopped drooling on myself) and went to the pool for a swim and some rest. It was lovely and the water was crisp and clean. Feeling a bit refreshed, I went to take a shower and lay down for a bit before dinner.
Even still, I managed to get a second massage before leaving the resort, and though it was a bit more costly than on the beach, it was so worth it. I wasn’t sure I had any bones left in my body after the massages and it would have been too much of a risk trying to make it back to my hotel from the beach!
Ban Sainai Grounds
The grounds at the resort are lush, well-cared for, and beautiful. It’s well covered with plants, trees, and shrubs without being overgrown, and adds a sense of privacy. There are lovely paths, partly paved and some not where you can wander all around and through the resort.
In the distance, there are some beautiful mountains looming that are an interesting contrast to the feel of a lush green jungle you get. It feels like if they stopped maintaining it, it might be overgrown pretty quickly. And given how warm and humid it is there, it probably would.
I was woken every morning by a rooster crowing at around 6 a.m. It didn’t sound overly close so it wasn’t annoying, but a nice call to morning. At certain times of the day and especially in the evening, you can hear the sounds from a nearby mosque. It was quite beautiful and relaxing with the sounds of chanting. Thailand is very tolerant overall of religions and there is a large Muslim population in ao Nang, Krabi Town, and nearby Raillay Beach.
Ban Sainai Resort Restaurant
The restaurant is in a fairly-large building with multiple rooms, and a large covered porch overlooking the pond. I could see the rooms across the pond where I would have stayed and had all of my meals overlooking the pond. It has some koi fish that come to the surface periodically and some birds, including one very interesting-looking brightly-colored duck. It may have been a Chinese mandarin duck.
Breakfast is a massive buffet of eastern and western fare. There were several local Thai dishes with typical breakfast foods including curries, soups, and others. There were also western foods like eggs, toast, baked goods. In addition to the buffet, there is also a menu you can order eastern and western foods. They had a coffee bar and a juice bar with several kinds of juices and fruit, lots and lots of fruit.
I encourage you to try both eastern and western foods as it’s so interesting to learn. I got two kinds of egg roti for breakfasts during my stay as I love trying new things. They are traditional Thai crepes. the first was made of egg with some cinnamon sugar sprinkled on it. The next day I had roti with mataba, a crepe filled with a mixture of banana, egg, and milk. And I tried homemade pea bread which was bright blue and tasted like a slightly-sweetened white bread.
My dinner was a great Thai dish of beef basil with rice and they seemed quite pleased I asked for chopsticks. I don’t usually eat beef in Asia out of fear of what kind of mystery meat it could be, but I figured it was safe in a nice resort like this.
I got my first (of many!) mango sticky rice as I was told it’s a must-have in Thailand. No doubt! This one had sliced fresh mango, sticky rice that was almost blue in color, vanilla ice cream, and what I believe was coconut cream. It was a chewy, sweet, and creamy combination. Yum.
Fruit in Southeast Asia
The fruit in southeast Asia is simply amazing—the sweetest, tastiest fruit I have ever had and I recommend loading up when you go. Typical fruits are pineapple, watermelon, and dragonfruit, though sometimes they have others. They had juices you would expect to see like orange and pineapple as well as carrot juice. (Interestingly, I hate carrots but couldn’t get enough of the juice! and I watched them squeeze it with nothing added).
Thai Paradise Island Excursion
When you visit this area, you can’t not go on a Thai island excursion. The islands are a huge draw to visit this area and Ao Nang is a great place to go to see them. There are a number of companies that offer different tours. I chose Krabi Sunset Cruises for their sunset tour (the last option below).
Krabi Sunset Cruises
One of the top things I wanted to do when I visited was a Thailand island cruise, and the one I recommend is Krabi Sunset Cruises. This cruise company was very well rated and it was a fantastic day. We left from a shop near the beach of Ao Nang and got back after dark. The cruise I chose visited four islands: three during the day for snorkeling, swimming, paddle boarding and kayaking, and one at night to see the bioluminescent plankton. It was an incredible excursion!
The staff were all funny, interesting, and very helpful. The islands and the water in this area is just breathtaking. To be able to see this area where I have seen so many beautiful pictures—it’s just amazing. I highly recommend it and this company.
Krabi Sunset Cruises takes you out on a wooden Thai “junk” boat. They offer a 4-island tour for 2800 baht (around $90 USD). It wasn’t one of the cheaper cruises, but the reviews were great and I recommend it.
Weather in Krabi Town and Ao Nang
Temperatures in this area tend to be hot and humid. The warmest months are February through April when the highs range from 92° to 95° F (around 33°C to 35°C). Temperatures at other times of the year tend to be 88° to 90°F (around 31° to 32° C) so there doesn’t tend to be a lot of variation. Lows range from 70° to 74° F (around 21° to 23°C) throughout the year.
As with much of southeast Asia, there is a wet and a dry season. The driest weather is from December to April and it gets a little hotter with each month. December to April, or even November to May, are considered peak season for travel. There tends to be more rain from May to November and humidity rises during this time. The wettest months of the year are September and October.
How to get to Ban Sainai Resort
Krabi airport is 2.5 miles from the center of Krabi Town (4 km) and 17 miles (28 km) from Ao Nang. The airport is undergoing an expansion due to the volume of passengers flying through there are it was planned to support only a couple million. Several of the small Thai airlines serve this route from Bangkok (both airports) so there are frequent options to choose from. This is a great place to visit before or after a trip to Bangkok!
From the airport, you have a few options. You can take a taxi, which costs around 600 baht ($20 USD). There is also the Krabi Airport bus which serves both Ao Nang and Krabi Town. It costs 150 baht (just under $5 USD) and leaves 10 – 12 times a day from 8 to 8, or when the bus fills. If you take the bus, you would have to then walk to the Ban Sainai shuttle pickup according to the schedule on the website.
The easiest option is to get picked up by the resort. It costs 700 baht ($22.50 USD) and they bring you directly to the resort.
Summary of My Visit to a Thai Paradise: Ban Sainai Resort
I absolutely loved my stay at Ban Sainai Resort and could not have had a better time. I thought everything (my faulty booking aside) was just perfect. The staff was helpful and very friendly. My room was beautiful, comfortable, and well-appointed. The spa treatments were heavenly and the pool was nice and well maintained. I loved the water feature!
The grounds were impeccably-maintained and the restaurant was magnificent. The food was incredibly tasty and had a great selection, the service great, and the place was rustic and nice. I loved the setting on the lake. This was one of the nicest places I have stayed—it was beautiful and comfortable without being stuffy and overbearing. Perfection. I would recommend it to anyone.
Your Thai Paradise Booking Details
Ban Sainai Resort is located at 550 Moo 2 Ao Nang, Muang Krabi 81180, Thailand. Room prices range from around $70 USD a night to $280 so there’s a wide range to choose from. They do have some great offers and specials so check out their website. Alternatively, I always have good luck on Booking.com and they generally have flexible change policies. (They often offer nonrefundable and a refundable option).
Traditional Thai massages cost 700 baht (around $22 USD). The spa has the following offerings: massages, scrubs, foot massages, and facials. The shuttle to the beach runs every two hours or so and the timetable is on the website here.
In order to get to Krabi, you have to fly through Bangkok (unless you take a bus to get there). Bangkok is really the hub to get around by air, so if you are flying almost anywhere in Southeast Asia, consider a stop in Bangkok to see all this amazing city has to offer. Or, you really can’t go wrong with anywhere in Thailand. Here is a list of my favorite places in Thailand in case you need some inspiration! This includes the northern city of Chiang Mai as well as Chiang Rai.
Note: this is not a sponsored post so I was paid nothing to write it. It was an unsolicited write-up I chose to do as I enjoyed staying here so much.
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