Krabi may be our favorite beachy getaway, but that doesn’t mean you have to hit the coast to take a swim. These bluer-than-blue pools hiding in the jungle are an adventure you shouldn’t pass up.
When you’re vacationing in Thailand, you’ll probably find yourself in the southern part of the country. You know, the section rimmed with golden sand beaches and dotted with islands galore. It’s paradise, postcard perfect, and exactly where you should be spending some of your time.
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Our ILP volunteers know where to spend their vacation time and the reviews are in: absolutely go to Krabi. It’s less crowded than nearby Phuket and is the gateway you’re looking for if you want to go island-hopping to a few of our other favorite spots. You’ll want to dive into this go to guide about all things Krabi to know where to stay, how to get there, and other things to do, but this post is all another rad swimming spot that isn’t anywhere close to the beach: the Krabi Hot Springs + the Emerald Pool.
All About The Hot Springs
The ocean isn’t the only place to swim in Krabi. Hiding in the Klong Thom district (near the Khao Phra Bang Khram Nature Reserve) are a series of jacuzzis carved out of the rock. Naturally warmed by thermal water shooting up from the jungle floor, these popular pools have become quite the swimming spot. Some of the pools feel more natural, while others have been diverted into man-made pools perfect for a long soak so you can find what you’re looking for.
The temperature of the water hangs around 95° to 102° and supposedly has healing powers. It’s recommended you stay in for only 15-20 minutes at a time to soak up the skin-healing properties. Once you’re finished soaking in the heated waters, you can hike down a bit to soak in the river that’s just below the cascading pools (it’s a refreshing dip after swimming in the thermal pools). But don’t leave quite yet because the picture-perfect Emerald Pool is just a 15 minute drive away.
Here’s The Deal With The Emerald Pool
The Emerald Pool isn’t a secret (it can get very crowded in the afternoon) but it’s a dreamy natural swimming spot that’s more than Instagram worthy. The Emerald Pool is found just around the corner from the Hot Springs (a 15 minute drive). From the entrance, it’s an easy hike after you’re done soaking in the warmer water. You have the choice of two walks, but I suggest taking the longer one (1,400 meters, versus 800 meters). The longer walk is more than a dirt path (unlike the shorter walk) and takes you through the dense foliage, giving you a much prettier view. You’ll trek past little mini-pools, a handful of tumbling cascades before arriving at the Emerald Pool.
You’ll find the Emerald Pool in this reserve, colored a beautiful sea foam color. It’s a much bigger pool to swim in (unlike the small, bathtub-like sections of the Hot Springs) and can get quite popular.
About The Blue Pool
Oh, and if you have the time, you’ll want to hike about 600m upstream from the Emerald Pool just to glimpse the Blue Pool, a pool of unbelievably colored and clear water that’s amazing just to look at. The water temperature is extremely hot and deep, and the area is rimmed by quicksand, so no swimming is allowed at the Blue Pool. To say that one more time, you’re allowed to swim in the Emerald Pool, but not the Blue Pool.
Helpful Info About The Pools
Hours + Cost
For the Krabi Hot Springs, it’s a 90 Baht charge.
For the Emerald Pool, it’s a 200 Baht fee to access the Khao Phra Bang Khram Nature Reserve. You can get more info about the Nature Reserve here. That link has a lot of info about the park, park trails, and facilities and some pictures of the Emerald and Blue Pools.
Peak times are between 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Most vendors pack up and leave around 5:30 (which is when the park kind of closes). There really aren’t set open and closed times, just when the ticket booths are in operation. You’ll find the most tourists in the pools in the afternoon, with most leaving around 4:00 PM if you want to try and avoid the crowds. This place does get very busy (with whole school groups arriving via bus to hang out in the Emerald Pool) so just expect to share your swim with a few people, especially if you’re visiting on the weekends.
Sometimes The Pools Are Closed
The Khao Phra Bang Khram Nature Reserve is home to a rare bird that was thought to be extinct, and is a semi-protected area especially during the breeding season of the Gurney’s Pitta. Sometimes the area closes down to tourists in the afternoon (after 3:00 PM) so you may want to double check closures before planning a trip over by calling this number #087 477 1105.
Go With A Tour
Krabi is used to its share of tourists, so you’ll find tour operators offering transportation and a guide to pretty much all of the hot spots around. This is going to be your most expensive option, but transportation is covered which makes it way more convenient. My Thailand Tours has a few all-day options and half-day options that include kayaking at the Emerald Pool if you want to explore their options, or talk with your hostel, or do your own research online/while asking around Krabi Town.
Take A Taxi
You’re also welcome to take a taxi from Krabi Town which should set you back around $35 USD to get from to the Krabi Hot Springs (not bad if you’re splitting that with people from your ILP group). It’s about an hour and 15 minute drive. Here’s the names of the two locations in Thai to help you out:
- น้ำตกร้อน (Krabi Hot Springs)
- สระมรกต (Khao Phra Bang Khram Nature Reserve)
This option is best if you don’t want to be constrained by a tour who is going to tell you how much time you have at each location, but you’ll need to sort out how to get back — I suggest paying your driver for a full day so that they will sit and wait while you explore the Hot Springs, then having them take you the 15 minute drive to the Nature Reserve, then taking you back to Krabi Town.
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