Ao Phra Nang. Ao Nang. Princess Bay.
Tourists flock to this former backpackers' haven. Nowadays it is packed with busloads of Chinese highrollers and flashpackers. I saw 3 huge buses arrive on my first day in town, and I was made palpably aware that I was sharing the place with thousands of others.
Having said that, it is relevant to emphasize that Ao Nang is a perfect base if you love party crowds, busy tourist shops, and sun-kissed islands all competing for customers. It's also ideal when you'd want to explore the province of Krabi and the legendary Ko Phi Phi (a few hours away by boat). But there's more, and people shouldn't miss Railay Beach, made accessible through cheap boat rides.
Sunsets in Ao Nang are a joy to behold. Hundreds would flock to the bay, sitting silently while waiting for the sun to slip down the horizon. I loved its golden dives into night time. I made sure I didn't miss my 3 sunsets in the village. Moreover, Ao Nang has some of the gentlest waves rolling along the Andaman Sea. During such whimsical moment, I could see boats casting dramatic silhouettes from a distance. It allowed me to unwind, my mind clearing into clean slate. Otherwise, my consciousness was always a cacophony of motion.
P.S. I have to mention that compared to Pattaya, Ao Nang (and Krabi in general) is relatively sleaze-free and more family-friendly, so pervs are better off elsewhere. This isn't saying that worldly pleasures can't be had here. But the flesh trade isn't rampantly peddled. You don't see bars with 2 dozen naked girls by the doors, very typical of Pattaya. But this is after all still Thailand.
This is the Eye in the Sky!