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AO NANG is a busy, continually expanding, rather faceless mainland resort that mainly caters for mid-budget and package-holiday tourists. Although it lacks the breathtakingly beautiful beaches of the nearby Railay peninsula, it is less claustrophobic, and has a much greater choice of restaurants and bars, masses of shopping (mostly beachwear, DVDs and souvenirs), plus a wealth of dive shops, day-tripping and snorkelling possibilities and other typical resort facilities. The resort encompasses adjacent HAT NOPPARAT THARA, a much prettier stretch of shoreline, divided into two separate beaches by a canal and partly under the protection of a national marine park.
Hat Nopparat Thara East's uncrowded, two-kilometre-long beach is pretty and shaded in part, though the road runs unscreened alongside it. It's effectively linked to central Ao Nang by a conurbation of accommodation and shops. Hat Nopparat Thara West is an altogether quieter and more beautiful little enclave, accessible only via longtail or a circuitous back road. Just a handful of small bungalow hotels share its long swathe of peaceful casuarina- and palm-shaded shoreline, making it a great place to escape the crowds and commerce of other Krabi beaches.