The History of Krabi

Krabi; a southern province on the Andaman seaboard is rich in history, and has perhaps the oldest artefacts proving there to have been a settlement of people dating back to the prehistoric period. Krabi is built up around terrific limestone cliffs, with some of the most staggering rock formations in the world. As if the wonders of nature aren’t enough to blow you away, according to records about the history of Krabi many of these beautiful cliffs are also home to ancient paintings and artefacts such as stone tools, beads and pottery. Ancient skeletal remains were also found and are now displayed in museums in the South of Thailand.

Some 200 years ago, Krabi was split into three different boroughs and an elephant kraal was established, supporting a regular supply of elephants. In 1872 however, these districts were merged and King Chulalongkorn elevated the districts to town status, naming the province Krabi, which means sword. Krabi was a town dependent on Nakhon Sri Thammarat, a large province of the south. But in 1875, Krabi was raised to a fourth level town in the old system of Thai government. Administrators then reported directly to the central government in Bangkok and Krabi’s history as a unique entity became separate from the other provinces.

Over time, people came to settle in Krabi from different regions, leaving it a place representing a mix of different races. It is said that each group of people represent a different page in the history of Krabi. The Chao Ley or ‘Sea Gypsies’ tended to live on the various islands in Krabi’s waters and traditionally made their living from wandering around fishing and diving for their livelihood. Their small communities are still today in danger of overexposure to Western culture through tourism; however some of their traditional ways are still present in the yearly sea gypsy sailing ritual, which is held during the month of May on Koh Lanta, Koh Pu and Koh Cham.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Chinese flocked to Thailand in search of work, many making their way to southern Thailand. In more recent times, the Chinese involvement has been high within the oil palm plantations and gypsum mining.

Despite the assimilation of Chinese people and their descendants with local people over time, many retain vestiges of their Chinese heritage and many can still speak Chinese. Being in close proximity to Malaysia, southern Thailand is also home to many Muslim communities, and Krabi itself has a strong Muslim presence.

Krabi was affected by the Tsumani that happened in December 2004. The tsunami hit Thailand’s south west coast along the Andaman Sea, causing devastating destruction. Krabi, along with Phuket and Phang Nga were the hardest hit, with lives lost and entire properties and areas destroyed. A credit to Thai culture is the aftermath of the tsunami, whereby the country was resilient and able to persevere damages with intention to rebuild. Though the south suffered significant damage, it was able to rebuild quickly compared to neighbouring countries. Within two years virtually all the damage had been removed and the affected areas were redeveloped with significant safety improvements. Today, Krabi is looking more stunning than ever and continues to attract people from all around the world, many who are absolutely captivated by its stunning beaches and magnificent limestone cliffs.