People of Krabi

People of Krabi

A boat captain

The people of Krabi represent a mix of different races from different regions. It is often said that each group of people represent a different page in the history of Krabi. The Chao Ley or “Sea Gypsy” people reside on several of the islands in Krabi’s Andaman waters, and traditionally made their living from nomadic fishing and diving. Their small communities are in danger of overexposure to tourism, and inevitable assimilation, however some of their traditional ways are presented in the yearly sea gypsy sailing ritual held in May on Koh Lanta and Koh Jam. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Southern Chinese people flocked to Thailand in search of work and many made their way to the south of the country to work in the local mining industry. Despite the assimilation of Chinese people and their descendants with local people over time, many retain vestiges of their Chinese heritage. Many still speak Chinese, have Chinese (and Thai) names, and observe Chinese rituals and religious beliefs. Krabi Town has a very dominating Chinese population who loudly brings in the new Chinese year. Most gold shops are run by persons of more pure Chinese heritage. Being in close proximity to Malaysia, southern Thailand is also home to many Muslim communities, and Krabi itself has a strong Muslim presence.

People of Krabi

A Muslim batik painter

There is a bit of segregation in place, the Muslim community have their own restaurants, schools, and now even banks. Muslims are about a 3rd of the population in Krabi Town, but they are the majority in all of Krabi smaller villages, including Ao Nang and the Koh Phi Phi island. Krabi Muslims have been acquiring enormous wealth due to the sky rocketing prices of seaside lands. Ironic you would say, given that they occupy the seaside because it was once considered inferior property due to the low fertility of the soils.

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About the author

Thomas has a university background in the UK and in Latin America, with studies in Languages and Humanities, Culture, Literature and Economics. He started his Asian experience as a publisher in Krabi in 2005. Thomas has been editing local newspapers and magazines in England, Spain and Thailand for more than fifteen years. He is currently working on several projects in Thailand and abroad. Apart from Thailand, Thomas has lived in Italy, England, Venezuela, Cuba, Spain and Bali. He spends most of his time in Asia. During the years Thomas has developed a great understanding of several Asian cultures and people. He is also working freelance, writing short travel stories and articles for travel magazines. Follow Thomas on

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