Dragon Crest Mountain Guide
After you’ve finished with Railay beach, you’ll find there’s some other things to do in Ao Nang that are also worth your time. I have made a whole post on the other activities in fact!
This Dragon Crest Mountain guide aims to dig a little bit deeper than that post.
Dragon Crest Mountain goes by many names, primarily Dragon Crest Mountain but it is also known as;
- Nong Thale peak.
- Khao Ngon Nak trail.
- Khuan Sai.
For the sake of simplicity this Dragon Crest Mountain guide will of course refer to it as Dragon Crest Mountain.
Use the table of contents to navigate the Dragon Crest mountain guide, I will try my best to pre-empt common questions and organise everything into little sections that can be skipped to by clicking on the table of contents.
Any further questions please comment.
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Dragon Crest Mountain Guide Common Questions
In this section I will attempt to answer the most pressing issues without baffling on needlessly, so in that spirit let’s continue …
What is Dragon Crest Mountain
Dragon Crest mountain goes by many names, but as stated in the intro, Dragon Crest mountain is the most common of these.
To put it simply, it is a mountain peak lookout.
People come here to do the climb for the view mostly, one in particular that is instagram famous, which will be discussed later on in the post.
At the peak you will be ~550m above sea level and will have a wonderful 360° view of the surrounding Krabi area.
The trail is about 3.7 kilometres long from the trailhead.
Is Dragon Crest Mountain Hard to Climb?
This is depending on fitness, but for anyone aged 14-50 who is relatively healthy should be able to complete this hike. As has been mentioned already, the elevation is 550 metres, the trail itself is 3.7 kilometres.
The challenges come from the humidity of the jungle at low altitudes, when you start the trail it will be hot and humid. Combine this with the fact that the first 30% of the trail accounts for 80% off the elevation, people run out of breath early.
The trail gets easier as you elevate, the hard work is done early and then you are walking across a ridge for the majority of the rest of the climb.
Also, tree roots and rocks litter the path, so try wear good shoes. It can be done in sneakers but hiking boots will give far more support.
I personally travel with Salomon X ultra (affiliate) boots that work great, but I would recommend the non goretex version if you will always be in humid conditions.
Where is Dragon Crest Mountain?
Dragon Crest mountain sits to the north west of Ao Nang beach by about 8 kilometres as the Millennium Falcon flies.
How Do I Get to Dragon Crest Mountain Trailhead?
Unfortunately, the trailhead starts around the far side of the mountain (in relation to Ao Nang).
What this means is that you will need to make your way by scooter or car through the Tubkeak beach region to the car park of the national park as shown below.
I rode a scooter and it took me 30 minutes from Surf hostel.
Once you arrive at the trailhead you will find scooter parking just by the ranger station with the boom gate, then it is about a 3-5 minute walk from there to the start of the trail.
How Long Does it Take to Climb Dragon Crest Mountain?
About 1 hour and 30 minutes from the trail head to the top.
This depends on fitness and how many times you stop, but here are my times for comparison.
- 04:30 – Wake up at hostel, drive to 7-Eleven for breakfast and a coffee (nothing else is open).
- 05:10 – Leave on scooter for the trailhead.
- 05:40 – Arrive at gatehouse carpark.
- 05:43 – Start the trail.
- 06:31 – Top of the stairs (after taking a wrong turn which will be covered later).
- 06:41 – First viewpoint.
- 07:25 – Arrive at the peak.
- 08:36 – Leave from the peak after photos and relaxing.
- 09:47 – Back in the carpark to ride home.
So as you can see it is quicker coming down, even with stopping to chat to people who were asking about how much further they had to go and whether it was worth it, it only took an hour.
I did take a wrong turn in the pitch black conditions early on, which I will cover later on. It won’t be an issue if you start the climb later in the day.
When Should I Climb Dragon Crest Mountain?
Early, both to beat the heat, but also to beat the other tourists.
I personally aimed to be at the summit for sunrise, and although I was about 20 minutes late, the conditions were great with a nice soft light cast across the region below.
Between 07:30-08:30 there were maybe 7 people at the top, but on the way down I saw at least 30 people beginning the climb.
If you start early you will need a head torch. Also, the scooter ride may be quite cold early in the morning.
*Technically the park opens at 08:00 but you can ignore this and come earlier.
How to climb Dragon Crest Mountain?
Once you arrive in the car park, walk past the ranger’s gatehouse to find the trail. Although this trail is relatively easy navigation wise, I recommend having MAPS.ME on your phone with the maps downloaded to use offline.
The beginning of the trail is wide and very rocks, so be careful with your footing, especially if starting in the dark.
For the first half an hour you will do most of the entire climb’s ascension, so it is hard work. The conditions are humid so take a lot of water with you.
Eventually there will be a turn off up some stairs, this is where you are meant to go. The old trail continues straight from here but gets overgrown. I accidentally took the old trail thanks to the pitch black conditions.
I mistook the stairs for a small rest station as I could not see their full extent under torch light. Trust MAPS.ME and you won’t go astray.
10 minutes from the top of the stairs is the first viewpoint, this is where the breeze kicks in and the rest of the climb is easy and less trying.
Once you make it to the top there is a large boulder/rock platform that is the highest point. To climb this there is a small wooden ladder to assist you in getting up. Otherwise just walk around and enjoy the view from every angle.
You will see a sign warning you not to climb out onto a ledge, this is an instagram hot spot but people risk injury and a fine by climbing out there.
Dragon Crest Mountain Guide Video
This is a simple video showing the turnoff at the stairs and brief footage from the top.
What Do I Need To Climb Dragon Crest Mountain?
Good shoes and a lot of water.
I recommend at least 3 litres of water, however in saying that, if you travel very light and come early, 2 litres might be enough.
I was walking with heavy camera gear, a gimbal, my drone etc. Although I am reasonably fit, I did find myself struggling early and consuming a fair bit of water.
Besides this, a mode of transport to get there and also some food for energy. It’s the perfect excuse to pack some Mars Bars along for the energy boost.
Don’t forget your camera!
How Much Does it Cost To Climb Dragon Crest Mountain?
To climb Dragon Crest Mountain is completely free. At the ranger station on the way in and out they have an opportunity for you to give donations.
Alternatively, you can do this as part of a tour, but I’d recommend just doing it yourself, you don’t need a tour.
Dragon Crest Mountain Guide Secondary Questions
Those are the main questions answered, but some people may want to know about the following things so I may as well try and cover all bases here.
Where is The Dragon Crest Mountain Instagram Spot?
Dragon Crest has gained in popularity thanks to an overhanging rock ledge (pictured above) that sits precariously over the side of the mountain. Naturally “influencers” just have to climb out there to take their photo, to be more influential I guess …
You can find this spot at the very peak, just walk around and you will see a sign banning people from going out on the ledge for safety reasons. If the rangers find you then you will be fined ฿2,000.
I didn’t climb out on the ledge as there were a few people around, I just used Photoshop to place someone at the edge for fun.
Can I Take My Drone Up Dragon Crest Mountain?
Short answer, maybe.
Long answer, don’t bother because…
If you are unfamiliar with the registration process of registering drones as a tourist in Thailand, then you might be in for a big surprise. I did register my drone and have documented the whole procedure here.
It is a major pain, but let’s say that you did it anyway. There are no signs saying not to bring drones into this national park. I carried a backpack with my DJI Mavic 2 Pro (affiliate) to the top in the hope of flying the drone above the mountain top, but this idea was soon put to bed.
The conditions at the top are extremely windy.
Not just “oh this might be a bit hard for the drone” but more like “if I send this drone up it might not be coming back!“
So I personally wouldn’t bother with the weight of the drone, the climb will be more enjoyable without it and you probably won’t want to fly it up there.
I also think flying in national parks is a bit of a no-no.
Is There Anything To Be Aware of?
Not really. Don’t panic, start early with a lot of water and good shoes. It isn’t really that difficult at all, anyone can do it if they are in reasonable health.
It is a jungle, so maybe you could come across some snakes if you were very unlucky, but being such a well-beaten path this is extremely unlikely.
If you do start early remember a head torch and don’t miss the turn off for the stairs like I did.
You won’t regret it, one of the best things to do in the Krabi region of Thailand!
Get amongst it, you don’t need to wake up as early as I did to enjoy the hike.
Choose to climb out onto the ledge at your own financial and physical risk.