A complete hiking guide to the Dragon Crest Mountain viewpoint hike in Krabi, Thailand.
Hiking Dragon Crest Mountain, also known as the Khao Ngon Nak viewpoint trail, or Khuan Sai in northern Krabi offers some of the best views in Southern Thailand!
While this is a relatively steep and admittedly sweaty 3.7 km hike, it’s worth the views after just 1.5 hours of hiking. If you’re into adventure travel I recommend adding this to your list of things to do in Krabi.
In this guide, I’ll detail everything you need to know about hiking to the summit viewpoint, including tips on how to get to the national park, what to expect on the hike, and photos from my trip.
By Olly Gaspar, traveler, travel blogger & photographer for 5+ years with 600+ published travel guides. I visit every place I write about & share real tips from what I learn.
About Krabi's Dragon Crest Mountain Hike
- Hike Distance: 3.7 km (2.3 miles) one-way (7.4 km round trip)
- Hike Duration: 1.5-2 hours one way
- Elevation: 550 meters total elevation gain (1,804 feet)
- Dragon Crest Mountain Height: 498 meters above sea level (1,633 feet)
- Difficulty: Moderate (quite steep & hot)
Dragon Crest Mountain, also called Khao Ngon Nak is officially located within the broader Moo Koh Phi Phi National Park. This is a popular trail, well-maintained, and easy to access via a large parking lot near Tubkaek Beach at the northern end of Krabi.
This Krabi hike is an out-and-back trail, leading straight up to the Khao Ngon Nak viewpoint (Nong Thale Peak), and back down on the same trail. The hike is not technically difficult but is rather steep with some very light boulder scrambling toward the top.
We reached the top in roughly 1 hour and 45 minutes, which included some stops for photos along the way. The descent took roughly 1 hour.
How to Get to Khao Ngon Nak National Park
The Dragon Crest Mountain is located in Northern Krabi approximately 18 kilometers (11 mi) from the popular tourist area of Ao Nang Beach and Railay Beach.
For directions type in "Checkpoint Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park" into your Google Maps, which will take you directly to the trailhead. Once you arrive, you'll pass the gate entrance to the National Park, and pay the 200 Baht entrance fee.
To get to the trail, I recommend renting a car or motorbike in Krabi Town or Ao Nang. We paid 200 Thai Baht per day for our Honda Click, which was the cheapest way to get around and explore the broader Krabi province.
The ride from Ao Nang Beach to Dragon Crest Mountain involves a scenic 29-minute drive via Klong Mung Road following the coast of Krabi. This road is sealed and well-maintained.
For those staying in Krabi Town, expect a 30-kilometer (18 mi) journey of at least 40 minutes.
This park is referred to as Khao Ngon Nak but is officially just a segment of the Nopparatthara – Moo Koh Phi Phi National Park. However, this huge park designation encompasses many islands and national park areas around Krabi.
Update: It is now possible to book the Khao Ngon Nak hiking tour online, which includes transport and a guided day trip.
Related:Hiking the Monkey Trail in Ao Nang
Entrance Fee to Khao Ngon Nak National Park
The entrance fee to Khao Ngon Nak is 200 Thai Baht for foreigners (100 baht for children), and 40 baht for Thai Nationals (20 baht for children).
As you arrive at the trailhead for the Dragon Crest hike, you'll see a small hut with a National Park Ranger desk. Here, you'll sign your name and pay the entrance fee before heading off on the hike.
Dragon Crest Park Opening Times
The official park opening time is 8:00 am, Monday to Sunday. However, as we wanted to hike Dragon Crest Mountain for sunrise, we arrived around 6:00 am and we could still begin the hike, even though there was nobody there.
While we thought we could get away without having to pay the high entrance fees, we were asked to do so on the way out. We also noticed that there was a sign saying that the park closes at 2:00 pm. When I asked about this, I was told that this is the closing time for those commencing the hike, to ensure visitors return before sunset.
Book a Dragon Crest Hiking & Adventure Tour in Krabi
If you're staying in Ao Nang and up for an epic adventure day trip, then it's possible to combine the Dragon Crest hike with a fun ATV ride and kayaking trip on the amazingly clear Khlong Nam Sai lagoon.
This small group trip runs daily and is the best bet for hiking to this viewpoint, especially if you don't have your own form of transport.
What to Expect on the Dragon Crest Mountain Hike
The Khao Ngon Nak Nature Trail
The hike begins roughly at sea level by walking through a park-opening gate adjacent to a clear, flowing stream on the left side. This rather rocky and uneven trail begins climbing gently through a thick cover of jungle and is very clearly defined and easy to follow.
Additionally, along the way, there are sets of clear markers indicating the distance hiked. On the way up, we were powering on and missed the first few.
After approximately 1.5 kilometers, the trail meets a steep, wooden staircase. From here, the track steepens again, with some small sections of thick, fixed ropes to help you up. These ropes are only there to be used as a makeshift handrail.
Coming into this hike, somebody told us that there were many lizards on the trail. This was definitely true! I'd also imagine there'd be some snakes so keep an eye out.
Shortly after the short climb following the wooden staircase, the jungle opens up for incredible views of the islands to the west and the dense, rainforest canopy 300 meters below. This was approximately 50 minutes into the hike.
Next, we continued on, climbing gently and following a level section just beneath the ridgeline. This is where we met a huge troop of monkeys running wildly through the forest. Prior to starting, I heard that this was fairly rare. But I guess the chances are higher first thing in the morning.
Pha Nam Yod Detour
Following our monkey encounter, we pushed on for the final section leading up to the Dragon Crest Mountain top. The last section features a well-signed fork, indicating straight ahead for the Khao Ngon Nak viewpoint, or right for Pha Nam Yod.
Curious, we took the 300-meter detour to this attraction, which turned out to be a dried-out waterfall. Although it wasn't a waste of time for us, since we managed to spot more monkeys.
There was also a light trickle of freshwater here, which is great to fill up the much-needed water if you use a Grayl Purifier bottle like us.
Last Section to & First Viewpoint at Khao Ngon Nak
Returning to the fork, we continued straight for the final 30-minute hike to the summit. This section begins a little steep, levels off, and then requires another short steep section before the top.
Once you reach a large open plateau area, you've reached the official Khao Ngon Nak viewpoint, indicated by a sign.
However, I highly recommend continuing for another 300 meters or so to the actual summit, where you'll see the famous Instagram photo spot with the rock overhanging the jungle (let's call this Dragon Crest rock).
Just before this Dragon Crest viewpoint, there's a very light section of boulder scrambling, which honestly shouldn't be a problem for anybody who's gotten to this stage already. This section is mostly out of the rainforest and offers some pretty magnificent views.
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Dragon Crest Mountain Viewpoint
Arriving at the Dragon Crest Viewpoint, we walked out to the large granite boulder overlooking the Krabi Valley to the south. We were rewarded with 360-degree views of the Krabi coastline, the distant islands including Koh Hong, Koh Poda, Koh Lao Lading, the Phi Phi Islands, and the beautiful green limestone peaks rising from the valley to the south.
This was an excellent spot to hang out and ring out our completely sweat-soaked shirts.
The panoramic view from here is excellent. However, continuing down to the right you'll reach the famous overhanging rock beside a weather station setup. Unfortunately, the National Park officials have closed this with barbed wire, probably to reduce the risk of someone eventually falling off.
Yeah, the cliff edge is a really high drop, be careful, and remember, only you are responsible for your own safety and actions!
Don't Miss...Tiger Cave Temple (Wat Tham Suea) in Krabi
The Way Back Down the Mountain
After about an hour at the top, we turned around and continued on the same trail going back to the Khao Ngon Nak National Park entrance. However, this time we took another quick detour to a mythologically significant freshwater pond known as Nam ta Nak.
Honestly, this was fairly insignificant and I'd probably advise skipping it unless you're really into local Buddhist mythology.
Following this short 150-meter detour, we continued back down the mountain, arriving at the entrance in around an hour. Just before the end, I decided to enjoy a quick swim in the cool waters of a small spring in the creek which I recommend!
Local Story of the Dragon Crest Mountain
Dragon Crest Mountain is the English name given to the National Park, translated from Khao (mountain) Ngon (crested) Nak (Naga). Naga is the serpent creature from Buddhist mythology often seen guarding the Buddhist Three Gems at the front of temples.
Locals in Krabi believe that this snake-like dragon formed the nearby Tubkaek Beach when it laid down to rest. You can also find a sacred freshwater pool on this trail which locals believe is Naga's eye.
Tips For the Dragon Crest Mountain Hike
Here are some useful tips and things you should bring with you on the Dragon Crest Mountain hike.
- Pack at least 2 liters of water - hiking in Krabi gets very sweaty, especially on a steep trail in the humid rainforest like this one. 2 liters should be the bare minimum.
- Wear good enclosed shoes - while the trail is well-defined and easy to follow, it is not well-graded. The track is very rocky and features many sections of eroded, uneven surfaces. Don't wear flip-flops.
- Take sunscreen for the top - most of the track is shaded by a dense rainforest canopy. However, the summit is mostly exposed so it's a good idea to pack sunscreen.
- Pack mosquito repellent - we didn't have too many issues with mosquitos but this is a good idea when hiking in Thailand.
FAQs About Hiking the Dragon Crest Trail
How difficult is hiking the Dragon Crest Mountain trail in Krabi?
This is a non-technical yet quite steep hike requiring the energy to hike up 500 vertical meters on a 3.5-kilometer trail in a humid, rainforest environment.
When is the best time to hike to the Dragon Crest viewpoint?
The best time to hike at Dragon Crest Mountain is in the early morning. While the Khao Ngon Nak trailhead officially opens at 8:00 am, you can begin earlier than this. This means you'll get cooler conditions on the way up, and avoid the crowds.
Which season is best for hiking in Southern Thailand?
The best time to hike in the Mueang Krabi district is during the months of December to April, when the weather is most settled. The coolest time of the year is August, but it is also a month that falls within the longer rainy season.
Is Dragon Crest Mountain worth it?
This hike is definitely worth the trip, as it is one of the best viewpoints in all of Krabi!
Where to Stay in Krabi
Below are the three top accommodation picks for all budgets.
1. Rayavadee Luxury
Amazing 5-star luxury accommodation adjacent to the Krabi Marine National Park in Railay. Boasts immaculately designed rooms, 6 restaurants, an outdoor pool, & incredible balcony views.
2. Anana Ecological Resort Mid-Range
An eco-friendly resort offering a large outdoor swimming pool, beautifully designed rooms & amazing garden with onsite cooking classes. The best part is the excellent price.
3. TAN Hostel Budget
The best backpacker hostel in Krabi just 700 m from Ao Nang Beach & near many restaurants, shops, & bars. Has a great vibe with a neat and tidy co-work area & an excellent onsite cafe.
A must visit in Krabi:Pileh Lagoon on Phi Phi Leh
More Thailand Travel & Adventure Guides
I hope you've enjoyed this hiking guide to Dragon Crest Mountain, or Khao Ngon Nak viewpoint in Krabi, Thailand.
While you're here, make sure to check out some of my other travel guides and blogs from Krabi as an adventure inspiration for your trip!
- 13 Best Tours in Thailand - my list of favorite bookable Thai travel experiences
- Koh Tao Guide - my ultimate guide to Koh Tao Island after living there for three months
- Things to do at Railay - plan your trip to Thai backpacker mecca
- Things to do in Pai - find fun and free things to do in Pai
- Accommodation Guides: Plan where to stay in Krabi, and amazing hotels in Railay and Ao Nang.