The name of Krabi is associated with many legends. One relates to a battle over the daughter of the local governor, after which a hermit cursed all the people involved in the war and turned them into mountains, bays, caves and islands, etc.
Krabi means sword and it was used as the symbol of this province. In 1872 local people in Krabi found an ancient sword at Ban Na Luang and they presented it to King Rama V. It was then that His Majesty named the province ‘Krabi’.
Some historians say Krabi’s name comes from ‘krabue’ which means buffalo, since Krabi has a lot of buffalos and was the market for nearby provinces. Some dispute this derivation, and say that Krabi actually means monkey since this city was once one of the twelve satellite cities of Nakhon Si Thammarat province. Ban Thai Samor’s city mascot is a monkey.
No matter what Krabi means, it is undisputed that it is one of the most ancient cities. Much archaeological evidence has been found around the province. Prehistoric stone tools, ancient colored pictures, beads, pottery and skeletal remains have been found in the province's many cliffs and caves, and it is thought that Krabi has been home to homo sapiens since the period 25,000 - 35,000 BC.
Evidence of prehistoric inhabitation has been found in many districts including Muang, Klong Thom and Ao Luk. In Pee Hua To cave in Ao Luk district there are prehistoric drawings of human figures associated with fish and dolphins. Cave drawings are also found in Viking cave on Phi Phi island.
Since records have been kept Krabi has been a small community, overshadowed by Nakhon Si Thammarat kingdom, of which it was a part.
At the start of the Rattanakosin period, about 200 years ago, when the capital was finally established at Bangkok, an elephant kraal was established in Krabi by order of Chao Phraya Nakorn (Noi), the governor of Nakhon Si Thammarat, which was by then a part of the Thai Kingdom. He sent his vizier, the Phra Palad, to oversee this task, which was to ensure a regular supply of elephants for the larger town. Many followers emigrated in the steps of the Phra Palad and soon Krabi had a large community in three different boroughs: Pakasai, Klong Pon, and Pak Lao. In 1872, King Chulalongkorn graciously elevated these to town status. The town's first governor was Luang Thep Sena, though it continued for a while as a dependency of Nakhon Si Thammarat. This was changed in 1875, when 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 separate from the other provinces had begun.
During the present reign the corps of civil servants, the merchants, and the population generally of Krabi and nearby provinces have organized construction of a royal residence at Hang Nak Cape for presentation to His Majesty the King. This lies thirty kilometers to the west of Krabi Town on the Andaman coast.