Visiting Railay Beach was number one on my list and the whole reason we booked a trip to Ao Nang. Railay Beach is located in Krabi province of Southern Thailand on a peninsula not far from Ao Nang. It is a very popular beach destination in Thailand and can only be reached by boat which accounts for the higher hotel costs in the area. As a result, we booked a hotel in nearby Ao Nang.
As soon as we stepped off the longtail boat from Ao Nang, we were in awe of the beautiful white sand beach framed by steep limestone cliffs. We found a nice shady spot under the trees to lay out our towels and immediately jumped in the calm clear blue water. Floating in waters off of this perfect paradise, we could not believe how lucky we were to be there.
We had arrived at West Railay around 9:30am before the beach was too crowded but by noon it was nearly impossible to find a shady refuge from the intense mid-day sun. We realized it was time to explore beyond West Railay Beach and find ourselves some lunch. There was no shortage of restaurants, bars and coffee shops on the main walking street in Railay. We settled on a small restaurant with an upstairs patio that had a lunch special for 75 baht (seemed like a good deal for Railay although pricey by Bangkok standards). We sat down for lunch at the right time as a huge torrential downpour started just as we placed our order.
The rain was short-lived, however, and we set off to explore beyond the main walking street and over to East Railay Beach. The tide was out and this beach is quite muddy so we kept moving stopping only to watch a group of rock climbers. Then we followed the path past some caves and the entrance to the hike to the viewpoint. We decided to pass on the hike as it was quite steep and muddy. We had also heard the trail to the viewpoint and the lagoon can be quite treacherous with plenty of vertical climbs up the rocks with only ropes to help you up. We saw several hikers returning from the viewpoint who were completely covered in mud.
The path took us to Phra Nang Beach followed along closely by a family of hungry monkeys. This beach was just as beautiful as Railay West but quite a bit smaller. There is an interesting cave next to the beach filled with offerings believed to help with fertility.
Other Things to Do in Railay Beach:
- Tonsai Beach – can be reached from West Railay Beach by boat or on foot during low tide. It can also be reached via a longer trail through the jungle. Tonsai is known for its more laid-back backpacker vibe.
- Rock Climbing – the limestone cliffs around Railay are a climbers paradise with routes for beginners to more experienced climbers. Guided climbs and equipment rental are available.
- Diamond Cave – a large cave with stalactities and stalagmites with an entrance fee of about 40 baht.
- Princess Lagoon – an isolated lagoon fed by the tides accessible via a 45 minute journey that involves climbing along muddy slopes and using ropes to scramble along a rocky ravine.
- Railay Viewpoint – the same trail that leads to the Lagoon splits off toward Railay Viewpoint.
- Massage on the beach – you can enjoy a massage right on the beach by negotiating a price with one of the many Thai ladies offering massages and other spa services.
- Kayaking – kayaks are available to rent right on the beach to explore the surrounding beaches and cliffs.
How to Get There: Longtail boats from Ao Nang beach are available from two stands on either end of the beach. Each stand is run by two different companies but the price is fixed. Boat drivers will be wearing either blue or green shirts depending on which company you choose. The longtail boats fit about 8 people and you may need to wait a little until the boats are full. However, we never had to wait longer than 5 minutes.
Price: 100 baht one-way or 200 baht round trip from Ao Nang to Railay West beach which takes about 10 minutes. Boats are also available to Tonsai Beach and Phra Nang Beach from Ao Nang Beach.