Railay area is one of our favorite destinations in Thailand.
The pristine beaches, the incredible scenery, the jungle, the laidback vibe is everything that you may wish for.
Actually, Railay isn’t an island, but since you can only access it by boat, it feels like one.
This amazing place is very close to Krabi so if you are in the area, don’t miss it.
You can choose to have accommodation here or have a simple day trip to Railay.
We loved to spend a few days here but unfortunately, due to the lack of time, we were forced to settle with a day trip.
We booked a boat from Ao Nang early in the morning that took us directly to Railay.
We arrived at around 8:00 and the beach was almost empty, so we had time to enjoy the beauty of the place and get a coffee with a sea view. It was absolutely fantastic.
This piece of paradise has four beaches and limestone cliffs that rise from the sea providing incredible scenery.
- West Railay is the main beach. Here you can find most restaurants and accommodations. Most probably this will be the place where you will arrive.
- Tonsai beach is the rock climbing hub and a famous place for backpackers. To get here you need to do a jungle hike or take a boat.
- East Railay is where many of the backpacker accommodations are but the beach isn’t great for swimming.
- Phra Nang beach is a stunning place. The beach is great for swimming, rock climbing and so on. It also has an attraction – The princess cave, which is a temple full of phalluses! These penis carvings are placed here by fisherman or locals like offerings to the princess who will bring fertility. Pretty cool!
Railay is attached to the mainland Krabi province but it is not connected by any roads due to the tall limestone cliffs which surround it. This particularity gives Railay an island vibe. There are no cars or other kinds of transportation except for boats. So this means that this place is isolated, simple and charming.
The only way to cross from one part to another is on foot or by boat. So if you feel adventurous you can do the jungle hike which is pretty cool.
After the early coffee, we passed by East Railay beach, on our way to the Railay viewpoint and the lagoon.
We walked along the path towards Railay Beach East and the Phra Nang Cave Beach. We thought this would be an easy “hike”, but we were so wrong. First of all the path was closed on rainy days and the second obstacle was that we had to climb a steep hill using a rope and we were not properly dressed for this. We were wearing flip-flops instead of boots.
Sadly we had to give up seeing the viewpoint and the lagoon and continued towards Phra Nang Beach.
There are a lot of monkeys along this path and they are very funny, but you will have to pay attention to your things because they like to steal stuff.
Be careful with your valuables and don’t walk carrying food in this area.
So we’re walking along, following the path, then suddenly the jungles opens up into the loveliest stretch of beach. First things that we saw were people who were rock climbing or swimming out in the crystal blue water. Then we saw the Princess cave temple and so many carved Phalluses.
To this day people are actually praying at this temple. They give offerings to the princess hoping she will bring fertility.
We had a lovely bath and time to relax for a few hours. The main attraction is the beach itself, which is one of the most impressive in Thailand. Before lunch we headed to East Railay where we stopped at a small restaurant on the beach, which was quite good, then we turned back to West Railay where we rented a SUP and had fun for a while.
The sunset brought us memorable moments. The sunset here is like nowhere in the world and it will stay forever in our hearts.
When to visit
Railay is a small place and it quickly gets overcrowded especially in high season or during public holidays.
High season lasts from December to April when the weather is perfect.
Shoulder seasons are between November to early December and late April to May. This is a good period to visit due to fewer tourists and still good weather.
The rainy season runs from May to November with the most rainfall occurring in September. During these months, you’ll find cheaper accommodation but most likely you will have many rainy days.
How to reach
Due to its isolation, the only way to reach the peninsula is by boat.
Public longtail boats to Railay depart from three places: Ao Nammao, Ao Nang and Krabi town.
Price: 80 baht/way
Program: 08:00 to 18:00 in high season
Boats depart when full.
Public boats may run as late as 23:00 in high season, though you might get stuck paying 600 baht for a private boat.
Price: 100 baht/way
Program: 08:00 to 18:00 in high season
Boats depart when full.
In high season, boats also run after dark until midnight, when the per-person price jumps to 150 baht, but at night you’ll usually have to wait longer or pay 800 baht for a private boat.
Price: 150 baht/way
Program: In high season these depart (in theory) at 08:30, 10:00, 12:30 and 14:30, returning from Railay at 09:30, 11:00, 14:00 and 17:00.
Where to stay
For such a small destination, there are actually quite a few choices for accommodation, but of course, prices are quite high if you compare them with the rest of Thailand.
You can find from budget choices in small cottages from 17 euro/night to luxury 5* hotels looking like insanely perfect with rooms starting with 400 euro/night.
So, from my point of view, there are places for everyone, depending only what you want.
Where to eat
For having Breakfast, there aren’t many choices, because it usually comes included in the hotel package. You may find something on the main street in West Railay.
For lunch and dinner, there are many options from Thai Food, street food which is very cheap to nice restaurants serving fancy food by the beach.
Things to do
- Rock climbing on the classic limestone cliffs
Railay is known for some of the best rock climbing in the world. You don’t have to book in advance. In the small town or on the beach there are many shops where you can rent climbing gear or sign up for a tour.
I didn’t find an extraordinary spot for snorkeling but there are several snorkeling areas that you can access by boat. Snorkeling trips can be organized from Railay West and East
Unlike nearby Ao Nang, Railay Beach is perfect to relax. The beach is the main attraction, which is one of the most impressive in Thailand.
- Railay Viewpoint and Lagoon
The viewpoint is incredible. But is quite challenging.
You’ll find the trail to Railay Viewpoint and the Lagoon on the path between East Railay and Phra Nang beach. It is easy to miss it if you don’t know where to look.
From here you go up using nothing but natural vines, thick pieces of rope, and your own strength to go up to the cliff. And this is not a hike for the ones that have fear of heights.
After the initial vertical climb, the trail becomes more manageable, although you still have to watch your step because it is slippery. You will have to follow the signs to reach your first destination – Railay Viewpoint.
Railay Viewpoint is little more than a small opening in the trees above some rocks but has an impressive view over the peninsula.
From here you can reach the lagoon. The trail descends to the bottom of the cliff and it is getting harder to reach.
For this hike, you have to be prepared with proper shoes and clothes and what is more important, good physical conditions. When raining the trail is closed because it gets really muddy and extremely slippery.
- Rent a Kayak or a SUP
The waters around Railay are calm and safe for kayaking and supping. You can rent a kayak or a SUP from one of the shops on the beach. The cost is around 100 Baht per hour and the experience is unique.
- Watch the sunset
Sunset on Raily is unique and beautiful. Take a bottle of wine and your partner for a romantic evening on the beach.