Railay Beach in Krabi southern Thailand is an idyllic yet isolated coastal destination located along a small peninsula between the towns of Krabi and Ao Nang. This picture perfect tropical paradise is accessible only by boat as the area is separated from the mainland by a series of limestone escarpments.
There are no roads leading here, no cars, no medical facilities and only two ATM machines so this is not the place to stay overnight if you cant live without all your normal conveniences. The area has a very relaxed, island like feel to it and the nightlife here is very low key with only a few bars and a number of restaurants which are spread out among the four main beaches.
The lushly vegetated coastline and limestone cliffs which give Railay its seclusion are a dominant feature along the southern waters of the Andaman Sea and provide a wonderful backdrop to the stunning Thai beaches including those of the nearby Phi Phi islands. Tourists flock to Railay not only for their pristine beaches but for rock-climbing; as there are numerous climbing routes established on the cliff faces and escarpments which attract enthusiasts from many parts of the world.
There are four
main areas at Railay including Phra Nang, west Railay, east Railay and Tonsai. While
Tonsai caters towards rock-climbers and backpackers, and west Railay is more up-market, east Railay is known for its shops (including a convenience store and pharmacy) and restaurants. East Railay is not suitable for swimming and has the least attractive beach as it is vegetated with dense mangroves and it is the most developed area. It is also the location where many long-tail boats from Krabi come to drop off and pick up passengers on a regular basis.
It is along east Railay Beach (also called Sunrise Beach) where you will also find more low cost hotels and bungalows and there is a concrete pathway that links this area with the more glitzy west Railay Beach area including the walking street.
West Railay Beach (also called Sunset Beach) is the most crowded area but it does have a nice beach. With powder white sand and four major resorts to choose from, they each provide great access to the clear waters, the sandy beach and several restaurants including the popular Flame Tree Restaurant. The favorite activities here include kayaking, swimming, snorkeling, rock-climbing and walking/exploring. The problem with west Railay is that you can get a lot of day-trippers from Ao Nang and therefore a lot of noise from the engines of the long-tail boats pulling into West Railay Bay.
On the other hand Tonsai Beach which is also quite nice is more difficult to get to but it does provide the best rock-climbing within this area. Most of the tourists here are therefore young and they tend to hang out at the two bars which are also located here.
Phra Nang Beach is probably the most isolated area of Railay and the most difficult place to get to. Unless you are staying at the expensive beachfront resort at Phra Nang Bay, the only means to get there is to take a long pathway from east Railay Beach. The pathway does allow you to take in some interesting scenery including several limestone caves which are a feature of Railay with some of these being inhabited by a number of local monkey troupes.
Along the way there is also a crude jungle pathway you can take which leads up to the Sa Phra Nang Lagoon or Holy Princess Pool which also provides a great vantage point to lookout over the peninsular (see below). The steep track is not for the faint hearted and it includes some rock-climbing so only tackle this if you are relatively fit.
While Phra Nang Beach is probably the best here it is the most difficult to reach so in my view, it isn't really worth the effort to get there unless you are bored or don't mind the long walk.
However, if you are planning on staying at Phra Nang Beach, or doing a day-trip from either Ao Nang or Krabi then this area is well worth it if not just for the scenery which is dominated by the high limestone cliffs which overshadow the bay.
best way to travel to Railay Beach is by taking a boat from Krabi Town. The best way to travel to Krabi in southern Thailand is by plane or bus. A number of airlines
including Bangkok Air, Thai Airways, and Air Asia have daily flights
between Bangkok and Krabi International Airport with flight time being
about 1.2 hours.
Daily bus services to Krabi depart from Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal on a regular basis and the journey takes approximately 13 hours.
From downtown Krabi you can take a Ferry boat or longtail boat to Railay Beach from the Chaofa Pier. Tickets cost around 150 Thai baht per person.