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WHAT TO DO IN RAILAY?
Railay is unreal! The white beaches are surrounded by bizarrely high and beautiful limestone cliffs. When you arrive here you realize again how small and insignificant mankind is! Make sure you have enough data storage for your pictures because Railay is incredibly photogenic!
Railay located in the Krabi province is a beautiful peninsula which consists of 4 beaches, Railay West, Railay East, Phra Nang Beach and Ton Sai Bay. The best known and therefore often the busiest beach is Phra Nang Beach also sometimes called Ao Phra Nang Beach. This is THE beach why people come to this incredibly beautiful area. The beaches Railay West, Railay East and Ao Phra Nang are a short walk from each other. Probably because of that most people call the whole area Railay.
Click on the links to see what there is to do in Railay.
– Railay West
– Railay East
– Phra Nang Beach
– Ton Sai Beach
– Railay Walking Street
– Princess Lagoon
– Railay Viewpoint
– Tham Phra Nang Nai
– Monkeys on Railay!
– Spending the night on Railay
– Travel from Ao Nang to Railay
– Travel from Krabi Town to Railay
Many people come in Railay for a few hours as a day trip from Krabi Town or Ao Nang. Also, the beaches of Railay are often part of the many island tours offered in Krabi Town and Ao Nang. But if you have more time, we definitely recommend you to stay at least two nights on Railay. The area is far too beautiful to walk through. And you must understand that the peace and quiet will return when all the people are gone and you’ll discover what a super relaxed atmosphere Railay has!
Railay West is often the beach where you arrive by longtail or speedboat from Ao Nang. This part of Railay will not disappoint you either! Just like Phra Nang Beach, this beach is surrounded by limestone cliffs covered with lush greenery. A very nice entrance! During low tide the beach is wonderfully wide and is regularly until the last light a game of beach football or – volleyball. Some restaurants adjacent to this beach put pillows / mattresses on the beach so you can enjoy the beautiful sunsets while lounging.
Railay East is almost completely dry during low tide and is partly covered with mangrove. Also during high tide this part of Railay is not a swimming beach. Because the boats cannot come ashore due to the low tide there is a long floating pier. Railay East, like the other beaches, has beautiful high limestone cliffs. Part of the steep cliffs are used by various climbing schools. Anyone who is not afraid of heights can take climbing lessons here and literally be the hero.
Along Railay East is a (partly elevated) concrete path. Along this path are a number of restaurants, bars and resorts. Almost at the end of this path is the Tew Lay Bar. This bar has a very cool terrace with a view over the bay of Railay East, which even at low tide is very nice to see! To get there you keep following the concrete path in a northerly direction. The Tew Lay Bar is a bit further than the Last Bar (which is not the last bar). From the floating pier you are about 10 minutes away, we found it a nice evening walk!
Do you want to stay overnight on Railay East? Then be sure to have a look at the Avatar Railay Resort, our all time favorite! The rooms have wonderfully large beds and a chill balcony with a lounge couch to dream away. If you like you can also book a room where you can dive into the pool from your terrace. Good value for money! Want to know more? Read our review about Avatar Railay.
Phra Nang Beach is the beach where your mouth drops with amazement. You might not think it could be, but here the limestone rocks are just a bit more spectacular than on the other parts of Railay. Just like the rest of Railay there are high limestone cliffs, but here the rocks hang over the beach for a part as well. Climbing schools make eager use of the beautiful jagged cliffs here. You’ll also find the much photographed Princess Cave, which is full of wooden dicks in all colours and sizes.
DO YOU KNOW?
The villagers believe that the goddess of Phranang is staying in this cave. before the fisherman goes out to sea they ask the goddess for luck. If their wishes are fulfilled, they make a sacrifice in the form of flowers, incense sticks or a special gift… A wooden penis.
On the beach of Ao Phra Nang is only one ultra luxurious resort, where even the most pampered traveller should be happy. At least that’s what we think when we see the prices. On the coastline are longtail (snack) boats selling food and drinks, with a surprisingly extensive menu! If you come to this beach as part of a boat trip, don’t just visit the Princess Cave (penis cave). The walking route from Ao Phra Nang Beach to Railay East is also very beautiful and here you have a big chance that you will encounter monkeys!
Opposite the beach of Phra Nang there is a big rock towering out of the water, at low tide you can walk to it and you’ll see that it’s not one rock but two. The second rock is seen from the beach behind the front rock. You can walk between the two rocks and see the famous Phra Nang Beach from a different perspective. It is really worthwhile to walk here, the area feels almost extraterrestrial so special, beautiful and big are the rocks here!
Ton Sai Beach is a little harder to reach on foot. Many day trippers skip this beautiful piece of beach. The beach is often visited by real rock-climbing fanatics and some people have stayed much longer than planned. The atmosphere on this beach is very laidback and a bit hippie-like (20 years ago entire Railay was like this). You can already sleep on the relaxed Ton Sai Beach for 10 euros per night if you’re not too demanding.
If you want a little more luxury and a cooling pool the Dream Valley Resort is also an option. You get to Ton Sai Bay via a little hidden jungle path, where you have to be able to climb and clamber a bit. Here and there you will be helped by ropes for some grip. You are about ten minutes away. When it is low tide you can follow the rocky coastline, but water shoes are fine. It is also possible to rent a canoe or kayak or take a longtail boat.
Walking Street in Railay is a shopping street where you can buy a bikini, beach ball or sunglasses in case you forgot. There are also some nice little shops selling handmade jewelry and the like. Because you can only reach Railay by boat, most prices are a bit higher, just like on the islands in Thailand.
The shopping street is not very big, it consists mainly of restaurants and some cozy (reggae) bars. A good budget option is the friendly family run Railay Family Restaurant. Recently (2019) the restaurant has been rebuild and the plastic chairs have been replaced, it all looks a bit neater, but it is still the heartwarming family that makes sure you keep coming back. Walking Street is also the connection between Railay East and Railay West. In Walking Street there are no cars or mopeds so it is nice and quiet. At the walkway of Railay East there are even more places to eat, drink and sleep.
The Railay Viewpoint gives you spectacular views of the beaches of Railay West and Railay East. The starting point and part of the route is the same as the Princess Lagoon. The difference is that you don’t have to climb down the last steep part but turn left and keep going up. If you follow the ropes you will reach the viewpoint by yourself and your effort will certainly be rewarded!
You can see this cave without the inconveniences that a cave usually entails. You just walk on a wooden path/walkway and the space is illuminated. High among the rocks live bats and there are beautiful stalactites and stalagmites between the different rock formations. After a few minutes walking you reach a larger space with even more beautiful rock formations. You see shimmering pieces, especially when the cave is wet. That is why this cave is also called the Diamond Cave. Then you walk the same way back. You’re inside for about 20 minutes.
It is quite a nice cave, but the entrance price of 200 baht per person for adults and 100 baht for children is really exaggerated as far as we are concerned. Not so long ago the entrance fee was 100 baht p.p. for adults and 50 baht for children. We have heard that people were allowed to enter for 100 baht after negotiations. You can always try it!
On Railay live two species of monkeys, the crab-eating macaque and the dusky leaf monkey.
You can easily recognize the spectacled donkey by the white rings around the eyes. The cute monkeys have an orange coat when they are young. The dusky leaf monkey eats (young) leaves, seeds and fruit.
The (crab-eating) macaque is the famous smart cheeky monkey of Thailand. The macaque also likes to be in the mangrove of Railay because there are small sea creatures, including crabs and shrimps. Macaques can swim well even underwater. Seeds and fruit are also part of their natural diet.
Sometimes, just when they feel like it (and get the chance) the macaques rob stuff or food from tourists. They can also behave aggressively. Nevertheless, they are a lot of fun to watch (from a distance)! Feeding both kinds of monkeys is forbidden and you can get a fine if you do it anyway. You have the most chance to see the monkeys in the morning or late afternoon, during the day especially the macaques are regularly seen on a treacherous procession.
The accommodations on the east side of Railay (Railay East) are cheaper than on the west coast (Railay West). This is probably because you can’t swim on the east side. Because the beaches are all within walking distance of each other, it doesn’t really matter at which beach you sleep. If you really want to sleep at one of the beaches you have the choice between Railay West or the famous Phra Nang Beach, on this beach is only the five star Rayavadee. A more affordable option is to sleep at the beach of Railay West. For example the Railay Bay Resort & Spa or Railay Village Resort & Spa. Please note that some hotels go inland, so you may have to walk to the beach.
The beautiful Railay Princess Resort is located on Railay East beach, directly opposite the floating pier. The resort has 2 beautiful swimming pools. The staff is very friendly. The rooms are spacious and have everything you need for a relaxing holiday. All rooms have a nice balcony.
As far as we know the only hostel on Railay. A good plus of this hostel is that it has a swimming pool and a terrace with a super nice view on the surrounding limestone cliffs! Each bed has a power socket, reading light and its own safe. The hostel regularly organises parties on its cool terrace. The hostel is located on the Railay East side.
Railay is the easiest to reach from Ao Nang. You buy your ticket on the boulevard at the official longtail boat ticket shops. There are ticket shops all the way south and all the way north of the boulevard. It is not necessary to buy a ticket in advance at the many tour offices. A ticket at the official ticket shops costs 100 baht one way / 200 baht return per person. You will be taken to the pier with a pick up when there are enough people. From the pier you can take a longtail boat to Railay West in fifteen minutes. The last longtail boats leave around 5 PM from Railay West. The last longtail boat is often more expensive, you pay 150 baht one way.
The easiest way is to buy a ticket at one of the many travel agencies in the city. For 300 baht a minibus will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the Klong Jilad pier. This is the main pier of Krabi Town. At the pier you wait until the longtail boat is full. Then you sail in about half an hour to the floating pier of Railay East.
If you go from Railay to Krabi Town you leave the floating pier of Railay East. Usually you go to the Nammao Bay pier. This is about ten minutes by boat. From here you take a minibus to your hotel in Krabi Town. The price is around 300 baht including transport to your accommodation. If your accommodation is further out of the city center of Krabi than you pay a little more.
If you have a return ticket, you must return with the same organisation as you came. There are several organisations and they don’t take passengers from each other. You will have to buy another ticket for the return journey. To avoid extra costs, make clear where and what time your boat organisation departs.
Do not miss the last boat to Krabi Town or Ao Nang! Even though Railay is a peninsula there is no overland route. If you really want to take the last boat back, buy a return ticket in advance and arrange a time otherwise you may have the misfortune that the last boat is full!
It is possible to rent a private longtail boat for about 1.000 baht. But that is normally not worth it. It is only a short distance and waiting until the boat is full rarely takes long. If you missed the last boat it is an option. You can see if there are more fellow-sufferers, possibly you can share the costs.