RAILAY BEACH TRAVEL GUIDE
Updated: Jun 21, 2022
Railay is located in the Krabi province in Southern Thailand. It is said to be the most famous spot in Krabi and one of the most spectacular places in all of Thailand.
What is making this place so unique is that Railay is technically connected to the mainland, but high limestone cliffs prevent any roads from coming through - there are no cars, only walkways. Those giant pillars of limestone rocks create breathtaking scenery, which attract tourists and rock climbers to Railay from all over the world.
Due to the popularity of Railay, I was concerned that it would be difficult to fully enjoy the beauty of this place and need to wake up at 6 am to take good photos but I was wrong. The area is very large, which disperses people nicely – there are 4 different beaches, many hiking trails in the jungle and about 15 restaurants. As most people do day tours there, it gives people who are staying in the Railay resorts more privacy in the mornings and night time.
The distances between 4 beaches are not long and all of them are connected via jungle roads.
The beach is widest and longest, which makes it the main spot of Railay and longtail boats from Ao Nang stop there. People spend time in Railay West swimming, sunbathing, playing sports, renting kayaks and doing other beach activities.
There are a number of hotels and restaurants, all facing to the west, which makes it a perfect place to catch the sunset and have a romantic dinner.
East side isn’t much of a beach and is mainly used by boats as a pick-up and drop-off area. Water is filled with mangroves and if you like to go straight to the sea in the mornings then I recommend other beaches.
Although there are many nice hotels in that area, that’s why we decided to stay in Railay East. It is only a 5-minute walk from Railay West and walking with my suitcase from there wasn’t a problem.
Also Railay East is a good location because it is just in the middle of Railay West and Phra Nang Beach.
Small quiet beach with breathtaking scenery and relaxing atmosphere. It is surrounded by sharp cliffs and is a famous spot for rock climbers.
Local fishermans visit Phra Nang to make offerings to the Princess Goddess, who is believed to reside inside the cave below the cliff at one end of the beach. They believe that these offerings will ensure their safe travel and bring them good luck in their fishing.
Tonsai is a little bit farther. You can trek from the jungle road for about 45 minutes or take a long tail taxi boat from Railay West. We rented a kayak from Railay West and it took us about 20 minutes to paddle there.
I was quite disappointed that we went there on our last day, Tinidee Hideaway resort and all the surroundings there was just a paradise. If I go to Krabi in the future I would go straight to this resort and just stay there. I would probably get bored after 2 days, because there is only this resort, Tinidee restaurant and few bars, but the relaxing vibe and views you get from there are totally worth it.
How to get to Railay Beach
The only way in and out of Railay is by boat. The arrival is usually from Ao Nang beach or Krabi town by longtail boat, which runs several times a day.
If you are heading from Ao Nang, it’s pretty simple. You can head to Ao Nang beach and look for a little shop that sells boat tickets. The cost is about 100 THB per person for one-way.
From Krabi town, head to the Klong Jilad Pier to get the boat ticket. Boat drive is longer and expect to pay 200 THB per person for a one-way trip.
Attractions in Railay
Rock climbing at Railay beach in Thailand is on many travellers’ bucket list. It has everything the adventurous climber would want: towering limestone cliffs, stunning sea views and hundreds of climbing routes – there is something for every skill level.
Experienced climbers may want to check out something known as deep water soloing (DWS). Railay is beginning to build a reputation behind this unique style of free climbing, which occurs on cliffs dangling over the ocean in the open water. If you miss grabbing your next hold, then you plunge down into the sea below.
The courses can be booked, according to your skill, by purchasing online or at the rock climbing shops around Railay and Ao Nang.
Rent a kayak
The best way to admire Railay is from the sea. Just look for kayaks lined-up on the Railay West beach and pick one. Kayaks are rented by the hour or by the day. We rented it for 2 hours and it cost 300 Baht.
When heading south you can kayak to the Phra Nang beach along the rocky coastline and you will find some cave passageways to glide through, providing for a shortcut. Another kayaking consideration is to paddle in the opposite direction to Ton Sai beach.
Go to an island trip
There are many small islands around Krabi, which are accessible by either joining a tour or hiring a long tail boat for a half-day of fun cruising around from one island to the next. Stops along the way allow passengers to enjoy the island beaches and also snorkel.
We went on a Phi Phi island trip with a speedboat and visited Bamboo island, Monkey beach, Phi Phi islands and the most memorable ‘the beach’ Maya Bay. Maya Bay was closed for about 3 years, because of over tourism and to rescue its stressed marine ecosystem. Since opening, from January 2022, you are not allowed to swim there and boats need to pull into the other side of the island, from where you need to walk through the jungle about 5 minutes to get there.
If you are looking for an island hopping trip from Phuket, then I recommend: YOUR TOUR DESK boat trips.
Take a hike to the Railay East viewpoint
There are two main viewpoints: Railay west and east viewpoint. I read that the west viewpoint is too dangerous to hike so we went to an easier one.
The start of the hike begins in the middle of the Railay East and Phra Nang beach road. It is more of a climb than a hike and looks more dangerous than it actually is.
The hike is less than a kilometre total, but it is an intense climb that’s nearly straight up, so be prepared for that, wear proper shoes and bring water. When arriving at the top, on the left side will be the viewpoint and on the right side is the lagoon.