Day three of Thailand, and I’m already in love. My trip began in Ao Nang, Krabi, and it was from here I decided to take a day trip to Railay Beach.
Railay Beach, though technically not an island, is only accessible by boat. The small peninsula is engulfed by towering limestone cliffs, with the main beach acting as a water taxi rank, with boats dropping off tourists and locals alike. The water is clear, the monkeys are cheeky and the views are phenomenal, what more could you want?! In this blog post today, I’m going to give my highlights of my day trip to Railay and how to spend eight hours in paradise!
The hostels and hotels are simple, with no over-powering “resort” feeling that’s taking over a lot of the Thai islands. It’s serene and carefree, with a Rastafarian style about the place. Small coconut bars and fresh juices line the streets and the place is cheap, seriously cheap!
It’s not a party scene, think more couples and small groups with beers on the beach.
How to get to Railay
As previously mentioned, Railay is only accessible by boat. Longtail is cheapest, and a scenic fifteen/twenty minute boat ride from Ao Nang will set you back no more than THB100 (EUR2.56/AUD3.80), each way.
The catch here is you will have to wait for the boat to fill up in order for the taxi men to make the trip worth their while. If you don’t want to wait and don’t mind forking out more cash, THB200 will usually get you your trip to Railay.
We hopped on a longtail and Nopparat Thara Beach, or you can find them on Ao Nang Beach either.
Railay and the Tsunami
One of the biggest appeals of Railay to me was seeing the slice of paradise that survived the infamous tsunami that wiped out the islands of Thailand.
In December 2004, a devastating tsunami hit Thailand and virtually all tourism was destroyed. The death toll was immense and rebuilding civilisation took years. Although one little crook was barely effected by the wall of water: Railay.
Railay is flanked by towering limestone cliffs, which, at the time of the tsunami, acted as a barrier of sorts from the devastation the tidal wave brought.
The more inland you go in Railay, the more tsunami “safe ground” zones that can be found throughout, where tourists, locals and military alike ran for cover from the impending wave. While walking through higher ground in Railay, keep an eye out for information posts on “tsunami safe areas”.
What To Do In Railay
Railay is a hub of activity with plenty to see and do. My time spent at Railay was a chilled affair as June is a quiet time for tourism.
West Railay Beach in my opinion, is the most scenic beach in the area, and one of the most gorgeous I’ve seen in Thailand. This beach is huge, spacious and clean; easy to grab a spot with a beer and chill out for an hour.
A stroll off West Railay Beach will bring you onto Walking Street where you can browse the stalls and grab some food. East Railay Beach is a twenty minute walk to the other side of the peninsula. Just follow the signs and don’t get lost!
Phra Nang Beach is something else! Located on the east side of the peninsula, it has beautiful blue water, surrounded by caves and hanging cliffs. Make sure to check out the Princess Cave here too, a phallic shrine dedicated to the goddess Phra Nang.
She represents fertility and the cave looks like a woman’s private parts (I couldn’t see the resemblance though!). Local fisherman place wooden penises, incense and colourful offerings like flowers and scarves in the cave to ensure safe passage and a hefty catch!
Around this area, there is incredible rock climbing. I’m sport mad but rock climbing isn’t really for me…I’d rather exercise with my two feet firmly on the ground! If this is your kind of thing though, there’s no better place for it. Experienced climbers come from all over the world to scale the cliffs of Railay.
Spotting the monkeys became a hilarious pastime of ours in Thailand and Railay was no different. The monkeys here are so cheeky but are harmless, so don’t be afraid. Just keep all bags firmly closed and attached to your body and don’t carry any food on you, or it will be gone!
I stupidly left my rucksack on the ground while snapping some monkey pics, only for it to be snatched away and my Oreo cookies stolen! The cheeky messer ran off with the packet and sat twisting the Oreos apart and licking the cream filling, then tossing the cookie sides apart; one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen!
The viewpoint in Railay is a must-do if you’re fit and able. It’s by no means an easy task, and looks daunting from the bottom. It’s basically a vertical climb up a steep muddy wall with nothing to grab or hold on to except a rope and some slippy vines. The trail splits into two at the top, one leading to the viewpoint over Railay and the other leading to an enclosed lagoon.
Phra Nang Cave is a must-see here too, if not just for a few minutes relief of the hot sun! This place is guarded by the Thai military, you’ll know you’re close when you see their camouflage tents where they live.
This place is also known as the Diamond Caves due to the glint off the limestone inside. It’s 100Baht to enter, but it’s worth it to walk along the winding caves and duck under the bats that inhabit the dark tunnels!
There are options to stay on Railay Beach if you want, but if you’re strapped for time, one day is enough. The boat ride across is short and the journeys to and from are frequent, with no worries of being stranded. Railay is the perfect place to start or end your trip, with it’s chilled, quiet vibe and killer views.