Located in the Krabi Province, Railay is one of the most popular beach destinations in the region. It caters to any type of traveler, whether you’re seeking some R&R or more adventurous activities such as rock climbing, hiking, kayaking or snorkeling. With soaring karst cliffs, turquoise waters boasting an incredibly diverse marine life and laid-back vibes, there are so many reasons why you should visit Railay. If you need further convincing, here are 10 reasons why you should add Railay Beach to your Thailand bucket list.
How to get to Railay Beach?
One would think that Railay is an island since it’s only accessible by boat but it’s actually part of mainland Krabi. The boats operate daily from 8 a.m to 6 p.m and tickets cost 100 baht (US $2.99) from Ao Nang or 150 baht (US $4.50 USD) from Krabi Town. You can also get there from any nearby islands such as Koh Phi Phi or Koh Lanta.
|Popular routes||Transportation methods||Starting price|
|Koh Phi Phi to Railay Beach||Ferry||US $17|
|Phuket to Railay Beach||Ferry, bus||US $22|
|Koh Lanta to Railay Beach||Ferry||US $16|
|Bangkok to Railay Beach||Bus+ferry||US $31|
|Koh Lipe to Railay Beach||Ferry||US $80|
The main reason why you should visit Railay is because of its beaches. The karst landscape is absolutely stunning with crescent-shaped coves enclosed by sheer rock formations. Dig your toes into the powdery white sand or grab a mask and snorkel to witness the incredible marine life hidden deep within the crystal-clear waters.
There are quite a few beaches to choose from. Railay West is great for swimming and enjoying the sunset. You’ll also find a huge range of hotels, bars and restaurants on this side. Phra Nang beach is slightly less developed but still beautiful with its single limestone cliff jutting out from the ocean and series of cave formations. The secluded Tonsai beach is great for those on a budget and a favorite particularly among backpackers thanks to its laid-back vibes and excellent rock climbing opportunities.
Railay boasts many jaw-dropping viewpoints. Railay East viewpoint is the most popular one and overlooks endless rows of palm trees surrounded by the turquoise ocean. The hike is short but steep and muddy, so sturdy shoes are essential. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also hike down to the Princess Lagoon, also known as the Railay Beach Lagoon.
There’s also another viewpoint on the western tip of Phra Nang beach which is less visited and thus more peaceful or you can check out Tonsai viewpoint which is found about halfway between the trail that connects Railay West to Tonsai Beach.
Remote island vibes
Although Railay is technically part of the mainland, getting from Ao Nang to Railay Beach requires a 15-minute boat ride. And the fact that there’s no public transportation in this part of Krabi adds to the remote feeling. Embrace your inner Robin Crusoe as you explore the Railay peninsula on your own two feet in search of the most secluded beaches.
Who would have thought that there would be a cave full of wooden phallic shrines in Railay! Located on Phra Nang beach, the Princess Cave is actually made up of two small caves where fishermen leave wooden phallic objects as offerings to the Princess Goddess, Phra Nang to ensure safe travels to the sea or to aid in fertility. It’s quite the unusual attraction!
Another cave worth visiting is the Diamond Cave (also known as Tham Phra Nang Nai) where stalactites and stalagmites merge together to create uniquely-shaped rock formations. The cave is well-maintained with lights and a wooden boardwalk. The admission fee is 200 baht (US $5.98) for adults, although you might pay 100 baht (US $2.99) during the low season. Diamond Cave is located near Railay East and can be accessed through the jungle trail that connects Tonsai to Railay East.
Although everything is slightly more expensive compared to Ao Nang, Railay is still pretty affordable. If you’re looking for budget accommodations, I would recommend avoiding Railay West. You can instead stay on Tonsai Beach which offers a selection of cheap bungalows and beach huts as well as a handful of budget/mid-range hotels. Alternatively, you can find a few budget hotels on Railay East but those will be located slightly away from the beach.
Food is also quite cheap but if you’re looking to cut costs further, I recommend eating from the longtail boats/food stalls on Phra Nang Beach. Fried rice or noodles costs on average 100 baht (US $2.99).
It’s a rock climbing heaven
Thanks to its unique landscape that features massive limestone cliffs, Railay is a prime destination for rock climbers whether you’re a beginner or more advanced. There are lots of places for rock climbing in Railay Beach but the most popular one is found on Tonsai beach.
Other rock climbing spots are located on Railay East and next to Phra Nang Cave beach. Rock climbing courses can be booked in Ao Nang or Railay itself and cost around 1,000-2,000 baht (US $29.97-$59.93).
I highly recommend staying overnight in Railay or at least make sure to leave only after sunset to witness the different shades of red and orange reflecting over the water.
Since most people visit Railay as part of a day trip, the beach will be less crowded in the evening so you’ll feel like you’re on your very own private beach.
If you’ve been doing a lot of hiking or need to ease your sore muscles after a kayaking or rock climbing session, there are lots of places in Railay that offer cheap massages. Massage parlors are found mostly along the walking street or you can get a massage directly on the beach near Phra Nang. Getting a relaxing massage while taking in the view of the turquoise ocean and limestone cliffs is definitely the perfect way to enjoy a vacation! A foot massage costs around 200 baht (US $5.98) while a full body massage is around 500 baht (US $14.95).
A wide selection of activities to choose from
For such a small region, there are lots of things to do in Railay. First off you can rent kayaks or paddle boards to explore the nearby caves and rock formations. Snorkeling is another fun activity as the marine life around Railay is quite diverse and colorful. The more adventurous can attempt rock climbing or even hike up to Railay East viewpoint and Princess Lagoon. Those looking to unwind can simply relax on the white-sand beaches while soaking up the sun.
Proximity to some of the most beautiful islands
Railay’s close proximity to some of Thailand’s most beautiful islands makes it a great base for island hopping. Koh Poda, Koh Tup or Chicken Island are located about a 30-minute boat ride away. Hong Island and its incredible emerald lagoon can also be visited from Railay.
The price for a 4-island hopping tour from Railay starts from 800 baht (US $24). The tour is available by either speedboat or longtail boat although the latter is much more enjoyable since it’s usually less crowded. If you don’t want to join a tour, you can rent a private longtail boat for about 2,200-2,500 baht (US $65.97-$74.96) and customize your own 4-island tour.
As you can see, Railay does live up to the hype, so there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t visit!