Getting There: take a longtail boat from Krabi town centre, ฿300 roundtrip
Costs: once you’ve paid for the boat the only other costs are food and drink, food tends to be much more expensive in Railay, probably double the price of Krabi, which makes sense as it is such a remote location
Suggested time: spend an entire day exploring the various beaches along the peninsula
Not quite a beach town but also not an island, Railay peninsular is something altogether different: pristine golden sand beaches, surrounded by towering limestone cliffs the
peninsular is ideal for relaxing on the beach or a rock climbers paradise. Set to the south-west of Krabi it is easily accessible by longtail boat from the town centre however this is the only way into the peninsular as there are no roads and Railay is pretty isolated.
Many people choose to make this location a day trip from Krabi, but there are also many places to stay if you’re looking to do an overnight or spend a few days. Budget accommodation is a little bit harder to come across and neighboring Tonsai Beach, which can be reached by boat or a one hour hike from Railay offers up a higher selection of budget backpacker digs. You can find budget accommodation in Railay but during high season which runs November – April so be sure to book in advance.
With over 700 rock climbing routes pinned into the limestone Karsts, this location is a rock climbers paradise, and any avid climbers will probably have this high on their list of places to climb. The cliffs are huge and they offer incredible rock climbing for anyone from your first time climber to your experienced pro.
There are 4 beaches on Railay, the most famous and probably most beautiful is Haad Phra Nang, it has often appeared on many best beaches in the world lists and the white powdery beach, emerald waters and vast limestone cliffs attract hordes of visitors on day trips from Krabi or Ao Nang. The beach is beautiful and it’s easy to dream away an afternoon sitting in the sun, watching the rock climbers traverse the tricky mountain routes or exploring the cave underneath the cliffs dedicated to an ancient fertility God.
Although you’ll find these beaches to be relatively busy year round, high season brings a huge influx of tourists which means this beach, in particular, is absolutely packed. There are other options to check out if you find these beaches to be a bit too crowded for your liking. Railay West is another premier beach with a slightly more relaxed atmosphere, Railay East is a bit grubbier but has all of the nightlife options if that’s what you’re searching for in Railay , and then their is neighboring Tonsai which is fast becoming a climbers mecca as it hosts great budget accommodation options and is quieter than the resort laden beaches in Railay.
Unfortunately Railay seems to have fallen somewhat foul to Thailand’s incessant tourism boom, and in my opinion it has been hastily developed and is somewhat irresponsibly managed. Obviously garbage is a major issue, with no roads in and out they still haven’t worked out an effective waste management solution, meaning you’ll no doubt see a few piles of garbage around. Sanitation is also pretty poor, I’ve heard reports of people getting dodgy stomachs from some of the beach side restaurants so keep an eye on where you eat, and overall just be cautious as always with food and drinks while traveling.
I found Railay to be beautiful, and for me personally spending the day there was enough; as I’m not a climber and tend to get bored sitting on beaches for too long the day trip to explore the beaches, limestone karsts and caves was enough time to really get a feel for what Railay had to offer. In spite of the crowding and development downfalls I’d still return here on my next trip to Thailand as there is a lot more of this peninsular area to explore, among which are the vast numbers of small islands and coral reefs off the shore which give some great snorkeling options.