Railay is one of Thailand's most sought after beach areas. Just south of Ao Nang Beach, around a rocky headland and accessible only by boat, from either Krabi town or Ao Nang, Railay presents a private and extraordinary world. In just one small peninsula you'll find gorgeous white sand beaches, soaring limestone cliffs, viewpoints, caves and a lagoon hidden inside the cliffs, shaped and fed by the changing tides. All within walking distance!
At Railay there are no roads, only footpaths. No buses, no cars, just local long-tail boats. Although it's actually connected to the mainland, the spectacular Phra Nang peninsular is effectively isolated by limestone headlands and steep jungle valleys from Krabi's main holiday areas. Click here to see Railay Recommended Accommodation.
The very picture of tropical paradise, with no roads and no hassle, Railay offers lazy days, adventure forays and chilled-out evenings. If it's sea kayaking, diving, rock climbing, snorkelling, jungle trekking, cooking, or lazing on the beach, you can do it all from here.
• Railay West Beach
Railay West offers perfectly soft sand, a wide beach, informal beach restaurants, friendly locals and a tiny community of travellers who just can't seem to leave.
At sunset the beach is a hive of activity with boats arriving and departing, impromptu games of football and people taking a stroll. The beach faces west, so it’s a great place to just sit and watch a stunning tropical sunset.
A pathway straight across the peninsula links Railay West with Railay East skirting past dozens of small bungalows dotted around the area. You can also walk along the beach at Railay East and along the base of the cliffs to Phra Nang beach.
Eating out at Railay, is generally low key and casual, with many small local eating places around the resorts or beach areas, serving both western and Thai food. Nightlife is fairly low key with the party scene, located in Railay East.
Both Railay West and Phra Nang have surrounding cliffs that twist into fantastic shapes, weathered by the wind and rain over time. Trees and shrubs cling precariously to the rock face, as do the rock climbers who come here for sun, sand and the challenge of an overhang or a vertical wall. Most people, however, just come to relax and enjoy.
• Phra Nang Cave Beach
Most people arrive at Phra Nang by boat and are amazed by this beautiful cove. Phra Nang is more popular and busier than Railay West, especially in high season (Nov- April) and has all the ingredients of a perfect beach. Duvet soft sand, clear shallow water for safe swimming, a small island and coral reef, accessible at low tide, caves and rock-pools. All this, set against a backdrop of picturesque limestone cliffs that provide natural shade from the hot afternoon sun.
At the bottom of the limestone cliffs lies the Princess Cave or Tham Phra Nang Nok. Dedicated to an ancient fertility goddess, the cave contains a strange combination of large phallic symbols, garlands and offerings in the hope of increased potency and prosperity. Local fishermen still leave offerings although it's now becoming a local tourist attraction.
Further along the base of the cliff (south end) is a pathway to an entrance which leads inside the rocky headland to an interior lagoon. The lagoon is fed by the tides and only accessed by a strenuous climb. It's worth the climb to see the eerily quiet lagoon, which, in addition to its location inside the rock, is also well above sea level. At the top is a fantastic view over the whole of Railay and the coastal area beyond.
Just offshore, is a tiny island which you can walk to at low tide along a sand bar and go snorkelling. If you can't be bothered, just take it easy. There's no accommodation on Phra Nang Beach except the deluxe Sheraton Rayavadeee which unobtrusively occupies part of the beach.
• Railay East
Railay East, a narrow beach on the opposite side to Railay West, is home to mangroves, local fishing boats and local birds. It's also the most convenient place to find a long-tail taxi boat to Krabi town and other beaches.
A few local restaurants line the beach, providing welcome shade and a drink while you wait for your boat. At night they form the focal point of the Railay high season party scene. Bars like Gecko, Cliffs, Railay Experience and the Last Bar offer an eclectic mix of fire-twirlers, good music and good vibes until it's time to wend your way back to your bungalow. Shoes optional.
Along the pathway which links to Railay West are dozens of small bungalows giving the feeling of a small self contained village, which indeed it is, with restaurants and convenience stores in addition to the bungalows. Accommodation can also be found around the north end of Railay East, near the nightlife scene. If you're interested in climbing, check out the climbing schools also located at this end of the beach.
You can also walk from Railay East to Phra Nang Beach .The two beaches are connected by a path which follows the base of the cliffs bordered by caves, stalactites and of course, vendors. If you plan to walk around it's a good idea to keep your shoes and wear a T shirt. Although it's a short walk to the other beaches it gets unbelievably hot!