Although it is part of Krabi province in Thailand, the dreamy and pristine Railay Beach (sometimes spelled Rai Leh) seems like an island rather than part of the mainland due to a half-ring of inaccessible cliffs that block overland access. Before you start your trip to Railay beach, there are a few things to consider, and the most important ones have been brought here for you.
Best time to visit
There are only two diverse seasons in southern parts of Thailand – the rainy season and the dry season. It is best to visit Railay Beach and other parts of Southern Thailand during the dry season, which is from November to March. You might witness a warm and sunny climate, though a little bit humid. But you should be aware that hotel rates are high since the rate of visitors peak during this period.
Many more untroubled travelers could take advantage of free cancellations and last-minute deals by booking free cancellation rooms. Thailand is an affordable destination during the monsoon season (from April to October), and the temperature is much cooler during this period. However, do not forget that weather can be unpredictable with frequent downpours. As the last point, it is to be mentioned that April is the hottest month in Thailand, so it’s reasonable not to visit at that time.
How to Get There
The sheer cliffs prevent any road access, so there are no cars around Railay, only footpaths. Railay can only be reached by boat, so travel here is mostly on foot. This contributes to its natural serenity. Also, this geographical separation contributes to Railay’s relaxed and calm atmosphere. You should know that the nearest airport is Krabi International Airport, which is approximately 40 minutes away.
Railay Beach is best reached directly from the airport with a transfer booked through your hotel. If that is not possible for you, it is still not that difficult to get to Railay Beach by yourself. As we said previously, even though this beach is technically part of the mainland, there are no roads leading there. So you should go by boat.
You can choose between two docks in Railay, Railay West, and Railey East, depending on the location of your residence. With bags in tow, getting off at Railay West is a problem, as you’ll find yourself on the beach. In the case that you are spending your journey in the eastern part of the island or have heavy luggage, it is best to arrive at the East Railay dock.
What to Do? What to See?
There is a 100 Baht entry fee to Diamond Cave, or Tham Phra Nang Nai, located just 5 minutes from the Railay East dock. This cave is part of the Nopparatthara Marine National Park; thus, it is a protected area. In Diamond Cave, there are many kinds of rock formations, and it is set into a massive limestone cliff. A wooden walkway leads you into the narrow entrance of the cave. There you can hear the sound of bats and water drops from above. This cave opens at 8 am and close at 5 pm
It’s not the cave itself that draws the crowds, but rather what lies within. A colorful shrine with huge phalluses is the very first thing you see upon entering the cave. Fishermen are believed to have left offerings to the mythical sea princess on their way to the sea as a way to protect themselves and bring them prosperity while out at sea. Despite their colossal size, these wooden phallic symbols have acquired a bit of a mixed connotation today as some people believe they help with fertility.
This picturesque blue pool is surrounded by a stunning backdrop of high cliffs. It is impossible to reach this secluded lagoon other than through a narrow opening on the cliff face. A slippery, often muddy cliffside descends from there. The ropes along the way will aid you with that, but you should be aware. Your fitness level, strength, and fitness level will determine how long this dangerous climb will take.
Thailand’s Railay is a world-class climbing destination. A rock climber of any skill level can enjoy climbing Railay’s big cliffs due to the different climbing routes. Railay has plenty of areas where beginners can try out their very first rock climb. There are many schools near Walking Street that offer rock climbing courses of all duration and difficulty levels. All equipment and guides are included in these packages. Alternatively, professional climbers can rent gear from one of the shops without a guide.
The resorts and Walking Street are both offering free kayak rentals on Railay West Beach. A kayak rental costs an hourly fee or a daily fee. People of all ages love kayaking in Railay, and it is a favorite of tourists and locals alike. Moreover, it is the perfect approach to discover the region and get a good overview of the limestone rocks in the sea. Kayak rental fees for the present are:
1-hour: ฿ 200- 2-hour: ฿ 300- 3-hour: ฿ 400- 4-hour: ฿ 500- full day: ฿ 800
Thai Cooking Classes
Cooking a local dish in its native place is one of the best souvenirs you can buy for yourself. If you are interested in Thai cooking and recipes, Thai staples in Railay, consider signing up for a Thai cooking class. The Railay Cooking Class is on the Walking Street. Chef Ho teaches six different Thai dishes to his students. These dishes include spring rolls, spicy chicken salad, coconut milk soup with chicken, green curry, a kind of dessert of mango with sticky rice, and pad thai.
Get a Massage
The massage services offered at Railay are exceptionally great. Aside from foot reflexology massage and Thai massage, Railay offers climber massages that help ease muscles that are necessary for climbing. Generally speaking, a Thai or foot massage in one of the dozen or so places scattered across Railay tends to cost around 300 baht for an hour. Beach resorts also offer massages. However, the price for a beach resort massage is usually about double or more.
Bioluminescent Plankton shine
In order to see the bioluminescent plankton in Thailand, the waters around Railay are a great choice. Little creatures can shine a sparkle in the water at night. If you are lucky, you’ll be able to see the glow in the right condition. In general, the best conditions are when there has not been any rainfall and no moon.
The best thing about Railay Beach is to relax at the beaches. There are four beaches in Railay, all connected by footpaths. Namely West Railay Beach, Phra Nang Beach, East Railay Beach, and Tonsai Beach. But Railay’s most popular beaches are Phra Nang Beach and West Railay Beach. Both have picturesque white sand beaches and the Andaman Sea’s turquoise.
West Railay Beach
Railay West Beach is ideal for swimming due to its fine sand and the absence of any stones or corals. In the evening, you have the chance to watch the sunset, and in the high season, you can enjoy seeing great fireworks. There are also a few restaurants and bars on the beach.
East Railay Beach
Several accommodations can be found on East Railay Beach and fine dining and a small beach promenade. Although this beach is really beautiful to visit because of its thriving green jungle, its neighboring beaches Railay Beach West & Phra Nang Beach, are far more suitable for swimming. One of the most famous hotels, Bhu Nga Thani Resort & Spa, is in Railay Beach East. If you walk a short distance to Phra Nang Beach, you may see monkeys.
Phra Nang Beach & Cave
Railay’s Phra Nang Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Thailand, thanks to its stunning rock formations and scenic beauty. It’s also interesting to explore the Princess Cave on the beach, which contains a fertility shrine and hundreds of phallic symbols. If you are looking for someplace to stay on this beach, you’ll quickly discover that Macaque and Languor Villa is the only luxury resort. In addition, thanks to the dense forest, you might get a glimpse of cute monkeys sitting in the trees.
Despite having a reputation as being an insider tip among backpackers, Tonsai Beach is relatively secluded from the other beaches. Compared to everything that is going on in the neighboring beaches, you’ll barely notice the crowd at the neighboring beaches. To get there, you may walk the jungle trail for 45 minutes or walk along the sea for 25 minutes at low tide, or take the longtail boat. Accommodations at Tonsai Beach are simpler and less expensive than in other parts of Railay.
Tours to other islands
Visitors to Railay Beach can visit a number of local islands by boat. The best thing to do in Railay Beach on a good day might be an island-hopping trip to these islands. A half-day trip to the islands off Railay’s coast can be organized by joining a tour or hiring a longtail boat. In addition, snorkeling is offered at several stops along the way.
Several different island traveling options are available from Railay. The “4-islands boat tour” is the usual one, traveling from Railay Beach to four different destinations, including Chicken Island (Also known as Kai Island, Hua Khawan Island, or Poda Nok Island), Tup (or Tub) Island, (3) Koh Mawr Island, Poda Island, and Phra Nang Beach (which is not an actual island, as it’s connected to Railay).
You can find plenty of them on Tripways.com to spend the most amazing time in Thailand, the land of natural beauties.
Where to Eat and Drink
There are a wide variety of choices for visitors to eat and drink. From budget-friendly restaurants to more luxurious ones. Here is a list for you:
- Last Bar
At Last Bar, cocktail prices drop to 120 baht from 4:00-10:00; large Changs are 90 baht, and additional bucket specials are available.
- Flame Tree
Thai mats located on the beach directly in front of Walking Street provide you a picturesque view of the sunset.
- Tew Lay Bar
In Tew Lay Bar, you can find tree-house places that hang over the Andaman Sea.
- Jamaica bar
The bar has reggae-themed décor and live music.
- Boat bar
You can drink at this boat-shaped bar.
- Railay Fast Food
You can see roti, Thai pancakes, shakes, and other quick foods on the menu.
- Kebab stand
The only stand in the middle of Walking Street has great chicken wraps and other cheap eats.
- Cafe Railay Story
Thai and western dishes at affordable prices.
- Railay Thai Cuisine
Thai dishes and pizza from a wood-burning oven. Costs are a little bit more than other restaurants, But the quality is great, and the cooking classes take place here.
The East and West sides of Railay are home to sixteen hotels and resorts. Among those resorts, four are located along Railay West. Interestingly, Railay East, which is not a beach, is home to other hotels. Railay East hotels have a lower price tag while still offering the same level of comfort as their Railay West counterparts. Those who want a beachfront vacation must reserve a place at Railay West.
Sand Sea Resort is a 3.5-star hotel on the beach with private cabins. Sand Sea usually has the lowest prices of Railay West’s four resorts. You’ll find rates around $100/night, which can drop to $40 in low seasons.
Railay Bay Beach Resort & Spa
Railay Bay Beach Resort and Spa is a 4-star hotel at the West Railay beach, alongside the Sand Sea resort. In comparison with the Sand Sea, their rooms are better, they own an alcohol bar(which the Sand Sea lacks), and their pool has better beach landscapes. By the way, their prices are a bit higher.
Railay Village Resort
Another four-star resort is Railay Village, with hotel rooms surrounding its central swimming pool. Walking Street is very close to this hotel; also, it boasts an excellent beachfront location.
Among all the resorts in Railay, Rayavadee is by far the nicest and most luxurious one. It also has the most expensive rates.