Last week I wrote about Ao Nang Beach, and if you were not impressed by that area, there’s one more place just around the corner that for sure will make you go WOW! I’m talking about Railay; a small peninsula with two bays, known as West Railay and East Railay.
Surrounded by incredible limestone cliffs, Railay (or Rai Leh) can only be reached by boat, giving it an island feel. The high cliffs attract rock climbers from all over the world, and the beautiful beaches can be packed with longtail boats and trippers from Ao Nang. Although it is a paradise, Railay is good for a day trip or a few nights — unless you are a rock climber, then you might want to stay longer.
West Railay Beach. Not bad, huh?
West Railay Beach, looking the other way. The sheer limestone cliff to the right is known as The Mighty Thaiwand Wall. Behind that cliff is another beautiful beach, named Phra Nang Beach.
The Walking Street at West Railay with little shops.
I’ve had lunch in worse places. The only downside is it’s not cheap. But I guess you pay for the view as well.
Phra Nang Beach and The Mighty Thaiwand Wall. Here the sand is white and fine as powder, and the water is blue turquoise. The beach can be very crowded depending on what time you go, and I’m not talking about people tanning on the sand — I’m talking about people walking around taking selfies. But hey, I don’t blame them (pulling back the telescopic pole to my GoPro camera). This place is incredible!
Phra Nang Beach was once voted one of the ten most beautiful beaches in the world.
Phra Nang Beach on a sunny day. Look at the water! So close Ao Nang, and yet so far away.
A rock climber at Phra Nang Beach.
At the end of Phra Nang Beach, there is a small cave (Phra Nang or Princess Cave) famous for the large, carved wooden penises. To make a story very short; these offerings to the mythical sea princess was believed to help with fertility.
East Railay during high tide. This beach is unsuitable for swimming but still gorgeous. The private boat seen in the picture is used to pick up hotel guests to the famous luxury 5-star Rayavadee Hotel with a restaurant inside a cave. East Railay is the docking point for boats arriving from Krabi Town and Ao Nam Mao Pier, while boats from Ao Nang mooring at West Railay Beach.
Most locals prefer to go by boat from Ao Nam Mao Pier, and so does my wife. When she studied at college in Krabi, she practiced at Sunrise Tropical Resort at Railay for three months, meaning she has used this shuttle service a few times. The ride takes about 15 minutes.
There is a fourth beach on Railay called Ton Sai Beach. This area is popular among climbers and backpackers. The map below shows all four beaches at Railay and the jumping-off points.