Journeys, Travel Guides

Railay Beach, Krabi – Into the wilderness

With beautiful beaches, amazing wildlife encounters, island hopping opportunities, and two marvelous caves, Railay Beach is a paradise for adventure seekers, climbers and beach lovers.

There’s a raw beauty about this place that made me love it right away.

If you have to choose between Railay Beach and Ao Nang or Krabi Town, you should definitely pick Railay. It’s a fantastic place to spend your first few days in Thailand!


Top Things to Do on Railay Beach, Thailand

Railay-Beach-Travel-Guide-1

East Railay Bay

East Railay Beach is not the most attractive place in Krabi, at least for most people.

The tide is the master of your freedom to move around the peninsula, and the small gulf looks desolating in the morning, when the water level is low and mud level is high. But there’s something about this piece of land filled with mangroves that makes you love it instantly – the wilderness is still here.

Oriental Pied HornbillA magnificent bird

First day, while having my 9 a.m. coffee on the hotel’s terrace, after 17 hours of traveling by taxi, plane, boat, tuk-tuk, and tractor, something amazing happened – I saw the splendid Oriental Pied Hornbill!

This exotic bird appeared out of nowhere and sat for a while in the palm tree on the terrace, calling her peer and making my day. Couple of minutes later, another beauty appeared.

Oriental-Pied-Hornbill---Exotic-Bird-on-East-Railay-Bay

Later on, I found out that this pretty bird is beyond special.

That’s because females of this species take a 9 months break to nurse the little ones. During this maternity leave, the male brings her food through a crack in the nest on a daily basis. When the nursing period is over, this magnificent bird relearns how to fly along with her young ones. Amazing, right?

It was raining outside, and the beach days I had planned now seemed a faraway dream, but the hornbill was a first sign that I would somehow love this wild corner.

Another surprise awaited in our hotel room.

We first laughed at the warnings about closing the door at all times because of the monkeys, but we soon realized it was a reality:

We got the Monkey Room!

Crab-Eating-Macaque-on-East-Railay-Beach

Crab-Eating-Macaque-on-East-Railay-Beach---on-our-balcony

That means our room was far, far away from the reception desk, and only a few meters away from the mountains and the forest. Well, I must say it looked more like a jungle…

Each day we would wake up to a small army of monkeys playing around on the roof nearby, some jumping on our balcony or in the palms nearby – a delight!

Feeding the monkeys is prohibited, and we saw quite a few signs about a 500 baht fine.

Still, there are some tourists trying to break the rule, so the monkeys kept coming each morning looking for some other kind of food.

I found it funny that there was a guard watching the monkeys all the time. Every day, at 11 a.m., he would pull out his sling and try to chase away the group of 20 macaques who would adventure near our hotel room.

The crab-eating macaques are in greater numbers than their black and grey peers we spotted at times, and they seemed more playful and curious. The other macaques we saw were a lot faster when making an appearance and didn’t linger as much around people.

On our 3rd day, we took a trip to Diamond Cave and had one more spectacular monkey show, this time closer to their habitat – the mangrove forests.

Crab-Eating-Macaque-group-on-East-Railay-Beach


Asian Water Monitors

The muddy East Railay Beach turned to be a fantastic place for wilderness lovers. That’s because on our 2nd day, we had the opportunity of spotting an Asian Water Monitor – a marvelous medium-size lizard. It was casually taking a walk on the beach, not minding the few tourists around looking to take a picture.

The Asian Water Monitor is not as dangerous as the Komodo dragon, but keeping a safe distance is recommended since this lizard is carnivore. Later on, we saw even bigger water monitors in the middle of Bangkok, but that’s another story.

Asian-Water-Monitor-on-East-Railay-Beach

Wandering what other exotic fauna lives on this heavenly corner?

Well, I saw the biggest exotic butterflies flying around, a few exotic birds, yucky spiders, and some small light grey lizards that looked like gecko. The only animal here that I haven’t spotted is the crocodile living in the mangroves. Well, maybe next time!

Of course, spotting these wonderful creatures requires staying sharp and constantly observing your surroundings. Being a bit off the beaten track also helps.

Other lovely corners on East Railay Bay


Diamond Cave, for daredevil climbers

Diamond Cave is amazing, pretty wild, and it requires you to follow the path through the jungle-like forest. There’s this sense of exploration I had when wandering around Diamond Cave that I really loved.

There are a few incredible spots where stalactites and stalagmites form cathedral-like spaces one can walk under. I couldn’t resist, but maybe stay safe and admire the rock formations from a distance (some fall at times).

Here and there, a few courageous climbers adventure up the rocks and stalactites, so if you’ve got the training, you might want to try climbing here.


Phra Nang Cave – Climbers’ Heaven

This mesmerizing cave stretches at least one kilometer, following the road to Phra Nang Beach and ending in a perched cliff above the sea. The impressive diversity of stalactites and stalagmites with gorgeous intricate patterns stopped me on my way more than a few times.

But Phra Nang Cave is remarkable because it’s open, so you can walk in it and around it without fear of claustrophobia. It’s the first cave I’ve seen that doesn’t require a healthy dose of self-control to prevent a claustrophobic episode, so I was pretty happy about it.

Phra Nang Cave in Railay is also a favorite spot for climbers from all over the world.

Phra-Nang-Beach,-Railay,-Krabi

Happy-climber-on-Phra-Nang-Cave

Diamond Cave (on the other side of the beach) is another story. Vlad was the only one who wandered in, I just admired its splendid entrance.


Phra Nang Beach

Paradise looks like this!

Fine white sand, clear turquoise waters and the mesmerizing cave with its perched little palms you can admire while floating on your back. We spent half a day here just sun bathing, a well-deserved rain break from our first day on Railay, Krabi.

Phra-Nang-Beach,-Krabi,-Thailand


A quirky detail of this beach is the Fertility Shrine. Well, there are two of them here.

Fertility-Shrine-on-Phra-Nang-Beach,-Railay


West Railay Beach, for lazy afternoons

West Railay Beach is a bit more touristic but equally beautiful.

Took a swim here upon our arrival in Railay and even if the water isn’t as clear as on Phra Nang, the beach is still very beautiful with its gorgeous cliffs rising from the sea and colorful long boats docked on its shore.

Our first three days on Railay were amazing! This place has everything we wanted from our first contact with Thailand – wildlife and jungle-like scenery, beautiful beaches, caves, peacefulness and a sense of adventure.

I found it more beautiful and interesting than Phuket.

West-Railay-Beach---climbers


Travel Tips for Railay Beach, Krabi

If you have to choose between Railay and Krabi Town or Ao Nang, choose Railay. It’s more beautiful and secluded, especially if you stay in East Railay.

Be careful what you eat and where you eat it

There aren’t many places to eat in on Railay Beach because the peninsula is only accessible by boat. Also, food costs are higher than in other parts of Thailand. Still, it’s better not to save money when it comes to eating in and around Railay Beach and stick to hotel restaurants or the ones on West Railay Beach.

It’s better to stay away from street food or family owned places. We’ve met some Portuguese people on our boat tour to Hong Island and felt very sorry for them because they got really sick from eating in a family owned restaurant and spent the whole day in an awful state.

Boat Tours on/from Railay Beach & How to get there

Railay Beach is only accessible by boat, but that’s the case with all the wonderful beaches in Thailand.

Boat trips are expensive, but some of them are worth it. We got the Hong Island day tour and it was beyond amazing!

When you book a boat tour, it’s wise to pay only the upfront cash required and not the whole tour, if possible.

We made the mistake of paying for the whole tour and then they wouldn’t refund our money.
We had to find a solution because I felt sick and it rained all day. So we postpone it and took the Hong Island boat tour from Ao Nang a week later.

Always research the extra cost for boat tours. We paid 2600 baht (67€/$80, 2 people) for the Hong Island tour and then had to pay extra 600 baht (15€/$18, 2 people) for the access to the National Park. So the trip was 3200 baht and not the intial price.

Except this price trick and the refund issue, I think the boat trip to Hong Island was great, and the overall price (41€/$49 per person) – money well spent.

Never ever trust the locals in Krabi town, Ao Nang and Railay Beach!

They always try to charge you 2 or 3 times more for tours, taxi and boat rides. Also, you must always negotiate, even when price is displayed.

If you can help it, stay away from transfers booked by hotels. That’s because they’re always more expensive than what you get while negotiating with the locals.


Where to stay in Railay, Krabi

Railay Princess Bay Hotel was great and affordable!

If you’re adventurous, ask for the Monkey Room at the end of the resort, 1st floor. The room is beautiful, cozy, much bigger than what you get in Europe, and it has lovely Asian decor influences. The resort also has two pools with magnificent views to the mountains nearby and a sea view. It also has a spa, but we didn’t have the time to test it.

The restaurant is pretty good and serves traditional Thai food. At 5 p.m., boats return with fresh fish and seafood and stop by the hotel. They have a seafood grill in place and cook the catch of the day. It smells and tastes fantastic, and I recommend you try the so-called monkfish (it’s not really monk fish, but they call it this way; anyway, it’s delicious).

The accommodation cost on Railay Beach: 65€/$78 per night for a double room. Money well spent, don’t you think?


Weather on Railay Beach, Krabi

It is said that the end of November – beginning of December is a good time to visit South Thailand, and it might be a valid statement most of the times. But this year (2017), there were more rainy days. We had one sunny day out of three, but enjoyed other activities on Railay Beach, so we didn’t mind it too much.

Still, there are 30ºC /86ºF, and humidity levels are high, so you can still go for a swim on West Railay Beach and Phra Nang Beach.


How to get to Railay Beach and getting around

We arrived at our hotel by booking a transfer from the airport through the hotel. It wasn’t the cheapest option (25€/$30 – for 22 people, one way), but it was the fastest one.

If you want to stay in Railay, consider booking a taxi from the airport in Krabi to the docks, and then negotiate a boat ride to the peninsula.

If you arrive before 2 p.m., the boat won’t take you straight to the shore because of the low tide; a tractor will pick you up from the boat. Funny, right?

Railay Beach is pretty small, so you’ll get on foot almost anywhere. Tonsai Beach is another story because you can only get there and to the beautiful places mentioned above by boat. And since this place is pretty secluded, boats are also a bit more expensive. If you can, avoid accommodation on Tonsai Beach so you can move easier around Railay.


10 Things to do on Railay Beach, Thailand [Takeaway]

  1. Explore the wilderness: Crab-eating macaques, Asian water monitors and Oriental Pied Hornbills
  2. Go sun bathing & swimming on West Railay Beach
  3. Spend a day on the amazing Phra Nang Beach
  4. Visit or Climb on Phra Nang Cave
  5. Visit Diamond Cave
  6. Take a boat tour to Hong Island
  7. Take a boat tour to Phi Phi Islands
  8. See the Fertility Shrines on Phra Nang Beach
  9. Taste grilled “monkfish”
  10. Have a coconut juice in a coconut

Thailand Trip: Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Krabi – Railay, Krabi, Phi Phi, Hong, Ao Nang, Phuket| November – December  2017 | All Photos – Copyright: ©Ana Matei | Follow me on instagram @mateiana


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Ana
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