Want To Come To Railay Beach But Unsure How?
You’re not alone. Many people get confused with brochures and blogs also referring to this area as Krabi, or Ao Nang. This Railay Beach travel guide can help break it down for you;
- Krabi – The name of the region and the name of the largest city nearby, where the airport is located.
- Ao Nang – The base for the coastal tourism of Krabi region, with the most hostels, bars, restaurants etc.
- Railay – The Scenic spot that you see in pictures. Inaccessible by car, it has accommodation but at higher prices.
It is not uncommon for people to come to Railay Beach just for the day, it is often cheaper and better to stay in nearby Ao Nang, due to the increased amount of hostels, bars and restaurants. In this Railay Beach travel guide I’d like to talk specifically about the area that is called Railay Beach.
I personally recommend basing yourself in Ao Nang and then spending 1 day on Railay Beach at a minimum, you can come back as many times as you see fit. But I would not recommend that people stay here on Railay Beach long term.
Due to the fact that Railay is cut off from the roads, it makes it hard to explore the other activities available around Krabi/Ao Nang. This is why the majority of people will choose to stay in Ao Nang, and then visit Railay Beach on a day trip.
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The Layout of Railay Beach
“Railay Beach” is the name that is often given to the peninsular to the south of Ao Nang, it actually consists of 3 separate beaches;
- Railay West.
- Railay East.
- Ao Phra Nang (or often just Phra Nang / Princess beach).
Allow me to illustrate the layout, so you know what you’re in for before you arrive in the area.
As you can see (with the help of the DJI Mavic 2 Pro) in the 2nd photo, the distances are not very far between the beaches. There are no cars or scooters on the peninsular, you just walk everywhere that you need to go.
The drone shot is taken looking south, with the boat in the bottom right corner making its way back to Ao Nang. This is the only way to get to Railay, by boat. Larger ferries will dock at Railay East for everyone to disembark.
Railay beach is the pristine and scenic location for those visiting the Krabi region. This is the spot you see advertised in all the brochures throughout Thailand, with the soaring limestone cliffs, the beautiful clean water, and the longtail boats parked up in a row.
If you love the beach, then you might want to check out nearby Koh Lanta’s stunning beaches. Koh Lanta has a lot more secluded beaches with far less people.
Railay Beach Travel Guide Part 1 – Some Quick Info
So let’s answer some of the basic questions before getting into exactly what you can do with 1 day on Railay Beach. I’ll just brush over the weather and the ticket buying process, then I’ll show you how many cool activities are available for free on Railay Beach.
How Do You Get To Railay Beach?
The only way to get to Railay Beach is by boat. Catching the boat from Ao Nang is easy, all you need to do is buy a ticket in Ao Nang from the building shown below in the second photo.
This building is on your left hand side, as you take the main road in Ao Nang to the beach, it is right on the corner and can’t be missed.
Tickets cost ฿100
Once you are on Railay beach there will be stalls along the beachfront selling tickets for your return journey, the cost is the same in both directions. So the total cost to and from Railay Beach is ฿200 for the day.
The ticketing booth is open from 08:00 in the morning and closes at 18:00. If you don’t get back at the end of the day and the counters have finished operating, then you will need to pay for a private boat, which can be expensive.
I have been told that in peak season that you can buy tickets before 8am by talking directly to the boat operators, as they often do early runs to get hotel staff to and from their jobs out on Railay Beach. However when I went down there early one morning I didn’t see anyone to talk to.
This could have been due to low tourism, or perhaps they had already left before 7am.
What’s The Weather Like At Railay Beach?
Railay Beach has a nice warm tropical climate, with rain possible at any time but December – March is the dry season. The average rainfall through these months is very low, so it is the best time to come.
Average Rainy Days:
February averages the least with 5 days.
October averages the most with 23 days.
Average Water Temp:
How Expensive is Railay Beach?
Railay beach can be quite expensive, for food, accommodation and drinks. The only hostel in the area will charge over $15 US/night during the peak seasons.
This is why I prefer to just visit for the day.
If you avoid the beachfront restaurants you can still get a half decent feed for less than ฿200.
How do I Get Around On Railay Beach?
All you need to do is walk around. The distances are minimal, you can walk from Railay West to Phra Nang beach in about 10 minutes.
Where to Eat?
A lot of the restaurants are owned by the resorts that exist on the beach fronts. The best bet, unless you really want to spend the money, is to walk down the little street between the resorts. You will see some dive centres, travel agents, gift shops and there will be more street style food.
Try some of the kebabs, or the cafes down this street for much better prices than you will find on the beach front. There are some good places here that also make a nice coffee and allow you to sit out of the heat.
Princess cave has some stunning formations. People were heard to remark that after having seen me, it was the second most incredible thing that they saw that day.
Railay Beach Travel Guide Part 2 -Things to do With 1 Day On Railay Beach
In this next part of the Railay Beach travel guide we will have a look at some of the better things to do with your time here. I’ll show you some photos to give you an idea of what each different beach looks like, but there’s only two that will really grab your attention.
Railay East is the ugly duckling of the three, mostly used for its large floating pier by fishermen and larger ferries. I will show you what it looks like though because you will need to walk along it to reach some of the other activities, and to get to Phra Nang Beach.
From Railay West, there is a path that juts across the peninsular inbetween the resorts, it is roughly half way along the beach. It goes to Railay East, from here you turn south and walk to the end of the path, this is where you find the path to Phra Nang Beach.
Railay West is the main beach of the peninsular. It is the largest beach, stretching for 650 metres from end to end. This is the place where the longtail boats will drop you off when you come from Ao Nang.
Railay West is also home to the ticketing booths to go back to Ao Nang, it has beach front resorts and at its most southern end is the famously large pinnacle that separates it from Phra Nang beach on the other side.
This beach, although crowded, offers more space than all of the other beaches and it is never difficult to find somewhere to lie down and enjoy the sun.
(Shot with the Sony A7R III using the Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6).
Railay east is the lesser of the three beaches mentioned in this article as far as beauty is concerned. The path to all the activities listed from here on out is found by going to Railay East, then walking to the southern end. It is from here that you access Phra Nang beach.
Railay East has a large floating dock for larger ferries and boats that need slightly deeper water than the longtail boats do to offload passengers. This is where to catch a ferry to Krabi town, if that is where you are going.
The beach is narrow, with a concrete path along its entire length. The beach is home to some bars, bungalows and restaurants. It is also where some of the local fisherman have their boats.
This beach is sometimes called more beautiful than Railay West. This is in large part due to the stunning stalactites that hang out from over the ocean on the southern end of the beach. You will see them as you enter the beach from the pathway that connects Railay East to Phra Nang.
Couple this with the stunning formations of limestone that you will see out in the water (like that shown in the feature image of this post, which I took flying at Ao Nang), and you will find it hard to split this beach and Railay West as the most aesthetic.
My only complaint with Ao Phra Nang is the fact that it is a smaller beach than Railay West, both in length, but more importantly, in the amount of sand available. As you will see in the picture below, at high tide there is very little room to lay down towels.
This created an annoying bottleneck of lazy tourists, all gathered at the southern end near the pathway entrance, with very little room to move about. It is for this reason alone that I prefer Railay West, where there was enough room for thousands. However you may have a better experience.
This is one of the more fun and adventurous things on offer with 1 day on Railay Beach, along with the yet to be mentioned Princess lagoon. The lookout entrance is found along the pathway that connects Railay East and Phra Nang beach.
This is not an activity for those in poor physical shape, or who are uncomfortable climbing things and getting covered in red dirt. The lookout is up a steep climb, with well worn footholds and lots of places to grab a hold of, but it is best done in shoes. It takes 6 minutes to climb to the top of the hardest bit, then another 3 minutes and you will be at the lookout.
The lookout looks out from the southern end of Railay East, over the thin strip of land, looking north towards Railay West and the neighbouring bay. It is free, fun, good physical activity. You will get sweaty and dirty as you go, but this can be washed off later when you swim at the beach.
This photo doesn’t really do the climb justice, it is quite tiring, but not dangerous by any means if you are confident. If in doubt, just ask yourself: “What would Frasier do?”
Princess cave is the small cave at the southern end of Phra Nang beach.
Inside the cave you will see small offerings, these are left by fishermen to bring good fortune on their voyages. There are less and less fishermen who still do this, so the offerings may be partially for the benefit of the tourists these days.
The more amazing thing about the cave is the stunning shape it takes as it hangs out over the water!
The below image is a screenshot from a video I was taking, so excuse the softness of the image as the drone was moving at the time. However it still shows the sheer size and scale of the overhanding stalactites, with their bronze colours and the aqua coloured water, it is a great contrast to see.
PRINCESS CAVE / PHRA NANG CAVE
Princess lagoon is accessed through the same climb that gets you to Railay lookout, with some added degree of difficulty. Entry is free and there are no bookings. It is just a part of the lookout.
The path to the lagoon is shut down during the wet season, or after rainfall, for safety reasons. It is extremely steep, with climbing down being quite difficult to find footholds. But it is definitely awesome fun!
I saw a handful of people fuck it up and swing from their handholds to slam into the rock, but luckily they were not hurt at all and were close to the ground. I strongly recommend wearing proper lace up shoes.
There is a section of the climb where you need to fit through a hole in the rocks, which I found very difficult despite being skinny due to the massive amount of camera gear I had in my backpack. So keep that in mind if you are a heavier built person.
Also note that you have to go up to the lookout, down to the lagoon, and then up again to the lookout level before finally going down to the pathway to exit. So it is a good 100-150m in elevation changes, covered in dirt and on some slippery rocks.
I thought it was incredible fun though!
It is hard to tell from my poor photography, but just around that corner is the near vertical portion of the climb down to the lagoon. It goes straight up, through a hole in the rocks, with a rope there for assistance. Try not to use the rope though because it can cause you to swing off the rocks and not be in control.
The picture above is the lagoon as seen from ground level. The picture below I took with my drone, which was a massive mistake!!
DO NOT FLY YOUR DRONE IN HERE!!
Your drone will take off, but it will not have GPS positioning and will therefore not be able to hover. I was lucky to not crash the drone because I had it in my line of sight the entire time. I was flying for a total of 30 seconds, literally enough time to realise something was wrong and then bring it back down.
If you’re wondering how to legally fly a drone in Thailand, there is a registration process that I have covered in great detail.
Hand catching drones that can’t hover is very difficult to do, so I recommend people don’t try fly their drone here, learn from my mistake!
I hope that has been a comprehensive Railay Beach travel guide. Apologies if the page was slow to load, but I wanted to show some higher quality pictures to try and capture the beauty of this place.
All of this I did within a day, which included all the photographs, drone flying, climbing around the lagoon and swimming at the beach. Every activity mentioned here is completely free and requires no bookings!
One activity that I did not get to do, which looks like a lot of fun, is the rock climbing. The only activity not available here is probably scuba diving, which you are better off doing in the Similan islands on the west coast.
I would recommend a reputable company like Real Rocks Climbing. They offer half day and full day courses. It would be wise to book in advance though, the costs of the course will include the price of a return boat trip if you are based in Ao Nang.
So hopefully you’re fully equipped now with what is on offer on Railay Beach, as well as what it looks like and how to find your way around.
The Browne Town.