You must have seen them: the insanely beautiful pictures of Thailand with huge cliffs rising out of bright blue waters, accompanied by white beaches and palm trees filled with coconuts. Too good to be true, right? Nope, it’s not! We’d like to welcome you to the Railay peninsula and it’s beautiful Railay Beach.
A warm welcome to Railay Beach
The most beautiful spectacle I’ve ever seen unfolded right before my eyes. The long-tail boat glided along, taking me next to limestone formations with brownish red and green peaks, interspersed with strips of golden sand, lush mangrove forests, and swaying palm trees. We approached a bay so ridiculously beautiful, that there are no words to describe it.
I shuffled in my seat and didn’t know where to look. An intense feeling of joy, happiness and gratitude overwhelmed me. My eyes filled with tears and started to run down my cheeks – as I surrendered to the beauty of Railay Beach.
Photo credit: Connie & Gemma Amor
This is Railay
Railay is a small peninsula between Krabi Town and Ao Nang in southern Thailand. This laid-back paradise is famous for its beautiful beaches and limestone cliffs, which attracts beach lovers and climbers from all over the world.
There are only four beaches on the peninsula, of which two are drop dead gorgeous: Railay West and Ao Phra Nang.
We stayed on the Railay peninsula for several days, but concluded that one day is enough to enjoy all the sights. We advise to stay in Ao Nang and to make a daytrip from there, as affordable guesthouses and hotels are very limited in Railay.
Railay West (aka Railay Beach) is the most famous beach of the peninsula. It is beautiful: an enormous cliff overlooks a long stretch of white sand and is bordered by swaying palm trees. The beach gradually merges with the calm, shallow sea, which makes it a paradise for families with small children.
Although the beach is incredibly beautiful, we felt that is was lacking in atmosphere. It’s crowded during the day, and restaurants and resorts are terribly expensive. Nevertheless, we enjoyed swimming in the sea, kayaking around the cliff and dining on the beach in the evenings.
Photo credit: Connie
Ao Phra Nang
Ao Phra Nang is even more beautiful than Railay West. You’ll arrive at an immense cliff where climbers are dangling upside down. Monkeys are strolling around hoping to get some snacks from tourists. In the middle of the sea is a huge, beautiful rock formation surrounded by bobbing kayaks. A number of moored long-tail boats have been transformed into floating restaurants causing scents of spices to floats by.
The white sands are so soft that every step you take feels like a foot massage. The beach stretches into the distance and is surrounded by a mangrove forest. At the end of the beach you’ll find another stunning rock formation – from here you’ll see the most spectacular sunset! There is only one expensive resort on the beach, so we did not stay overnight. Luckily it costs nothing to lay down your towel and enjoy the sunset!
There are also two caves on the beach that are quite bizarre. From top to bottom they are filled with wooden penises, called palad khiks in Thai, that are offered by boatmen whom believe their offerings not only will bring them success in their fishing and protect them from danger, but also help them with fertility. As ordinary Thai are deeply superstitious, these lucky charms and talismans are very important to them.
Photo credit: Sergio Tittarini & Guillén Pérez
Railay East is the most developed, and also the least attractive beach of Railay. The pebble beach is overgrown by mangroves, and you can get around by following an concrete path. Still, Railay East is not as bad as it looks. You will find countless restaurants, bars, resorts and guesthouses with a laid-back, reggae atmosphere.
Lastly, Ton Sai is the beach that climbers and backpackers explore for months on end. The beach is a bit remote, but can be reached via a 10-minute walk through the jungle from Railay West. But you can also pay for a long-tail boat to take you there. On the beach there’s a large cliff where all the climbers gather.
No matter which beach you go to, we think Railay is an amazing destination for everyone!
Photo credit: Maria Ly
Best Hotels Krabi & Ao Nang
Ban Sainai Resort - $$We believe Ban Sainai Resort is the pearl of Krabi. It’s a wonderful resort with different (family) bungalows. The outdoor pool is a great perk, as are the resort’s employees, who were some of the friendliest and most attentive we’ve come across!
Rambuttri Village - $$$Luxurious Beyond Resort Krabi is Krabi’s tropical paradise. It has a private beach, an outdoor swimming pool, a gym and a restaurant. The rooms have modern interiors and come with views of the garden, the swimming pool or the sea.
On which beach in the Railay Peninsula would you lay down your towel?
Credit page header image: Harshil Shah