Railay is supposed to have one of the most beautiful beaches in Thailand. It’s not an island, but it’s only accessible by boat. Since we were staying in Krabi Town for a few days, we wanted to go check it out for an afternoon. We took a longtail boat from Krabi Town, and it was a pleasant ride watching the scenery go by. Those gorgeous cliffs you see in so many photos of Thailand were all around us. It was a nice first day in Thailand, as opposed to our crazy first night in Krabi.
We wandered along the path that leads from where the boat dropped us off to one of the beaches. The years have worn interesting formations and caves into the rock. Somewhere up there is a lookout point, which I’m sure would’ve offered amazing views, but you had to climb straight up with the help of a rope to get there. No thanks.
Finally we made it to the famous Phranang Cave Beach. It really was beautiful, but there were so many people, it was hard to enjoy. And of course with that many people, there was quite a bit of trash littering the beach. As its name would suggest, one area had small caves you could swim into which looked pretty, but we opted to just sit in the shade and try to relax for a few minutes.
On the way back we spotted some monkeys, and people feeding them and handing them plastic water bottles. Please don’t do that. They’re wild animals who not only shouldn’t get used to being fed by humans, but they might also decide to bite, and then you would need a rabies shot.
After an expensive but much needed stop for ice cream and a cold drink, the longtail boat driver who brought us to Railay saw us and started waving us over. It was an hour early, but he probably had enough people who wanted to go back. We weren’t ready yet, so we told him no despite the obvious look of disappointment on his face. We hadn’t even seen the other beach yet, and we were fairly certain we could get a boat from that side. Ok, I was a little worried about it, but Andy assured me we would not get stuck in Railay.
The other beach was much bigger and wide open. It didn’t have the caves and rock walls hanging over the water that attract so many people to Phranang Cave Beach, but this felt less claustrophobic. There was actually room to spread out a towel and relax here.
Of course Andy was right. There were even more longtail boats waiting to take people to Ao Nang than there were on the other side to take people back to Krabi Town.
You can go as a day trip from either Krabi Town or Ao Nang. The longtail boat from Krabi Town cost us 150 baht (3.34€ / US$4.54) per person, and the last one supposedly leaves Railay at 5pm. The longtail boat from Railay to Ao Nang cost us 100 baht per person, and they run much later into the night. Night prices are a little more expensive.
Since we weren’t staying in Ao Nang, we had to take the public bus back to Krabi Town. The bus is actually a songthaew, which is basically a pickup truck with benches and a roof connected by a few metal rods all bolted into the bed of the truck. They shove as many people as possible into those things, as well as hanging off the back. Luckily we got seats. The ride from Ao Nang to Krabi Town cost 60 baht per person, though during the day it would’ve been 50 baht.
Railay accommodations range from luxury to budget, so you can stay there if you want. However, pack light since you will have to carry your luggage at at least waist level. The only way to get there is by longtail boat, and you will most likely have to hop out into a foot or two of water and walk to shore. When we arrived the boat was able to pull up to a dock, but the tide went out within an hour. On the other side, where we got the boat to Ao Nang, there were no docks, nor are there any docks in Ao Nang.
We’re glad we didn’t stay there because it seemed a little isolated, but if you simply want to sit on the beach and you can handle a more limited choice of restaurants, it might be a great place to spend a few days.