- On 07/07/2020
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The Ultimate Guide to Railay Beach in Thailand
On the southern coast sits one of the most beautiful destinations in the world. Railay is home to some of the country’s top rock climbing spots, beaches, hotels, and attractions. The natural beauty of this area is what most visitors come to see, only to be surprised by all the exciting amenities and activities available. If you’re planning a Southern Thai trip, make sure you schedule a few days in Railay.
Here’s everything you need to plan the perfect Railay vacation.
How to Get to Railay Beach Thailand
Railay peninsula is easy to get to via plane, bus, and car. The Krabi International Airport is 30km from Railay beach. We can arrange a private transportation with driver (by car or minivan) from the airport to the pier starting from 600 baht. From there, you can hop on a boat that will take you straight to your hotel in Railay.
Additionally, to make your stay more enjoyable, we can arrange your boat tickets or a private boat so that you won’t have to worry about anything on arrival .
The Top Hotels in Railay
When planning your stay in Railay, you have your pick of the most stunning hotels and villas at a variety of price points. Every budget can stay comfortably here.
The best hotels are 4-5 stars and offer everything from air conditioned rooms to spa services to pools and saunas. Almost all have free WI-FI and exceptional dining options. Plus, all hotels and villas have a friendly staff that can help arrange your excursions and travel plans. If you prefer a more personalised service, we can arrange your land and sea tours; in most cases you will be picked up in Railay without any need to move to the mainland.
Here are some of the top hotels in Railay.
Rayavadee Krabi Resort
For a luxurious, high-end experience, consider staying at Rayavadee Krabi Resort. This upscale hotel offers charming villas and pavilions with stylish rooms and traditional Thai decor. Most of them come with private pools and offer extreme privacy. Visitors can relax with the extensive treatments of the lavish Rayavadee’ Spa, dine at four different venues that include a fine, elegant dining and a casual beach style bar, or marvel at the seaside views from their accommodations. The hotel prime location makes it a favorite among tourists who want to travel in style.
Sand Sea Resort
If you’re looking to add a lost-in- nature vibe to your vacation, the Sand Sea Resort should be at the top of your list. This stunning resort is surrounded by thick, lush jungle despite being in close proximity to all the amenities visitors may want to experience. This resort has a very laid-back, beachy atmosphere perfect for those looking to take their time and relax on vacation. All resort’s rooms and cottages have free WI-FI, minibars, safes, and a complimentary breakfast buffet. If you opt for a private bungalow cottage, you also get to enjoy the whirlpool tub in your room.
Railay Bay Resort
Are you looking for a relaxing, calm, and quiet resort away from the hustle and bustle of the city life? Railay Bay Resort is perfect for you. It is nestled in West Railay Beach, stretching to East Railay Beach, the quieter one. Each room is decorated with warm, traditional or modern Thai elements and it comes with a minibar, 32-inch LCD tv, and WI-FI. Upgrade to the Luxury Villa to get access to a private swimming pool and a larger indoor area. Dining options on the resort include a casual restaurant and cocktail bar.
Other Accommodation Options
If you’re interested in a more nomadic, vibrant, youthful party scene, Railay has plenty of fun and exciting hotels and guest houses to consider. Sure, you may be sharing a room with other travelers, but that just adds some excitement to your solo trip! Most hotels provide sharing rooms with hostels vibe and organise community events for visitors to get to know each other, local tours, bar crawls, and more. Of course, there are also seaside guest-houses and bungalows with a more low-key vibe. Essentially, whatever atmosphere you’re looking for on vacation can be found in Railay.
The Top Restaurants in Railay
When they think about the top Thai cuisine destinations, most people think of Bangkok and Chiang Mai. However, Railay has an understated food scene that the locals and tourists get to enjoy.
It would be difficult to state all the venues worth checking in the Railay peninsula, since some of them are not much more than a hole in the wall. However, on our last escapade to Railay for a day of sun and swim, we ended up at a lovely, artsy cafe and restaurant called Lek’s Sushi which surprised us with a good Espresso and the owner’s friendliness. Lek’s Sushi, as the name suggests, provides Japanese delicacies and fresh sushi, however it’s much more than this: you will find salads and fries, burgers, fresh smoothies and some Thai favourites like Tom Yam soup.
Lek’s Sushi, as almost all of the dining places and bars in Railay, is located on The Walking Street, a pedestrian path that starts from Railay West beach and continues inland for a few hundred meters.
The Walking Street is Railay’s downtown: here you can find a pharmacy, a small clinic, a few supermarkets and souvenir shops, a cooking school, an ATM and several bars and restaurants: from Indian to Italian food, French bakery, Thai street food, pancakes and smoothies, the Walking Street can be covered in less than 10 minutes, and yet it has it all.
And if you get tired of Railay, all that Ao Nang has to offer is just a short boat trip away: in less than 15 minutes you can transfer to the main tourist destination of the region, and savour cocktails, wines and fine dining in classy restaurants like The Tavern or more delicious street food at the Ao Nang Landmark or near the Ao Nang Mosque.
The Top Beaches in Railay
Railay is surrounded by water on three sides while its base is connected to the mainland. Although it isn’t technically an island, it certainly feels like one. While Railay is just a small section of the province, it is known for its stunning beaches. Here are the three main surf-n-sand getaways in Railay and what they offer in terms of fun and relaxation.
Sunset beach is part of West Railay and it contains all the big hotels, resorts, and tourist spots in the area. The west beach is long with soft white sand and calm waters. It’s perfect for wading in the sandbar or swimming where it gradually gets deeper. However, it’s also the port for many local long-tail boat tours, so it can get quite busy. During the touristic high season, the area is full of people looking for patches of sand to layout on and tan. Luckily, the crowds clear out by evening, leaving it blissfully quiet and tranquil. If you can plan your vacation when it’s less popular with tourists, you’ll enjoy much less crowded beaches and waters.
On the opposite side of Railay sits Sunrise Beach, or East Railay. Calling it a “beach” is a bit of an exaggeration as there isn’t any sand here nor is the swimming very appealing. The coastline on this side of Railay is lined with mangrove trees and ports for supplier ships. It’s where all the behind-the-scenes supplies of Railay enters the town, like food ingredients and other items. You may be wondering if it’s worth checking out at low tide, but alas, the receding water reveals not soft sand but thick sticky mud. The east side of Railay has lots of fun things to do and several hotels, but swimming and sun tanning aren’t the best here.
Phra Nang Beach
On the southern coast of Railay, you’ll find the best sand and water in the area: Phra Nang Beach. It’s one of the top destinations that inspire people to come to Railay, which means that it can get quite busy during the day and it has tons of hotels nearby. The long stretches of white sand are backed by jagged limestone cliffs. It takes an easy 10-minute walk from Railay East to Phra Nang Beach, and it’s a pleasant one, suitable for all ages, among limestone caves and cliffs and a lush forest inhabited by monkeys. If you are staying in Ao Nang, there are plenty of day trip tours available that will take you there in the morning and bring you back in the afternoon. Phra Nang beach is one of the most beautiful places in Railay, so making it a must-see on your itinerary is wise.
Top Things to Do in Railay East
As mentioned above Railay East isn’t the same as the Western coast. The beach isn’t as idyllic and there are no spots for swimming or sunbathing. Instead, it’s the number one port for boats to take tourists to other ports. The mangroves are interesting to see if you’ve never seen them before and you can sip a cocktail and enjoy some lunch while you wait for your long-tail boat to come in and the locals are quite friendly and welcoming. However, you won’t find as many activities or attractions on this side of Railay. There are a few hotels and resorts that have stunning decor and excellent dining, but you don’t have immediate access to the beautiful West Railay beach like you do in other areas.
If you’re looking for nightlife, this side does have some beloved establishments. One of which is the Bamboo Bar. It’s known for its bright colors, Reggae music, wood, and bamboo exterior and complex mixology recipes. Anyone with a passion for cocktails or an hour to kill will love Bamboo Bar.
To experience an amazing night of partying to celebrate the Full Moon, check out Lucky Restaurant & Last Bar. Here you can sip on delicious cocktails, watch a Muay Thai demonstration, get tattooed, and dance the night away under the full moon and UV lights. It switches from a family-friendly bar in the daytime to full-on rave and night club at night.
The shopping here is vastly different from the other areas of Railay. Instead of designer goods and tourist-priced gems, you’ll get amazing bargains and deals. There are plenty of secondhand bookstores, vintage clothing stores, and local vendors selling handmade woven sandals and hats. If you’re on a budget or don’t want to be upsold because you’re a tourist, you’ll enjoy the shopping amenities here.
Top Things to Do in Railay West
On the left coast of Railay, there are many more things to do and places to see. This is essentially the tourist capital of Railay with plenty of hotels, dining spots, and amenities to enjoy.
Where to Stay
Choose from a long list of hotels, hostels, resorts, and villas in the area to stay at. There is accommodation available for every budget and travel style. If you’re looking for the party scene with lots of young backpackers, try The Blanco Hideout. Hostels are more affordable than hotels and within close proximity of all the things you want to see and do.
Where to Party
When you want to relax with your friends and sip on some beer or cocktails, Flame Tree Restaurant is the place to be. Its traditional Thai decor includes bamboo chairs and tables and open-air seating. During the day, it’s a quaint, beachy smoothie shack serving some of the best fruit smoothies, coffees, and breakfast in the area. At sundown, the place livens up as it becomes a fun hot spot for the party scene crowd. While it doesn’t provide a dance floor or UV lights like other places, the ambiance is chill and cool. It’s a fun place to test out the 57 different cocktails on the menu while spending time with friends.
Where to Shop
The shopping here is starkly different from shopping in other parts of Railay. Since most tourists congregate in this area, the prices tend to be a bit higher. The Railay Walking Street is Railay’s famous district for local vendors selling their goods in outdoor stalls. Even if you don’t want to buy anything, walking down this street is a fun experience. In addition to buying swimsuits, t-shirts, sunglasses, and sandals, you can also enjoy one of the excellent restaurants and street vendors here. It’s well known that Thai street food is amazing and Railay Walking Street is a good place to sample the various dishes. Plus, Walking Street is also home to adventure tour companies where you can sign up for diving lessons, climbing lessons, tours, and excursions.
Top Things to Do in Krabi
The province of Krabi is a world-famous destination for outdoor adventurers and Thai cuisine enthusiasts. It includes hundreds of hotels and resorts as well as several amazing destinations worth seeing, not least is Thailand’s gem Railay beach.
You can get to Krabi via Domestic or Connecting flights from Bangkok International Airport as well as several other airports in Thailand and in the region, for example Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Qatar Airways flies to Krabi from Doha, making it a great choice for passengers coming from Europe. Most visitors will fly to Krabi airport and then take a private car or taxi to the destination they want to explore first in the province.
Here are some of the most top attractions and destinations to see in this province.
Thung Teao Forest Natural Park
Have you ever wondered what kind of wildlife lives in this part of the world? At Thug Teao, you have the chance to witness it for yourself. This Natural Park has miles of trails that run through the lush rain forest. The paths are paved making them accessible to all ages. Plus, deep into the park sits the majestic Emerald Pool. Also known as the Crystal Lagoon, this is a spectacular sight of aquamarine water and stunning waterfalls. You can swim in the Emerald Pool so make sure you bring your swimsuit and towel in addition to your hiking shoes.
The Tiger Cave
Temples dot the province, but this one is extra special to locals and visitors alike. Wat Tham Sua has a traditional Thai temple inside the ancient caves of these limestone cliffs. As you explore the caves you can see Buddhist icons and relics intentionally placed throughout. Legend has it a tiger once made this cave its home and you can still see footprints from the tiger today. For some more excitement, try climbing to the top of the cliff the temple sits on to see the Footprint of the Buddha. Over 1200 steps up the cliff will take you to a viewpoint where you can overlook the province. If you have the energy and ability, this is a must-see.
Phi Phi Islands
There’s a reason these islands are a popular set in films and TV shows. The Phi Phi Islands are simply exquisite. The two islands can be accessed by taking a speedboat from the mainland and many tourism companies offer half-day and full-day trips. Check our Phi Phi Tour by speed boat here for more details. The sand is soft, warm, and white and the water is turquoise and calm. You truly feel like you’re in your own tropical paradise, minus all the other tourists around you. For fewer crowds, try the Early Bird tour that leaves in the early morning.
Krabi Hot Springs
Nestled inside the volcanic chambers are hot springs that travel up to the natural pools of Klong Thom. Here you can go for a relaxing dip in nature’s hot tubs while being surrounded by lush rain forest. The water gets up to 40 degrees Celsius, yet the nearby streams are much cooler. Some say the minerals in the water have healing properties. At the very least, they provide a relaxing and rejuvenating experience. Our fun and active Jungle Tour combine the Hot Springs, with a visit to the Emerald Pool hidden in the forest nearby and to the Tiger Cave Temple, on top of a peak.
Have you always wanted to learn how to scuba dive in a beautiful location? The island of Koh Lanta needs to be your next stop. Koh Lanta is a quiet, secluded island two hours from the mainland. It’s home to some of the country’s top diving schools and instructors. There are lessons for beginners and advanced divers looking to improve their skills, and all equipment is provided for you. The coastline boasts ample coral reefs to explore as well as dozens of marine life species. It’s an amazing destination for experiencing the stunning oceanic wildlife while also learning a new skill in diving and snorkeling.
The Night Market
The Night Market is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many Westerners who don’t have these attractions back home. From 6 until 9 at night every weekend, the market in Krabi town comes alive with vendors and shoppers, locals, and visitors. Here you’ll find handcrafted art, home decor, clothing, electronic gadgets, and keepsakes. Plus, there are over 70 food stalls ready to help you sample the amazing local Thai cuisine. You could easily spend the whole evening wandering around the market sampling food, shopping, and watching entertainment. There are often musicians and dancers performing making the ambiance even more alive and exciting. What’s the top-selling item at the market? Coconut ice cream.
You will find organizations posing as sanctuaries all over the country. While they pretend to help these animals, they actually exploit them for money. When in town, look for elephant sanctuaries that don’t allow riding the elephants. Organizations that allow elephants to exist peacefully while being observed by humans are more ethical. You’ll likely be able to go for a walk alongside the elephants, give them baths, and of course, take pictures with them. Here you can see our fun half day or full day program with the elephants. Being around these majestic beasts in person is a once in a lifetime experience.
Take a Cooking Lesson
Have you ever wanted to learn how to make the amazing Thai dishes you enjoy here back home? Don’t leave it up to chance by following an online recipe, take a cooking class! There are hundreds of great cooking schools in the country that love teaching visitors how to make their dishes themselves. Not only do you get the knowledge to take home with you, but you have fun while doing it. Meet other visitors who have the same appreciation for the cuisine as you and get to know the Thai culture from another point of view. What an amazing way to spend your vacation!
Now that you know about all the amazing things this part of the world has to offer, are you ready to plan your trip with us? Make sure you allow for enough time to thoroughly enjoy what Railay has to offer, from its white sand and clear waters to amazing food and cultural attractions. This can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience if you allow it to be.
For more information on planning your trip and things to do, contact us.