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When visiting Thailand, you’ll probably want to spend some time exploring the picturesque beaches and islands on the Andaman Sea. One of the top spots in this region is beautiful Railay Beach, Thailand. This post will cover the top things to do in Railay Beach and help you plan an awesome Railay Beach day trip from the coastal town of Ao Nang.
Before visiting Railay, I had dreams of finding that perfect Thai beach.
The water would be turquoise and crystal clear and the sand would be powdery white. In the distance, huge limestone cliffs would jut out along the horizon and longtail boats would cut through the gentle waves.
Of course, I’d probably be lounging in the shade of a palm tree with a coconut in hand.
When I stepped off the boat from Ao Nang to Railay, I realized that my dream beach existed. If you want to find it for yourself, you’ll need to plan a trip to Railay Beach, Thailand.
Where is Railay Beach, Thailand?
Railay, Thailand is a peninsula between Ao Nang and Krabi Town located on the Andaman Sea. It’s part of the Krabi province, which is known for hiking, natural springs, and amazing beaches.
Even though Railay is technically attached to the mainland, it’s completely encircled by cliffs, making this beachy paradise only accessible by long-tail boat.
Map of Railay Beach
This map of Railay Beach will help you get your bearings as you plan your Railay trip. I’ve also marked some of my favorite restaurants and things to do in Railay, Krabi.
How to get to Railay Beach, Thailand
If you’re coming from Bangkok or another part of Thailand, the best way to get to Railay is to fly to the Krabi airport and travel to Krabi Town or Ao Nang Beach. From there, you can take a boat to Railay.
There are Railay Beach longtail boat rides available to and from Ao Nang and Krabi Town throughout the day, but if you arrive at night you’ll have to wait until morning before heading to Railay.
How to get to Railay Beach from Ao Nang
Ao Nang is a great jumping-off point for visiting Railay Beach and other areas of southern Thailand. You can easily get to Railay for a day trip or longer stay, or you can explore the jungles of Krabi and other nearby islands. Ao Nang has a beach town vibe and the boat to Railay only takes 10-15 minutes.
Getting from Ao Nang to Railay Beach is simple.
The day you want to go to Railay, walk down the main road to the longboat counter right on the beach. It was hard to find an exact location for this kiosk on google maps but this link will get you very close.
There will also be a bunch of other tourists and locals waiting around so it’s hard to miss. At the counter, you can order your ticket to Railay. If you plan to do a Railay Beach day trip and return in the evening, you can buy a same-day return ticket to Railay. Otherwise, you can book one way there and one way back when you’re ready to leave.
You don’t have to book anything in advance and a roundtrip ticket from Ao Nang to Railay Beach should cost around 200 THB or about $6 USD.
If you book a roundtrip fare, you will get two tickets, one red and one blue. Hold on to both. Then you’ll be instructed to wait in a shaded area until there are eight passengers going to Railay.
If the water is calm, you will board the long tail boat directly from Ao Nang Beach in front of the ticket kiosk. If it’s choppy, an organizer will herd all eight of you into an open-air taxi called a Songthaew and drive the one kilometer to the calmer longtail boat pier.
Remember that you won’t leave until there are eight people to fill the boat. Thankfully, Railay is a common destination so you probably won’t wait longer than twenty minutes or so.
The boat ride takes about fifteen minutes and was a bit choppy (so seasick people bring your sea bands) but the views were amazing. I couldn’t believe how blue the water was, even so far away from the shore.
The boat will arrive at West Railay Beach and you will climb off into the water. Take your shoes off now and stuff them in your bag. You won’t need them anyway.
How to Get from Krabi Town to Railay Beach
If possible, I’d recommend you take the Ao Nang to Railay boat for a simpler journey. But it’s still possible to travel to Railay via Krabi Town.
Just like in Ao Nang, there are travel agents around Krabi Town that will happily help you organize travel from Krabi to Railay.
If you choose to go through one of these vendors, you’ll be picked up from your accommodation and driven to the Krabi Town pier. From there you’ll take a boat for about half an hour and you’ll arrive at East Railay Beach.
Pay attention to the time if you’re returning to Krabi Town as the last boat of the day leaves Railay around 5:00 pm.
Things to do in Railay Beach
Even though Railay is tiny, you should have no problem spending the day in this sunny paradise. Make sure to check out these fun things to do in Railay Beach, Thailand.
Explore Railay Beach West
If you’re unsure of what to do in Railay Beach, start by exploring the west beach. This is the biggest strip of beach and the most built up in terms of food/shopping/resorts/etc.
But that said, it’s not crowded at all. The beach is wide and there are beautiful views of the limestone cliffs all around. If you get hungry, there are a few restaurants on the little walking path that goes back into the jungle.
Follow the walking path back to the end of the shops and you’ll see signs for Railay East and the Phra Nang Cave Beach.
Then head over to Railay Beach East
Walk five minutes along the jungle path and you’ll get to Railay Beach East. There isn’t really a beach here so to speak – it’s more of a place for boats to drop off passengers that are coming from Krabi or are on part of an organized Railay Beach tour.
It is beautiful, but you wouldn’t want to put down your towel and sunbathe here. There are a few hotels and cool boats, but other than that, there isn’t much to see. Railay West Beach will be your best bet for a beach day.
After you’ve taken some envy-worthy pictures of the boats at Railay East Beach, follow the concrete path along the water until you see signs for…
Phra Nang Cave Beach
This is my favorite part of Railay. You’ll walk on a path through some caves for about ten minutes. In the cave, there are informational signs explaining how it formed and talking about Railay’s wildlife preservation efforts.
Speaking of wildlife, there are monkeys along this path and they are hungry! I saw a monkey jump down on a woman’s head and steal the corn cobb she was eating right out of her hand. Be careful with your valuables and don’t walk with food in this area.
So you’re walking along, following the cave, then suddenly it opens up into the most lovely stretch of beach. Right away, you’ll see people rock climbing and swimming out in the crystal blue water.
There’s even an Instagram tree – one particularly pretty mangrove where people line up to take their pics for the gram with the cave in the background.
I had been to this part of the Phra Nang Cave Beach, Thailand when I did the 4 Islands Tour, but the tide was in and I didn’t see that the beach actually went much farther down. So I took a little walk and three magical things happened.
- A food boat pulled up and started selling delicious Thai dishes, smoothies, and whole coconuts. How wonderful!
- There was this swimming path sectioned off with buoys for safety where you could swim out to a limestone cliff and walk around on the teeny tiny beach out there. I wish I had snorkel gear because the water was perfect. And I appreciated the buoys. I’m all about safe, controlled, structured fun, apparently.
- I found a mangrove tree and relaxed with a book for a while. There were people around but it was mostly quiet, people sleeping and relaxing and reading. The day was perfect too.
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Tonsai Beach Railay
Tonsai Beach Railay is one of the lesser visited Railay beaches because of its difficult location. You can get to Tonsai Beach by walking there from Railay Beach West at low tide. You can also take a longer trail through the jungle that connects to Railay Beach East.
Because it is harder to get to, Tonsai beach is less crowded and more relaxed than the other Railay beaches. There are good places to go rock climbing, kayak rentals, and a few fun bars and restaurants to keep you entertained at Tonsai.
Hike to the Railay Beach Viewpoint
When the weather is nice (read: not monsoon), you can hike to the Railay Viewpoint. Access to the hike is along the path you took between Railay Beach East and the Phra Nang Cave Beach. I definitely thought this would be an easy little walking “hike.” I wore my flip-flops and beach coverup dress.
The Railay viewpoint hike was closer to actual rock climbing than hiking. I realized this as I was about halfway up a steep cliff face, covered in mud and clinging to a very unstable looking scrap of frayed rope someone tied to a tree for “safety.”
But I was at the point where it would have been equally difficult to continue upward or try to figure out how to get back down, so up I climbed.
When you make it to the top, the view of Railay makes it worth all the insane, muddy acrobatics you probably had to do to get there.
Luckily, as I stumbled out of the brush sweating out mud, twigs in my hair, bloody palms from climbing, probably missing both shoes, there was a group of very attractive French men waiting at the top to take my picture.
Enjoy famous Railay Beach rock climbing
Railay is known for some of the best rock climbing in the world. At least, that’s what all the cool athletic-looking people on my long tail boat said on the ride over.
I’d take their word for it. They looked serious. They had carabiners.
You can pre-book your Railay Beach rock climbing adventure here or you can sign up with a rock climbing guide in person when you arrive.
If you don’t book anything in advance, just walk through the little town to Railay Beach East. The beach is lined with shops where you can rent climbing gear or book a Railay climbing guide. Much like the Railay viewpoint, I imagine the view is worth the climb.
Top Railay Beach Restaurants
After all day in the sun, you’ll work up a bit of an appetite. Check out these delicious spots for breakfast, lunch, or dinner on Railay.
Govinda’s At The Beach
My favorite place to eat was Govinda’s At The Beach – a vegan/vegetarian walk-up stand at Railay Beach West. It was one of those places where I walked up and immediately felt overwhelmed because there were so many amazing things I wanted to try!
The prices were affordable – much less than most of the beachfront places. The ingredients and sauces were fresh and delicious. Confession time: I went there twice in one day. I highly recommend the wraps and the empanadas!
Kohinoor Indian Restaurant & Pizza
If you’re feeling flavorful, head to Kohinoor for delicious Indian cuisine. This spot is a little more expensive than some other options on Railay but the quality is top-notch and the cozy spot has a friendly, family vibe. Check out their drool-worthy menu here!
Railay Family Restaurant
Stop by the Railay Family Restaurant for local favorites, highly-reviewed seafood, and overall some of the best food in Railay Beach. This spot is right on the main Railay walking street and visitors love the cheap prices.
Getting back to Ao Nang from Railay Beach
Getting back to Ao Nang was pretty simple. When I was ready to go, I walked to the part of the beach where the longboats were all lined up.
Then, I basically just stood in the middle of the beach and held out my blue return ticket. The longtail boat operators showed me exactly where to go to get back to Ao Nang.
Like before, we waited until there were eight people going to Ao Nang before departing. We waded out to the boat which was tossing and turning in the surf. One by one we boarded the boat and sped back the short journey to Ao Nang.
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Best Places to Stay in Railay Beach
If a short day trip to Railay Beach isn’t enough time, you might want to consider spending the night. Railay is known for its impressive sunsets and a chilled out beach atmosphere. You won’t find much nightlife and it’s much more peaceful than neighboring Ao Nang or Krabi Town. Check out the hotels below to find the best accommodation in Railay Beach!
If you’re deciding where to stay in Railay Beach, check out the following highly rated hotels and hostels:
Railay Princess Resort and Spa – The Railay Princess is one of the top Railay hotels. Located on the east side just a short walk to the beach, guests rave about the location, excellent buffet breakfast, and two swimming pools.
[su_button url=”https://www.booking.com/hotel/th/railay-princess-resort-spa.en.html?aid=1601393&no_rooms=1&group_adults=1″ rel=”nofollow” target=”blank” style=”noise” background=”#d4c2bc” color=”#000000″ size=”8″ wide=”no” center=”yes” radius=”0″ icon_color=”#000000″]Click here to check prices on Booking.com[/su_button]
Avatar Railay Hotel – If Railay Beach resorts are more your style, check out the Avatar Railay Hotel. This adults-only spot has a 9/10 rating on Hotels.com, free WiFi and pool, and it’s close to nature with many green spaces and jungle vibes. One of the best hotels in Railay Beach!
[su_button url=”https://www.booking.com/hotel/th/avatar-railay.en.html?aid=1601393&no_rooms=1&group_adults=1″ rel=”nofollow” target=”blank” style=”noise” background=”#d4c2bc” color=”#000000″ size=”8″ wide=”no” center=”yes” radius=”0″ icon_color=”#000000″]Click here to check prices on Booking.com[/su_button]
Blanco Hideout Railay – This budget-friendly choice is one of the top Railay Beach hostels. The big selling point for the Blanco Railay Beach hostel is its amazing panoramic sea views! Guests also love how it’s a great place to meet people and participate in organized pub crawls.
[su_button url=”https://www.booking.com/hotel/th/last-bar-seaview-resort-railay.en.html?aid=1601393&no_rooms=1&group_adults=1″ rel=”nofollow” target=”blank” style=”noise” background=”#d4c2bc” color=”#000000″ size=”8″ wide=”no” center=”yes” radius=”0″ icon_color=”#000000″]Click here to see one of the top terrace views in Railay[/su_button]
Is Railay Beach Worth Visiting?
For me, Railay Beach was absolutely worth visiting! Even though it’s small, the beaches and scenery are some of the nicest in that part of Thailand. Even though I was living in Ao Nang, I came to Railay whenever I wanted to have a relaxing beach day because the views were nicer. It was also a great spot to try hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, and see the caves.
Railay Beach Guide: Travel Tips
Railay Beach is a great spot to stay a while if you’re looking for relaxation and rock climbing. Taking a day trip to Railay Beach from Ao Nang is also a good option if you’re short on time.
If you aren’t able to spend the night in Railay, I recommend getting to Railay Beach first thing in the morning so you have the full day to explore.
Remember that the longtail boats run from 8:00 am until around 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm. Make sure to check with the boat operators to know the exact time of your return boat.
If you’re doing a Railay Beach day trip, make sure to pack the following Thailand travel essentials in your day pack or a Dry Bag Backpack for the day.
- Water bottle – This one from LifeStraw even has a built-in water filter!
- Strong Sunscreen
- Quick-Dry Towel – This one from Youphoria packs down tiny!
- Kindle – Looking for some fun travel books? I gotcha covered with this list!
- Dry bag for wallet, phone, and keys – This one comes with a full-size dry-bag, waist belt, and phone case.
- Cash – most places are cash only
- Camera – Because it really doesn’t get much prettier than Railay
Heading To Krabi, Thailand?
You can read reviews of other experiences around Ao Nang and Krabi in the posts below.
- 4 Islands Tour from Ao Nang Review
- Krabi Jungle Tour Review
- The Ultimate Travel Guide to Ao Nang, Thailand
- Why you need to plan a trip to Ko Phi Phi