Railay – Thailand
It’s about a little peninsula south of Thailand, between Krabi city and Ao Nang, on the coast of Andaman.
This place is visited by many tourists. The majority is going there on tour and they only spend a few hours there, but some people stay there one or two nights to enjoy the place. There are others tourist destinations with excellent beaches like this, but if climbing is your hobby you should go to Railay, you’ll be able to climb its amazing limestone cliffs.
Even though it’s a very tourist place (since early morning several tours arrive there), you can explore some hideouts which aren’t frequently visited. In any case, the worst months to visit Railay are December and November; it’s high season.
During the raining season, from May to October, some hotels at Andaman’ coast are closed and others drop the prices. The dry season is from December to May, but December and January are high seasons, so you need to book sufficiently in advance. According to that, the best months to visit Railay are February, March and April.
This is a summary of the activities to could do there:
1. Climbing. It’s the main activity in this area. There are about 500 routes with different difficulty levels. If you’ve never climbed this time could be the first! Here are some companies which offer it.
2. Relax on the beach. You can lie down on the beach and relax. Watching to the monkeys is also funny, you can spend the time trying to find out what they’re hatching.
3. Kayak. Renting a kayak is a good idea to go along the coast and around the big rocks in front of the beach. On the map, I indicate a route option by kayak.
4. Hiking to the viewpoint and the Princess Lake/Sa Phra Nang. If you want to see the best views of Railay you have to go to this place, although the route isn’t suitable for persons who have a fear of heights. The route is short but complicated. And going down the descent to the lake requires someone who knows about climbing or is intrepid. On mi map, I indicate the start of the trail and on my section My Experience I explain more details about the path.
5. Hiking to the viewpoint II. I checked several maps and most of them have another viewpoint in Railay Beach. The start of the trail is indicated on my map, but you need to ask someone from the area about how is the climb, because I’ve found this photo where you can see rudimentary stairs to reach the peak.
6. Princess Cave / Tham Phra Nang. This cave is located on the Phra Nang beach. It’s a sanctuary for local fishers. More information here. Yes, what you see in the photo are phallic symbols 😄.
7. Diamond Cave / Tham Phra Nang Nai. It’s located in Railay. The access isn’t free. More information here.
8. Tours. From Railay depart different tours: there are tours to visit or to dive in several islands (Koh Poda, Tup y Chicken) and also tours to go to Phi Phi Island. You can rent a private longtail boat (half day or all day) and visit those islands by your own.
An important thing when you go to Railay is to know what time the tide will be low because the beach doesn’t look beautiful. So, you should avoid the low tide. Check the tide on this website.
There are several options to stay: expensive resorts or cheap bungalows. Also, you’ll see numerous restaurants; you can eat pizzas, Thai or Indian food, grilled fishes. Check out the most recommended hotels and restaurants.
The only way to go to Railay is by boat because it’s surrounded by limestone cliffs which cut the access. You can take a ship at Khong Kha (Krabi) Pier or Ao Nang or Ao-Nammao. You can check on the web how to go to Railay all the options to go there from different places of Thailand and you can see my map to know where are the piers.
To leave Railay, you have to go to Railay East pier. From there boats depart to Ao-Nammao or An-Nang. There are ticket sellers on the pier. They’ll be yelling the destination name and asking the people where they go. The sellers are easily recognisable and you can buy the ticket at the moment.
Other option could be to hire the transport through a travel agency in Railay. It’s a good idea if you go to some more complicated destination and you want to optimise the time, although it’ll be more expensive (ask for the price in several agencies).
In the next map, you can see all the places I’ve mentioned throughout this article included the transport, the accommodation and the restaurant where we ate.
When I added this place to the itinerary, I was worried because it’s a very touristic place and maybe it was going to be the disappointment of the trip. Even so, we enjoy a lot during the days there. We lived exciting experiences that we’ll always remember like scaling the wall to go the lake.
Since mid-morning arrive the tourist’s tours and the beach starts to fill up. Most of the tourists only stay at the beach for a little while and, after that, they continue the tour. We stayed two days at Railay and the first and the last hours of the day are the calmer.
Besides enjoying the beaches, we did a kayak route, visited two caves and did the mandatory trekking to the main viewpoint and the Princess Lake. The path to the viewpoint isn’t complicated if you have agility and you don’’t fear of heights. If this part of the trail is too much for you, you won’t be able to reach the lake because this trail is worse than the other. It’s essential to wear fitting shoes (not flip-flop) and be careful if the land is wet because it may be slippery. We were lucky, and the path was dry.
I’m going to tell in detail how is the descent to the lake because I didn’t find anyone on the Internet who explains it. There are four vertical stretches of climbing, about 3 o 4 metres each stretch. It has nothing to do with the trail’s beginning. There are ropes which you can use. I didn’t use them because to me it was more dangerous, I only grabbed the rocks. I guess that if the land is wet, the ropes will be useful. If you decide to descent you keep in mind that there is a hole in the last stretch to the right where the step is easier 😉, it’s difficult to see.
We arrived in Railay from the Ao-Nammao pier. We hired the transport to the next destination in an agency because we were going to the Railay airport and we didn’t want to lose the flight. We asked for transport information to several companies, and the prices had little differences. The transport included longtail boat and van to the airport.
One thing that surprised me was the souvenirs’ prices, they cost twice as much as in other places of Thailand and it’s tough to haggling over. So, you should buy the Chang T-shirt before arriving here! 😜.
Any contribution or question is welcome, please write a comment!