This post contains affiliate links. This gives me a small commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through the link, and is really helpful in supporting my blog.
When I think of Railay, I immediately think of its relaxed vibe. It has that slow pace and authentic island feel that makes you walk that little bit slower, not care about what to wear, and maybe even inspires you to go without shoes for your time there. Even though it has been five months since our stay, I still frequently recall how content I felt sitting on the perfect sand watching the sun go down, with people around us enjoying the same scene whilst playing football with friends they had made. This was managed without Railay even being an island, which is easy to forget when it emanates that chill island vibe! It is actually a peninsula along the southern coast of Thailand, but it is cut off from Krabi by a jungle that you cannot get through by land. Keep on scrolling to read my complete travel guide to Railay!
HOW TO GET TO RAILAY
If you are going on a one-stop holiday to Railay, you can fly into Krabi airport. However our journey started out in Koh Tao, an island off the East coast of Thailand. The first and longest leg of the journey was the extremely slow boat ride that took us back to the mainland at Surat Thani. If I remember correctly the boat departed Koh Tao around 9pm, and we were woken up on arrival to the mainland at around 4am. Which was extremely long compared to the 2-3 hour comfortable journey that originally took us to Koh Tao.
Having experienced a night bus from Bangkok to Surat Thani a few weeks earlier that neither of us could sleep on, we weren’t holding out much hope of sleep on the night boat. However we were pleasantly surprised with the amount we got! We were able to lie on proper flat mattresses, and despite them being so narrow that you were pretty much face to face with your neighbour, didn’t accidentally get kicked or elbowed in the night!
After grabbing our luggage and getting off the boat, we were pointed to a tuk tuk that dropped us off at a minibus service. We then waited for what felt like hours whilst getting bitten by mosquitos, for the minibus to Krabi. Just before sunset it finally showed up and we were able to get in a couple more hours much needed sleep! We were dropped off and told to wait in a cafe for the long tail boat that would take us the final leg of the journey. We had to wait there for another hour and a half, which when I felt utterly gross after sleeping in my clothes and not having been able to wash or change, really frustrated me! We couldn’t wait to check in to our bungalow, get showered and head to the beach.
We were finally loaded onto the longtail boat, along with many day visitors to Railay, and enjoyed the views of the coast of Thailand. And luckily there was a pier the boat pulled up to, I didn’t have to worry about waddling through the sea with my big backpack and probably falling over and getting all my things wet!
WHERE TO STAY
Most accommodation options in Railay are the more mid-range to high-range price point, however we managed to find a fairly reasonable option. We paid £17 a night for a bungalow with a fan at Diamond Cave Resort & Spa. The room served us well for what we needed, and was in a great location along the main strip of East Railay. If you aren’t sure if your hotel is in a great location, don’t worry as it doesn’t take long at all to walk around Railay. There are so many cute back streets to navigate and explore and you will soon come across a beach or a cave! There were many more luxury options located on the beaches, which seemed to be where the families chose to stay.
THINGS TO DO
SPEND HOURS ON THE BEACHES
If you are in Railay you will most likely be wanting to spend a good amount of time on the beaches. They have been some of my favourite in Thailand, and are actually quite large considering the small size of Railay. The most popular beach seemed to be West Beach, about a 5-10 minute walk from the main town. The beach can get rather busy, and there are plenty of bars and hotels settled just behind the sand, so not the most relaxing one I have ever been on. However the surrounding scenery more than makes up for it, and if you get up early and head there as soon as possible you should miss the busiest times. Another reason to head there early is to make the most of the shady spots, in the afternoon there aren’t many areas where you can hide from the sun, so either lather up on the suncream or head to a nearby cafe. Also, beware of the incredibly sharp rocks under the water!
We also made multiple visits to Phra Nang Beach. As soon as you step onto the sand there are incredible cliffs, often populated by rock climbers in the morning. At first glance the beach can seem quite small, but as the tide goes out a little in the afternoon you can walk further to the right and there is so much more space! We didn’t realise this until we came back for the sunset!
GO ROCK CLIMBING
One of the biggest draws for travellers to Railay is the rock climbing. You will easily be able to find a rock climbing school no matter your experience level, and climb some big ol’ cliffs! Whilst we didn’t scale any rocks on our visit, we saw lots of groups of rock climbers socialising together on nights out!
CATCH A SUNSET
The sunsets in Railay have to be some of the most beautiful I have experienced, they were amazing every night without fail. We saw them from both West Beach and Phra Nang Beach and I cannot pick a favourite. As said previously my most memorable time here was watching the sunset with groups of people around us all partaking in some sort of activity. Whether it be playing football, frisbee or eating dinner. There was a real sense of a friendly community that everyone came together to enjoy the breathtaking sunsets each night. Make sure to arrive about an hour before sunset and find the best spot to ensure you experience all the colours and stages of the sun going down.
I wouldn’t really call this a cave, probably more of a shrine. But if you head to Phra Nang Beach, you can’t miss it and you will most likely be drawn to it after you see the oddly shaped and colourful objects. The cave is actually an area where local people can leave offerings of wooden phalluses to ensure their fertility.
HIKE TO RAILAY VIEWPOINT
Whilst we love a good viewpoint, we researched this one beforehand and decided to give it a miss. Mostly due to my incredible clumsiness and fear when it comes to climbing up and down steep and slippery paths! The blogs we had read described the first part of the climb incredibly challenging. It involved climbing up a very steep muddy path, using just a rope to pull yourself up. We actually walked past the path to the viewpoint whilst in Railay, and both agreed that it was probably best that we gave it a miss. However if you are feeling daring and have appropriate footwear, by all means make that climb. The views are supposed to be more than worth it!
EXPLORE WALKING STREET
If you follow one of the back streets behind East Railay you will come across Walking Street, filled with cute little souvenir shops, endless restaurants and quirky bars. There are lots of great food options here, but what we really enjoyed were the strangely-themed bars. I think there was one in a boat, as usual lots of reggae bars, but of course we ended up in the one that had loads of games we could play. They had Jenga and Connect 4 along with a toy parrot that squawked at you when you lost. Even though there are a fair few bars in Railay, you won’t find many places to party like in the Phi Phi Islands. It is much more relaxed and rustic!
After spending an extremely relaxed and happy few days in Railay, we were incredibly sad to leave. If you are looking for inspiration for your Thailand travel itinerary make sure to read my blog post on Koh Muk here, an island that is still fairly new to tourism with all the beauty of Railay!
WHAT’S IN MY BACKPACK