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Welcome to Railay
Welcome to Railay

How to Explore Railay Beach, Thailand

Picture of Kyle Hulme
Updated: 17 January 2018

Surrounded by rugged limestone cliffs in the southern province of Krabi, Railay is known amongst travelers as one of the most beautiful spots in Thailand. Though as scenic as the beach is, there’s more to this peninsula than meets the eye. From scaling its sides to traipsing through caves, here’s how to explore Railay Beach.

The beaches

Railay boasts an impressive four beaches, and certainly doesn’t skip quality in favour of quantity. Each of its beaches have their charms, but it’s Railay West beach that captures the hearts of those who visit. Its soft sand and cerulean-blue seas are bested only by the magnificent sight of the limestone mountains around the edges. The opposing Railway East beach might not be quite as beautiful as its twin, but is located next to a number of bars and restaurants, making it a nightlife hot spot. Tonsai beach, the northernmost of the beaches on Railay, is accessible via a short but treacherous walk, kayak or a longtail boat ride, but is worth any extra effort. Its location means it tends to be a little quieter than the other beaches on Railay and has an infectious hippy-vibe, best enjoyed in one of its several beach bars. The fourth beach, Phra Nang, is more in the style of Railay West. Busy but beautiful, with limestone karsts providing the perfect backdrop, it’s perfect for relaxing under the hot Krabi sun. It even has a penis shrine in a cave, too…

 

Scale the rocks

Whilst Railay’s claim to be the most beautiful place in Thailand might attract fierce debate from some, its boast of having the best rock climbing in Thailand is undeniable. At any time of the year, Krabi’s beaches will be teeming with those who are hoping to climb its famous cliffs, and there are plenty of companies here ready to make their dreams come true. Experienced guides are on hand to watch over the climbers and offer their sage advice, whilst those climbing the walls get to experience to thrill and sense of satisfaction that scaling such a majestic location provides.

The cliffs aren’t just for the experts. With hundreds of routes, ranging from beginner 5a-rated to the difficult 8c, there’s a rock climbing route for everyone. The routes are spread all over Railay, from northern Tonsai beach to the southern beach of Phra Nang, with each providing different yet equally enchanting views of the beaches and the beautiful surrounding. It’s hard to say which area is the best for climbing, which leaves visitors with only one option — trying them all.

 

Explore the hidden gems

It’s not just superficially that Railay ticks all the boxes — there’s more to it than meets the eye. Railay’s cliffs might be good for climbing, but they’re also great for exploring, with the Diamond Caves a must-visit to any visitors. One minute you’re enjoy the splendour of the beaches and the sea, but after entering the caves it’ll feel as though you’re in an alien landscape. There’s a noticeable temperature drop, and the presence of bats amongst the stalagmites and stalactites feels a million miles away from the gorgeous beaches of Railay. Whilst only small, it’s well worth the visit and is yet another facet of this jewel of a beach.

Railway’s best hidden gem is hard to reach, but those who make the effort are richly rewarded — if you’re heading there at the right time. Sa Phra Nang, or the Hidden Lagoon as it’s known to travelers, is a pool of water that’s enchanting at high tide, but a little disappointing at low tide. Located between Railay East and Phra Nang beaches, reaching the lagoon involves climbing up steep hills, using ropes to climb and unassisted rock climbing, so it’s not for the feint hearted. Wearing proper footwear is essential — those in flip flops will struggle — and it’s important to keep hydrated throughout. The rocks can be sharp, and the route is treacherous, but the lagoon at high tide is quite the sight. Emerald green in colour, its surroundings look like they haven’t been touched for thousands of years, and there’s a viewpoint on the way to the lagoon itself too, making it well worth a few hours of your time.