Krabi’s island-like Railay Beach peninsula is about as dreamy as southern Thailand gets. Its swaying palm trees, wide stretches of white sand, and warm azure waters – as well as its famous rock-climbing – make it a postcard-perfect paradise. It’s a short hop from Ao Nang, but soaring limestone cliffs cut it off from the rest of the mainland, so the only way in is by boat – adding an enticing feeling of seclusion. From bargain bungalows to splurge-worthy ultra-luxe resorts, these Railay Beach hotels are where it’s at.
Railay Garden View Resort offers a more secluded location than most hotels on Railay East, set towards the far end of the beach and built into Railay’s mountain landscape up a tall flight of stairs. That seclusion also adds a relaxed, unpretentious and old-school vibe matched by the comfortable but no-frills design of fan-cooled rooms (with attached cold-water bathrooms) that are among Railay Beach’s most affordable – think bamboo walls closer to the traditional Thai backpacker flophouse variety than the luxury that Railay is increasingly becoming known for.
This long-running, cheap-as-chips spot on Railay East might be stretching things by calling itself a ‘resort’, but it has certainly stood the test of time. Stay here to make your budget last: add a modicum of comfort by opting for one of the fan-cooled rooms with private cold-water bathrooms, or really go as cheap as it gets and plump for a basic room with shared facilities. Either way, the place is surprisingly well kept for the price range, you’re not too far from the sand, and there’s a hot-tub-sized pool and on-site restaurant.
Previously known as the Railay Highland Resort, this Railay East property is some way from the sand, but the trade-off is worth it for both lower rates and a gorgeous pool that offers great views over the coast below. Comfortable, air-conditioned and well-appointed rooms range from those in uniform blocks to elegant freestanding bungalows, but things are stylish throughout. Other facilities at the Railay Phutawan Resort include a large, bright and attractively designed open-air restaurant.
Long-running Anyavee Railay Resort, over on more affordable Railay East, is a large, older but nevertheless well-kept and comfortable property with a good number of rooms – a solid option even during the busy high season. All rooms are air-conditioned, and are set in a mixture of two-storey buildings and stand-alone bungalows that are dotted around a vibrant garden with a lovely, decently sized infinity-edge pool offering attractive views down to the beach.
Typical of the upmarket move that has swept the Railay peninsula in recent years, Railay East’s Avatar is fronted by posh dark-wood signage that looks particularly stunning framed by the gorgeous limestone karst landscape behind. Plush, contemporary rooms are set around a particularly attractive central pool, and some have direct pool access, while others boast floor-to-ceiling windows that open onto large balconies and, beyond that, an expanse of verdant natural greenery.
Rooms at five-star Rayavadee aren’t cheap, but if you’ve got cash to splash then this is the place to do it. Rayavadee is set on drop-dead-gorgeous Railay West, but its expansive grounds run all the way across the peninsula to Railay East. This is easily Railay Beach’s glitziest resort: from no-expense spared rooms (some with private pools) to beautifully manicured grounds, an on-site gym and spa, and four high-end restaurants, if you can think of it then Rayavadee probably has it.
Large-scale Railay Bay Resort & Spa, on popular Railay West beach, has a mammoth 139 rooms designed in traditional Thai style, well-appointed with modern amenities. Rooms stretch across a number of categories that make them convenient for various types of travellers, and feature handsome dark-wood interiors and large French doors that open onto gorgeous garden views. The best rooms have their own private pools, while there’s also an on-site pool, seafront restaurant, and spa.
One of the most affordable options on Railay West, Sand Sea Resort offers the chance to holiday on Railay’s ordinarily priciest stretch of white sand without splashing a whole bunch of cash. Decor here might be on the more dated and somewhat less imaginative side in parts, but it’s still a comfortable stay – plus there’s a decent-sized swimming pool, and the best rooms offer sea views, making Sand Sea Resort a good compromise option. There’s also an on-site spa and gym, and the all-day beachfront restaurant specialises in grilled seafood dishes.
Located on Ao Tonsai – the most remote, laid-back and traditionally hippy-populated of the Railay peninsula’s beaches – Dream Valley Resort is a rarity in these parts in that it boasts a pool (and a pretty dreamy one at that, complete with pool bar). The surprisingly good-value and attractive accommodation options come in the form of white wood-panelled freestanding bungalows and even more stylish rooms in two-storey blocks. While some of the interior decor is a little on the traditional side, rooms are still well appointed, and there’s an on-site restaurant.
One of remote Ao Tonsai beach’s more comfortable stays, Tonsai Bay Resort has a staggering 72 rooms. Set both in conventional buildings and free-standing and semi-detached bungalows, which stretch up into the hillside from the sand itself, these are among the only places on this stretch of beach to come with air-conditioning. That also means you can expect more well-appointed, hotel-style luxuries than are common elsewhere around here. In addition to the well-tended gardens, there’s an all-day beachfront restaurant, and Thai massage, laundry services, and kayak rental are all available.