the Railay Peninsula with its towering limestone cliffs surrounded by lush tropical jungle and postcard-worthy stretches of white, sandy beaches is one of Thailand’s most beautiful spots.
Although no longer an insider tip among a few hippy backpackers two decades ago and an exponential increase in the number of Chinese tourists in the last few years, the entire scenery is so stunning that it is hard not to recommend at least a stopover, on anyone’s trip to the South of Thailand.
In order to experience Railay at it’s best and without the hordes of tourists, I highly recommend basing yourself here at least for a day or two instead of Ao Nang since 90% of the people who come to visit, do so on day trips from neighboring Krabi or Phuket island.
The experience is so different between 5PM to around 10AM that In a way it feels like two completely different places. Everything suddenly becomes so peaceful and the whole place adopts a chilled hippy vibes, Reggae beats drifts out of laid-back bars and the unmistakable smells of marijuana, openly advertised in many of the places fills the air.
Things to do in Railay: Hiking your way up to the Railay East Viewpoint
Getting to the view point requires a 30 minutes moderately easy although sweaty hike up the mountain
Viewpoint offers an impressing view of the Railay peninsula all the way to Tonsai bay
The slippery hike back down
The picture perfect beach with long golden stretch of beach engulfed by towering limestone cliffs on either side. This beach in most cases will be your landing point if you are arriving by long tail boat.
Long tail boats usually drop off day trippers right on Railay West at it’s center so it’s not the best area for swimming
The Eastern part of Railay West is probably your best bet for sunbathing or swimming on this beach
Eating at a beachfront restaurant some Thai pineapple fried rice and enjoying the view
Railay West beach in October in low season, less sunshine but cheaper prices a lot less people!
Lesser known than its neighboring Railey West beach and hidden being a cliff, Tonsai Beach also benefits from spectacular limestone cliffs and a beach but with only a small fraction of the tourists. Great place to escape especially in high season when the rest of the Peninsula gets overcrowded.
Laid-back vibe of Tosai bay at low tide with it’s imposing limestone cliffs surrounded by lush jungle
Long tail boats sit idle, awaiting for customers to neighboring beaches
Tonsai bay seen from it’s viewpoint at high tide on the western end is also very popular with rock climbers
Closer look at the Tonsai beachfront
At high tide, you can hike to Tonsai bay by following the path that goes above the small cliff from Railay West
At low tide, all you need to do is wade your way around the base of the rock
Phra Nang Beach
The most stunning beach of the Railay peninsula hands-down, currently listed at #15 of the 25 best beaches of Asia according to TripAdvisor. Perfect mix of Beautiful soft sand, calm clear water, rugged limestone karts and tropical wildlife in the form of various types of monkeys roaming around or living in the trees just beyond the beach. Best enjoyed in the morning before the day tour crowds arrive at 10am and sunset when they all have left.
Sunset along Phra Nang Beach
Phra Nang Beachfront after the departure of day-trippers
Many types of monkeys live on and around the the beach
Last day trip boats along Phra Nang Beach
Fertility shrine in small cave at the end of Phra Nang beach
Where to Stay in Railay
Railay Phutawan Resort
Perfect hideaway in the jungle away from the crowds, The views from the infinity pool and bar surrounded by the cliffs are simply beautiful. Great place to cool off and sit back cocktail in hand after a long day exploring the area.
Arriving at the resort after a 10-15 minutes walk from Railay West, expect to see lots of monkey on the road up or down
The view from the pool looking onto the sea and rock climbers going up the cliffs is pretty amazing
My lovely little Superior Bungalow wrapped by Lush tropical gardens
Well kept bedroom found inside inside the cottage
View of the Railay Phutawan Resort grounds
Surroundings of the Railay Phutawan Resort