Destination Guide

Destination Guide to Railay, Krabi

No exaggeration, this is one of THE best beach destinations in the world.

Railay (also spelled Raileh, Railey) is jaw-droppingly stunning! We are talking world-class beaches that are picture perfect in every way.

This piece of paradise is cut off from the mainland by towering limestone karsts which make it a rock climbers dream. This terrain also means it’s impossible to drive there and the only way there is by boat, so it totally feels like you’re going to a tropical island.

If you are looking for a beach holiday, pure and simple, go to Railay.

Our comprehensive Destination Guide to Railay includes:

Silly Steve jumping by the epic limestone cliffs at Railay

General Railay Info

  • Railay is a small peninsula between Ao Nang and Krabi Town in Southern Thailand
  • The closest airport is Krabi International Airport
  • It is only accessible by sea because it is surrounded by high limestone formations
  • Prices tend to be higher than the rest of Krabi as everything is brought in by boat
  • The only way around the Railay is on foot (there are no cars or roads)
  • Railay is small – it takes less than 10 minutes to walk from Railay East to Railay West
  • The village has all facilities you’ll need during your getaway including ATM’s, minimarts and pharmacies
Railay Beautiful

Railay Beautiful, Railay West

Railay Area & Beach Guide

 Railay East  Sunrise Beach Mid-Range  *
 Railay West  Sunset Beach Fancy Resorts  ****
 Phra Nang Bay  Monkey Beach One 5-star resort *****
 Tonsai  Backpacker Bay Budget **

Railay East

  • This is where most of the the accomodation, restaurants, and facilities like ATMs are
  • It has the least attractive waterfront in Railay. In fact, there is no actual beach as it is lined with mangrove trees
  • It has a floating pier that Krabi boats and private longboats arrive and depart from

Railay West

  • Where you will find most of the fancy resorts
  • The beach here is beautiful and great for swimming
  • Railay West is the arrival and departure point for longtail boats from Ao Nang so it can be noisy during the day
  • It’s also the best place to watch the sunset and evenings are blissfully quiet

Phra Nang Bay

  • With crystal clear water and soft sand – this is by far the best beach in Railay
  • Many tourists also call it Monkey Beach due to the Macaque sand Dusky Leaf Monkeys that live there too (so keep an eye on your belongings!)
  • Under the cliff there’s also a fertility shrine (which we called the ‘cock cave’, because we’re adults)

Tonsai Bay

  • Offering the cheap accommodation and a more bohemian vibe
  • Tonsai beach is very rocky and not that great for swimming, but this area is a rock climbers paradise
  • To get to Tonsai from Railay West you can climb over the rocks or walk around the shoreline at low tide, catch a longboat for ฿50, or take the path around the back
Local Railay Map

It’s easy to get around Railay with this local map found at key points on the footpaths

What to Do in Railay

Rock climbing

Apart from sunbathing and swimming, the main activity on Railay is rock-climbing, which attracts enthusiasts from all over the world. The quality and value makes it a great place to learn with basic beginner’s classes starting at ฿600

Trek up to the viewpoint & lagoon

Hidden in the cliffs at the tip of the Railay peninsula is a breathtaking viewpoint and lagoon. You’ll find the trail between Railay East to Phra Nang Beach. It’s part trek & part scramble. It’s only short (around 1km) but it’s very steep, and be prepared to get MUDDY as you work you way through the slippery clay!


  • Wear good shoes (preferably climbing shoes and definitely no flip flops)
  • Don’t attempt this if it’s been raining
  • It’s best to come at high tide. The saltwater lagoon is fed from the ocean and can be muddy at low tide. Check the tide schedule here.

Watch the sunrise

I’m not a morning person, but there’s really nothing like a Railay East sunrise to start the day. The colours that come across the sky are insane.

  • Check the sunrise times here. To see the sky show you actually want to get there about 15-20 minutes before. Yes, it’s early, but you’re on holiday so you can totally take a nap later in the day.
Railay East Sunrise

Colourful sunrise at Railay West


Once of the best experiences in my life is heading to Phra Ngha Bay at first light to snorkel in the crystal clear water when there’s no one else in sight. Yes, you can still do this during the day but if you’re already up from watching the sunrise, why not?

Night swim with bioluminescent plankton

Huh? Yes, it sounds a bit odd! But if you’re lucky there will be little microbes in the water that when agitated, they emit a brilliant light. A night swim with these little stars in the sea is truely magical. Make sure you don’t leave any valuables on the beach when you do this because there’s been stories of items going missing

Railay West at Night

Railay is just as beautiful at night with squid fishing lighting up the horizon like an aurora

Hire a longboat

Longtail boats can be chartered for of island hopping to offshore islands like Ko Poda and Ko Hong. If you’re on a tight budget, make some friends and share the cost!

  • The general rate is ฿1700 for a half day for a boat

Longboats on Railay East Beach at sunset


Cruise around the Railay waters and cave passageways on a kayak.

  • A 2-person kayak starts at ฿200/hr, more time is charged at ฿100/hr
  • We found 2hrs was enough time
  • Make sure you take sunscreen and water with you!

Walk around Railay

There are lots of paths around Railay to explore, check out the path that goes around the back of Railay East over to Tonsai

Day trip to Krabi

Take a trip to the mainland to check out Krabi’s attractions, our highlight was the Tiger Cave Temple and the walk to the Big Tree

Couple in Krabi

Two Travel Abroad at Krabi’s Tiger Temple


A massage will be in need after all the activities you can do here. The good news is the best massages that we had in Thailand were in Railay (and we’ve had A LOT!).

    • The going rate for massages in Railay is ฿300/hr

  • Check out Modern Massage (ask for Doy-yah) and Last Massage

Where to Eat & Drink in Railay

For us, the food in Railay didn’t stand out like other places in Thailand. Most restaurants offer the standard ‘Thai & Western’ menu (why oh why can’t they just focus on one cuisine and do it well!?). These are the places that we’d go back to and recommend:

  • Tew Lay Bar: Railays best hidden secret. Go past ‘The Last Bar’ in Railay West, and keep going till you reach the very end of the path. Here you’ll find this secluded bar that’s dotted with hammocks and private platforms to enjoy your drink in the trees
  • Flame Tree: Classic Thai beach bar made of drift wood and bamboo. This is the place to come to at sunset and chill out with a cocktail on the mats out the front
  • Railay Friendship Restaurant: We couldn’t find anywhere in Railay that made a decent cup of coffee, but the banana and coffee shake here was a great alternative for our caffeine fix
  • KohinoorThis Indian restaurant on the path between Railay East and Railay West uses its naan oven to bake yummy crispy thin-crust pizzas

Where not to eat in Railay

We don’t usually say where not to go, but this place was exceptionally bad:

  • Railay Mango Resort: Inconsistent main meal sizes and slow service. We were the only three in the restaurant and each of our meals arrived 20 minutes apart! Yup, a whole hour to serve three people one dish each!

Where to stay in Railay

Here are our picks for each budget:

  • Chill Out Bar and Bungalow ($): Budget Thai-style bungalows that have more character than other places in Tonsai. The bar out the front is a popular place to hang out with other travellers. Rates ฿300-400
  • Diamond Cave Resort & Spa ($$): Great pool and clean concrete bungalows in Railay East. Rates ฿2,000-3,500
  • Railay Village Resort & Spa ($$$): Private villas and rooms with pool views
  • Bhu Nga Thani Resort & Spa ($$$$): Elegant Thai style rooms. Rates from ฿6,000
  • Rayavadee Resort ($$$$$): Stunning location, incredible pool, the super-luxurious Rayavadee Resort is the place to stay if you want to splash out

If you’re after private accomodation, check out Railay Beach Club. It’s kinda like Railays own Airbnb. In high season rates range from ฿3,000 for 1brm home that sleeps 2, to ฿18,000 for a 3brm home that sleeps 8.

Handy info: Unless you have pre-arranged accomodation in a fancy resort, you’ll need to take your luggage to your accomodation. Everything’s close so it won’t be more than a 10 min walk. The footpaths are okay if you need to roll a suitcase between Railay East to Railay West (we managed, but did need to carry our bags at points where it was sandy).

Great use of quotation marks at Railay’s Diamond Cave Resort

How to get to Railay

While Railay is actually part of the mainland, it’s not reachable by road because it’s surrounded by massive limestone cliffs. The only way to this secluded paradise is via boat.

Here’s how to get there from the main destinations nearby.

Route to Railay

Route to Railay from Ao Nang

How to get to Railay from Ao Nang:

Ao Nang is the best mainland point to get to Railay. Here Thai-style longboats will take you around to the Tonsai and Railay West shorelines.

  • Where: Head to the to the Ao Nang beachfront to buy your tickets from the kiosk then you will be allocated a longboat
  • Cost: ฿100 pp (shared) or ฿800 (private)
  • Duration: 15 minutes
  • Hours: Daylight hours
    • There technically are boats in the evening but most drivers end their shift at sundown. Shared options will become limited and the cost will also increase by 50%
  • Frequency: Non-stop during daylight hours
    • Shared longboats depart when there’s a full load of passengers (about 8-12 people). The longest we waited was 15 minutes
  • Other Info:
    • Shared longboats only stop at Tonsai Beach and Railay West. If you’re staying in Railay East, it’s only a 5-10 minute walk.
    • There’s no pier at Tonsai Beach and Railay West so you’ll need to be prepared to wade through the water. It’s generally shallow and the water is calm, but I have my whole legs get wet in the process from the waves that the incoming & outgoing longboats make. Staff often assist with getting your bags on and off the boat, but you will need to carry your bags from the shoreline and over the sand to the footpath. The staff can generally help if you really need, but keep in mind they only have two hands so they’ll only be able to help 1-2 passengers.
    • There are also ferries that leave from Nopparat Thara Pier. These ferries can drop passengers off at Railay on their way to Phi Phi, Lanta and Phuket. At sea, you change over from the ferry onto longboat. It’s much less efficient this way so you’re better of just getting a longboat
Beach, Boat, Bag

Destination: Paradise

How to get to Railay from Krabi Town:

From Krabi Airport, you can either get a shuttle to Krabi Town (฿90) or Ao Nang (฿150).

If you’re coming from Krabi Town, here’s how to get to Railay. Boats from this side stop at Railay East, where there’s a floating pier.

  • Where: Go to Klong Jilad Pier (Krabi’s main pier) which is 3kms from Krabi downtown
  • Cost: ฿100 pp (shared) or ฿1500 (private)
  • Ferry Duration: 25-30 mins
  • Hours: 8:30am to 5pm
  • Frequency: Boats depart when full, which is generally every half an hour from
  • Other info:
    • For a more direct boat access point to Railay you can go to Ao Nammao Pier. The fare is ฿80 and boats leave when full. From Krabi Town, you can either take a taxi (15 mins, ฿400 Baht) or a white songthaew (up to 1 hr, ฿60)


How to get to Railay from nearby islands

There are ferry services from popular islands near Railay. You can buy tickets at the pier, which is what we did. You can also buy tickets online here or through local agents, both options can include hotel transfers.



 Phuket  Rassada Pier  2 hrs 15 mins  ฿700  1 x day at 8:30am
 Krabi  Klong Jilad Pier x  ฿x x + / day
 Phi Phi*  Tonsai Pier 1 hr 15 mins  ฿400 1 x day at 3:30pm
 Koh Lanta^  Saladan Pier 1 hr 45 mins  ฿550 1 x day at 1:30pm
* The ferry route is to Ao Nang. Upon arrival to Railay passengers change over to longboats at sea. Then the longboats take you to the Railay East shoreline.
^ Only operates during high season (November to April). During low season, you’ll need to get a shuttle to Ao Nang then get a longboat.
Working the Boats

Workers on the Ao Nang Princess boats

By Amy, June 8, 2017 I was born in New Zealand and moved to Melbourne, Australia in my early 20s. There I met my partner Steve. 10 years later, we decided to change our lifestyle and move to Southeast Asia, so here we are!


I was born in New Zealand and moved to Melbourne, Australia in my early 20s. There I met my partner Steve. 10 years later, we decided to change our lifestyle and move to Southeast Asia, so here we are!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *