Deemed the rock climbing paradise in Thailand, Railay is one of the most impressive places in Southern Thailand. This small peninsula is located south of Ao Nang, and although it is connected to the mainland, it’s inaccessible by land because of the spectacular clusters of towering limestone cliffs that separate it from the highway. Thus, the only way to get there is by riding boats. This unique attribute of the place gives that “deserted island feel” together with the beautiful scenery and the white sand beaches, drawing more and more tourists each year.
The peninsula has three sides, namely Phra Nang Bay and the West and East Railay. The west coast and Phra Nang bay boast very stunning beaches, probably two of the best beaches in Thailand. Hotel rates in this area, as expected, are more expensive compared to Ao Nang; however, there are cheaper accommodations on the east coast, which is just a short walk away from major beaches. Because of the absence of cars or roads, the peninsula offers a very relaxed and cozy feel to its tourists. Most of the time is spent swimming on the beach or on pool while adventure-seekers find rock-climbing a worthwhile experience. There are two routes to get to there: one is through longtail boat from Krabi to reach the east coast and the other is to catch a songtaew or taxi from Krabi to Ao Nang and again, ride a longtail boat to reach the west coast.
People looking for cheap accommodations commonly choose to stay in the east coast. You won’t see the typical pristine white sand beaches in the area as the water is heavily covered in thick mangroves. Obviously, the place isn’t suitable for swimming. However, majority of the bars, restaurants, cheap guesthouses and tour offices are located here. For you to experience the beach, you still need to take a short walk. The west-facing Railay, also called Sunset Beach, is the one of the popular areas of the peninsula where plenty of mid-range resorts provide top quality accommodation. The reception area, the restaurants and the resorts are all lined next to the beaches and these vast tourism infrastructures stretch long enough to reach the east coast. The beach is stunning. However, oftentimes, it gets noisy due to the endless longtail boats arriving on the area.
Another impressive beach area, Phra Nang Bay, is situated on the southern tip of the peninsula. This being the best beach in the place, this is where majority of day trippers from Krabi and Ao Nang enjoy their day. The entire area has been occupied by the luxurious Rayavadee Resort. Before, access to Phra Nang had been blocked by the resort management, but after long local protests, the resort resentfully opened it, perhaps after locals exposed some questionable land deals.
Nightlife in Phra Nang and west Railay is fairly quiet since there are only several beach bars there. However, there are a number of Rasta-style beach bars on the east coast that stay open until crack of dawn with live music and fire dance shows.