I was terribly afraid that Railay Beach in Thailand might not be all that impressive. After all, I’ve experienced some pretty awe-inspiring beaches in my travels already from Zanzibar in Tanzania to Roatan in Honduras. I spent three years of my childhood living in Thailand so I had already visited some of the country’s best beaches. I had also read lots of mixed reviews about Thailand’s beaches, about how they were crowded and full of partiers and other unpleasantries. I was fully prepared for a let down.
Thankfully, Railay did not disappoint. After sweating and walking and touring and wandering the great temples of Cambodia we were eager to just relax on a beach for a few days. We flew Siem Reap to Krabi on Bangkok air (which honestly is one of the best airlines I’ve ever flown with — they make every part of the flight pleasant AND even the shortest flights included practically a full meal) and then caught a shuttle to the pier to take a boat to Railay.
Railay has a complete island feel but it is actually a peninsula that is only accessible by boat due to the towering limestone rocks that surround it. This means that you literally pull up to the shore on your long tail boat, take your shoes off and then wade through knee deep water with your luggage over your head all the way to shore. It might not be for everyone but for us, it was the perfect way to start our beach vacation.
Our hotel was on the east side of Railay which is a bit less popular due to the fact that it doesn’t really have a beach but rather it’s edged by swampy mangroves. It didn’t really make a different to us as the entire area is pretty tiny and you can follow a 5-minute paved path from one side of the peninsula to the other. The west side of Railay is more popular due to it’s wide, white beaches and spectacular sunsets that you can watch while sipping your cocktails at one of the beach-front restaurants. The sunsets were completely SPECTACULAR! I’ve never seen God put on such an amazing show before! On one night the sunset probably lasted around 45 minutes, the sky changing from blues to pink to orange and red before fading to a deep purple. J just kept taking photos and saying, “It just keeps getting better!”
Railay is famous among rock climbers, it’s limestone peaks offering tons of options for climbers to explore. Everywhere you look you see people hanging off the sides of the rocks. It’s also known for it’s wild monkeys that would wander one side of the island, hoping to steal snacks off of unsuspecting tourists. I had never been that close to monkeys in the wild before and it was as unnerving as it was incredible. I loved seeing the baby monkeys cling to their mommas and found it so fun to watch them all play on the fence lining the beach path.
Our time in Railay was mostly spent lounging on the beach or by the pool. The ocean water was sooooo warm — probably around 88 degrees — and there were no waves so we would just stand in the shallow waters drinking our tropical smoothies and chatting about how awesome it was. There are lots of nearby islands you can explore but we decided that since we had only two full days there, we preferred to spend it exploring all that Railay had to offer. I especially loved the food boats that would pull up to the beach during the day. They were literally floating kitchens were you could order everything from fried rice to burgers to smoothies and more. Why don’t we have that in SoCal?
I highly recommend Railay Beach if you want to relax in Thailand. It was beautiful, quiet and because it has no car access, still has that laid back island feel. There are no high rises here, no chain stores like 7-elevens that are all over Thailand and no noisy scooters. It’s just pure bliss.
Stayed at: Sunrise Tropical Resort on Railay East. We stayed in their basic hotel style rooms which were fine — nothing special. I felt like the whole place needed a paint job. Their villas looked pretty awesome, though. Next time I’d save up to stay there. They also offer a huge buffet breakfast that offered both Thai and Western options.
Ate at: beach boats! We especially loved the smoothies and mango sticky rice. Yummm.
If we could do it again we’d: Rent a boat and visit some of the nearby islands. The best prices for this are on the east side if you walk down by the restaurants — we discovered this the night before we left. Their prices were about half what we’d been told on the beach by the boat drivers as well as at a booth on the west side of Railay.
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