Railay is hands down one of the most beautiful places we have ever been to and definitely worth a visit if you are travelling around southern Thailand. This stretch of beach is a peninsula between Krabi and Ao Nang, and as such is only available via boat. Although this meant it took us around four hours to get there from Koh Phi Phi (partly due to travelling off season), the long journey was instantly forgotten about as we stepped out onto the beautiful golden sandy beach, which is far less spoiled and touristy than many other Thai resorts.
Arriving at Railay following 48 hours on the bustling island of Phi Phi served as quite a culture shock – in the best way possible. The pace is much slower here, and your evenings are more likely to be spent watching the sunset with a beer rather than risking a flaming limbo bar and knocking back buckets of Sang Som.
While Railay is still a much-visited tourist hotspot, it maintains much of its natural charm, and as we rose extra early to watch the sunrise and run along the beach in the morning, it almost felt like a secret that belonged to only us and a few others in the know.
Railay is comprised of two adjacent bays with just a few shops, restaurants and a walk way in between them. Given the choice, stay at West Railay beach, which is far more picturesque and home to some beautiful beach front hotels, including Railay Bay Resort and Spa (www.krabi-railaybay.com), where we spent two nights.
This four star resort features 140 rooms, cottages and suites, including some with their own private swimming pools. If you’re happy to share there are also two communal pools at the front and back of the resort, with the biggest offering stunning views across the beach.
The sea in this area was crystal clear and so shallow you could happily float a few hundred metres out from the shore without it dropping off too much. However the high temperatures mean the water quickly heats up so it soon feels like you’re taking a hot bath rather than a refreshing dip to cool off.
One of the best ways to spend the day is to hire a kayak from one of the beach front vendors. Explore the bay and cruise around the incredible limestone formations that jut out from the sea before taking respite on one of the beaches further around the coast.
If you’re looking for more adventure then you could even try your hand at rock climbing. Railay’s challenging cliffs attract both novice and experienced rock climbers from all around the world, and are said to offer stunning views across the Andaman Sea.
As the sun begins to set the beach is at its busiest, with visitors spilling out onto the sand in a bid to capture the perfect sunset snap. Get a prime view as you sip on cocktails at Flame Tree bar, before heading for a leisurely dinner.
There aren’t a lot of independent eateries on the west side of the bay, but each of the resorts that line the beach have their own restaurants that offer authentic Thai food along with fresh seafood and international cuisine. We enjoyed a meal at Railay Village resort before taking a short walk along the beach back to our room totally relaxed and reluctant to leave.