Railay, also known as Rai Leh, is a large peninsula between the city of Krabi and Ao Nang in Thailand. Although Railay is attached to mainland Thailand in Krabi province, it is not connected to any roads because it is entirely surrounded by limestone cliffs and only accessible by boat where most holiday goers locate themselves. It boasts an abundance of postcard-perfect beaches catering to couples looking for a secluded romantic getaway, parents hoping to build sand castle for little ones and travellers who are ready to dance to chilled-out house as the sun goes down. It is also a haven for rock climbers who flock from all over the world aside from its beautiful beaches, cascading waterfalls, caves, and emerald turquoise sea and a stretch shoreline with pristine white sand.
Railay has two main parts:
- Railway Beach West is the place to go if you want to swim and lay on the sand. This is where better beaches are. It is line up with restaurants and shops and it is also the entrance to the walking street.
The Walking Street
This lane gathers a good deal of shops and bars and restaurants which offered cheaper alternatives for those who are keen on spending big Bahts on dinner at the hotel restaurants.
- Railway Beach East is a little more secluded. It doesn’t have a proper beach, but it makes a nice walk along the shore. It also offer plenty of bars and restaurants, plus a wide variety of accommodation.
Railay West is the area where we opted to stay. It is approximately 45 minutes drive from Krabi International Airport and 15 minutes by long tail boat from Ao Nam Mao Beach to resort.
To be honest, when my partner and I saw Railay Beach for the first time, we were so over excited that we just wanted to fly and go right away. We did not do our research properly and thought that we could reach Railay by road to our hotel. When we arrived in Krabi Thailand International Airport the lady from the tour agency told us that we need to catch a taxi or a shuttle van going to Ao Nam Mao Beach and from Ao Nam Mao Beach we need to catch a long tail boat. It was already late in the afternoon when we reached Ao Nam Mao Beach.
Ao Nam Mao pier is just down the beach that has a cement stairs off to the long tail boat which is easy to navigate. However, fellow tourists and locals stood on either side of my partner as he navigated the path. On the last step Jaime a fellow traveller helped him to lift his leg onto the long tail boat.
My partner is suffering from lymphedema (a swelling of a body part-most commonly an arm or leg – caused by excess lymph fluid connecting in body tissue). My partner experience frustrations because he is not able to utilize his leg the way they used to and the limb can feel heavy and painful. He loss his balance and he is limping when walking. He can barely climb steps, find walking distances difficult.
From Ao Nam Mao Beach going to our hotel in Railay West we had to walk in their floating pontoon made of plastic interlocked boxes which is really stable and onto the footpaths. My partner called it as ” The Pier Going to Hell” hehe…It is a few hundred meters walked so if you are bringing a lot of gear or kids be prepared.
Travelling with a person with disability is tough and hard. It was hard and difficult for us but we will be forever grateful to the locals and fellow travellers who assisted and help us all the way from Ao Nam Mao Beach to Railay. As a traveller it is great to be resourceful and independent, but also to rely on the kindness of strangers.
THINGS TO DO IN RAILAY BEACH
1.) Relax on Railay Beach
Railay Beach is pristine and is always quiet far from the usual crowded tourists spots. Here you can relax and lay on the sand and read a book, listening to music or walk the long sandy stretch, go swimming, watch sunset, go kayaking, go paddle boarding, play volley ball, got a massage under the trees and more.
2.) Rock Climbing
Railay is famous for its towering limestone cliffs one of the reason why tourists from all over the world flock here for rock climbing. There are plenty of companies which offer courses for beginners and excursions for those, who are more experienced.
3.) Diving and Snorkelling
If you visit Railay you can not leave without going diving or snorkelling. Many tourists and professional divers visit Railay just to go snorkelling or diving. The water around the beach is clear which is very enjoyable for diving and snorkelling.
4.) Kayaking and Stand-Up Paddle Boarding or SUP
This is one of the calmest and most scenic water sports in Railay. The waters around Railay are calm and safe for swimming and kayaking. You can rent a kayak from vendors, or resorts, on the beach. The cost is around 100 Baht per hour.
5.) Go for an Island Hopping Tour
Don’t miss this fun activities when you are in Krabi. I booked the Phi Phi Early Bird + 4 Islands by Speed Boat with Krabi Ezy Trails. I highly recommend this tour company. Our guide Matt and Theresa and their team are professional. It was fun and very entertaining. They made us sure that we were safe during our island hopping tour. They give us freedom to enjoy the whole day trip.
Phi Phi Early Bird + 4 Islands By Speed Boat Itineraries
To ensure that we will enjoy our whole day tour and to avoid the crowds the team of Krabi Ezy Trails pick us up in our resort and depart at approximately 7:00 am.
You can visit their site if you wish to book online at http://www.krabiezytrails.com
Maya Bay – Sightseeing
Our first stop made famous by Danny’s Boyle’s 2000 film ” The Beach” starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Maya Bay has been exhausted by mass tourism which made Thai authorities to shut it down to help recover damaged coral reefs and sea life caused by too many tourists. However, tourists and visitors can still take photos from boats. As long as the boats do not pass over any coral reefs.
Pi Leh Bay / Pileh Cove ” The Lagoon” – Swimming
This is one of my favorite stop during our island hopping tour and one of the most impressive sites on Koh Phi Phi Leh. It is separated from Maya Bay by a sheer limestone cliff. The water inside this lagoon is crystal clear emerald-green and the views are absolutely stunning. The lagoon is surrounded by towering cliffs and water is so inviting that you will jump off the boat and enjoy swimming here. The lagoon is a great opportunities for taking photos too as well.
Viking Cave – Sightseeing off the Speedboat
Just before the entrance to Pi Leh Lagoon there is a cave that the locals call Viking Cave. It is home to the swiftest that make the bird’s nest are harvested to make “Birds nest soup” that are famous in Asian culture. Traditional Chinese medicine believed that bird’s nest soup have high nutrients and medicinal value.The bird nests harvested here can fetch up to 2,000 USD in the open market! The birds’ nest are very difficult to gather resulting in the price for bird’s nest soup being some of the most expensive food in the world.
The wiry bamboos branches that you are seeing are used by local men who climb up the poles to collect birds’ nest.
Monkey Beach – Snorkelling and Swimming
Is a stunning long strip of white powdery sand fringed by emerald water and a home to a colony of monkeys that will entertain you with their Muay Thai skills! 🙂 The beach has a lush vegetation’s which offers monkeys a comfortable habitat, which where it gets its name from. Monkey beach is not only famous for its furry inhabitants but also a great spot for snorkelling.
Avoid feeding the monkeys so they won’t expect something to eat when they see visitors coming and do not go to close to them. These monkeys are wilds they might scratch and bite you. Remove all your personal belongings as the monkeys are very curious and thieves! Maintain a safe distance at least 10 meters for your safety.
Loh Samah or Nui Bay – Swimming and Snorkelling
Nui Bay is famous for a pretty walled beach, caves, coral reef and Camel Rock. We stop here for swimming and snorkelling and enjoy under water exploring colorful tropical reef and marine life with tropical fishes.
Bamboo Island – Snorkelling / Swimming / Lunch
This island is entirely surrounded by a strip of powdery white sand with crystal clear water. Its central part is covered with lush vegetation and bamboo trees that gave its name to the island.
Bamboo island offers a great snorkelling opportunities. It stands a notable coral reef known as Hin Klang which provides its visitors with the feeling of swimming in an aquarium.
It is also a perfect gateway from the crowds where tours would make a stop here for a lunch.
Koh Kai ( Chicken Island) – Sightseeing / Taking Photos
Koh Kai meaning “Chicken Island” in Thai is a small island belonging to the Poda group of islands. Koh Kai takes it name from the chicken-shaped rock-forming its southern tip. Most island hopping tours from Krabi and Phuket make a short stop at this picturesque limestone chicken, giving visitors a cool photo opportunity.
Koh Mor and Koh Tub – Swimming
Koh Tap ( also spelled Koh Tup, Koh Tub or Koh Thap) and Koh Mor are two tiny islands that belong to the Mu Koh Poda group. These two islets are linked by a sandbar which, at low tide, also enables you to walk to Koh Kai ( Chicken Island).
Both sides of the sand bar offer a great snorkelling in a crystal clear waters.
Mu Koh Rhoda or Poda Island – Swimming / Snorkelling
The scenery and soft sand makes the island very popular destination for snorkelers and sea kayakers. It is covered with palm and pine trees and encircled by a soft white sand beach.
WHERE TO STAY IN RAILAY BEACH
Accommodations are abundant on Railay East but this part of the peninsula is not blessed by a beautiful sandy beaches and is more of a mangrove swamp. Railway East when tide goes out it is a bit swampy with the mangroves and a bit noisy because it is nearer to nightlife scene. It is also used as “the back door” of Railay, the goods delivery point for all the hotels, as well as the pier for taxi boats to and from Krabi Town and Ao Nam Mao.
Railay West has a number of mid-range hotels with stunning views and the sea has the finest beaches. This is where you will find big resorts offering high quality accommodations. Evenings are blissfully quiet here but in the day is a bit busy because it is also the arrival and departure point for long tail boats from Ao Nang.
Walk from Railay East to the Railay West beach is only about 5-10 minutes.
We opted to stay in Railay Village Resort and Spa located in Railay West. The location is lovely right on the stunning beach and next to the walking street of bars and restaurants that leads to the east side. It offers spacious, comfortable rooms and combines a relaxing view that makes it an ideal choice for travellers looking for a luxury hotel with affordable price.
For more information about Railay Village Resort and Spa please click the link below:
This trip was quite adventurous yet very memorable for us. It teaches us lots of lessons to learn. It made us more equipped with knowledge, which has eventually made us a wiser person. We love to travel and travelling with disability can be challenging but with careful planning, patience, and some help along the way, we can make it happen.