Railay, Krabi, Thailand
Railay has the feel of an island despite being part of mainland Thailand. Due to the large mountains, the only way in and out is by boat. Railay attracts backpackers, climbers, holiday-makers, families, day-trippers and single guys, and caters for each group's taste with a range of accommodation, restaurants, and night-life.
The main pull for many will be the large white sandy beaches, blue water, the mountainous scenery and the rock climbing. The three areas that we visited were Railay East, Railay West and Tonsai.
Railay East has the cheaper accommodation, a younger crowd and the majority of bars and restaurants. The beach on this side is not very nice and is muddy when the tide goes out. Many of the long tail boats arrive and depart from here too. However there is a fun atmosphere.
Railay West is only a short walk away and has a lovely beach, which was pretty empty when we were there. Accommodation is more luxurious here and more expensive. The mood is generally laid back and a great place to come and relax.
Tonsai is north, around the small headland at the end of West Railay Beach, which you can scramble up and over. Alternatively, at low tide you can walk around or there is a track signposted that goes behind the headland, but takes a bit longer. Tonsai has cheaper accommodation, good food and quirky bars, and is geared up for rock climbers and backpackers who plan to stay for a while.
Swimming, snorkelling, kayaking and sailing are all possible in Railay but watch out for the jellyfish. They seemed to be everywhere when we were there, however some friends that have visited Railay in the high season, said they had no problems.
Kayaks can be hired on the beach at West Railay, prices start at 200 baht for 2 hours (50 baht = £1) and include a life jacket and paddle.
Boat trips to other islands can also be arranged from East and West Railay and Tonsai.
There is a distinct difference between the high and low season. During the high season the place is swarming with people and the prices are high. The low season is much quieter and restaurants and hotels have good deals, especially when staying more than one night.
Things to do
There is an abundance of activities to do around Railay, but you could equally come here and relax by the pool or beach, drinking cocktails and soaking up the sunshine. Three things that we can recommend are:
Cave Abseil - a thrilling adventure in the dark, with a 25m abseil at the end - a proper adventure.
Rock climbing - with bolted routes and bouldering all over the place, climbing is king here in Railay.
Secret Lagoon – a great scramble to a hidden gem, the journey is just as impressive as the destination.