Railay Beach and Phra Nang Beach
Not far from Ao Nang holiday town and beach, located in Krabi province, there are two famous beaches – Railay Beach and Phra Beach.
Railay Beach and Phra Beach are located on a peninsula, separated from the mainland by cliffs. They can be reached only by the sea by a ten minutes cruise on a longtail boat from Ao Nang beach and from other beaches will get you there, (I will elaborate about it later on).
There are a few beaches on this peninsula – Railay Beach West, Railay Beach East and Phra Nang beach, (and Tonsai beach which is not as famous as its counterparts).
We will discuss all of these beaches in this article.
It may be important to take into consideration that not every beach which looks great on the pictures is really a pleasant place to spend your time in or stay overnight at – this article will discuss that as well.
Another consideration is that big crowds of tourists can make the beaches dirty, noisy, polluted, unpleasant with too many beach peddlers, etc. Quite a few places in Thailand which were once as pretty as nature can be, have turned with the years into crowded places, full of tourists and not very pleasant to stay at.
Unfortunately, many tourists have the tendency to “discover” such places long after they have lost their natural charm and days of glory.
This is what happened to Phuket and other such places. Many tourists are directed to these low quality holiday spots, however, other smarter and more experienced tourists have ditched these places in favor of better and more pleasant ones.
I don’t intend to tell you where to spend your holiday but rather to give you some insight and updated information, so you can make a smart decision about your trip to Thailand. No doubt it is better to know what to expect and enjoy your holiday more. The reason for this long introduction to this article is that Railay beach, Phra Nang beach and Ao Nang beach look as if they are going down the same road as Phuket, and the first signs are already showing – so anyone who is interested in spending their holiday on these beaches should do it as fast as they can.
Railay Beach West: this is the main beach on the peninsula, to which you can take a 10 minutes longboat cruise from Ao Nang beach. It is a very pretty and wide beach with soft sand. Along the beach you will find resorts, restaurants and different shops.
Note that there are no beach chairs and parasols on the beach, so if you intend to spend a long time there you should bring extra towels or something to sit on. The restaurants along the beach are mediocre but expensive. Apart from the great and very expensive Ryaywadee hotel, the hotels and resorts on Railay beach are of relatively low quality and their high cost is unjustified. There is not much to do on the beach in the evening except for going out to dine in one of the restaurants.
Railay Beach East: it is called a beach but there is no sand and you can’t go into the water there. This beach is the center of the peninsula’s nightlife which really boils down to a few forlorn pubs with music, drinks and fire shows, (as you can see in the video below).
Almost all the area between Railay Beach West and Railay Beach East is full of hotels and resorts and whatever grounds were left are being built on nowadays, so you should expect constant noise from that. This is where the cheap hotels and guesthouses are located.
Narrow paths between the hotels lead from one beach to the other. It is approx. 10-15 minute walk. The path from Railay Beach East to Phra Nang beach is a 15 minute walk.
Phra Nang Beach: this beach is located south of Railay Beach West. The beaches are separated by a tall cliff so the way to get to this beach is by sea or via the path connecting it to Railay Beach East.
This is a pretty charming beach but there are crowds of tourists there, (especially during the season). There are no beach chairs and parasols or other services on this beach. (there is an extension of Rayawadee hotel and a restaurant – but they are pretty expensive, so if you intend to spend a long time there, either you bring your own food or expect to pay a lot).
There is a famous cave on Phra Nang beach, which is called Phra Nang cave or The Princess Cave – however, it is not very impressive.
Rock Climbing: Railay beaches are famous for rock climbing and you can find many schools teaching rock climbing there.
Teaching is mainly done at the south end of Railay East, next to the path leading to Phra Nang beach, but you can also find rock climbing activities on Tonsai beach and Phra Nang beach.
A good part of the video below is about rock climbing and if you are interested in trying it – Railay beaches are the best place for it!
How to get to Railay Beach: as I wrote before, it is only possible to get to Railay beach from the sea. You can take a cruise from a few places of which Ao Nang beach is the most popular.
You can take a boat from 2 places on Ao Nang beach, (the western and eastern corners), and the cost is 100 Baht per person. During the evening you can take a boat from the eastern corner and pay 150 Baht, but there is a min. of 6 people on a boat. In addition, note that you have to walk in the mud to the boat with your belongings – which can be a tricky thing for families with young children. It is also possible to take a boat from Nammao beach or Krabi town.
Summary and recommendations:
I am about to publish an article about Krabi’s beaches in order to give you information and recommendations which will help you choose the best beach and resort for your needs, (for a day tour or an overnight stay).
As this article is about Raily Beach and the surrounding area – in my opinion, the area is certainly worth a visit. This can be done by yourself or with one of our quality tours, (our 4 Islands cruise or 7 islands cruise). As for a longer stay or overnight stay – I suggest you give it a second thought, as the area has long lost its natural countryside charm and has become crowded, expensive and pretty boring.
For your convenience, I have added a map of the area showing all the beaches there.
As a rule, I suggest you designate Krabi province to one day cruises – Ko Hong, Ko PhiPhi, The Emerald Pool and Hot Springs, Tree-Top adventure, (you might be surprised to know there is an article coming out real soon about it), as well as other places.
You are better off leaving the fun of sunbathing to places with higher quality beaches such as Khao Lak – which is ideal for that in the south and Hua Hin, (in the center), where the weather in summer, (July-August), is the best in Thailand.
Please Note: Railay beach and the surrounding area are included in our quality tours of south Thailand and in the ultimate Thailand Private Tour experience – our Coast to Coast tour.
As always, here is a video I prepared for you about Railay beach & Phra beach – Enjoy!
Dr. David – Thailand Travel Guide