Surrounded by towering limestone cliffs and backed by thick forest, the interconnected fairy-tale beaches of Railay (Rai Leh) are accessible only by boat. The four beaches—Tonsai, Phra Nang, East Railay, and West Railay—offer powder-soft white sand, clear calm waters, and a decidedly bohemian vibe perfect for those looking to get away from it all.
While the talcum-soft sand is certainly a compelling reason to visit Railay Beach—visitors can easily find day trips by longtail boat from Phuket and Ao Nang—the other big draw is the rock climbing here. It’s considered some of the best in Thailand, especially on the rocks around Railay East, and you don’t need any special experience to try it. Guided climbing tours cater to climbers of all ability levels, including newbies.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Railay Beach is a must-visit for sun seekers and adventure travelers.
- Don’t forget to bring a towel, swimsuit, and sun protection for time on the beach.
- Excursions to Railay Beach can take anywhere from four to eight hours, depending on the option chosen.
- Bring sturdy shoes if you plan to rock climb or hike to some of the area viewpoints.
- Purchase sunscreen, snacks, and drinks before you arrive, as prices tend to be higher in Railay.
- Be sure to keep your electronics and valuables in waterproof bags during the boat ride to Railay Beach.
- Island-hopping day tours that include Railay often stop at Chicken Island, Poda Island, and Tup Island.
How to Get There
Though on the mainland, Railay Beach is only accessible by boat, either from Krabi (90 minutes) or Ao Nang (15 minutes). There are no motorized vehicles in the area, but all the points of interest can be reached on foot.
When to Get There
For the best balance of good weather and sparser crowds, plan to visit in either May or October. The dry season falls between December and April, when the beaches become busy with day trippers. September is the wettest month in this region.
Other Attractions in Railay Beach
Aside from the soft sand and limestone rocks, Railay Beach has a couple of other notable points of interest. Just to the north of Railay East sits Phra Nang Cave, also called Diamond Cave, where visitors can follow a boardwalk past glittering cave formations. Phra Nang Shrine, located at the northern end of Phra Nang Beach, has become known for the collection of carved phalluses left there by local fisherman asking safe journeys of the drowned princess the beach is said to be named for.