I will be living in Krabi for a while, more precisely in Ao Nang, near the beach. This time I will stay in a place 5 minutes walk away from the main beach. I’m living on the most touristy street in Ao Nang. With that comes more facilities and more things around, but also higher prices. I’m paying 5500 bahts for a room very well located and with everything included (electricity and water bills), including some drinking water.
Krabi has many things and distinctive places to explore. This was not the first time that I have been to Ao Nang and its nearby attractions, like Railay beach for instance.
Railay beach is in fact the most beautiful beach nearby Ao Nang and on the mainland. No wonder that usually that’s where the biggest part of the people go. There is a taxi boat service in Ao Nang that will take you to Railay beach, Ton Sai beach, or Phra Nang beach for 100 BH 1 way. The boat departs when they have at least 8 people, so depending on your luck you can wait less or more. But, as I said, there are usually many people willing to go there so the wait is never that long. It is a little longer during Covid times when the percentage of visitors is about 80% of what it was during the first time I visited this place in 2018.
This time I will stay in Ao Nang for 2 months, so several visits to Railay beach are expected as the area deserves more than 1 day of exploring.
Exploring Railay beach
First of all, let me say that Railay beach is the general name used for the whole area. The area where Railay beach is has 3 more distinct and famous beaches: Railay West, Phra Nang and Tonsai Beach.
Hiking from Railay to Phra Nang
When in Railay beach, the first thing I wanted to do is hike up to the other side of the bay, which means to Phra Nang beach. I thought that there will be a path through the jungle to reach the other side, and I decided to do it on my own. During my walk in the forest, I came across some people and all of them were wearing harnesses and mountain climbing gear. I found it weird but proceeded my way. The path is clear because you can see where other people have been stepping as the rock changes its color and gets smooth with every footstep on it. The path is not difficult until you reach the steep part where you can use some ropes to help you on the hike. Not far I find many rock climbers with guides and this is when the guides tell me that I can’t go to the other side following this path. I was very surprised to know it but still went further. Because they were rock climbing guides and said that if I join them I can go to the other side. I hesitated. Not sure if they were telling the truth or just discouraging me to follow on my own and pay them instead. I decided to proceed and later understood why they said I can’t go. I actually can, but on my own, it just looked way too scary as I reach a vertical rock that I have to literally climb to continue.
I was on my own and these guys said that I couldn’t reach the other side, so the idea of going back through that same vertical rock that was just in front of me was scary. Plus, I wasn’t on my best days… Facing that vertical climb I decided not to go although I did 80% of the path to reach the other side of the bay. I was so close…
Still, the view before this vertical climb was worth the jungle hike. Such a beautiful view of Railay beach and Ton Sai bay. Amazing! Totally worth the hike!
After that, I went all the way back, but through a different path that lead me to be a bit lost for a while, but finally found my way back to the beach that was already on a low tide.
Railay beach is very pretty but deserves a visit during high tide. During low tide, things change and the scenery will not be as mesmerizing.
Hiking to Phra Nang beach viewpoint
After this episode, I was intrigued if it was really not possible to cross from one side to the other, so I attempted the same hike but started on Phra Nang beach this time. Hiking up from this side is not easier, haha. In fact, it is much harder as it is steep all the time once you start climbing the limestone cliff until a cave that provides its visitors with an even more beautiful view that the one I had the first time during the hike on the Railay side.
In this cave, there is a tiny hole that doesn’t fit many people at once. For that reason, I was happy it was Covid era because otherwise, I think I would have a waiting line to be able to get that fabulous view. Even now, in April 2022, I had to wait a bit as there were people at the viewpoint spot. I just pity that I could stay longer staring at that view as there were other people waiting for their turn.
The following path is actually inside the cave!
As I was alone, the path didn’t look any easy, I only saw people with a guide proceeding, and it would only be possible to walk in the cave with some source of light, I decided not to go. This way, I can’t actually guarantee that after the cave you end up on the other side of the cliff and can continue the path until Railay beach, but I am almost sure it is possible… that’s why those local guides were there. If it is safe without climbing gear I can’t also tell. But I think there will be some real climbing ahead, so maybe doing this alone would not be the best of ideas. I even came back to this place on my last weekend in Krabi. I came back with a group of travelers that I met on the boat to Railay, hoping that this way we could attempt to go further as we were a group of 6. But, some of them were “high”, and those who weren’t thought it would be wise to not attempt this journey in such conditions. Another reason to go back to Railay in the future haha.
But, there is a proper path to reach Phra Nang beach from Railay beach, so don’t worry, you don’t have to go on a jungle hike to do so.
There is a street to the other side of the bay and reach Railay West (Railay East is the most famous part).
For me, Railay East is prettier, but this side of the bay has its charm too. There is a mangrove forest on this side and many mountain climbers. The landscape, like in Railay East, changes completely during high or low tides. Railay West is not such a good spot to lay on the sand…
From Railay West, you just follow along the beach and keep on to the path that will take you to Phra Nang beach, the most beautiful of them, in my opinion. The path to go from Railay to Phra Nang beach is very beautiful as you cross at the edge of a limestone cliff and beautiful stalactites follow along the way.
Phra Nang beach
The characteristic orangy limestone cliff here makes this beach so beautiful! It is pretty just to look at it. This is also where you will find the Princess cave, or the penis cave, a worship site where the locals put their offers to the gods in the hope of fertility. There are hundreds of penis sculptures, every size shape, and color. Funny and unique I would say the least.
The limestone cliff itself at the edge of the beach hides a cave and you can actually cross it and end up on the other side. On the other side, there is a different view waiting for you. When I visited it was moody and rainy so I can’t tell if this would be a nice place to snorkel.
In Phra Nang beach there is a little islet just nearby where people go by kayak, but during low tide, you can actually walk there! The opposite side of the beach ends with this limestone cliff where you can hike to the viewpoint I previously mentioned. This side of the beach is as beautiful, with a little more to be explored. What a beautiful place!! It is definitely my favorite side of Railay area.
Emerald Lagoon Railay
Besides these places, you can hike to a viewpoint that is extremely steep and that will lead to Emerald lagoon. I didn’t do it, because I didn’t have the proper conditions to do so when I visited the area. I don’t recommend doing it after a rainy day because it will be very slippery and dangerous. In fact, there are danger signs before the path starts. But, the viewpoint seems to be really worth it. Will have to do it if I go back to this place. *don’t wear flip-flops to hike to this viewpoint
I also walked to this cave entrance only to find that I have to pay 200 BH to get in. No way haha. For this reason, I didn’t visit… I have seen many beautiful caves for a way cheaper price, plus the area had all those other free things to explore. Can’t tell if worth it or not.
How to get to Railay beach
Railay beach deserves more than a day trip, that’s why there are many accommodations and touristy facilities in the area. Basically, Railay lives for tourism. It was sad to see how empty the place was in April 2022, because those people depend on inexistent tourists to earn some money. If you are actually spending some days in Railay beach, you have to access it by boat. Therefore, the best option is to buy a bus ticket to Ao Nang and from there take the taxi boat to Railay beach. YOU CAN’T ACCESS THIS PLACE BY CAR OR MOTORBIKE. But, although people think not, it is accessible on foot. Check it out in the next post.