After spending a few weeks in hot and muggy Taipei we realized we needed an escape. We researched the best and cheapest destinations from Taipei and realized that Thailand beaches are exactly what the doctor ordered.
Before booking our stay, we did what any beach bum would do and googled Thailand Beaches. We found Ao Nang, Krabi and its surrounding beaches and the best part (for us, at least) was that it was less of a party scene than Phuket.
While looking into the different beaches in the area we discovered Railay, which is only accessible by boat, due to the beautiful cliffs surrounding it. Finding an affordable Airbnb on Railay would be difficult and hostels or hotels were out of the question since we teach English online. So we found a great homestay in Ao Nang and figured out the best way to get our beach bums to Railay.
Railay Beach is a 10 minute and 200THB per person (round trip) longtail boat ride from Ao Nang. There are tours that will take you to Railay for more $, which include other islands/beaches and/or snorkeling or other activities. Our opinion: this is a rip-off. You’re on a crowded boat with limited time at your stops and can’t fully enjoy the beautiful Thailand beaches. We saw several tours come and go on Railay as we hung out with our coconut on the beach! If you’re looking to relax, just take a longtail boat or other means to get to Railay and spend the day.
Railay seems like its own island, yet it’s still technically connected to the mainland. Our longtail boat taxi from Ao Nang always dropped us off on the west side of Railay, aka Railay West Beach. Honestly, you could just stay here and be perfectly content. The sun drops in front of you with a horizon full of dramatic cliffs housing small caves and the water is clear and pleasantly warm.
There’s a cheap drink stand on the beach where you can buy smoothies, coconuts and juices, and just past it are restaurants and shops. We ventured a ways back into the shopping strip and found amazing green curry and a delicious banana smoothie that wasn’t priced much higher than Ao Nang. Find it and try it!
There will be ladies walking around the beach and asking you if you would like a massage. They will do it multiple times. But it wasn’t too bad. Railay West is much more peaceful than Ao Nang, where you get hounded by massage salespeople.
There is not much to say about this one, which isn’t typical for Thailand beaches. It’s kind of an eyesore, especially at low tide. But there are a lot of luxury resorts and restaurants along Railay East Beach, as well as another pickup/drop off point for boats coming from the surrounding coastal areas. We didn’t spend much time here.
Phra Nang Cave Beach
There are many Thailand beaches, but Phra Nang Cave, a little off the beaten path, is a gem! We really hope you can experience this beach while on Railay. It’s about a 15-20 minute walk from Railay West and you’ll view many caves and monkeys on the way! You’ll walk along the shopping street from Railay West all the way to Railay East until you come to a T in the road. Here, you will turn right and follow the signs to Phra Nang Cave Beach from there. You’ll pass by a handful of fancy resorts before taking a right by a small wooden building. There’s a sign so just keep an eye out!
Once at the beach you’ll notice the many stalactites hanging from above. This beach neighbors high cliffs and large caves, providing a great spot to take it all in. Monkeys prance around behind you in the trees and provide some entertainment. But be careful because the monkeys like to rummage through your belongings!
To some people’s enjoyment and others’ dismay, there is a phallus cave and shrine next to this beach, which a lot of boat tours come to view. It’s full of male organ symbols and draws a lot of attention. The actual rock formation itself was much cooler than the cave but we suppose it’s a funny attraction.
The beach itself stretches for quite a ways and the sand is so soft beneath your toes so you should have plenty of room to find a spot. Try to set up shop away from the boat tour drop off, as this will be noisy. Also try going early in the morning to avoid most of the tours, as they seem to arrive in the early afternoon.
One of the best parts about Phra Nang is that no one bothered us while we relaxed on the beach! We could just sit back and enjoy.
If in the Ao Nang area, be sure make Railay a priority!
The water is so warm and the views are spectacular. This is the definition of a chill beach and is more than worth the $6/person ticket to get there and back. If staying in the area for a week or for a honeymoon or special occasion, try out one of the resorts on Railay. We will envy you!
Tired of just going to beaches? That’s lame. But there’s so much to do in Thailand! Check out our post on ethical elephant sanctuaries.
Comment below about your favorite beaches in Thailand! We’d love to hear from you.