If you find yourself in Railay, then you’ll be pretty busy lounging around the beach, sipping on coconuts and fresh fruit smoothies. But if you need a break from all that relaxation, then here’s a list of amazing experiences that you must do while you’re in Railay.
On the way to Phra Nang Beach you’ll come upon a pagoda, with what looks like a vertical rock face with some ropes dangling here and there. At first glance, the climb looks terrifying. But the rock faces are actually very smooth, with plenty of footholds, tree branches and ropes to hold onto.
Scrambling up the hillside will take you back to your childhood, climbing trees when you weren’t afraid to get a little dirty. The red clay soil does stain your clothes though, so don’t wear anything you care about.
The majority of reasonably fit people can do this hike as it only takes about 20 minutes to get to the top, where there’s an easy path to the Viewpoint that overlooks all of Railay.
Travel Tip: If you don’t have proper shoes, it’s better to do the hike barefoot rather than in sandals. Beyond the Viewpoint there’s another more difficult descent into a natural lagoon.
The climb down is muddy and steep — almost a vertical drop at some parts. If you’re into rock climbing, Railay is the right place to be. There are hundreds of routes and dozens of rock climbing schools nearby.
It might sound counterintuitive to tell you to eat Indian food in Thailand, but honestly this was the best meal we had the entire time. This little Indian joint on the main walking path is run by a group of Indian families, who come from all over India. The menu covers cuisine from all over the country and the food is bang on, especially the palak paneer, garlic tandoori chicken, and curried cauliflower.
Travel Tip: The place is packed at nighttime but relatively empty during the day, so head there for lunch if you don’t want to wait.
There are bars and restaurants packed into every corner along the Railay East walkway, but if you keep walking for about 10 minutes beyond the main drag, heading northeast, you’ll come across an open-air spot that’s as carefree and charming as can be. At Tew Lay Bar, friendly bartenders whip up fantastic tropical drinks and you can choose to lounge around on a bed of Thai pillows, a hammock, rustic wooden chairs or even in a treehouse — all with commanding views over the ocean.
Travel Tip: Tew Lay Bar also offers open-air cooking classes on a regular basis, so make a reservation while you’re there.
You can walk to Phra Nang Beach, the same way you’d walk to Viewpoint hike, but it’s actually faster and more scenic to take a kayak. If you’re staying on West Railay Beach, where most of the resorts and villas are located, then rent a kayak for a couple of hours and paddle around the intricate karst formations and mysterious caves.
Travel Tip: More experienced oarsmen can venture out to Chicken Island or farther afield. Or, if you’d rather island hop without all the hard work, look into the 5 Island Sunset Cocktail Cruise on a teak junk boat which includes times for rock climbing, snorkeling and swimming with bioluminescent plankton after sunset.
The Grotto at Rayavadee Hotel is one of the most romantic spots for a sunset cocktail. The little beach bar is tucked into the side of a cliff and overlooks picturesque Phra Nang Beach. Reservations are a must but it’s easy enough to pop into the hotel reception and book a table for sunset, which starts at around 5:30pm. The bar charges for the pleasure, but the cocktails are easily the best on the island and the champagne list is hard to top.
Hong Kong Airlines flies the only direct route from Hong Kong to Krabi at this time. But still, to get to Railay, it’s a bit of a hike. Railay is set off from the mainland by enormous cliffs and rocks, which means you can’t reach it by car.
You’ll fly to Krabi, wait in line at immigration for a while, grab a cab to Ao Nang pier and then take a 20-minute boat ride to Railay. Once you’re in Railay, though, you can walk or kayak pretty much all over.
Travel Tip: Since the flights arrive and depart in the middle of the night, be sure to arrange a private transfer with your resort or hotel ahead of time. The public piers only operate regularly from about 8am to 11pm — and the boats don’t depart until they are full. If you don’t book a transfer ahead, you’ll get stranded at the pier until it opens at 8am and/or have to pay about $260 to rent a boat privately.