We had a fantastic time at Railay Beach during our trip to Krabi last week, and the weather was really balmy and pleasant. So we were shocked to hear that the weather has drastically changed, and thunderstorms resulted in severe floods this week in southern Thailand, that has led to loss of life. Our hearts go out to the Thai people.
Tourism drives a large part of the economy in Krabi, and we do hope that the resilient Thai people recover from this natural disaster soon, and that visitors come back to experience the natural beauty of the land, and the warm hospitality of the people.
Last week, after breakfast, we purchased longtail boat tickets at the kiosk right opposite our hotel at 100 baht (about S$4) each per way (50 baht per child) to Railay Beach and back. Since it was high tide at around 915am, we were not able to wade easily to the boat from near the kiosk. So we were led to this ‘boat interchange’ of sorts that was a 5 minute walk away, and boarded from there. Our boat was the one with the bright blue awning.
After a fun 10 minute ride (there were ample life jackets on the sides of the boat, but no one dons them – to be used in the event of an emergency I guess), we arrived at Railay. The boat ride was very stable and the seas didn’t feel choppy at all. We could even stand in the boat if we wanted, as it sped along. Fellow tourists on our boat hailed from as far as frosty Finland and the UK, and we hardly saw any Singaporeans throughout this trip.
Although Krabi is famous for island hopping, Railay (also known as Railey or Rai Leh) is not really an island but the tip of a peninsula. Its beaches are some of the most scenic beaches in all of Thailand, and after going there, I can’t help but agree. There are actually three beaches on the Railey Peninsula – Railay West, Railay East and Pra Nang Beach (to the south).
Railay West Beach
We were dropped off at Railay West Beach, which was perfect since I felt that it was the most pleasant, out of the three. We also spent the most time there.
I was awed by the towering limestone cliffs that embraced the two sides of the beach.
The girls were already in their swim suits when we boarded the longtail boat, so they were able to splash around on the beach immediately. It is advisable to be decked out in your swimwear, at least underneath your clothes, since you may have to wade knee-deep towards to the beach, given the absence of a dock. No one minds, and it’s quite fun! Kids who are too young to wade can be carried to shore.
We spent a lovely morning walking the length of Railay West, and swam with the kids in the emerald waters that are very shallow for a long distance.
The waters were teeming with little fish, and they even saw some jumping into the air for a while! The water was warm, clean, and overall the beach felt very safe. Idyllic indeed.
The sun was out in all its glory, and I got sunburnt even though I had put on sunblock – you’ve been warned! Layer on your sunblock regularly.
There were many tourists that day, dotting the beach and getting a tan. There were many kayaking options too. But we were there more to relax than to work out, so we just lazed around and soaked in the gorgeous scenery.
There are a few resorts that border the beach, so guests were also out in deck chairs, lending to a significant buzz. We had expected it to be more crowded, so overall, we stil felt that it was pleasant enough. It definitely does not have the feel of a private beach though, so if that’s what you’re after, you’ll have to search for a more secluded isle.
Sand Sea Resort’s Sunset Restaurant
At lunch time, we decided to have our meal at one of the restaurants right next to the beach. With a ceiling fan directly overhead, we could enjoy the views with relatively cooler air.
The food was not bad, though priced at a premium. Not surprising since it was part of a hotel after all. We paid about S$10 – S$14 per dish, and it was yummy enough for the kids to finish their portions.
Unimpressive Railay East
After lunch, we walked across the peninsula, cutting across the Sand Sea Resort (refer to map above). Railay East Beach was at high tide and singularly unimpressive. There was only a tiny sliver of rocky beach. The East side is where there is a proper jetty though, so I suppose it is here that most of the supplies to the hotels are offloaded.
We had walked to Railay East because it was the only way to access Ao Phra Nang (or Phra Nang beach on South Railay) by foot. As we walked along Railay East Beach, we saw this interesting contraption. It was like a mobile dock, powered by an amphibious tractor! Very interesting.
It transported some guests of the ‘super-lux’ Rayavadee Resort (where rooms go for an average of S$1000 per night!) to their speedboat. No longtail sampans for these folk!
Then we walked along a well-constructed path under the limestone cliffs to reach Phra Nang beach. There were informative signs about the cliffs along the way too.
Railey is actually a rock climber’s paradise, and we saw metal loops in some parts of the cliffs, which have been put in place specially to facilitate rock climbing. We also walked past a climbing trail (pictured below), where there were ropes provided. It did look like a very slippery and muddy climb though.
As we walked along, I was amazed at how much development was made just inches away from the cliffs. In some ways, it brings humans up close to these natural wonders, but in other ways, I found it very intrusive to nature, that even dining areas were cut into the cliffs.
Phra Nang Cave Beach
After 25 minutes and some complaints from the kids about the ‘long’ walk, we arrived at Phra Nang Beach. This is famous for the Phra Nang Cave at its eastern most corner, which is devoted to some fertility goddess. We didn’t venture anywhere near that.
We walked the length of the beach, and the kids were especially happy when we learnt that our return trip tickets were valid for any of the longtailed boats here. So we could get back to Ao Nang beach where our hotel was without the trek back to Railay West Beach where we landed.
When we got back, we had another adventure, since the tide was low enough for the boat to drop us right opposite our hotel. Which meant that we had to wade thigh-deep towards the shore! Our fellow travellers on the boat were very helpful, and one of them even helped to carry K to the shore, whilst the hubs carried B, since I could barely manage wading through myself. As we neared the shore, B could wade too.
We spent a short while marvelling at these tiny sandballs thrown out by tiny crabs (“We learnt that from Octonauts too, Mama!” the girls said), before returning to the hotel.
That evening, after our dinner along the beach, we were treated to a spectacular sunset.
It was a wonderful day!