CK Travels

14 Things to do at Railay Beach, Krabi (2023)

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Railay Beach is an idyllic spot with many things to do and some incredible views!

The beach is located on the mainland of Southern Thailand – on a peninsula inaccessible by road meaning it feels like an island paradise (all goods and visitors arrive by boat).

Easily accessible from Krabi Town or Ao Nang beach, Railay Beach can be visited either as a day-trip via long-tail boat or as part of a longer hotel stay (there are lots of hotels in and around Railay Beach).

From rock-climbing to relaxing, here is our guide to the top things to do on Railay Beach:

Things to do at Railay Beach
Railay Beach West

Getting to Railay Beach

If you are staying at a hotel at Railay Beach, most resorts organise transfers or you can book a private transfer yourself.

If on a day-trip from Ao Nang beach to Railay Beach, the most affordable way is to get a long-tail boat (200 THB for a same day return) – learn how to get a long-tail boat to Railay Beach from Ao Nang here.

Note if you want to return after 6pm, you must arrange your own private long-tail boat back.

Things to do at Railay Beach
Long-tail boat to Railay Beach

Things to do at Railay Beach

1. Railay Beach (West)

If arriving from Ao Nang, your first port of call will be the stunning Railay Beach – seriously, this is one of the most beautiful beaches we’ve been to in Thailand.

The water at West Railay beach is so warm (even first thing in the morning) that we found it more pleasant to swim in than most hotel swimming pools! Combined with the colourful long-tail boats bobbing up in the turquoise ocean and palm-tree lined shore and rocky outcrops, this is one picture-perfect beach.

Things to do at Railay Beach

We’d recommend getting there early (e.g getting a long-tail boat departing Ao Nang at around 8am) as lots of day trip groups and long-tail boats start to arrive en masse after 11am. Before then, the beach is practically empty save for a couple of masseuses plying their trade.

We preferred swimming at the north end of Railay Beach west (away from the bars and restaurants) and the other end seemed to have a lot more stone / rough pebbles under foot in the water (plus it was quieter as no noise pollution from the bars).


2. Phra Nang Cave Beach (our favourite thing to do in the Railay Beach area)

Phra Nang is equally beautiful as Railay Beach west but as it is smaller, it fills up a lot quicker. The smooth sandy beach set against the rocky limestone cliff backdrop and various watersports make it a great beach for both relaxing or undertaking activities. We saw paddle-boarding, kayaking, rock-climbing and cliff diving whilst we relaxed on Phra Nang Beach.

Phra Nang Cave Beach Railay Krabi

If you prefer shade over sun, Phra Nang Beach has a huge section that remains out of the sun for most of the morning as well as a huge part of the ocean meaning it is one of the few Thai beaches where you can swim in the ocean in the shade. The water is gloriously warm no matter where you swim though.

Phra Nang Cave Beach

No long-tail boats are allowed to moor here (unlike Railay Beach) so other than a couple of hotel beach bars and the sounds of the rock-climbers, it is a very peaceful beach. Very photogenic too with the Ko Rang Nok rock dominating the skyline.

Phra Nang Cave Beach Railay Krabi busy tourists
Phra Nang Beach getting busy around midday

3. Phra Nang Princess Cave AKA Lingam / dildo cave

At the far end of the beach lies Phra Nang Beach Princess cave, which looks rather unusual on first glass, with a shrine covered in various wooden phalluses (which is why it is often known as ‘dildo cave’).

This is because over the centuries, the Phra Nang Cave has been associated with fertility as many local people (including fishermen and their wives) make offerings to Phra Nang (a Princess Goddess) in the form of huge phalluses. These offerings are known as ‘lingam’, a symbol of the Hindu god Shiva, often thought to encourage virility and fertility.

Phra Nang Princess Cave AKA Lingam / dildo cave Railay Beach Krabi Thailand

Local legend is that if a lingam is cast into the coastal waters of Krabim it will eventually float into the Phra Nang Beach cave.

Please be respectful when visiting these caves – we genuinely saw whilst swimming a scantily clad female tourist getting very ‘friendly’ with some of the lingam for photographs. Unbelievable.


4. Railay Walking Street

The main entertainment, food and drink hub of the area, if you aren’t staying in a hotel or fancy an evening away from resort dining, the Railay Walking Street is the place to eat, drink and be merry, with around 30 to 40 venues and unbranded convenience stores located along a dirt track (no 7-Elevens here!).

Railay Walking Street, Railay Beach Krabi Thailand
Railay Walking Street, Railay Beach Krabi Thailand

From coconut ice-cream shops to coffee shops and places to get high, most of the restaurants here are a little ramshackle and in keeping with their jungle-like location.

Prices are a little more expensive than say Ao Nang or Krabi Town, but you can still get dishes for around the 100 baht (like Thai noodles) or chicken skewers for less than 40 baht. Generally, the further away you go from Railay Beach along the walking strip, the cheaper the prices are.

Railay Walking Street, Railay Beach Krabi Thailand

Also, all the mini-marts and convenience stores nearer to Railay Beach East are much cheaper than the stores by Railay Beach West. We noticed some restaurants were struggling to compete with people buying beer etc in shops so were allowing BYO (bring your own) but do check beforehand.

Railay Walking Street, Railay Beach Krabi Thailand
Railay Walking Street, Railay Beach Krabi Thailand
Railay Walking Street, Railay Beach Krabi Thailand
Railay Walking Street, Railay Beach Krabi Thailand

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5. Railay Beach Rock climbing

There are several popular rock-climbing spots in the area including Ton Sai beach but the most popular areas for climbing seem to be the Railay Beach East plus on Phra Nang beach on the limestone cliffs immediately to the left of Phra Nang cave.

Railay Beach rock-climbing sessions start from around £35 for a four hour session that includes all equipment hire and instruction. You can learn how to rock climb the limestone cliffs of Railay Beach as part of a private lesson or in small groups.  Railay rock climbing sessions are available for all levels of expertise from beginners to experience climbers.

And if you don’t fancy it yourself, it is always quite interesting to watch (or hear the occasional screams!) whilst sunbathing on Phra Nang Cave beach.

YOU MIGHT LIKE: Half-Day Rock Climbing at Railay Beach >

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6. Tonsai Beach

Another beach to visit (or potentially stay at whilst in the area) is Tonsai Beach – this can easily be accessed from Ao Nang if you request to be dropped off there as part of the regular long-tail boat transfers to Railay Beach.

As with Railay Beach, Tonsai is only accessible by boat making it generally a quite beach and famous for its limestone cliffs, popular with rock-climbers.

Tonsai Beach Krabi
Tonsai Beach Krabi

7. Railay Beach Resort Day Passes

If beach-life isn’t your thing or you’d rather a swimming pool and sun-beds rather than sand everywhere, several hotels in and around Railay / Phra Nang Beach offer day passes to access their pools and other facilities.

One such hotel offering this at Railay Beach and heavily advertised around the various beach notice boards is the Sand Sea Resort day-pass which is 499 baht. This includes kayak hire for one hour, free sodas and ‘crispy ice-cream’ plus free WIFI and phone-charging.


8. Saturday Sunset food market at Railay Beach West

Every Saturday during sunset hours (4.30pm to 8pm), there is a small food market at Railay Beach West operated by Sand Sea Resort.

The Sand Sea Saturday sunset market promises lots of cheap eats available using local ingredients, with live music, drinks and more to accompany the sunset.


9. Paddle boarding at Phra Nang Cave Beach

So we’ve not done this ourselves during our visits to Phra Nang beach but we did see a handful of people on paddle boards on the waters here.

The sea was quite calm with view swimmers (and no long tail boats are allowed to use Phra Nang beach) making it the ideal place and very safe to paddle board here.

Paddle boarding at Phra Nang Cave Beach Krabi Thailand

There are several paddle boarding companies operating in and around Phra Nang Beach including Railay Anda SUP board and Freebird Paddle Co – several hotels here have paddle boards available for guest hire too.


10. East Railay Viewpoint and Trailhead

Along the cliff trail between East Railay, you’ll likely see scenes of mud-covered tourists who have scrambled up the hillside using ropes and vines – this is the only way to access the East Railay viewpoint and also the ‘secret lagoon’ at Railay Beach.

Full disclosure – we didn’t actually attempt the East Railay viewpoint climb as we usually arrive on the long-boats wearing flip flops / sandals.

To attempt this trek, you really need to wear trainers or climbing shoes (plus more than a swimming costume in case you slip) – it can get VERY wet and treacherous when raining or just afterwards.

Beautiful views of the coast await those willing to climb – you can also cool off in the lagoon too.


11. Cave walk to Phra Nang Cave and Beach

To reach Phra Nang Beach from west or east Railay, you have to walk around a limestone cliff walk that is hundreds of years old. Full of stalagmites and stalactites (watch your head, some of them on the path way hang quite low), this is an enjoyable, flat walk with various cave entrances to look into along the way.

Cave walk to Phra Nang Cave and Beach Krabi Thailand

The cave walk also is home to monkeys – signs warn of fines for feeding them and we saw a couple on top of the hut by the trailhead access point. There are also warning signs not to write on the cliffs or else face steep fines.

Cave walk to Phra Nang Cave and Beach Krabi Thailand

12. Beach dinner – the Grotto at Rayavadee Resort

One of the most romantic and unique dining spots in southern Thailand, The Grotto is part of the luxurious 5 star Rayavadee Resort, sitting beneath an ancient limestone cliff near the water’s edge on Phra Nang Cave Beach.

Open for both a la carte lunch (noon to 4pm) and dinner (6pm to 9pm – a fixed Twilight set dinner), this is one of the best sunset spots in Krabi. The Twilight set dinner at the Grotto starts from 2,500 baht for the vegetarian set menu or 2,900 baht upwards for the wagyu beef / lobster set menu.


13. Railay East Beach

Whilst most attention is focused on Railay Beach (which is actually Railay West Beach), you’ll also see signs for Railay Beach East.

To note whilst there are several restaurants and hotel entrances here, other than some rock-climbing, Railay Beach East is used more as a port (a lot of the ferries and private transfers dock here on the massive pontoon).

Railay East Beach Krabi Thailand

You’ll likely see Railway East Beach if you are walking between Railay Beach West and Phra Nang cave as this is the main walkway / thoroughfare between the two.

Railay East Beach Krabi Thailand

Our final thing to do in Railay Beach…

14. Cooking classes at Railay Beach

There used to be two or three Railay Beach cooking classes available but at the time of writing (November 2022), there seems to be only one at present, operated by Railay Thai Cuisine.

For around £40 per person, you can choose to make several dishes including spring rolls,  chicken coconut soup, papaya salad and green or red curry. The kitchen is just a stone’s throw from the ocean with natural surroundings to inspire your cooking skills.

Click here to book a cooking class at Railay beach >

Highly rated accommodation in Railay Beach

If you decide you want to stay in Railay Beach for a few days then there are several hotels and guesthouses located on here from cheap budget huts to luxury 5 star resorts! Here are some highly rated accommodation options:

Budget

Railay Garden View Resort
Rustic hillside wooden bungalow accommodation on the east side of Railay surrounded by nature. Rooms have a private balcony with seating area, fan and en suite bathroom. Hotel facilities include a breakfast-only restaurant. Check out prices and availability for Railay Garden View Resort.

Mid-range

Railay Phutawan Resort
Cute 2 star resort with stunning views of the cliffs and the ocean. Rooms are decorated in rustic wooden Thai style and facilities include an outdoor pool, sun terrace, scenic landscaped gardens and bar/restaurant. Check out prices and availability for Railay Phutawan Resort.

Luxury

Rayavadee
5 star beachfront resort – the most luxurious place to stay on Railay Beach! Surrounded by tropical gardens, each room has its own terrace, whilst some of the more expensive beach hut options include your own private pool. Hotel facilities include a spa, four restaurants and an outdoor beachside pool. Check out prices and availability for Rayavadee.

Sim cards and pocket WIFI for your stay in Railay Beach

Having data on your phone whilst travelling is almost essential these days – from planning your route around the city, booking a Grab taxi or for staying connected with friends and family back home.

SIM cards are pretty cheap in Thailand with generous data allowances and are available to purchase from airports, malls and 7-Elevens (bring your passport along for identification purposes).

You can also prepay online and collect a SIM from Bangkok or Phuket. Just remember to make sure your phone is not locked to your local network provider before purchasing one.

Alternatively if you do not want to change your SIM card then renting a pocket WIFI device with unlimited high speed internet access might be for you. We’ve used them multiple times and love that we can both connect our devices to it. Pre-order one online with Klook for collection when you arrive at either Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport or Bangkok Don Muang Airport. 

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