One of the biggest misunderstanding of this world-class beach destination is that it is an island—which it is not. The area of Railay is actually a large peninsula jutting out into the Andaman, but what makes this place truly place special is that it’s cut off from the rest of the mainland by a row of steep hills, which means you can only get there by boat. Railay has risen from peaceful fishing village to a world-class tourist destination, thanks to its imposing limestone cliffs that shoot out of the crystal blue waters to tower over the white sandy beaches.
Railay actually covers three beaches, each with its own distinctive character. Railay West is the longest, featuring white sand and shallow water. Though Railay West is ideal for sunbathing, do be warned that the southern-end is pretty rocky. Being also the most popular, you’ll find a collection of resorts, restaurants and beach bars serving visitors. Further north is Ton Sai Bay, a good spot for rock climbing and affordable rooms. Railay West, and Ton Sai, are at there most beautiful at sunset, when those steep cliffs are silhouetted against the sky. Opposite Railay West is Railay East, which is actually really just part of a bigger mangrove swamp. Though it’s not great for swimming, it’s the best place to catch a beautiful sunrise. Sitting between Railay West and East is Phranang Beach, named after the cave containing a sacred Buddha image that can be found on this beach. A lot smaller than Railay West and East, Phranang is the best beach for swimming, with clean, white powdery sand and crystal clear, shallow water.
The towering limestone karsts that dominate the landscape mean Railay is also a haven for rock climbers, and the area offers more than 700 different climbing trails with an annual Krabi Rock and Fire International Contest hosted annually.