Railay Beaches – East and West | Ao Phra Nang | Tonsai Beach

Railay Beach
View of Railay Beach West in Krabi, and in the distance on the left – Tonsai Beach – world class climbing spot!

[Page updated: 6 October 2017]

Railay beaches are landlocked and the only way to get there is to swim or take a boat. Boats leave regularly for Railay from Krabi Town pier (25 minute ride), Ao Nam Mao beach (15 minute ride), and Ao Nang Beach (5 minute ride).

Leaving from Ao Nang Beach will get you to Railay Beach West. This is where the better beaches are, and where you can walk to the climbing section of Railay, and the viewpoint, and lagoon. If you leave from Krabi town or Ao Nam Mao, you’ll arrive at Railay Beach East. There are hotels on both beaches. Railay Beach East is a little more secluded, and there is much less to do. It’s a rather long walk to Railay Beach West from the East side – a few hundred meters, so be prepared if you are bringing a lot of gear, or kids.

Why Go to Railay Beach?

The beaches at Railay are pretty incredible. You can explore a small cave, and you can walk up to a nice viewpoint and take photos (climb the mountain). You can explore a hidden lagoon in the center of some limestone karsts. The water seems quite dirty – but, who knows? I’ve had friends swim there. Seems like some days it is clear enough.

The scenery on Railay is worth it for sure. Reaching Railay West from Ao Nang beach is very easy and cheap (100 THB – $3 USD). Of course prices are subject to change, it has been this price for years.

RAILAY BEACH WEST

Railay Beach West is the jewel of the Railay area. The beach is phenomenal in both aesthetic and quality. The sand is white and deep. The views are stunning with limestone karst formations rising out of the ocean, capped with trees and other vegetation. Really a paradise. Best to come when fewer tourists during off-season for sure.

Location in Krabi: On Railay Cape, 1.8 km. (1.1 miles) southeast of Ao Nang Beach (direct line). 8.8 km (5.5 miles) southwest from Krabi Town (direct).

Direction Facing: West

Beach Length: 628 meters (2,061 feet)

Beach Width: 43 meters on average – huge! (142 feet)

Estimated Beach Area Meters227,004

Beach Quality: Exceptional – one of the best beaches in Thailand. Soft, deep sand that is almost always clean of incoming tide debris.

Ocean Bottom: Soft, sanding bottom with large rocks partially submerged.

Surrounding Beaches: Ao Phra Nang Beach

Restroom / shower facilities? Yes, both are available.

Beach Features: Soft, deep, clean sand. Wide beach for laying down. Excellent calm water for swimming. Crystal clear water. Limestone karst formations in water. Islands in view.

Public or Private? Entrance fees? Public, no fees.

Boat anchorage possible? Short term is possible

Boat dock and marina? N/A

Attractions: Railay is like a national treasure. This is one of the top 5 most scenic spots in Thailand in our opinion! There is a viewpoint to climb that gives a view of Railay Beach East.

Activities: Viewpoint

Surfing? No.

Warnings: Waves from May to October can be so large that it is risky to take a longtail boat out on the sea. Do wear your lifevest when getting on a small boat.

Railay Beach West Restaurants / Bars

  1. No great spots listed – better to eat at one of the resorts below for the best experience.

Accommodations on Railay Beach West

  1. Rayavadee Railay Beach – large clean rooms and attentive and polite staff. Rooms starting at 15,000 THB. Luxury property at the very south end of Railay Beach West.
  2. Railay Village Resort & Spa – good ratings and a rather economical choice for travelers not wanting to go full-out luxury vacationing in Railay. Rooms starting at 5,000 THB.
  3. Railei Beach Club Bungalows – great ratings for this bungalow property on the north end of Railay Beach West. Rates starting around 7,000 THB and going up to 18,000 THB.

RAILAY BEACH EAST

Location in Krabi: East of Railay Beach West – 3.2 km (2 miles) southwest from Ao Nam Mao.

Direction Facing: Southeast

Beach Length: Patches of beach in front of resorts, but there really is no functional beach here – the tide takes it.

Beach Width: 0-2 meters.

Estimated Beach Area Meters2: N/A

Beach Quality: Exceptional – one of the best beaches in Thailand. Soft, deep sand that is almost always clean of incoming tide debris.

Ocean Bottom: Soft, sanding bottom with large rocks partially submerged.

Surrounding Beaches: Ao Phra Nang Beach is south, and Railay Beach West is 1 km. west over land.

Restroom / shower facilities? There are showers at the resorts if you’re staying at one.

Beach Features: Nothing really. There is a small cave, and there is a wall for climbing for beginners. Best climbing is at Tonsai  Beach out past Railay West Beach.

Public or Private? Entrance fees? No fees.

Boat anchorage possible? Small boats – yes.

Boat dock and marina? A small dock for small boats.

Attractions: Climbing wall and a viewpoint after a steep hill climb.

Activities: Rock climbing for beginners.

Surfing? No.

Warnings: Rocks and coral under the water as you’re walking out to your boat – wear shoes, not sandals or bare feet!

Railay Beach East Restaurants / Bars

  1. Bhu Nga Thani Resort Restaurant – They have food here – open seating, you should probably try it if you’re on this side of the island, instead of walking around to find something else. There doesn’t seem to be amazing dining on this side of the island.

Railay Beach East Accommodations

  1. Bhu Nga Thani Resort and Spa – starting around 4,000 THB, this resort is at the southern end of Railay Beach East, near the walkway that goes across the land to Railay Beach West. Convenient and near the boats and beginner climbing. Decent ratings, and the other accommodations here don’t have very good ratings. Suggested you stay over at Railay Beach West if at all possible.

AO PHRA NANG BEACH

Railay Beach Krabi Ocean and Cave View
View from near Ao Phra Nang Cave, Railay Beach, Krabi, Thailand. One of the prettiest spots in Thailand for sure!

Location in Krabi: Next to (east) of Railay Beach West.

Direction Facing: Part of the beach is facing west, and part is facing south-southwest

Beach Length: 610 meters (2,002 feet)

Beach Width: 13.6 meters (44.6 feet) to 67.6 meters (222 feet)

Estimated Beach Area Meters28,296

Beach Quality: Exceptional – the entire Railay Cape area and all the beaches have fine sand, it’s clean, and the sand is deep.

Ocean Bottom: Soft, sanding bottom with large rocks partially submerged.

Surrounding Beaches: Railay West Beach is west, and Railay East Beach is north around the hill.

Restroom / shower facilities? There are showers at the resorts if you’re staying at one.

Beach Features: Nothing really. There is a small cave, and there is a wall for climbing for beginners. Best climbing is at Tonsai  Beach out past Railay West Beach.

Public or Private? Entrance fees? No fees.

Boat anchorage possible? No

Boat dock and marina? No dock or marina here.

Attractions: Phra Nang Cave – phallus cave – with many wooden penis carvings for increased fertility among couples. 

Activities: Swimming, floating on air cushions and tubes. Laying out on beach and eating and drinking from coconuts.

Surfing? No.

Warnings: Rocks and coral under the water – just be aware. Usually easy to see.

Ao Phra Nang Beach Restaurants / Bars

  1. None – there may be food carts along the path or beach to grab snacks, or, bring your own.

Ao Phra Nang Beach Accommodations

  1. None – the resorts are at Railay Beach East or West. Check above for recommendations.

TONSAI BEACH

Location in Krabi: East of Railay Beach West – 3.2 km (2 miles) southwest from Ao Nam Mao.

Direction Facing: The beach curves from facing south at the westernmost point to facing southwest from the east side of the beach.

Beach Length: 450 meters (1,477 feet)

Beach Width: 24 meters on average (78 feet)

Estimated Beach Area Meters2:  10,800

Beach Quality: Again, just like all the Railay Beaches, Tonsai Beach has fantastic sand and views. One of the best in Thailand.

Ocean Bottom: Soft, sanding bottom with large rocks partially submerged.

Surrounding Beaches: Railay Beach West is to the west of Tonsai. To reach Tonsai, you must climb a hill of rocks between the two beaches. It is sometimes dangerous – especially when wet or at night. Not recommended you travel alone at night here, nor with a group of girls. There have been incidents here – sexual harassment.

Restroom / shower facilities? Yes, at the bar or bungalows.

Beach Features: Perfect sand for laying down, great ocean for relaxing swimming. Perfect views. Very relaxed vibe.

Public or Private? Entrance fees? Public, no fees.

Boat anchorage possible? No.

Boat dock and marina? N/A

Attractions: Tonsai Beach has some of the best climbing in the WORLD. Many top climbers come here to climb advanced routes, well bolted and kept in good condition. It’s fun, even if you’re not a climber, to watch pro-level climbers do their thing, scaling up rockfaces you can’t imagine can be climbed before they start.

Activities: World Class Rock Climbing!

Surfing? No.

Warnings: Waves from May to October can be so large that it is risky to take a longtail boat out on the sea. Do wear your life vest when getting on a small boat.

Tonsai Beach Restaurants / Bars

  1. Freedom Bar – Reasonably priced drinks, considering the location! Good chilled-out atmosphere here, and usually friendly and all having a good time. Can get loud at night, as you might imagine.

Tonsai Beach Accommodations

  1. Tonsai Bay Resort – not much choice here, this is a relaxed, no-frills hotel on Tonsai that most people stay in when climbing. They have a restaurant and bar, and usually the vibe is quite chill. Rooms starting around 1,300 Thai Baht.

 

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