Our Favorite Thai Beach


Railay Beach Thailand

We island hopped through Southern Thailand, but our favorite stretch of sun and sand was landlocked Railay Beach, located on a dramatically gorgeous peninsula cut off from the rest of the mainland by soaring limestone cliffs.

Getting our feet wet

Railay Beach Wet Landing

The only way to reach remote Railay is by water. Further out to sea, we transferred from a high-speed ferry to a wooden long tail boat that brought us as close to shore as possible. We clambered out of the boat, hoisted our backpacks, and waded onto the beach.

A beach with more to see than sea and sunbathers

Railay Beach Thailand-11

Of the four beaches here, Railay East and West are connected by only two paths and the most easily reached. To get to Tonsai, we scrambled over boulders along a rocky, forested trail. But none of those beaches topped Phra Nang, which has the essential ingredients–soft white sand, clear-blue water–plus sandstone karst formations standing off shore and a cave dedicated to a princess goddess.

Monkey madness

Railay Beach Thailand-3

Our first and best monkey sightings in Southeast Asia took place at Railay. We didn’t even have to seek out the energetic and entertaining primates. They routinely turned up while we were strolling around.

Good eats

Railay Beach Thailand-15

At times civilization seemed a world away from this “castaway” place–only with great food, including freshly caught fish at Wan-a-Rouy and Indian cuisine at Kohinoor, both of which are located on the main path that connects Railay’s east and west sides.

Good drinks

Railay Beach Thailand-8

Sundowners are no exaggeration at Railay. End-of-the-day cocktails come with…

Some of the most stunning sunsets we’ve seen anywhere

Railay Beach Thailand-13


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15 Comments on “Our Favorite Thai Beach”

  1. lovetotrav May 13, 2015 at 9:53 am #

    As an obsessed traveller, I always appreciate when others will say their favourites. With so many places and beaches to choose from, it helps in the decision making. Been to Koh Samui and Koh Samet and this one looks ideal. Beautiful pics. Thanks for sharing, Cheryl


  2. White Postcards May 13, 2015 at 10:14 am #

    I’m going to take your word on this one and add Railay beach to the wish list for our RTW trip–looks amazing. Did you spend a night there and how easy is it to get accommodation?


    • Shannon May 14, 2015 at 3:22 am #

      We spent four nights at Railay. When we first arrived and saw how small it is, we wondered if that would be too much time there. But we enjoyed the down time in such a beautiful location — exploring, spotting monkeys, evening cocktails, and morning strolls on Phra Nang Beach before the day trippers arrived. More ambitious pastimes at Railay are rock climbing and kayaking. We stayed on Railay East at the Railay Princess Resort. Railay East doesn’t have a sandy beach front like Railay West, which makes it a less expensive option for lodging. We booked ahead and didn’t have any problems getting a hotel room.


      • White Postcards May 14, 2015 at 7:55 am #

        Now you are making me jealous:) Your days in Railay sound wonderful. Thanks Shannon for sharing. -Ginette


  3. Marilyn Albright May 13, 2015 at 11:24 am #

    Wow! I can see why that would be your favorite – everything about it looks fantastic – and it was fun getting there.


  4. Bill May 13, 2015 at 2:04 pm #

    I was there twenty years ago. Stayed at a wonderful little hotel on the water at Krabi. It was run by a thai/Chinese couple whose daughters were going to Syracuse University.
    Jonny the long tail boat guy would pick us up at the dock and take us to the beach. We’ld pre arrange to be picked back up by him in the afternoon.
    There was a shallow cave at one end of the beach which was filled with large carved wooden phallic sculptures. Apparently the local fisherman were superstitious. Nothing like a big dick to bring you luck 😉
    There wasn’t much of anything else on the beach except a group of topless German girls.
    No restaurant back then. Our beachy entertainment was reading, swimming, drinking warm Singh Ha’s and picking up and piling up empty water bottles that washed up on the shore line.
    Looks like the beach is pretty well built up now.


  5. Gabi May 13, 2015 at 2:05 pm #

    It is one of my favorite beaches too, together with Koh Poda which is in front


  6. carlabeans May 14, 2015 at 1:15 am #

    I’m currently in SE Asia and have heard good things about Railay Beach. Your pictures do it justice! Will have to manage to find some time to head over there and check it out. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the beautiful Koh Tao 🙂


  7. lifemeant May 14, 2015 at 8:48 am #

    Love this post!! I have decided to go to Thailand for winter break this year. Love your pics and tips!


  8. Bulldog Travels May 14, 2015 at 7:57 pm #

    That’s a good looking monkey!


  9. Wondering Celt May 15, 2015 at 3:05 am #

    Brings back happy memories if our three year stay in Thailand and various trips we took. Fab photos!


  10. thecaptainnemo May 18, 2015 at 12:42 pm #

    great post- needs more cave pictures though 😉


  11. Blissylife June 11, 2015 at 1:13 am #

    This is a wonderful article, and tugs on my heart strings. Recently, we spent a wonderful seven months in Ao Nang; which is just a short 20 minute longboat ride to Railey. We felt like beach-bum pirates whenever we visited. It was great!


  12. abdullahakbarshafi August 25, 2015 at 8:00 pm #

    The pictures are stunning.. Great work..



  1. George Town: The Foodie Capital That Wasn’t | Everywhere Once - May 18, 2015

    […] we can say we had better Indian food in the most touristy sections of Thailand’s Koh San Road and Railay Beach than from the street-side kitchens in George Town. But at least the Indian joints were reliably […]


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