Railay is an incredible Thai beach paradise, cut-off from the mainland by soaring cliffs. Railay boasts pristine beaches, a jungled-laden mountain coastline, and laidback vibes to keep relaxed yet many things to do to stay busy. Railay is what Thailand dreams are made of.
With so many things to do in Railay Beach, you may never want to leave! Personally, it’s our favorite beach in Thailand. And we’ve now returned multiple times over the years, particularly because we love all the awesome Railay activities you can find in this tropical Thai paradise!
Railay (sometimes spelled Rai Leh) is located in the Krabi province in Southern Thailand. Railay is technically connected to the mainland Thailand, but looming cliffs prevent any roads from coming through. That means there are pleasantly no cars throughout Railay; only walkways.
The only way in and out of Railay is by boat. So the means of transportation here is on foot, which adds to Railay’s tranquility and serenity. Paths lead visitors along the bay, to the beaches, and through the jungle. They also lead to great adventure pursuits such as hikes, rock climbing, kayaking, and more.
This detachment from the rest of the Krabi province also lends to Railay’s carefree and relaxed atmosphere. In fact, the whole vibe of Railay Beach, which has a number of Rastafarians, may leave you wondering whether you’re actually in the Caribbean.
And Railay can be a fairly budget-friendly destination in Thailand too. Prices for food and drink are higher in Railay than elsewhere in Thailand. Yet accommodation prices drop significantly during low season, presenting some great deals and excellent values! During shoulder season months such as May and Sept-Oct, it’s not entirely unusual to score a 4-star beach resort for under $50 per night with breakfast included.
It’s this rare combination of affordable luxury, adventure activities, and incredible beauty that make Railay Beach one of our favorite destinations to vacation. But before you pack your bags, be sure to read through this Railay travel guide that details all the awesome things to do in Railay Beach, Thailand!
The following 15 activities and excursions are what we recommend as the best things to do in Railay!
Certain locations such as “Railay West” and “Railay East” are mention a lot throughout this post. So here is a handy map you can reference when figuring out where all these Railay Beach attractions are located.
1) Relax on Railay Beach
This is what you come to Railay for: the stunning beaches!
Even though there are lots of activities to pursue in Railay, the sole reason why many people come here is to simply unwind on the beautiful beaches. In Railay, beach-going is an activity unto itself.
Railay West boasts an ultra-scenic stretch of sand to simply sit back and relax the day away.
Railay has such a picturesque beach, surrounded by those signature limestone cliffs on both sides of the crescent-shaped coast. During low and shoulder season, it never seems to get even a tad bit crowded. Particularly in the morning, you’ll often find you’ll have all of Railay Beach entirely to yourself. So come plop down in the sand and slip away into these incredible surroundings!
💡 Tip: During high season (December – April), it’s particularly recommended to get to Railay Beach early and beat any crowds. Try coming before 10:00 am to enjoy this scenic beach without masses of people who often arrive as part of day trips from Ao Nang and elsewhere in Krabi.
2) Take an Island Hopping Boat Tour from Railay: 4 Island Tour
There are a handful of local islands that lay off the coast from Railay Beach. Visits to these islands are only possible by boat. In good weather, an island hopping trip to these islands makes for one of the best things to do in Railay Beach.
These islands off Railay’s coast are easily accessible by either joining a tour or hiring a longtail boat for a half-day of fun cruising around from one island to the next. Stops along the way allow passengers to enjoy the island beaches and also snorkeling.
There are a few different touring options to consider when island hopping from Railay. The “4-islands boat tour” is the classic route, voyaging from Railay Beach to four different islands.
Stops during the 4-island tour from Railay usually include:
- (1) Chicken Island – Also known as Kai Island, Hua Khawan Island, or Poda Nok Island. It’s shaped like a chicken, hence the name. Sometimes snorkeling is offered here. Conditions aren’t great, but you can often see small reef fish and giant clams. Other times, it may be a quick pass by to snap of picture of the chicken-shaped rock.
- (2) Tup (or Tub) Island + (3) Koh Mawr Island – These two separate islands become connected by a sandbar that emerges in low tide. It’s neat to experience this if you can time it right. Regardless, it’s a nice place for a swim.
- (4) Poda Island – Here you can take a quick trot around the island, go snorkeling, or just bask on the beach. It’s also used as a lunch stop for tours. Perhaps the best sight from Poda is the big limestone outcropping (Ko Ma Tang Ming) that seems to shoot right up from the ocean, just off the coast of Poda Island. You can’t miss it. (Pictured below).
- Phra Nang Beach – Some of the 4-island tours will stop at Phra Nang Beach. It’s not actually an island, as it’s connected to Railay. As such, it can be nice to conclude a 4-island tour here. It’s then easily possible to walk back to Railay. (More about Phra Nang Beach later in the post).
💡 Timing Tip for Railay’s Four Islands Tour: There are many day tours that visit these islands from Ao Nang and Krabi. Those tours tend to reach the islands mid-day (10:00-3:00). Instead, try to go early in the morning or late afternoon to minimize crowds. Also, try to time your trip at low tide so you can experience the sandbar connecting Koh Tup to Koh Mawr. Check the tide forecast for Railay here
How to Book an Island Hopping Tour from Railay Beach
There are a few different island hopping tours to consider in Railay. All of them go to the aforementioned four islands. Some include a few additional stops. Another consideration is whether to go on a longtail boat or larger boat. Here’s some more info to help decide.
Private longtail boats are a nice way to go for a more intimate experience. Yet organized tour boats can be better value for solo travelers and couples. They also include a decent lunch and often include more stops. The larger boats can also be a safer option for those who may be prone to seasickness.
Here’s a breakdown of logistics and costs for these two different island hopping tours from Railay.
4-Island Tour with a Private Longtail Boat:
How to book: You can organize this trip with the boatmen, wearing blue shirts, that wait around on Railay Beach near the walking street. When booking a private longtail boat, you pay for the entire boat regardless of how many people. You’ll have the entire boat to yourself, so it’s a good option if you want a more private experience. If you have three or more people, a private longtail boat to the islands can prove most economical since you’re sharing the cost.
💲 Cost: It’s ฿ 1,700 (per boat, not per person) for a half-day trip (4 hours), plus the National Park fee. Or if you prefer a slower pace, it’s ฿ 2,200 for a full day trip. This is a fixed price with no room for any negotiation. In addition to the boat fee, you’ll also need to pay +฿ 400 per person for the required National Park fee.
When booking on your own, be sure to inquire if mask & snorkel are included in the price. Sometimes they’ll try to upcharge for mask & snorkel if not asked about in advance.
Island Hopping Tour as Part of a Group Tour
It can prove more economical for solo travelers and couples to join others on a 4-island longtail boat tour, rather than hiring a private longtail boat. These tours include lunch and drinks too, adding to their value. Here are a few suggestions for island hopping tours from Railay.
4-Island Group Tour: On the ground in Railay, a 4-Islands Tour by speed boat is offered for ฿ 1,000 + ฿ 400 national park fee, including lunch and drinks. For better value, you can book this 4-island tour via a longtail boat for ฿ 750 + ฿ 400 national park fee. Check the latest reviews and availability for your travel dates.
5-Island Tour – Great Value: This island-hopping tour includes additional snorkeling stops at Yawasam Island and Talu Cave (low tide only), and a full Thai lunch on Poda Island. It’s on a larger boat, rather than a longtail boat. We’ve personally taken this tour and can highly recommend it. It’s easily booked at any of the tourism agencies in Railay for ฿650 + ฿400 National Park fee. But right now, Viator has this 5-island tour on sale for even less, at ฿600 per person. Check current rates, recent reviews, and availability for your travel dates.
7-Island Sunset Tour: There is now a sunset tour being offered that cruises around to the aforementioned four islands plus a few more. The sunset tour further includes stops at Koom Island, Lady Island, a BBQ dinner, and the opportunity to swim with plankton after dark. This can be a good group tour to beat the mid-day crowds. But it may be best to avoid this tour during the rainy/summer season since rains are most likely to occur in the afternoon or evening. On the ground in Railay, the per person cost for this 7-island sunset tour is ฿800 + ฿400 park fee for longtail boats or ฿1,400 + ฿400 park fee for a big boat.
3) Go Rock Climbing for Adventure!
Railay is a premier rock climbing destination in Thailand. Those big cliffs surrounding Railay hold rock climbing routes to suit every level of experience. Some rock faces around Railay are even suitable for beginners trying out their first-ever rock climb.
Yet on the other end of the spectrum, experienced climbers may want to check out something known as deep water soloing (DWS). Railay is beginning to build a reputation behind this unique style of free climbing, which occurs on cliffs dangling over the ocean in the open water. If you miss grabbing your next hold, then you plunge down into the sea below. Deep water soloing is only for the true adventure junkie!
Prices vary around Railay, based on each operator, skill level, and the number of climbs (e.g., better value for 3-day climbing package). For a more introductory experience, try this half-day rock climbing tour in Railay that runs either in the morning or afternoon, includes your guide, equipment, and all fees for about $40 USD. You can feel confident booking based on their track-record of excellent 5-star reviews here.
Rock climbing is definitely the best bet for adventurous things to do in Railay Beach.
4) Venture to Phra Nang Beach & Pranang Cave (Princess Cave)
Phra Nang Beach is another one of Railay’s three main beaches. This beach takes just a little more effort to reach compared to Railay Beach itself. The Phra Nang cove is located around one of Railay’s southern cliffs.
Phra Nang Beach has more white sandy stretches of sand wrapped by Railay’s signature limestone cliffs. Up the beach, trees provide natural shade. Under the shaded trees, you can find ladies offering massages with aloe for anyone who may have gotten sunburned. Also, longtail boats with full kitchens pull-up to Phra Nang Beach for a unique eating opportunity by wading into the water to order lunch.
Yet in addition to the beach itself, Phra Nang Beach holds a peculiarity. On the southern side of Phra Nang Beach, you’ll find a strange little cove full of phalluses! These penis carvings are placed here by fishermen, other locals, and visitors as offerings to the princess of the cave who will hence bring them prosperity.
It’s an odd sight and that’s part of what makes it so interesting. So take a peek inside this little cave and consider making an offering to the princess.
Here’s what the sign at the Princess Cave reads to explain the strange ritual:
Local people, fisherman and navigators believe and hold faith in the Princess of the Pranang Cave that she will preserve and protect their livelihood and fulfill one’s wishes. When their wishes are fulfilled, votive offerings would be made at the shrine. Common gifts are flowers and incense sticks, but usually the spirits of the Goddess are offered a special gift, the lingam, which is carved from wood. The belief of the lingam and holy womb shall create fertility and prosperity to the whole earth and mankind.”
How to Get to Phra Nang Beach from Railay Beach:
There are three perfectly good ways to get to Phra Nang Beach:
- Walk Southward along Railay East and make a right towards the trail to the viewpoint. Bypass the viewpoint and continue onward until the trail opens up to Phra Nang Beach.
- Paddle by kayak from Railay Beach West, 10-30 minutes around the point and to the Phra Nang Beach.
- Longtail boat: Hire a longtail boat to ferry you over Phra Nang Beach in a matter of minutes.
Note: day-trippers from Ao Nang and elsewhere in Krabi tend to arrive here during mid-day. So this is another place to consider going early or late during high season, to avoid any crowds.
5) Hike Up to the Railay Beach Viewpoint and Lagoon
The hike to the Railay Beach Viewpoint is a short but tough trek. Yet once at this stunning viewpoint, you’re rewarded with spectacular views of the isthmus below!
It’s not a far hike, less than a kilometer in total. But it’s a vertigo-inducing and intense climb that’s nearly straight up, so be prepared for that. If you’re afraid of heights, this is not the activity in Railay for you. Hoisting yourself up using nothing but a rope, many begin to second-guess this idea.
It isn’t rock climbing, as there’s no harness or clipping in. But it’s a heck of a hike. Have fun, yet be careful!
Many people turn back once they realize this is more of a climb than a hike. If you’re going to climb to the Railay viewpoint, be sure to wear proper shoes rather than flip-flops.
After scaling the cliff, there’s a sign pointing to the left, where the rewarding viewpoint awaits. It’s truly an awe-inspiring view, 200-meters above the rest of Railay down below.
How to Get to the Railay Beach Viewpoint:
Walk south along Railay East until you reach a limestone cliff, which is the trail to Phra Nang Beach. Take a right there. Within a 1-2 minute walk towards Phra Nang, you’ll reach the trailhead to the Railay Lookout Point on your lefthand side. You’ll definitely know you’ve reached the trailhead because you’ll see ropes stringing down off the side of the mountain and a sign indicating the direction to the viewpoint. (Up!)
Continue to Railay’s Hidden Lagoon (⚠️ with Caution!)
If you felt comfortable with the viewpoint ascent, consider continuing onward to Railay’s hidden lagoon. But know this trail is even more treacherous. You’ll see a sign to point you in the right direction. It takes another 10-30 minute climb down to reach the lagoon.
But this section gets particularly steep and downright dangerous during the descent. As a result, we’re hesitant to recommend this lagoon trek for most people. There is a very real risk of injury here. To be clear: it is not safe. Descending down into the lagoon is possible without climbing gear, but it’s a much better idea to use gear. Otherwise, proceed at your own risk.
The route is not only steep. It gets muddy and slippery too. It’s also very hot, humid, and sweat-inducing. Bring water, if you go.
Those who do make it down alive can rejoice in the waters of this impressive lagoon. The lagoon is enclosed by 360-degrees of cliffs. It’s almost like being in the bottom of a volcano that’s covered with jungle, as monkeys swing from the branches. It’s truly otherworldly and one of those places that photos just don’t do justice.
💡 Tip when to go: Try to visit the Railay lagoon at high tide. During low tide, it can be a bit muddy and doesn’t make great swimming conditions. Check the tide forecast for Railay here.
6) Go Kayaking in Railay Beach
It’s possible to rent kayaks on Railay West Beach from the resorts or right in front of Walking Street. Just look for the kayaks lined-up on the beach and pick one. Kayaks are rented by the hour or by the day. We suggest at least a two-hour trip to paddle around the coast and outcroppings south of Railay Beach.
As you leave Railay Beach, hug the rocky coastline and you’ll find some cave passageways to glide through, providing for a shortcut. If you’re skilled at paddling and the waves aren’t strong, go through this natural tunnel for a fun little thrill. Watch your head if it’s high tide!
This passageway will ultimately lead you to the beautiful Phra Nang Beach. But we’d suggest first taking some time to paddle around the small limestone islands just off the coast. Another kayaking consideration is to paddle in the opposite direction, to Ton Sai beach.
Whichever direction you head, kayaking is a really fun thing to do in Railay Beach!
Kayak rental rates are currently:
- 1-hour: ฿ 200
- 2-hour: ฿ 300
- 3-hour: ฿ 400
- 4-hour: ฿ 500
- full day: ฿ 800
Or consider picking up a paddle and jumping on a SUP. Stand-up paddleboards can be rented in Railay at similar rates.
7) Watch an Epic Sunset on Railay Beach
Railay sunsets are magical. The formula of beach + ocean + cliffs becomes a perfect recipe when the sun is dropping down into the sea. Railay West is the obvious choice to watch the nightly spectacle and it’s a good place to do it.
Adding to the atmosphere, local Thai guys tend to gather on the beach around this time for impromptu football (soccer) matches in the sand. Meanwhile, many visitors gather at the Flame Tree Bar for a sundowner. This bar set mats out in the sand and delivers cold drinks to you.
Grab a drink and enjoy the show!
And while this next suggestion may seem counterintuitive, there is also some great sunset viewing on Railay East if you walk north past the Last Bar and towards the Great View Resort. The east-facing shoreline actually begins to curve back towards the Railay isthmus, affording amazing sunset opportunities. We suggest popping over to Tew Lay Bar for a sunset cocktail (see “Drinking in Railay” section).
Railay Sunset times: Check the sunset times for Railay here. Get situated somewhere about one hour before actual sunset time in order to take in the entire colorful show.
8) Explore Tham Pranangnai Cave (Diamond Cave)
This is an opportunity to see what those limestone cliffs look like from the inside!
You can get right in the middle of Railay’s signature cliffs by taking a quick stroll through Tham Pranangnai Cave, also known as Diamond Cave.
You’ll see stalactites, stalagmites, columns, and even some bats!
There’s a walkway with lighting, so this Railay activity really doesn’t require much effort. Some of the lighting is dim, so we suggest bringing a flashlight (torch) to be able to really see the interior caverns in full. Also, look for bats! But don’t shine your light at them.
This easily accessible cave in Railay is well worth the modest 5-minute walk to get there. This cave is also a great consideration for one of the few things to do in Railay on a rainy day, as you won’t get rained on inside here.
Info: The cave is open from 8:00 am – 5:30 pm. The entrance fee is officially ฿ 200 per person. Yet when we last approached the ticket stand, we were offered entrance for ฿ 100 per person.
9) Search for Monkeys in Railay
You shouldn’t have to actually go searching very far to find monkeys on Railay. If you walk around the peninsula enough, you’ll certainly run into a group of those mischievous monkeys.
Dusky leaf monkeys, pictured above, are commonly seen throughout Railay. They are social animals, often traveling in groups of 5-20 and swinging from tree branches.
These primates can often be spotted on the trail between Railay East and Phra Nang Beach. We’ve also seen a group of dusky leaf monkeys living among the trees of the Sand Sea Resort, around the lagoon, and many in Ton Sai. Walk around Railay enough and you’re bound to have a rendezvous some of Railay’s many monkeys.
Note: never feed the monkeys! There are fines imposed and it’s harmful to the monkeys to become reliant on humans.
10) Learn to Cook Thai Food at a Railay Cooking Class
We’re firm believers that one of the best souvenirs you can buy for yourself is learning how to cook a local dish in its native place. Once you return home you can recreate that recipe you learned and have those flavors mentally transport you right back to that place you were taught these newfound skills. A Thai cooking course in Railay is a great place to learn how to cook a few Thai staples.
The Railay Cooking Class, located on Walking Street, can be a great place to learn some Thai cooking skills. Chef Ho teaches his students how to make six different Thai dishes. It’s empowering to be guided step-by-step, learning the local techniques from someone who grew up cooking these dishes from his mom’s recipes and went on to culinary school.
Examples of dishes you can learn to cook include: spring rolls, spicy chicken salad, coconut milk soup with chicken, green curry (with curry paste made from scratch), pad thai, and a dessert of mango with sticky rice. Below are the six lip-smacking courses we whipped up and devoured during our last visit to Railay.
Prices: The cost is ฿ 1,200 per person. With two people, you can cook six dishes. If going solo, you’ll cook three dishes.
11) Get a Massage in Railay
Getting a massage can be an essential activity on any trip to Thailand. And Railay has some particularly great massage services. It’ll help slip you into the ultimate relaxation mode or massage away your aching muscles from a day of climbing or paddling. Just sit back and enjoy!
In addition to foot reflexology massages and Thai massages, Railay offers special climber’s massages to help ease associated climbing muscles.
While some things in Railay tend to be more expensive than the rest of Thailand, the prices for massages aren’t too inflated. The average cost for a Thai massage or foot massage tends to come in at about 300 baht for an hour at the roughly dozen places scattered across Railay. Find massage places along the bay on Railay East and on Walking Street, near Railay West.
Massages are also available at Railay’s resorts. The price for a beach resort massage will be about double or more. The treatment at the resort will be roughly the same quality (depends entirely on the masseuse). For better value, stick with the non-resort local massage places in Railay. Although some visitors may find the resort’s atmosphere and beach views worth it to pay more.
Getting a massage in Thailand is nearly a rite of passage when in the country. Hence it is a necessary inclusion on this list of things to do in Railay Beach.
12) Hike, Boat, or Paddle to Ton Sai Beach
Ton Sai is yet another beautiful beach in Railay and is the northernmost of Railay’s three beaches. Ton Sai boasts another very pleasant stretch of sand surrounded by cliffs. The beach at Ton Sai tends to receive fewer visitors than the other two beaches and is still quite beautiful.
The cliffs around Ton Sai present even more climbing opportunities and there are even more climbing outfitters here. There are also a few beachfront bars to chill out at. Ton Sai carries even even more of a low-key, rustic, and laidback vibe than the rest of Railay. While there is one resort on this beach, it’s otherwise full of inexpensive backpacker accommodation.
But if you’re not already staying in Ton Sai, a nice half-day activity in Railay can be venturing over to this mellow beach.
How to Get to from Railay to Ton Sai Beach
There are three ways to get from Railay to Ton Sai: (1) hike, (2) longtail boat, or (3) kayak.
Hiking to Ton Sai – It takes a sweaty 45-minute hike through the jungle to get from Railay to Ton Sai. To find the trail, continue down the path beyond the Princess Cave and Railay Phutawan Resort. Once you reach the entrance to Railay Cabana Garden Bungalow, you’ll see a side trail on the right. That’s the trail to Ton Sai. It’s a nice hike. But do come prepared with drinking water and insect repellent. The hike between Railay and Ton Sai not recommended at night, nor with luggage.
Instead of the footpath through the interior, there’s also a coastal short-cut from Railay to Tonsai accessible during low tide or even mid-tide. Walk as far North on Railay beach as possible and you’ll see an opening in the rocks with a rope. This is the short-cut between, which takes about 10 minutes to traverse.
Longtail Boat from Railay to Ton Sai – This is the most inexpensive longtail boat trip you can take from Railay. A mere 50 baht will take you on the 5-minute trip to the far side of Ton Sai beach. If there are less than 6 people, the boatman may ask you to pay for empty seats.
Kayaking or Paddleboard to Ton Sai – It’s also easily possible to reach Ton Sai by kayaking or paddleboarding to the beach.
13) Go Snorkeling or Scuba Diving from Railay
Railay is not particularly known for its diving or snorkeling. Yet there are still underwater adventures that can be pursued here. It’s possible to snorkel from any of Railay’s beaches. Doing so closer to the rocks, you may be able to spot some reef fish. Just be careful to watch out for longtail boats that may be plying the same waters you’re snorkeling in!
If you didn’t bring your own snorkeling gear, it’s possible to rent a mask and snorkel in Railay. The tour agencies rent out gear for 50 baht per day, plus a refundable 800 baht deposit.
There is also a dive operator in Railay offering scuba trips to further-flung locations in and around Krabi. Prices for local dives in the area start at 3,900 baht for 2 dives going to about 12 meters in depth.
14) Swim in the Glow of Bioluminescent Plankton
The waters around Railay can be one of the best places in Thailand to be able to see the bioluminescent plankton. At night, the tiny little organisms can light up the water with a sparkle. But you’ll need to luck out with the right conditions to be able to actually see the glow.
The best conditions tend to be when it hasn’t been raining and there’s no moon. Even then, it can be tough to see directly from Railay Beach. So there are tours, where operators know the best spots to find Railay’s bioluminescent plankton.
You can take bioluminescence tours from Railay in clear kayaks. Or opt for special paddleboards outfitted with blue lights that make the ocean glow. Rates are 900 baht for this experience. Alternatively, a 300 baht bioluminescence tour will take you to a swimming spot where the plankton is found. This is bookable at Railay’s tour agencies once you’re there.
15) Take a Day Trip from Railay
In addition to all the many things to do in Railay itself, there are also a number of day trips to consider from Railay. Here are some of the more popular options to consider:
Tiger Cave Temple – There are no tigers at this tiger temple. This is a Buddhist temple and sacred site that is only named as such because of the lore of a wild tiger once inhabiting this cave. In addition to the Tiger Cave itself, there is also 1,237 stairs that lead high up to a viewpoint with a giant golden Buddha. Be prepared to sweat if you want to get rewarded with the awesome views at the top.
This is a sacred site, so modest dress is advised and enforced upon entry. Also, watch out for monkeys!
Day trips from Railay to the Tiger Cave Temple are 400 baht per person. Since it is located near the Krabi Airport, consider a visit here on the way out. Private transfers from Railay to the Tiger Cave Temple and onto the airport are 1,600 baht per group (not per person).
Emerald Pool and Hot Spring Waterfall – Some tours combine a trip to the Tiger Cave Temple with a trip to waterfalls and nearby hot springs.
Hong Island – This beautiful cliff-enclosed island is located about a one-hour boat ride from Railay. It offers more spectacular rock formations, secluded beaches, and snorkeling opportunities. If you’ve already done the local island-hopping tour and are ready for more island fun in the sun, this is the trip to take. Day trips to Hong Island from Railay, including lunch, are 1,600 baht.
❌ Not recommended – Elephant riding and white water rafting are two day trips from Railay we don’t recommend. For elephant riding, there are animal welfare issues and ethical considerations involved with the treatment of the elephants. Meanwhile, we found safety standards to be severely lacking among the whitewater rafting outfitters. Accidents have occurred. Go at your own risk.
Drinking is a thing to do in Railay! And there are certainly no shortage of funky bars to chose from while relaxing in Railay Beach. This is not the party epicenter like some of Railay’s hedonistic neighbors, like Phuket or Phi Phi. But there are still great places in Railay Beach to tie one off and have a really fun night.
Tip: Know About the Drink Prices in Railay
Drink prices in Railay have a much higher mark-up compared to mainland Thailand. Even bottled waters are grossly marked up. Expect to pay at least double the price for drinks and beers in Railay. This is the case for minimarts, bars, and restaurants.
Examples of drink prices in Railay:
- Small Chang beer in a minimart: 60 baht, or more.
- Large Chang beer: 120 baht and up.
- Drinks in bars during happy hours: 120 baht and up.
- Cocktails in Railay bars, normal pricing: 200 baht and up. (Even higher at resorts).
Best Bars in Railay
If going out for drinks (and you should), here are a few of our favorite drinking places and bars in Railay.
Last Bar: Railay’s Party Spot + Muay Thai
This Railay institution isn’t truly the last bar anymore, but it certainly deserves a stop. Go to Last Bar for happy hour from 4:00-10:00 when cocktail prices can drop to 120 baht, large Changs are 90, plus additional bucket specials.
When happy hour stops, the party really starts. The Last Bar often puts on shows during high season, starting sometime after 10:00 pm. Walk by during the day to see when the next one is. Expect to see live music, a fire show, and even Muay Thai boxing.
The Last Bar is where professional Muay Thai events take place too. They are sporadically scheduled throughout the year. If there’s a Muay Thai event happening during your visit, don’t miss it.
Flame Tree – Railay’s Sunset Bar on the Beach
The Flame Tree is another long-held Railay institution. Directly on the beach in front of Walking Street, Thai mats are strategically placed in the sand to provide you an excellent view for sunset. Flip through the extensive drink menu to pick your poison and sink into the sand as the sun sinks into the sea!
Tew Lay Bar – Railay’s Awesome Treehouse Bar
This unique bar is our favorite spots to grab a drink in Railay. Actually it’s one our favorite places to have a drink in the world. At Tew Lay Bar there are tree-house-like platforms that jut right over into the Andaman Sea.
Just look at this place! It’s truly incredible.
To get to Tew Lay Bar, walk along Railay East and continue walking past the Last Bar, for about 5-10 minutes. Tew Lay Bar is a bit out of the way, but its remoteness adds to its charm and uniqueness. There’s nothing else around Tew Lay Bar, which is part of what makes this place so awesome.
And although Tew Lay is on Railay East, it still makes a fantastic place to watch a sunset in Railay. The land here actually curves around and you end up facing back towards the isthmus making for an unforgettable sunset.
Go here, order a drink, and wipe away all your cares in the world.
Bars on Walking Street – Chillout Bars with Live Music
Over the past few years, a number of small mellow bars have sprouted up along Railay’s walking street. Some have live acoustic music in the evening, so it’s become a great place to gather and listen to the tunes. Expect to hear lots of Marley, as some of these bars have strong reggae themes. On that note, you can also easily find “happy” drinks and snacks.
Sit down on a matt or pull up a barstool at these ultra-casual open-air bars and relax! A few of our favorites here include:
- Jamaica bar – Reggae themed bar with great live music and attentive staff.
- Boat bar – Tiny boat-shaped bar that can be a novelty to drink at.
- Bamboo bar – Small relaxed bar.
- Skunk bar – Has many “happy” options available to smoke, drink, or eat.
- Black Pearl Bar – Often has live music.
- Chillax Bar – Small nautical-themed bar.
- Skunk house bar – Friendly bartenders eager to play games with patrons.
Bars in Railay East near Last Bar
Leading up to Last Bar are a handful of smaller establishments with a more relaxed vibe.
We’re particularly fond of the Why Not Bar. Here the friendly bartenders serve cold drinks along with a game or a brainteaser. Drink prices are cheap by Railay standards and the tunes are good. Why Not bar is a simple place, but you can’t ask for much more in a bar.
Drink on a Boat!
Hire a longtail boat to take you to some remote islands and pack an ice chest (cooler, esky) full of beers. You can buy ice at most hotels in Railay. If you do form your own booze cruise, just be sure to take all those empty cans back with you to recycle.
Also, know that the local islands are part of the National Park, so they’re alcohol-free zones. Bringing beers onto the beaches of Poda Island and Tup Island (visited during the 4-island tour) is prohibited. Yet you can still organize a scenic route to enjoy a few boat beers through the islands. Talk to the longtail boat guys to devise a plan. Going just before sunset can be a nice idea.
While we wouldn’t suggest coming to Railay particularly for its food, there are a growing number of good restaurants here. Local Thai food is most common, of course. All of the Thai favorites can be found in Railay. And it’s mostly pretty good quality.
Being here amongst the ocean, seafood abounds. Fresh catches are often shown displayed on ice in front of restaurants.
Being a predominantly Muslim area of Thailand, much of the cuisine in Railay is halal. You certainly won’t find pork on any of the menus.
Most restaurant prices remain affordable outside the resorts. Local Thai cuisine, such as curries and pad thai, range from 80-120 baht in the more casual restaurants. Fresh seafood dishes are priced 250-400 baht and are often priced by weight.
Cheap Eats of Walking Street
Walking Street boasts the biggest assortment of local restaurants at affordable prices. They each have similar menus, which are presented in front of each establishment. So don’t hesitate to browse through the menus to compare. We’ve been to most of these restaurants. While each has been very satisfying, we haven’t found a favorite that stands out above the rest.
Although Thai food is most prominent (and delicious) in Railay, you can also find many other western staples, pizza, Indian cuisine, kebabs, vegetarian food, and much more. Here are some of the local joints you can find on Walking Street, from our most recent visit:
- 1 Stop – Vegetarian and vegan food.
- Railay Fast Food – Offering roti, Thai pancakes, shakes, and other quick items.
- Kebab stand (no name) – The only stand in the middle of Walking Street has great chicken wraps and other cheap eats.
- Cafe Railay Story – Standard Thai staples and some western favorites at affordable prices.
- Railay Thai Cuisine – All the Thai favorites + good pizza from a wood-burning oven. Prices are slightly higher than in other restaurants. But quality is good, as this is where the cooking school is.
- Railay Various Cafe – Has various Thai and western foods at affordable prices
- Coco Restaurant – Inexpensive Thai food
- Railay Family Restaurant – Thai cuisine at affordable prices
- Mangrove Restaurant – Thai cuisine at affordable prices
- Local Thai Food Restaurant – the name says it all
- Baan Tree – Sandwiches, ice cream, and coffee. Lunch only. One of the few places with air-conditioning.
- Kohinoor – Northern Indian cuisine that also serves pizza and pasta
- Fusion Sushi – Run by a Thai guy who formerly worked in a sushi restaurant in Sweeden. Roll prices: 250-300 baht.
Resort Restaurants in Railay
Most of the resorts in Railay have their own restaurants and we’ve found them to be more of a miss than a hit. The resort menu prices do tend to be higher than other restaurants, but the mark-up isn’t outrageous. That said, be careful of the prices of the iced-up “fresh” seafood, which is charged by the kilogram. We found those seafood selections at the resorts to be both overpriced and lacking in quality.
Instead of the pay-by-weight seafood on the beach, we’ve found that the reasonably priced crab dishes at the resort restaurants menus can be a good bet for both value and taste.
Some of the resorts offer a buffet dinner with a show. It can make for a fun night out and you don’t have to be a guest of the resort to attend. For example, Sunrise Tropical Resort, on Railay East, has a Friday night buffet with a Thai dancing show for 599 baht.
Longtail Boat Take-Out at Phra Nang Beach
One unique dining experience in Railay is to get lunch from one of the longtail boats that have full kitchens on board. Longtail boats tend to anchor around Phra Nang beach to offer beachgoers meals-to-go. It’s like a food truck rally but with longtail boats!
Wade shin-deep into the water, place your order, and then enjoy a fresh-cooked meal on the beach. Menus are surprisingly extensive for such small operations. Quality can vary.
At last count, there are a total of sixteen hotels and resorts spread out across Railay East and West.
Four of those resorts have a beachside location along Railay West. The other dozen hotels are located on Railay East, which is not a beach. But those bay-view hotels still boast beautiful views of the limestone cliffs that surround. Prices for Railay East hotels tend to be more economical with the same level of comfort as the Railay West hotels.
If you want to be on or near the beach, then you must be sure to book a place at Railay West. While the walk from Railay East to the Railay West beach is only about 5-10 minutes, it can be nice to be close to Railay’s beaches.
Again, here’s a map of Railay to help visualize the lay of the land.
Beach Resorts of Railay West
Sand Sea Resort: Best Value on the Beach
Sand Sea Resort is a 3.5-star hotel, located on the beach with private bungalows scattered throughout the interior. These bungalows are spacious with verandas, some poolside. Dusky leaf monkeys live in the trees towering over the bungalows and can be regularly sighted. The resort has a beachfront pool and restaurant, in which a hot buffet breakfast is usually included in the rate.
Sand Sea typically has the best prices of Railay West’s four resorts. Expect rates of about $100/night, which can drop below $40 during low season for a particularly great value. Compare prices at Sand Sea Resort
Railay Bay Beach Resort & Spa: 4-star Beachside
Railay Bay Beach Resort and Spa is a 4-star resort located along the beach of Railay West, neighboring the Sand Sea resort. We find it to be comparable to Sand Sea, albeit usually with higher prices. To further compare, their rooms are a slight step up, they have a bar with alcohol (Sand Sea does not), and their pool has better beach views. But prices are usually much higher. If rates are in the same range, it’s definitely worth considering this great resort on Railay West. Check current rates for Railay Bay Resort.
Railay Village Resort: 4-star Resort Near Walking Street
Railay Village is another 4-star resort with rooms that are wrapped around its central pool. This is the closest resort to Walking Street, so it has a very convenient beachfront location. While it’s a 4-star resort, we find it to be similar in quality to Sand Sea. But it can occasionally have attractive prices, so it’s definitely worth checking. Check rates for your travel dates.
Rayavadee: Railay’s 5-Star Luxury Resort
Rayavadee is, by far, the nicest and most luxurious resort in Railay. It also has prices that reflect this. Rayavadee is an upscale jungle paradise that oozes luxury. If you can afford it, don’t hesitate to stay here. Otherwise, at least have a look here to swoon over this impressive resort in Railay.
More Affordable Alternatives to Staying by the Beach: Railay East
While it’s nice to stay at one of the four resorts that have beach access, you may want to consider Railay East options for more affordability, particularly if booking during high season in Railay. From around November into April, prices for beachfront properties may exceed your budget. In that case, we recommend staying in Railay East, which still has some fantastic resorts that will likely cost much less. The only setback is having a short, yet pleasant, walk to get to the beach. Here are a few standouts on Railay West to consider:
🏨 Avatar Railay – This resort receives rave reviews from its guests and often maintains affordable pricing even during high season. What makes Avatar a particularly attractive option is how the back of the rooms open up to the pool for some awesome affordable luxury! Check prices and take a look at this poolside room set-up.
🏨 Railay Princess Resort & Spa – This resort is often the least expensive 4-star resort on Railay, has a beautiful pool under the limestone cliffs, and central location on Railay East.
🏨 Railay Great View Resort – The name doesn’t lie. The views here are great! Railay Great View Resort also boasts cottages that are secluded, tucked up in the jungle, and offer views of Railay’s cliffs. So it’s certainly worth considering. Just be aware that’s it’s a bit of a walk to get to the beach and other parts of Railay.
🏨 Anavaylee – This may not be the nicest resort on the peninsula, but it is often the cheapest resort in Railay. If you’re looking for a bargain, Anavaylee is a good place to check. This three-star hotel sometimes lists rooms in the $20-range during the off-season and under $40 per night during high season.
Backpackers Can Find Cheap Hostels in Ton Sai
Meanwhile, backpackers, solo travelers, or those on a tight budget may be served better by staying in neighboring Tonsai. It’s about a 45-minute (2km) walk from Tonsai to Railay or a 5-minute longtail boat ride. Tonsai has hostels, while Railay is more geared for hotels and resorts (even though sometimes those can be had near hostel prices during the off-season).
If it’s a hostel you’re after, try the Chill Out Bar & Bungalow in Ton Sai. Beds in shared rooms start at about $12/night and private rooms usually are around $20/night or so. Check current prices and recent reviews on HostelWorld.
Finding a Hotel Deal for Railay
During the off-season in Railay, you may be able to find the Sand Sea listing at $40 per night (plus tax) including breakfast, which is an absolute steal. Rates such as this can be rare, so just know that if you’ve found a room for under $100 per night, you’ve done well and it is worth it to book! $100+ per night is the going rate during high season. We often find those bargain rates on Railay using HotelsCombined to compare the prices at these two hotels across all major booking sites (Hotels.com, Agoda, Expedia, Booking, etc.).
Many booking sites often run specials for Railay hotels, particular during the off-season and shoulder season in Railay, so definitely search them all (or use the widget below). We’ve seen some of the best rates for Railay in May and September. Most rates are cancelable too. See what deals you can find on a Railay hotel!
When coming to hot & humid Railay Beach, be sure to pack light and comfortable outfits for the warm climate. Railay Beach is very casual, so no need to bring clothes to dress up. T-shirts, bathing suits, and sandals are a must!
Rather than focus on clothing, here are a few items to pack specifically for Railay that you may have not considered.
📱 A waterproof case for your mobile phone – You’ll definitely want to have one of these on the Railay four islands tour, so you can take pictures with your phone while not getting it wet. This waterproof phone case fits most sizes and can be submerged down to 100 feet! It’s great to have for kayaking or snorkeling in Railay.
🎒 A dry bag – Chances are you will be arriving to Railay by ferry or will be taking on longtail boat during your trip. Don’t run the risk of your camera and personal belongings getting wet. Pack a dry bag like this to hold any valuable electronics.
🥽 A mask and snorkel – There are some decent snorkeling opportunities in Railay and throughout Thailand. Rather than have to track down a place to rent a mask from by placing a hefty deposit, just bring your own. If you don’t already own one, this is a great mask for a great price. Or try one of these cool new 180-degree full-face snorkel masks!
🍾 Why bring drinks Railay – While you can easily find beer and spirits in Railay, the prices are double (or more) compared to elsewhere in Thailand. So if you’re budget-sensitive, bring your own booze from mainland Thailand instead of buying it at Railay Beach.
💵 Baht– Most places on Railay deal in cash, so make sure you have some. There are a few ATMs on Railay, so you’ll be fine if you plan to simply withdraw funds. But if you plan to exchange currency, do that before arriving at Railay Beach. Exchange rates are much higher here than on mainland Thailand.
🦟 Eco-friendly mosquito repellents – There are mosquitos in Railay, particularly during the late afternoon and early evening. While mosquito repellent with DEET can be very effective, it also kills fish and marine life when it washes off in the ocean. So consider a natural mosquito repellent like this instead.
😎 Sun protection – Don’t forget your sunglasses, sunscreen, and hats to keep away those harmful UV rays.
🔌 Power adapters – Thailand has the same outlets (Type C) as found through most of Europe. To keep your phone, camera, and gadgets charged, be sure to pack a few adapters. Or better yet, get a universal adapter to use virtually anywhere in the world.
🔦 Flashlight – When walking back to your hotel after a night out in Railay, you’ll find barren, dark, unlit walkways. There isn’t much lighting. A flashlight is a must! We love this portable and inexpensive, yet super powerful flashlight.
🩲 Breathable underwear – Railay gets very hot and humid. Come prepared to avoid chafing. These ExOfficio underwear are so worth it for guys to keep comfortable, not sweaty, and not stinky! ExOfficio also makes bikini briefs for the ladies.
💦 Lightweight quick-drying towel – You may not be permitted to bring the hotel’s towels with you to the beach or on island-hopping excursions. So be sure to pack a beach towel that isn’t going to weigh you down. We love these lightweight quick-drying microfiber towels. Order the large one, which you can also use as a beach blanket.
🌧️ Rain jacket (if it’s the wet season) – If you’re traveling to Railay from May to October, you’ll likely experience some rain. Be sure to pack a rain jacket. We like these Columbia rain jackets for women and for men.
⚠️ Don’t Forget Travel Insurance – You never know what can happen during a trip to Thailand. We never travel through Thailand without travel insurance and highly recommend it. It will protect you from unforeseen circumstances like getting sick, flight cancelations, natural disaster like tsunamis, valuables becoming lost, getting hurt rock climbing, monkey bites (more common than you’d think), a ferry accident, Dengue fever, and so many more unfortunately possibilities that can arrise. We use and have been happy with World Nomads, with its good price and coverage combination.
Enter the dates for your trip to get a quick estimate. If you’ll be rock climbing and snorkeling in Railay, consider upgrading to the “Explorer plan.”
🧳 What Else To Pack for Your Thailand Trip? The packing suggestions above are just a few recommendations specific to Railay Beach Thailand. Be sure to check out our Ultimate Packing Checklist for other packing tips and to ensure you haven’t forgotten anything important!
If you’re planning a trip to Railay, Thailand, we hope this travel guide has proven helpful to provide a bit of inspiration or ideas for your trip.
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