Railay Thailand | The Perfect Beach

Our adventure through Southern Thailand began in the provincial capital of Krabi Town, an easy flight on AirAsia from KL. It was here where Andy experienced his first tuk-tuk ride – a huge hit and nostalgic moment for mom & dad.  We easily arranged a longtail boat from Krabi headed to Railay Beach for a blissful 2 weeks of not having to worry about a 4 year old running into traffic (Railay has no cars!). It wasn’t long before the famous karst spires of the Andaman Sea came into view, a preview of the incredible scenery awaiting us in Railay itself.

Upon arrival to Railay, the backdrop of the beach was simply jaw-dropping in every direction. Even for the most jaded traveler, it would be hard not to be impressed by Railay’s postcard-perfect landscape. This being the rainy season, we often had huge stretches of this incredible beach to ourselves- and had enough sunny days to acquire a few new sunburns. Andy never tired of digging in the sand, collecting shells, and running around with any other random kid that he came across. Even the few rainy days we had didn’t slow him down – rain swimming quickly became a favorite pastime! One storm rolled in with gale force winds that made it hard to keep all of the windows at our house bolted shut, but it was no match for Andy’s desire to shower in the rain.

And the icing on the cake? Our lodging at Railay Beach Club! Without a doubt, this was the coolest place we’d ever stayed at. Our house (Baan Daya 28) was tucked away in the jungle and backed right up to against the cliffs, which were visible from several of the abundant hang-out spots throughout the house. You could even stare at the view from an open-air shower or the purpose-built stargazing porch in the back! The king size bedroom upstairs had so many windows that it often felt like we were sleeping outside, and the well-equipped kitchen allowed us to put together some pretty fantastic curries on rainy days. So cool!

As these houses are all individually owned, there are unique little touches and detail throughout that really made the place feel like home. Intricate Thai wood carvings, flower-adorned shrines, tiger paintings, and prayer flags were just some of the many thoughtful additions. By the time we checked out, we really wished that this house was indeed our home! The staff who managed the place were over-the-top friendly as well, even giving us and our copious amounts of luggage a thrilling ride on a 3 wheeled motorcycle through the jungle from the arrival pier!

To top it off, the house would get plenty of interesting visitors – giant monitor lizards, huge bats, and an adorable family of dusky langurs. These monkeys would even hang out on our roof sometimes, and seeing their silly faces never got old.

Perhaps the most common wildlife encounter we had here was with a wide array of crabs. Despite the homophonic name, Krabi surprisingly doesn’t have anything to do with crabs (google said that it’s a word for an ancient Siamese sword). But the people of Krabi leaned into crab theme nonetheless – erecting a giant mud crab statute in Krabi Town and several restaurants naming themselves after crabs. Andy’s favorite crustaceans were the fiddler crabs (with their single giant claws) crawling all over the mudflats near the Railay East Pier. Other kinds of crabs were omnipresent on the sandy beaches, with one making bizarre crop-circle-esque patterns while feeding at low tide. We made up a fun game based on those patterns too. When we saw someone staring at the sand for a while, the object was to guess if they were looking at the crab designs or had knocked back a psychedelic mushroom shake (sold everywhere here). Think it was mostly the latter 🙂

Tara had been to Railay a decade prior, and was blown away at how quickly development had come. There was not only a huge floating pier on the East side, but a continuous series of bars, restaurants, and cannabis shops connecting the pier to the West side beaches called “Walking Street”. There was some surprisingly good food to be had along the route, including at local chow at Family Restaurant and Local Thai Food (the Indian food at Kohinoor was amazing too). There was also no shortage of aggressive long tailed macaques to separate tourists from their groceries.

The real money-shot in Railay though was at Phranang Beach – a 15 minute walk from our accommodations on Railay West (30 minutes with a lazy and easily distracted toddler). The path to get there curves along the shore of Railay East before cutting across the jungle via a series of super cool cave formations (and more hilarious macaque banditry).

It’s incredibly difficult to do justice to the 360 degree mind blowing views at Phranang Beach – definitely the prettiest beach we’ve ever come across. Plenty of “influencers” to make fun of as well! As an added bonus to killer sunsets here, low tides also expose all kinds of sea creatures and tide pools. For the first time ever, we were able to see the often-collected beach shells with their creators still moving around! Large spiral ones, long conical ones, and Andy’s favorite “pumpkin snails” – so many cool types. Of course no visit to Phranang would be complete without popping into the phallic shrine, where wooden sculptures are offered up to the resident goddess.

Walking to Phranang can be tricky at high tide (check here for timing), which made our kayaking day that much more rewarding. Not only was the beach all but deserted, but were we able to pop into several secluded swimming holes along the way that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

And for rainy days or when the lazies got the better of us, there was always happy hour back at Railay Beach Club’s little tiki bar. Props to the bartenders for creative concoctions like the “Tom Yummy” (which indeed tasted like the famous soup but not in a bad way!) and a delicious passion fruit mojito. Curiously, the jukebox was stuck on repeat on our first night there – we must have heard “It’s A Beautiful Morning” by the Rascals at least 12 times!

Whether an action packed kayak day or just a day reading a book by the water, finding a good spot of sand for a Railay sunset was the way most days ended. It was so refreshing to be able to watch the stars come out after spending most of our Asian trip in larger cities so far. Being mid-June, the Hawaiian constellation called “Maui’s fishhook” (part of the Roman Scorpio) was in prime position above Railay Beach – becoming Andy’s first recognizable star formation. We all loved watching the constellations rotate from our house’s porch, when the resident bats ate enough mosquitoes of course! And thanks to google, we finally figured out what those eerie green lights on the sea horizon were every night – the attraction technique of squid boats visible from space! It was super hard leaving here, and we’ll be back for sure.

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  • SamAugust 16, 2023 - 2:44 am

    Love it! This on my list of places I have to visit!ReplyCancel

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