Railay is a great beach destination. It has a good balance between natural beauty and tourism infrastructures. Although it’s getting busier and busier, the island still has a lot of charm. The West Beach is a very nice beach surrounded by limestone cliffs on both side. A real postcard picture with pure white sand and clear water.

Suitable for families (nice hotels, beautiful beach, relatively easy to reach) and backpackers (beer, music, cheap guesthouses) alike, the island is a paradise for rock climbers but will also make a great gateway for a good stay by the sea.

If we had to compare it to other beach destinations in Thailand, Railay would be more beautiful and quieter than Phuket, Koh Yao Noi or Koh Yao Yai. It is also livelier than the 2 Koh Yao islands (but nothing too crazy, this is not Patong in Phuket or Ko Phi Phi or Koh Lanta).
The 10-minute ride on a long-tail boat is well worth it since Railay is 10 times better than the Ao Nang beach area (that you will get to see when you board your boat). The destination is popular with Western (with Russians leading the pack) and Asian tourists.

How accessible is it from Singapore?

Singapore to Railay journey details

The total door to door journey from (your home/office in) Singapore to your hotel will take you about 5 hours. The trip includes flight, taxi and boat transfers.

Getting there is relatively fast and easy. The only challenge can be the access to the boat at low tide since there is no pier. Nothing too complicated but walking for 50 meters or so with water up your knees with your luggage (and children?) on the back can be a little uncomfortable.

Given the flights timing (1.20 pm or 2pm), it’s best to go to Railay for 2 and a half days (Friday afternoon off). Stay longer if you can since you will be able to stay busy with the different boat excursions if you are bored with the beach. Going there on the Saturday afternoon and leaving back on the Sunday may live you with a taste of frustration with less than 24 hours on site.

How much is this going to cost us?

Transport wise, the total return trip will cost about SGD 525 for 2 persons. This estimate includes taxi, flights, taxi transfer to the pier and boat.
Accomodation wise, you will find a wide range of options. From cheap guesthouses (from SGD 20 a night) to nice hotels (up to SGD 300 a night).

Once there, costs for food and drinks are relatively high for Thai standards but still very reasonable. Most activities are free and excursions are not too expensive.

How remote and risky is it?

Medical infrastructures on the islands are minimal but overall the island is safe. You will need to take a boat back to Ao Nang and Krabi in case anything serious happens.

What about the kids?

Railay is a family friendly destination and you can bring kids and babies (but will need to pack all the necessary food and supplies for babies as they are not available on the island). Bring a baby carrier. You may have to carry your children to reach your boat at low tide (there is no pier)

When should we go?

The best period to visit Railay – Krabi and avoid the rain season are the months of January, February, March, April and December. Refer to the chart in the sidebar for details about the monthly average rain volumes and rainy days.

Connections from Railay

If you have more time, you could combine trip to another island in the Krabi area such as Ko Lanta. You could also cross the bay and transfer to Phuket or Koh Yao Noi and Koh Yao Yoi.

Getting from Singapore to Railay

Getting from Singapore to Krabi

The flight timing is not ideal for a quick weekend getaways. However, with a half day off on Thursday or Friday, you can make it work. Example:

Getting there: Tigerair Friday 2:20 PM (SIN) – 3PM (KBV)
or AirAsia Friday 1:20 PM (SIN) – 2:10- PM (KBV)
Coming back: Tigerair Sunday 3:30 PM (KBV) – 6:30 PM (SIN)
Return ticket from SGD 170.

Get your tickets NOW to enjoy the best fares.

Krabi airport is pretty small and recent. The immigration and custom process can take anywhere from 20 minutes to more than 1 hour (it is usually not too bad if you get there early afternoon when the airport is not so busy). You can find small shops with souvenirs and food, a subway and money changers at the airport.



Getting from Krabi  airport to Railay

You can get to Railay by arranging a transfer with your hotel or arranging it on your own. Note that the best option will vary depending on the number of people traveling.  On the way back, it’s wise to arrange with a hotel to make sure you catch your flight. Depending on where you stay (West or East), you may have to arrange your transfer to the East. Ask your hotel what is the best way to reach and how long is the walk from the East or West Beach.

Hotel transfer

Check the price the hotel charges for the transfer and go for this option if it’s too expensive compared to arranging it on your own. For instance for 2 people, the price by taxi and boat would be THB 600 (taxi)+ THB 200 (boat) – see details below. Check with them if they will arrange the boat and van for you exclusively or if you will have to share and wait for other passengers.

Arranging your transfer on your own (assuming you want to arrive on the West Beach)

Step 1: from Krabi airport to Ao Nang Pier

  • Taxi or minivan

You will see a counter to book taxi in the terminal before you exit the building. It’s located on the right hand side, before the exit. The price for a taxi to Ao Nang Pier (up to 4 passengers) is THB 600.
If you need a minivan (up to 10 passengers), the price is THB 1050.
These prices are one way. The ride takes about 40 minutes.

  • Bus

Buses run regularly -ask at the counter at what time is the next bus- between the airport and Ao Nang. A ticket costs THB 150 per person. If it’s 4 of you travelling, you are better off taking a taxi for the same total price. The ride takes about 45 minutes.

The taxi will drop you somewhere along Ao Nang beach. Chances are it will be a restaurant where you can wait for the boat. They may stop on the way and ask if you want to arrange your hotel booking through their agent. The stop takes 2 minutes. It’s annoying but not a bid deal.

Step 2. Boat transfer

If you did not arrange the transfer with your hotel, you will then need to wait for enough passengers (usually 10 adults) before a long tail boat will take you to Railay. It is usually not a problem as many tourists do the same.

At low tide, you will have to walk for a quite a long distance on the beach and in the water to reach the boat (there is no pier). Make sure you have bags that are easy to carry and avoid heavy suitcases and strollers as you will need to carry them.
At high tide, boarding is not an issue but you will have to put your feet in the water. Do wear a short or skirt or swimming suit.

The boat ride is nice and you get to see some nice cliffs on the way. Long tail boats are very loud and younger children may be scared by the noise. The ride itself is just 10 minutes and pretty straightforward. Boats are equipped with lifejackets and there are many boats on that route in case anything happens.

Once you get to Railay West Beach you may have to walk to reach your hotel. There are no car in Railay. If you travel with heavy luggage, ask your hotel to arrange someone to help you carry your stuff from the boat to your hotel.

Where to stay in Railay

As much as possible, try to stay on the West Beach. The West Beach is definitely much nicer than the East Beach in terms of scenery, sand and water clarity.
There are fewer hotels and resorts on the West Beach. They tend to be higher end than on the East Beach.

We stayed at the Railay Village Resort. The room and pool are nice but we found it was overpriced for that level of quality in Thailand. The restaurant and breakfast were disappointing (but that’s OK as there are many alternatives available around). It’s probably still one of the best options (for a luxury family weekend).

There are a dozen of cheap guesthouses stuck on one stretch of the East Coast. They can be OK if you are on a budget but otherwise, I would avoid them to get something on the West Coast. Walking from the East to the West cost takes around 5 minutes so you may chose to stay on the East and still enjoy the West.

If you are more into Bob Marley, cheap beers, parties and backpackers experience, try Tonlai beach. It’s cheaper and has a different atmosphere. Popular with young climbers. It’s a good 15 minutes walk away from West Beach.

As always, we recommend you book early to enjoy the best rates (and ensure you find a room , which can be a challenge during the high season – December, January). Make sure you select Railay as a lot of booking platform group it together with other areas in Krabi.

or, if you prefer, with

To see & to do in Railay

Railay is not an island but feels like it. 2 beautiful beaches, gorgeous limestone cliffs, white sand, and clear water. A large range of restaurants and hotels and activities.

Enjoy the West Beach

The beach is just beautiful. Just go there and enjoy some time on the beach. Some people play volleyball, a lot just lay down on the sand or swim. Many long tail boats come and go from the West Beach and this can get a bit annoying as some are very loud. The beach has clear limits for boats and you can swim quietly on the side. You can also rent a kayak and go take a closer look at the limestone cliffs. Note that you may not be able to rent kayak during the low tide.

There are many restaurants on the beach side. It’s actually relatively well done since you do not see them too much from the beach and they are all at a reasonable distance from the water, leaving a large sandy area for you to enjoy and preserving the beauty of the area.

You will see the “Walking Street” in the middle of the beach. That’s the place you want to visit to get your beer (restaurants don’t serve alcohol but you can get some from that street and drink it at your table in the restaurant).

East Beach

The East beach is not as beautiful and is very muddy at low tide. There are many cheap guesthouses and restaurants on the Northern end of it. Not much to do there. There is a very ugly plastic floating pier right in the middle of the beach. That does not help.

Rock climbing

At the southern end of the East Beach is the main climbing area. You can rent equipment and or take lessons (about THB 1500 per day) at one of the shops on the East Beach.

Ao Pranang

This amazing beach with rock formations is hidden at the Southern end of Railay. You can access it from the East Beach. Simply follow the path and signs. You will see an interesting “temple” with phallus shaped sculptures. This area is by far the quietest part of the island and the beach looks simply amazing. Go there early in the morning to enjoy it. Later in the day some small restaurant boats may land on the beach.

Lagoon and Viewpoint trek

You will see on the map a Lagoon and a Viewpoint. The path starts from the East Beach Both the lagoon and viewpoint can only be accessed by climbing up the rock.

The path is equipped with ropes but is a no go for parents with young children or infants. It is not suited for people with limited mobility or fear of heights. You should also not attempt the climb if it is raining as it gets very slippery. You will need to use your hands to climb up and down. However, there is nothing extraordinary technical.

The viewpoint path is physical but feasible if you are in decent physical condition (no climbing skills required). Once you reach there you will have a great view over both beaches. You’ll find yourselve on top of the East Beach, close to the climbing area overlooking the whole Railay area.

The lagoon path gets pretty complicated when you are close to the lagoon and some ropes are missing. You can start the path but you may not be able to reach the lagoon as the last part is tough (the lagoon may actually be a pile of mud depending on the season).

There is no water or food available on the way so make sure you drink enough before getting there or take a bottle with you. You will need your hands so get a backpack if you plan to carry stuff with you.

Boat excursion

All hotels can arrange boat tour excursions with long tail boats. You can also get a ticket on a speedboat to go to Ko Phi Phi for instance. It costs about THB 400 per person per way and leaves at 9.45 AM and takes about 2 hours. A day trip may be too short as the boat leaves Phi Phi at 3.30PM on the way back, allowing you only 4 hours to enjoy Phi Phi.

More info to prepare your trip

Wifi will be available in most of the hotels or guesthouses.

What to pack for Railay 

Your main bag

That’s the one you leave at the hotel. Ideally you want to avoid checking in your luggage when flying. So check the weight and dimensions for hand carry luggage with your airlines (some airlines will allow only 7kg, some will allow up to 10kg). From head to toes.

  • Short sleeves tops: your main outfit. Everybody will see them on all your pictures. You really want to take that old Mickey Mouse T-shirt? Be mindful that you will be in a different environment so it might be a good idea to adjust your wardrobe.
  • Long sleeves tops: to protect yourself from the sun (if you’ve stayed for 5 hours on a motorbike with short sleeves you know what I mean) or to enter religious buildings or to protect yourself from mosquitoes in the evening.
  • Pullover. Yes I know, you’re going to a country where the temperature never goes down below 25 degrees and you need to pack a pullover? You will thank us when you’re back. Remember that flight during which  you were freezing? Or this museum where the aircon is set to the “polar bear” temperature?
  • Short/skirt (you should be able to chose the appropriate one by yourself).
  • Trousers for the same reasons you need to take long sleeves tops. Jeans are usually not a good option. They are heavy and keep you too warm.
  • Underwear: well, you know. If you plan to walk or ride motorbikes for long hours, take something comfortable as the combination heat + friction can make you regret this sophisticated silk underwear. Cotton is good.
  • Shoes: one pair of flip flap and one pair of confortable shoes. Remember that you are going to spend most of the time on your feet. Forget about high heels and leave your Westons at home.
  • Swimsuit: even if you don’t plan to go to the beach, you never know. A nice river, a swimming pool, a heavy rain? Always have one with you.
  • Raincoat and protection for your bag. Even if you are visiting the country during the “best season”, you never know what the sky will be like.
  • Torch: take a pocket torch with you if you visit countries where the power is not reliable… Can come very handy when stuck in the dark in your room.
  • Toilet bag: Shampoo, soap, toothbrush & toothpath, deodorant, sun screen, tiger balm. Ideally, all these in miniature formats.
  • Sleeping bag liner (if you plan to stay in very cheap or dirty places, not required if you are staying in a 5-star hotel…)
  • Your IT stuff: iPad, eBook, laptop, chargers, memory card, batteries, etc.
  • Dryer sheets: they will help keep a fresh smell in your bag.

Your small bag

That’s the one you keep with you, all the time. Hence, a backpack is the best option.

  • Your passportcashcredit cards and other life saving items like your insurance card with emergency contact details. Not a bad idea to put them in a zip-lock bag  in case it rains. It will keep your documents dry.
  • Your driver’s licence if you plan to rent a car or a motorbike (some countries are quite particular about this so take it with you in case you are not sure, even for a motorbike rental).
  • Your emergency medical kit: painkillers, mosquitoes repellent, dressing/plaster, disinfectant, anti diarrhea, eyewash
  • Tissues and toilet paper (you will thank me later). Remember that in a lot of countries, you will not be provided napkins when having a meal.
  • Water – plastic bottles are a good option as they are lighter than a gourd/flask.
  • Biscuits (always buy some before you go when you are not sure what you will find. Always have “emergency” biscuit  and water in case you cannot find food around and need to recharge batteries)
  • Sunglasses: you’ll need them. Take them even if it’s raining. Weather can change very fast in the region.
  • Scarf (krama, or any kind of fabric that you can use to put around your neck, put on your head to protect it from the sun, cover your shoulders in temples, dry your sweat, etc). Can come very handy in some situation. It will not stay clean for long so it’s wise to pick a dark color…
  • Camera and its protection.

Beach pack

Remember that this one comes on top of the Regular pack (above)

  • Beach towel or equivalent (pareos / sarongs are lighter)
  • Snorkeling equipment: mask, scuba, (fins?)
  • Shoes you can wear on the beach or in the water (to protect your feet from being cut by corals)
  • Dry bag if you plan to go on a boat and want to keep your stuff dry.

Well, you will probably adjust your bag after a few trips. Remove the stuff that you have not used and add the one that you missed. Post a comment to share your tips!

Happy packing (it’s the worse part of the trip but it’s worth it…) and travelling!

Thailand

Thailand

  • Language: Thai.
  • Time zone: Bangkok and across the country GMT +7  hours.
    1h behind Singapore
  • Currency: Thai Baht (THB)
  • Phone: + 66
  • Electricity: 220V 60 Hz

Immigration and airport taxes on arrival

If you are a citizen from the following countries, you possess a passport with at least 6 months validity, and you are staying up to 30 days, then you do NOT need any Tourist visa to enter Thailand.

  • Visa exemption rule applies for: Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam.
  • If you hold a passport from another country, you will need to apply for a visa on arrival at the airport customs. A visa for 15 days costs 1000 Bahts.

National Public Holidays in Thailand

2015

January 1 New Years Day
March 4 * Makha Bucha Day
April 6 * Chakri Day
April 13 Thai New Year
April 14 Thai New Year
April 15 Thai New Year
April 16 Thai New Year
April 17 Thai New Year
May 1 Labour Day
May 5 * Coronation Day
June 1 * Visakha Bucha Day
July 30 * Asahna Bucha Day
August 12 H.M. Queen’s Birthday
October 23 Chulalongkorn Day
December 5 H.M. King’s Birthday
December 10 Constitution Day
December 31 New Year’s Eve

* check the exact date on this website as it varies from one year to another.