Whilst I wrote about why I didn’t enjoy my time on Koh Phi Phi, Railay is a totally different story. After spending a few days in Bangkok, we boarded an Air Asia flight to Krabi, then hopped in a long tail boat around the side of the country, to Railay. You may already know that I am a nervous flyer and I had read some serious horror stories about Air Asia’s flights! I needn’t have worried though, we were on time and it was smooth sailing all the way. I would definitely be more open to booking internal local flights on my future travels.
Railay is actually part of the main country in Thailand but, thanks to the high limestone cliffs, it is only accessible by boat, which gives it that island feel. Despite being small, it has two very different beaches, the east side with its darker more shaley sand, and the west side with white soft sand and bright blue sea.
We stayed at Railay Great View Resort on the east side of Railay, where you can really be at one with nature. I wouldn’t recommend it if you have mobility issues or are out of shape as each room is situated a steep walk into the cliff side. The amazing benefit of this is that you are incredibly secluded and you get regular visits from the monkeys!
These little guys were fighting with each other and there was also a baby monkey with them, he managed to evade my camera unfortunately!
Each room is individual with a thatched roof, spacious bathroom and mosquito nets that, let me tell you, you definitely in this area! The air conditioning was spot on and the TV had English speaking channels with no interference, something we seemed to struggle with elsewhere on our trip.
The beds are large and soft, the rooms are so quiet you can hear nothing but the rustle of the jungle and the waves smashing into the shore. Because it is so quiet, you can also hear the long tail boat engines coming and going from the jetty throughout the night but I found this strangely soothing.
The bathrooms are huge with a wet room style shower and floor to ceiling windows, which really helps with the ‘at one with nature’ feel about this hotel.
Room service is available at no extra cost and we enjoyed eating on our terrace whilst listening to the rain hammering down on the roof above us.
Phra Nang Beach is a short walk from the hotel down a narrow manmade path and offers the most beautiful sunsets I had witnessed at this point. The towering rocks reminded me of the film, The Beach, and I truly felt like I was in another world. The Phra Nang Cave was certainly an eye opener, filled with phallic ornaments. There is a plaque at the entrance to the cave which explains that, villagers believe that Phranang (Princess Goddess) resides in the cave, and the phallic ornaments were pledged by fishermen for good luck. The cave is surrounded by towering cliffs where rock climbing and abseiling is the name of the game, if that is your thing.
The beaches on the west side of Railay have soft white sand, but still benefit from the towering rock formations and incredible sunsets. At night, local bars put candles out and blankets, so you can buy a beer and sit on the sand to watch the sun go down. It is a truly magical experience and one that I will never forget. We visited mid season so it was still fairly quiet and it really did feel like a slice of paradise, sharing the beach with just a handful of people.
If beaches aren’t your thing, Railay Great View Resort has a stunning infinity pool which is surrounded by enough trees to be secluded, but also with enough space between to take in the views out to the islands. There is a free boat shuttle from the hotel’s jetty over to the main jetty, which is perfect for hitting the bars or taking a trip to the islands. The bars are particularly laid-back although slightly more expensive than Bangkok, mainly because there isn’t much competition! There are lots of tour companies offering trips or ferry shuttles to the mainland.
I fell in love with Railay for its secluded beaches, array of activities if you want them and the general laid-back feel of the nightlife. The monkeys were the icing on the cake.