If you are planning a day trip from Ao Nang to Railay Beach this post is for you. You will find out how to get to Railay Beach from Ao Nang on a long-tail boat, what are the alternatives, what to do around Railay Beach and much more!
You know those pictures of crystal clear water, white sand, colourful fishing boats and towering limestone cliffs in the distance? Yes, those that made you dream of Thailand?
This is Railay Beach baby!
Krabi is one of Thailand’s most beautiful provinces and is famous for its breathtaking scenery. With its picturesque islands such as Railay, Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta, all offering unique experiences, Krabi is a dream come true for many. And it was the same for me.
There are many places you can stay in to explore Krabi province. I chose Ao Nang as the base from which I decided to go on day trips. One of the best day trips you can do from Ao Nang is a day trip to Railay.
I was so excited about this trip. I’ve been dreaming of visiting Thailand for the longest time and to finally see the postcard-perfect Thai beach felt surreal yet so exciting!
There are many ways to get to Railay Beach from Ao Nang. One of the most popular and cheapest options is to take a longtail boat and spend a whole day exploring the area. Because Railay Beach is so much more than just this one picturesque white sandy beach.
In this article, you’ll find out how to get to Railay Beach from Ao Nang and other parts of Thailand, what to do and how to make the most of the day.
Table of Contents
What is Railay Beach Famous for?
Railay Beach is famous for its breathtaking natural beauty and is a popular destination for rock climbing enthusiasts. The beach itself is surrounded by towering limestone cliffs, clear turquoise waters and lush greenery. It is one of the most picturesque places I have ever seen.
Railay Beach is also a very affordable way to escape the hustle and bustle of Ao Nang and a cheaper alternative to island hopping tours. That is, if you follow my tips.
Is Railay Beach Worth Visiting?
Railay Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the province of Krabi, perhaps even in the whole of Thailand, and is worth a visit for that reason alone. It is also less crowded with tourists and has a much more relaxed atmosphere than other extremely popular destinations.
It’s worth both visiting Railay Beach on a day trip as well as staying on Railay Beach for a few days to experience its spectacular beauty and relaxed vibe.
How to get to Railay Beach from Ao Nang
Railay Beach from Ao Nang by Longtail Boat
The best way to reach Railay Beach from Ao Nang is by longtail boat, which departs from Ao Nang Beach several times a day.
It is crazy simple and super affordable. All you need to do is arrive at Ao Nang Beach, and first head to the ticket booth, which is located here. It’s easy to spot as you will see all the boat drivers resting nearby and most likely there will be a small queue to the ticket booth.
The return ticket from Ao Nang to Railay costs 200Baht per person. After 6:30 pm it will cost 150Baht one way. So if you want to return after sunset, keep that in mind.
If you are not sure if you are going to be returning after or before sunset, you can just get a one-way ticket and get the return ticket once you are at Railay.
From the same ticket booth, you can also purchase your 5 Islands tour and all other exciting tours around Krabi.
Make your way towards where all the boatmen stand and most likely you will hear them shouting: Railay, Railay!
I had to wait a bit as the boat would not leave until full. But I was waiting maybe 10 minutes and was there outside of the peak season. Once the boat is ready to depart, the boatman will shout Railay! again and you will just follow them to the boat.
Please be aware that the entrance to the boat is tricky. You will have to climb the unsteady ladder so if you have mobility issues this might not be the best option for you. The longtail boat I a bit high to get into. Also before getting there, you will have to walk into the sea. Wear shoes that are easy to take off and protect your belongings from getting wet.
After around 10 to 15 minutes you will arrive at Railay West Beach. This is where you will be taking the return boat from.
When you are ready to return to Ao Nang, just come back to the same Railay West Beach and you will find the ticket men standing around. you can either show them the ticket you already have or get a new one.
Can you get to Railay Beach from Ao Nang on Foot?
There is no way of getting from Ao Nang (or anywhere else) to Railay on foot or hiking. The surrounding cliffs are almost vertical and it is not possible to climb over them in order to get to Railay. The only way of getting to Railay Beach is by boat.
I did additional research for those crazy among you who might think maybe you can climb the cliffs to see if there is an unconventional way of getting there. I am sorry to report that I found nothing. You will have to get a boat.
However: There is an unofficial ”Low Tide Beach Walk To Railay” which starts from Ao Nam Mao Beach near the Shell Cemetery (The other side of the peninsula). It is not an easy trail and includes walking on slippery rocks and some parts where you might have to swim across. I officially discourage you from taking this path as it is accessible only during low tide and can be dangerous if the water raises. I have not done it myself, nor do I know anyone who did personally.
Can you drive to Railay Beach from Ao Nang?
Although Railay Beach is not an island, the only way to get there is by boat. Railay is surrounded by huge limestone rocks and there are no roads leading to Railay Penisula.
Can you get to Railay Beach from Krabi Town?
Krabi town is located slightly further away from Railay Beach and it takes around an hour by boat (if not more) to get to Railay from there. And it would definitely be more expensive.
During my stay in Krabi, I took a walk around the riverfront and asked the boatmen if they got to Railay. They said yes but the price would depend on how many people would be in the boat. At the time I was the only one asking for this ride (for research purposes as I already did it from Ao Nang).
From what I gathered it would be hard to get to Railey from Krabi town and then return as there are hardly any people that would make this route. So you would have to ask them to return specifically for you which I guess would be a pretty expensive trip.
The best way to see Railey on a day trip if you are staying in Krabi town would be by taking the 4 Islands tour which would cover Railay but also Phi Phi, Maya Bay and Pileh Lagoon.
Alternatively, you can take Songthaew (a local bus), or a taxi to Ao Nang and take a longtail boat to Railay from there. It is definitely doable this way as it only takes around half an hour to get to Ao Nang from Krabi.
Is there an entry Fee for Railay Beach?
There is no entry fee to Railay Beach and you can walk around and discover other beaches around free of charge.
Can you visit Railay Beach without staying in Ao Nang?
If you dont want to stay in Ao Nang but want to see the Railay beach you can travel to Railay directly from Phuket or Krabi Airport and stay for the night or a few. It is not feasible to travel to Railay just for a day if you are anywhere else but Ao Nang unless you take an organised tour.
A shuttle boat from Phuket will drop you directly at Railay. The journey takes a little over 2 hours.
To get to Railay from Krabi Airport you would have to get to Ao Nang first (by shuttle bus or taxi) and hop on a boat there. For this reason, visiting Railay Beach on a day trip from anywhere other than Ao Nag makes no sense.
But it totally makes sense if you decide to stay for a night or even a few.
So How Much Time do You Need for Visiting Railay Beach?
You can visit Railay Beach on a day trip from Ao Nang, for as little as a couple of hours. The boats from Ao Nang run regularly, so you can be dropped off, spend a couple of hours on the beach and then return.
But with all the great things you can do on Railay, such as visiting other beaches, caves, kayaking, snorkelling, paddle boarding and more, I suggest spending between 4 and 6 hours on Railey.
Is It worth staying at Railay Beach for a night?
You’ll be happy to hear that it’s possible to stay on Railay Beach, and there are many hotels, resorts and even budget hostels for all types of travellers.
If you’re all about a beach getaway and don’t want to do much more than spending a day sunbathing, go kayaking, hiking or even rock climbing, then it’s definitely worth spending a night or two on Railay Beach.
As Railay is a popular destination day trip destination, it gets much quieter in the afternoon when all the day trippers have left.
Please note that if you decide to stay overnight on Railay Beach, your hotel or resort will organise the transport for you. In this case, you will not be taking a longtail boat but the speedboat organised by your accommodation. Most of the time those arrive at Railay East.
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Where to stay at Railay?
Railay Beach can be a destination in itself and many travellers choose to stay there for extended time. Railay is also a very popular vacation destination therefore you will find plenty of accommodation choices around Railay Beach.
From holiday family resorts to affordable (ish) hostels, you will find what suits your needs and budget in Railay.
Railay Phutawan Resort is one of the best hotels on Railay, a true paradise. It offers a gorgeous location and a stunning pool. It is also close to walking street and both beaches.
If you are looking for something more budget-friendly, Railay Garden View Resort is a great option. This resort offers a serene and peaceful location, an authentic beach-like vibe and incredible views!
Finally, for budget travellers, I recommend Blanco Hideout which offers very affordable dorm beds as well as a swimming pool, a great location and a very social vibe.
Things to do at Railay Beach on a Day Trip
Now that you know how to get to Railay Beach from Ao Nang it’s time to find out what can you do at Railay!
Photograph colourful boats and limestone cliffs on Railey West Beach
Railey West Beach (also known as Sunset Beach) is where the longtail boat will drop you off. This is the picture-perfect beach you have been dreaming of.
This is a stunning long beach with spectacular views from all sides!
As soon as I arrived, I went for a swim. I just wanted to touch the water and make sure this thing is for real!
You can stay there for a while as there are bars and restaurants with sun loungers, or you can just walk along the beach and take hundreds of photos!
Admire Railay Beach Stalagmite Formations
On the way to Phra Nang Beach, you will pas few interesting sights such as the incredible stalagmite formations.
Shortly before that, a steep path leads to Railay East Viewpoint. This path is slippery and very steep, and there are ropes to help you climb up. I was not brave enough to do it, but I saw a few people who did. Apparently it’s worth it!
Visit Phra Nang Cave Beach - Its a must!
This absolutely spectacular beach is famous for its powdery white sand, crystal clear turquoise waters and breathtaking limestone cliffs that provide a dramatic backdrop.
Take a stroll along Railay ‘Walking Street’ and follow the signs to Phra Nang Beach. 15 minutes later you will find yourself in paradise. For real! This was the most beautiful beach I have seen in Thailand!
You can easily spend a whole day there. There’s plenty of space for sunbathing and swimming, but you can also rent a kayak or paddle board and learn to rock climb.
Phra Nang Beach is also famous for its Princess Cave, also known as Tham Phra Nang Nok. The cave is filled with offerings to the spirit of the drowned princess and is said to bring fertility and prosperity.
And Bat Cave while you There!
Bat Cave is located at the end of Phra Nang Beach and is a great activity for adventure seekers visiting Railay. It’s not difficult to climb up to Bat Cave, but it can be tricky if you’re wearing unsuitable shoes or aren’t very fit. But it’s perhaps the best cave on Riley, so it’s worth the effort.
As the name suggests, the cave is home to a large colony of bats, and at sunset you can watch thousands of bats come out of the cave in search of food. But don’t worry if you’re not a bat fan.
You’ll also be rewarded with a spectacular view at the top of the cave!
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Or a Diamond Cave
This cave is located near the famous Cave Resort in Railay East. The Diamond Cave is famous for its stunning rock formations and the play of light within the cave, which creates a sparkling effect giving it the name “Diamond Cave”
You can explore the inside of the cave, where you will find impressive stalactites and stalagmites. The cave is well lit and you will find many pathways and raised bamboo platforms.
Learn Rock Climbing at Railay Beach
The Phra Nang Beach attracts rock climbers from around the world. And given this area offers a variety of climbing routes suitable for different skill levels, you can also give it a go in case you have never done it before. It’s pretty cool to watch too!
Visit Tonsai Beach
If Railay is too touristy for you, you should definitely visit Tonsai Beach.
Tonsai Beach is known for its relaxed and bohemian atmosphere. Compared to Railay, the beach has a more rustic and less developed feel. There is also a strong climbing community on the beach and it is not uncommon for climbers to meet up in the evenings to share stories and experiences.
I haven’t hiked from Railay to Tonsai, but apparently, you can and it’s a very easy trail to walk.
You can walk along the beach at low tide or do a jungle hike, which takes about 45 minutes.
Relax at Railay many Bars or Restaurants
Before you take the longtail boat back to Ao Nang, you can chill out in one of the bars or grab lunch. There is a large selection of restaurants, but bear in mind that they are a little more expensive.
I took my lunch with me and ate it on the beach. Because why not?
Useful tips for visiting Railay Beach
Seat at the front of the longtail boat for the best views and to avoid the engine noise.
Get there early, especially in the peak season. Railay is a very popular day trip destination. I visited slightly outside of the high season but even then I recommend making it as early as possible to avoid the crowds.
Watch out for the rocks when swimming at Railey West. I actually hurt my foot while walking into the water. They are spread around so just watch out and you will be fine.
Pack your valuable belongings into the waterproof bag. You will be getting in and out of the wobbly boat and spending time on the beach. Protect your camera or phone from water and sand!
Purchase sunscreen, snacks, water or even lunch before you arrive, as prices tend to be much higher around Railay Beach. I brought a big bottle of water and lunch with me to save some money. But you can of course have lunch in Railay too.
I hope this guide helped you and now you know how to get from Ao Nang to Railey Beach and how to spend a great day there! If I haven’t covered something, comment below and I will definitely answer!
Until then, enjoy Thailand and happy travels!
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