SEARCH HOTELSLeave "select hotel' blank to see all
Railay & Tonsai Beaches
The two Railay Beaches, Phanang and Tonsai Beaches are on the small peninsula located between Krabi Town and Ao Nang, and only about an hour boat ride from Phi Phi.
These beaches are only accessible by boat!
Railay manages to combine two of Thailand's most unique and desirable attributes in one beautiful setting; Adventure & Relaxation! You can choose as much of each as you would like, and the friendly locals and like-minded tourists make every moment incredible.
Up for a challenge? The climbing on Tonsai is unparalleled and offers climbing from novice to advanced. These cliffs attract rock climbers from all over the world, the views are spectacular!
Massive limestone formations emerge from the warm blues of the Andaman Sea with scattered islands afar. Mirrors of these formations rise on the mainland, supporting dense green foliage growing at odd angles.
Nestled amid these beautiful towers is Railay Beach (Rai Leh). Accessible by longtail boat only, this isolated peninsula offers both seclusion and action packed adventures. Railay Beach is a safe place for families, a fun place for backpackers and a jungle gym for the adventure type.
Regardless if a chill day on the beach is desired or one with rock climbing in the morning and snorkelling in the afternoon, Railay has opportunities to do just that!
Boat Schedules to Ao Nang, Railay and Tonsai from Phi Phi, Ao Nang, Phuket, Koh Lanta and Koh Lipe can be found on our Boat Schedules page
Railay Beach itself consists of three parts; Railay East, Railay West and Phranang Cave Beach. Arrival location depends on where you departed from, but the simple layout makes all of Railay easily accessible. Having no motorcycles on the peninsula, the walking paths are quiet, slow paced and fit for a relaxing walk!
Accommodation ranges from inexpensive bungalows popular with backpackers and climbers, to the the more extravagant and luxurious.
Rock-climbin', sun worshipin', hammok chillin', water swimmin' and good food eat'n!
These beaches have something for everyone!
Recommended Railay and Tonsai Hotels and Hostels
West Railay Beach is a long, postcard perfect, soft, pale crescent of sand. Access to the beach is along Walking Street, the focal point of Railay West.
Walking Street is lined with restaurants and shops, providing nearly any goods needed for a day in the sun and sea. The beach is long and once away from Walking Street, services are limited so stock up on some supplies before hitting the sand!
As the glowing sun goes to rest for the day over the glistening horizon, the sky alights with purples, pinks, oranges and yellows. Following this magical, natural display of light you can expect to see some amazing fire spinning from locals where their tricks with light will leave you blown away!
East Railay Beach is primarily covered in a dense mangrove forest and is used mainly as a docking point. With no beach front in high tide and thick, deep mangrove roots low tide, this beach is not ideal for swimming.
A promenade/boardwalk runs nearly the entire length of the beach, winding through Rayavadee Resort. Further along this path lies a commercial area with many restaurants, shops, and bars. Here it is also possible to find muay thai schools, rock climbing schools, kayaking rentals, and if you walk to the north end of the promenade there are many places with cheaper accommodation than on Railay West.
Phranang Cave Beach is a stretch of long white sand offering access to caves at either end of the beach. Phranang Cave (locally known as the Penis Cave) contains hundreds of carved wooden phallic symbols from ancient times. Before going out to sea fisherman would visit Phranang Cave, the home of a mythical sea princess, in order to make offerings to the symbolic Phallus of Shiva. With these offerings each day believers were granted with successful fishing, protection from dangers and increased fertility.
Two caves containing offerings are tucked into the limestone here but in low tide make sure to check out the cliffs and caves next to these two remarkable caves.
On the opposite side of the beach is Diamond Cave which offers a tough climb to access but once inside can explore the dark, deep depths of a true Thailand cave!
Phranang Cave Beach is unique in the sense that there are no sit-down restaurants and instead food will be cooked aboard a longtail boat! As the tide changes throughout the day so does the restaurant; at times it is floating and others it is sunken into the sand!
One floating restaurant, Arunsiri Travel arrives from Krabi Town each morning, packed with fresh vegetables, meat, noodles, fruit, water, ice cream and beer. Also arriving from Krabi is a great team of locals who, throughout the day, create energy around the boat of efficient, friendly service. Be sure to check them out for some grilled corn, mango shakes or fried rice!
Getting Around Railay : Arrival location depends on where you departed from, but the simple layout makes all of Railay easily accessible. Having no motorcycles on the peninsula, the walking paths are quiet, slow paced and fit for a relaxing walk!
From Walking Street on Railay West take the well trodden path leading into the jungle. Along this path there are more small restaurants and shops as well as a tattoo shop.
Continue on the dense earth trail all the way to Railay East. There are small directional signs posted along the way and the trip should take about 15 minutes. Once arriving at Railay East, walk toward the pier to gain access to Phranang Cave Beach.
Past the pier on Railay East, a cool, shadowed path snakes its way to Phranang Cave Beach. Scramble up the hidden trail on the rock face to enter a surreal bliss atop a limestone formation. With a few small ropes and some hand/foot holds this is an adventurous climb to a viewpoint of the entire Railay.
After the exerting climb and some deep breaths from the viewpoint, plunge into the clean lagoon perched atop this cliff! Plan this climb during high tide as the lagoon itself experiences high and low tides. A great place to explore but do take note: **Do not attempt to climb this path after rainfall. Climb at your own discretion and at your own risk.**
Climbing: Ranked as one of the top 5 destinations worldwide for climbing, the natural limestone formations create the ultimate jungle gym for climbers! Numerous routes and challenges are scattered around the Railay Beach and Tonsai areas, making this a great activity for all climbers from beginner to advanced.
Real Rocks (located on Railay East Beach, just opposite Mom’s Kitchen) offers great packages for routes online, deep water solo and excursions. Imagine, it is early morning on Phranang Cave Beach and you are scaling a massive limestone wall in the early light. After trying many routes, a walk along the beach followed with a hike to Diamond cave will offer a great viewpoint. A repel down the side of this cave will land you on Railay West where the rest of the day can be spent relaxing in the glorious sun!
Snorkelling Tours: Snorkelling is a great way to explore the surrounding island and the sea life! It is as easy as finding a boatman with snorkel gear on the beach from whom you charter a longtail for the day and off you go. Expect masks and snorkels of varying quality but an overall great experience. The more people on the chartered boat the cheaper it will cost, making snorkelling a great way to make friends and spend a day exploring.
Tattoos: Chee Bamboo Tattoo, next to Utopia Restaurant offers clean, traditional bamboo style tattoos. Choose from hundreds of images, bring in a personal design or throw around some ideas with the artists. Each artist is talented, friendly and truly creative. Stop in for a chat with them, check out some previous work and see if you feel any inspiration!
Railay Beaches also offer sea kayaking through caves, Thai cooking classes, ATV rentals, jungle treks, elephant treks, sunset cruises, muay thai classes and the list goes on and on! With there being many options for activities in Railay Beach it is possible to design your dream day of adventures!
How To Get There:
Longtail boats to Railay leave from Krabi Town, Ao Na Mao or Ao Nang.
Each morning in Krabi Town cries from the boat touts can be heard “Railay, Railay, Railaayyyy! You want to go Railay?” making finding a boat easy! The longtail boats leave from Chaofa Pier and take about 35-45 minutes to reach Railay East or Phranang Cave Beach. It is best to go in the morning to catch a boat (before 10 AM) although it is possible in the afternoon. The boat departs when there are 8 people aboard and costs 150 THB pp. Visit our Krabi Page for some more Krabi information.
Ao Nang Beach is the most popular pier for travel to Railay. Departing frequently all day, a longtail boat takes about 15 minutes to reach Railay West. During high season this is the most convenient place to catch a boat, although be aware of the weather in rainy season.
Ao Na Mao Pier is located about 20 minutes outside of Ao Nang, close to Shell Fossil Beach. This pier offers boats to Riley East year round, with the last one departing at midnight. The longtail ride takes about 25 minutes and is an alternative route during rainy season. This pier can be easily reached with a tuk tuk (taxi) from Krabi or Ao Nang, even when you are up for a late night adventure!
All boats returning to Ao Nang, Krabi or An Na Mao typically leave in the late afternoon from any of the three beaches. The longtails are dependent on the tide, therefore departure time changes daily.
Keep this in mind as you are lazing away in the afternoon sun or seeking that last rock climbing thrill!
Railay East is the best bet for a boat returning to Krabi or Ao Na Mao and offers services such as a pier in high tide and tractor-pulled wagon service to the longtail boat in low tide. Close to the pier the longtail drivers seek the shade and wait for 8-10 people before departing. The last boat leaves at 5 pm for Krabi Town.
Railay West longtail boats to Ao Nang Beach frequently all afternoon, ending in the early evening. It can be difficult to return to Krabi or Ao Nam Mao from Railay West so plan accordingly! In addition to longtail services, Railay West also offers ferry service to Koh Phi Phi and Phuket. Visit our schedules page for local routes.
Phranang Cave Beach offers return services to Krabi Town, Ao Nam Mao and Ao Nang. With service to three piers, Phranang is a great place to catch a return boat! Do note that boats here fill up fast with the majority departing before sundown. In order to have a boat to your desired destination it is advisable to talk with a driver in the early afternoon. Say perhaps you miss the last boat back it just might make for a magical night under the stars!
Contact Us if you would like more travel information or help with booking a boat ticket or accommodation in other parts of Thailand.
(photos and writing contributed by Jessica Dick)