Railay Beach and Phra Nang Beach
Yes, this is the Phuket Blog, but Krabi is very close to us ... We had a 2 night trip to Krabi back in April and I really wanted to visit Railay Beach. I've been in Phuket since 1999 and somehow never really checked out Krabi until this year! Well, we never got to Railay in April, but we saw enough of the Krabi area to plan another trip, so we had another 2 night trip in Krabi in July. Railay was very much on my must-see list despite my wife thinking it would be just another beach. And although we only spent a couple of hours checking out Railay beach and Phra Nang beach (right next to Railay) we really like it and we are already thinking of our next Krabi trip and will spend a bit more time at Railay.
Tours to Krabi from Phuket, or tours for people already staying in Krabi, can be booked with my friends at Easy Day Thailand.
We were staying in Krabi Town at the River View Hotel, which is right next to the river. The pier for longtail boats to Railay Bay (or Ao Nang) was just a few minutes walk from the hotel. And the boats are not expensive - just 150 Baht per person each way.
(above) We got a longtail boat from the river in Krabi Town. The trip to Railay is about 12km and took about 30 minutes on a lovely sunny morning with calm seas. Our boat arrived at a large floating pier at Railay Bay East - not much of a beach here, it's mangroves and a bit muddy. West Railay Beach is the place you want to be! We first bought some bottles of water in a minimart - everything double the normal price because everything here has to be brought in by longtail boat. Small bottles of water - 20 Baht. Note for next time - bring some water with us from town (small bottles of water can be as cheap as 7 Baht). Jeez, I sound like a cheap backpacker!
(above) Approaching Railay from Krabi Town
(above) Floating Pier at Railay Bay East
The walk from Railay East to Railay West is down a narrow path passing the backside of a couple of hotels and restaurants, not that pretty, but arriving at Railay Beach, we were confronted with a truly spectacular view. Although I had really wanted to visit I was prepared to be disappointed, as often happens with very touristy places. But this really is a beautiful place and I think it helps that this was low season and we arrived by about 10am - you can certainly expect more people later in the morning and during the afternoon. I wonder if we might stay here next time rather than in Krabi town ...
(above) Railay Beach (West). It gets lots of hype, so I was expecting something less, but it really is gorgeous. I am not really a beach person, I don't "go to the beach", but I think I could stay in a hotel here for a few nights and just enjoy the scenery, the sand and the sea (and a few beers). It was quiet when we arrived and that certainly helps. There are only a handful of hotels (check hotels at Agoda), many people visit from Ao Nang and other nearby areas (Krabi Town or even from Phi Phi) during the day. Also at Railay West we saw plenty of supplies being unloaded by hand from longtail boats. Plenty of work goes into that 20 Baht bottle of water!
(above) Unloading supplies at Railay Beach
(above) My boy could run around at Railay Beach all day I think! We have to come here again. On this trip we had limited time, as we needed to be back in Krabi Town by about midday or 1pm to check out of the hotel. From West Railay, to get to Phra Nang Beach you have to walk back to East Railay and then turn right until you find the path to Phra Nang. Not a long walk, just a few minutes. Heading to Phra Nang Bay you walk past caves and stalactites for a couple of hundred meters. There is a sign to a viewpoint that we'll have to explore next time.
Phranang Bay is maybe even more beautiful than Railay, but smaller. It's hemmed in by high cliffs and as you can guess the only access is by foot, plus we saw that some tour boats drop people directly here rather than Railay. It was about 11am when we got to Phra Nang and it was noticeably busier than Railay West. But anyway. Wow.
(above) Phranang Beach - click photo to see a bigger version (opens in a new browser window)
Phra Nang is certainly a place we could stay for a while, bring a picnic, swim a bit ... it's on the list for next time! There are several points of interest here aside from the beach, the sea and the views. Right by the beach you can find a cave which features an extremely unusual shrine. Offerings are made hereto the princess of Phranang cave in the form of lingams. What are lingams? They are phallic symbols resembling the male organ (ha ha, won't get me to say penis here!) The offerings are said to bring good luck, wealth and fertility to the local people. It seems these beliefs are still held today, as there are plenty of new phallic offerings.
(above) Our daughter checking out the shrine at Phra Nang Cave
(above) Looking out from a cave at Phra Nang Beach (not the willy cave, it's the next one). There are a few caves here and I saw someone crawling up a narrow passage, but where to? Gosh we really do need to come back and explore more!
(above) Lots and lots of lingams. Yeh, you don't get this on any other tourist beach!
Phra Nang (and Krabi in general) is also well known as a place to go rock climbing. Krabi is a good place to learn/try climbing, and there are plenty of cliffs if you are an experienced climber. We found a load of climbers next to the beach. Some looked like novices, others were climbing higher.
(above) Rock climbing at Phranang, Krabi
Our longtail boat driver was waiting for us at East Railay and it was already midday by the time we walked back from Phra Nang. I am glad to say this area has surprised me. I am sure it can get crowded at times, but there's a lot of natural beauty here and now we're planning our 3rd Krabi trip and will spend more than a couple of hours at Railay and Phra Nang!
More about Krabi
Krabi Hotels (Booking at Agoda.com)
Krabi Tours with my friends at Easy Day Thailand
Tiger Cave Temple
Our Trip to Krabi in April 2017
Our trip to Krabi in July 2017
Railay Beach and Phra Nang Beach - Location Map