Railay Beach is one of the most popular and scenic destinations in the entire Krabi region, with a stunning location. Although this is still part of the Krabi mainland, the Railay beaches are only accessible by boat due to the topography of the area. Railay Beach is part of the Laem Phra Nang peninsula and is dominated by towering limestone cliffs. Many visitors refer to the entire headland as Railay, but Laem Phra Nang actually consists of four main beach areas connected by walkways.
West Railay Beach is a beautiful place to relax and enjoy the scenery. The beach at West Railay is an inviting curve of soft sand with a backdrop of dramatic limestone cliffs. Although lodging in this area is generally more expensive than in nearby Ao Nang and East Railay, there are still some good value options available.
If money isn’t an issue, the Rayavadee has a prime location on West Railay Beach and Phra Nang Beach. If the Rayavadee appeals to you but your wallet does not, Ao Nang is a good alternative with a diverse range of accommodation and dining options. Ao Nang is only a 10-minute boat ride from Railay, and this part of the mainland is also a great base for visiting not only Railay, but also the outlying islands.
East Railay serves as a landing point for longtail boats arriving from Krabi Town. East Railay’s beach cannot compete in terms of beauty with West Railay and Phra Nang, and a combination of tides and mangroves makes this area unsuitable for swimming.
The water recedes at low tide to reveal an expanse of mud flats, and while the beach itself lacks the soft sands of the other Railay beach areas, the surrounding scenery is still stunning. East Railay accommodation can be reasonably priced, and staying here puts you within easy walking distance of the beaches at West Railay and Phra Nang.
Some maps label this section of the headland as Ao Phra Nang or Hat Tham Phra Nang. The phrase Phra Nang translates to a revered lady and refers to the woman who is still honored at Phra Nang Cave. Phra Nang Beach isn’t particularly long, but it’s a lovely spot for swimming. In comparison to the other Railay beaches, this one has the whitest and softest sand. Phra Nang Cave (also known as Princess Cave) is located at the southern end of the bay and provides the most shade.
Tonsai Beach is well-known for attracting backpackers and bohemian tourists. This section of the Laem Phra Nang headland is also well-known among rock climbers. West Railay is reached via a walkway that winds through the trees and around the cliffs.
At low tide, you can also walk along a pathway and climb over the rocks that separate Tonsai from West Railay, but be cautious because the rocks are slippery.
There are some pleasant beach-side restaurants set among the coconut palms on West Railay, and there are plenty more places to satisfy hungry and thirsty sunbathers on the walkway leading to East Railay. Longtail boats serve as floating vendors selling food and drinks on Phra Nang Beach.