Railay Beach isn’t that far south of Krabi’s Ao Nang Beach, but the only way into this beach-fringed headland is by boat. Free of cars, touts and overt commercialism, this is the kind of tranquil paradise escapists dream about. Development is literally right around the corner, but for the time being this is one of Krabi’s favorite unspoiled beaches.
Accommodation in Railay includes a few stunning up-market options, but most of the hotels here cater to backpackers and rock climbers. The latter group comes for the world-class routes that scale Railay’s craggy, limestone cliffs. More than a few climbers insist that Railay offers the best climbing in the world, and it’s hard to disagree for anyone who has enjoyed the view over the Andaman from one of these high-flying cliffs.
Guided climbs are widely available, and they’re intensely popular with seasoned climbers. Dozens of bolted routes are maintained, most of them at least moderately challenging. Beginners can find a few suitable routes and plenty of competent instructors.
There are a few other sites in the area. Phra Nang Cave is on the point of the peninsula. It’s a standard stop on sightseeing cruises from Ao Nang or even Phuket. Phra Nang Beach is next door, and it receives a steady influx of visitors as boats pull in throughout the day.
Small groups trickle in during the day, but it’s never crowded here. Tranquility settles over the beaches in the afternoon and evening, when the only people left are those who’ve booked bungalows or hotels in Railay. Since the nearest town can only be reached by boat, local hotels provide all the facilities, from restaurants and bars to travel services.