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Ao Nang to Railay Beach: Practical Info + What to do

by Steph

If you’re planning a trip to Thailand in search of some major island vibes, head over to Railay, one of the most beautiful beaches in Krabi! Due to the rugged limestones that separate it from the mainland, boats are the only mode of transportation available to get from Ao Nang to Railay beach. 

Though prices are a bit higher than on Ao Nang (which is expected), a day trip to Railay won’t break the bank. Railay beach offers a wide range of activities from hiking to rock climbing, kayaking and much more. There are no cars on Railay, so you can only rely on your feet to get around. 

This guide will show you exactly how to get from Ao Nang to Railay beach and everything you need to know including what to do on Railay beach and tips on how to plan your trip to this dreamy beach in Krabi, Thailand!

Boats line on the shore of Phra Nang Beach Thailand
The iconic postcard picture of Phra Nang Beach

Check out these posts if you’re planning to visit other destinations in Thailand:

Disclaimer: This article may contain affiliate links, which means that each time you click through and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

HOW TO GET FROM AO NANG TO RAILAY BEACH?  

You can buy your boat ticket in Ao Nang at either Ao Nang Longtail Boat Service or Ao Nang Boat Service Club. Both are located along the main walking street and sell one-way tickets from Ao Nang to Railay beach for 100 baht (US$ 3.30) only.  

The boat service is available from 8 a.m to 6 p.m but if you decide to leave Railay after 6 p.m, the boat ride will cost 150 baht (US$ 4.95).  

You will then be given a ticket with the boat number written on it. You can only get on those boats with the specific numbers written on the ticket (for example, N001- N138). 

how to get from Ao Nang to Railay Beach, Thailand
Railay beach

You’ll have to wait until the boat fills up with eight people to start your day trip to Railay. After a 15 minutes’ boat ride, you’ll be dropped off on Railay West. 

Boats are also available directly from Ao Nang to Tonsai and Phra Nang beach but go out less frequently (one-way tickets also cost 100 baht). 

Tip: Only buy return tickets if you plan on leaving Railay before 6 p.m. If not, you can just buy a one-way ticket in Ao Nang and whenever you’re ready to leave in the evening, you can buy your ticket on Railay beach.

BEST TIME TO VISIT RAILAY BEACH 

November to March is the peak season in Railay, Thailand. You’ll have nearly perfect weather but, on the downside, this means more tourists. April is the Songkran Festival marking the beginning of the wet season which lasts until October. 

So, the best time to visit Railay is during the shoulder season; from September to October and April to May. 

Rock Climbing on Railay Beach
Rock climbing on Railay beach

WHERE TO STAY IN RAILAY BEACH? 

You’ll find a decent amount of hotels ranging from budget to luxury on Railay.  If you want to stay close to popular beaches and restaurants, you can choose to stay in Railay East or Railay West. 

On the other hand, I recommend Tonsai beach if you want to stay in a quiet area and are looking for more budget-friendly accommodations. You’ll find a few basic hotels and beach huts on Tonsai. 

Hotels on Railay beach 

Railay Princess Resort & Spa

If you fancy staying in a beach hut with great views of the limestone cliffs, Railay Princess Resort & Spa is right up your alley! The hotel is located about a 10 minutes’ walk from Railay East beach. Each room comes with a private balcony and a free breakfast is included! 

Check prices and availability for Railay Princess Resort & Spa here!

Sand Sea Resort

Sand Sea Resort is located right in the middle of Railay West, not too far from the beach and restaurants. Breakfast is included in the price and you get access to an amazing pool! 

Check prices and availability for Sand Sea Resort here!

Hotels on Tonsai beach 

Tonsai Bay Resort

For less than US$ 50 (price during the shoulder season), you can book a double room with a private bathroom at Tonsai Bay Resort. Breakfast is also included in the price and the hotel is found on the beach, so you’re sure to get an amazing sunset view!

Check prices and availability for Tonsai Bay Resort here!  

Dream Valley Resort

For a budget option, take a look at Dream Valley Resort. The hotel features a nice swimming pool with a view of the limestone cliffs. The rooms are spacious and come with air conditioning. There is also a convenience store on the hotel grounds. 

Check prices and availability for Dream Valley Resort here!

WHAT TO DO IN RAILAY BEACH? 

RAILAY WEST

Once you get off the boat, you’ll be greeted by turquoise water and the amazing limestone backdrop, marking the start of your Railay beach day trip! 

Railay West is usually the busiest thanks to its wide range of accommodations, restaurants and bars. You can spend your time here by swimming in the warm ocean or just lying on the beach while taking in the view. 

If you’re staying overnight, this is the best spot to watch the sunset since it gets mostly deserted after 6 p.m when day-trippers leave Railay. 

Boats moored on the shore of Railay West in Krabi
Crazy limestone views on Railay West

TONSAI BEACH 

Tonsai beach is located on the right side of Railay West. Tonsai is far less crowded and more secluded. You won’t find high-end resorts here but rather a few basic bungalows and beach huts.  

The path to Tonsai beach is only accessible by foot during low tide which is usually in the morning before 10 a.m or in the afternoon as from 3.30 – 4 p.m (check the tide times here). Alternatively, you can charter a boat from Railay West or Ao Nang. You can also trek through the jungle from Railay East which takes roughly 30 minutes. 

If you’re coming from Railay West, you’ll get a view over the limestones by the end of the trail, next to the rock-climbing area.  

Tonsai beach
Rock climbing area on Tonsai beach

The most popular activity on Tonsai beach is rock climbing which will set you back about 800-1,000 baht (US$ 27-33). You can also rent kayaks for 300 baht (US$ 10) for about three hours. 

After your done relaxing on the beach, head out in the direction of the coconut trees until you see a ladder lying against a wall. Don’t worry, you won’t be entering private property, it’s just the way to the restaurants, bars and accommodations!  

There are signs pointing to a jungle trail that leads to Railay East. Make sure you bring mosquito repellent and avoid going there during nighttime. 

Ladder against wall on Tonsai Beach
The way to bars and hotels on Tonsai Beach

RAILAY EAST

By the end of the trail from Tonsai beach, you’ll find another rock-climbing area and the Diamond Cave (Phra Nang Nai Cave) which is just a few meters away. The entrance costs only 100 baht (US$ 3.30).

Railay East is not really a swimmable beach since it’s muddy in some parts and there are lots of mangrove trees. There are only a few shops selling clothes and the popular Krabi four island tours. The path on the right leads to a rock-climbing area, just before entering the jungle.  

View of the limestone cliffs on Railay East Beach
The beach on Railay East

RAILAY EAST VIEWPOINT

The short hike to Railay East viewpoint is a bit treacherous and not for the faint of heart. Even though there are ropes to hold on to, it can be slippery especially after a rainy day. It’s better to wear good hiking shoes as the path is very steep and obstructed by tree roots.

Once you reach the top, soak in the panoramic views of East and West Railay. You need to be careful around here as you may encounter some cheeky monkeys! But it’s still one of the best things to do in Railay beach.

View of palm trees and ocean at Railay East viewpoint
Railay East viewpoint

RAILAY HIDDEN LAGOON 

After visiting the viewpoint, head back down until you reach a sign pointing to the hidden lagoon. This trek isn’t for everyone as the path is very muddy and slippery.  Be careful while climbing down and don’t rely too much on the ladder as some steps are broken. After about 20 minutes, you’ll reach the hidden lagoon. 

The lagoon is completely enclosed by limestone cliffs, yet fed from the ocean which creates an eerie atmosphere. Try visiting during high tide to avoid the muddy water (check the tide times here).

Hidden lagoon on Railay Thailand
Railay Hidden lagoon during low tide

PHRA NANG CAVE (PRINCESS CAVE) 

As you make your way back, turn left along the stone path to Phra Nang Cave which is located on the left side of the beach. Legend has it that fishermen offer wooden phallic shrines to the princess Goddess in exchange for protection during their journey in the seas. Some believe that the offerings are associated with fertility. It was quite an attraction! 

During low tide, you can explore more caves around this area.  

White sand beach and limestone cliffs on Phra Nang Beach in Railay
View from the hidden caves at Phra Nang Beach during low tide

PHRA NANG BEACH

With powdery white sand and picture-perfect limestones towering in the middle of the ocean, Phra Nang beach is one of the most scenic beaches in Railay!  

You can get food for very cheap on the boats moored by the beach. They all sell the same type of food such as fried rice, curries, smoothies and fresh coconuts! 

Boats selling delicious Thai food on Phra Nang beach
Boats selling delicious Thai food on Phra Nang beach

You can rent kayaks 200 baht (US$ 6.60) for two hours to explore the caves and rock formations around Phra Nang beach. 

Don’t forget to visit the viewpoint on the right side of the beach. This one is less popular since the hike is more challenging than the one leading to Railay East viewpoint.  

You can use Maps.me for an offline map of the hiking trail. The app said that there was a trail leading directly to Railay West from Phra Nang Beach but unfortunately, I couldn’t find it during my visit. But the views were still beautiful from the viewpoint. 

View of the nearby islands at the Phra Nang beach viewpoint
Phra Nang beach viewpoint

I hope you found this guide helpful if you’re planning a day trip from Ao Nang to Railay beach. There are so many things to do in Railay, so I highly recommend that you get there super early or stay overnight to be able to see everything! 

If you’re looking for other day trips from Ao Nang, you can check out Hong Islands or do a four island tour which is very popular in Krabi. 


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