Railay Beach may get all the hype but there are actually 3 beaches you should visit in this beautiful area of Thailand! Join us as we take you on an adventure around the cliffs to Tonsai Beach and even inside the wild Phra Nang Cave. Soon you’ll see why so many travelers rave about the best beaches in Railay!
Getting to the Railay Beaches
Railay is a super popular place to visit in Thailand but you should know there’s just one route to get there! Due to it being enclosed by enormous cliffs, the only way into Railay is by boat.
Most travelers go from Ao Nam Mao Pier as it’s only 15 minutes by longtail boat. However, you can go directly from other parts of the mainland like Ao Nang Beach and Krabi Town, even on a day trip! Check out our complete guide for how to get from Ao Nang to Railay here.
We recommend spending at least two nights at the beaches in Railay to fully take in this epic nature of Thailand. The town (which is more like a long walking street) has a fun vibe with beach bars and seafood restaurants. Make sure to check out our 40 favorite Thai dishes!
It’s also famous for its rock climbing! For more info about how to get to all of the best beaches in Railay, we’ve included directions at the bottom of each section.
3 Best Railay Beaches in Thailand
World Famous Railay Beach
Yes, this is the one you saw in photographs that probably made you come to Thailand in the first place! As soon as we took the boat from Krabi Town and started to see where we were headed it felt like something out of Jurassic Park.
We’ve experienced otherworldly nature like this in places like New Zealand and Hawaii before, but nothing this wild in Asia yet! A massive cliff towers over the left side of Railay Beach, above the soft rolling waves and clear turquoise water. The colorful longtail boats parked on the shoreline only add to the allure and jungle-like scenery.
During the day it’s nice of course, but the real-time to be at the beaches in Railay is for sunset! At this part of the day, everyone heads out from their bungalows and finds a spot to sit in the sand. We couldn’t believe our eyes as the colors changed and the sky lit up.
How to Get to Railay Beach
Railay Beach is the most popular on the island and is about 5 minutes walking from the port through town. It’s important to note that the actual beach is considered “West Railay” and the port side is north.
The port or “East Railay” side is full of mangroves and not great for swimming. If you are coming from Ao Nang Beach you will actually be arriving here! If possible, it’s best to stay right on Railay Beach so check out our recommendations below!
Laid Back Tonsai Beach
Just around the corner from West Railay Beach sits another beautiful paradise! Since the majority of the boats come into the port or main Railay Beach, Tonsai Beach has a more secluded feeling to it. There are only a couple of hotels here with restaurants attached to them. We love how the palm trees shoot straight up the sky while surrounded by the rocks of Railay.
How to Get to Tonsai Beach
Now for the interesting part! Aside from taking a quick longtail boat, you can actually hike over to one of the best beaches in Railay. The first route is directly around the cliffs but this can only be done at low tide. Otherwise, you can take the path 15 minutes up through the jungle that cuts over to Tonsai Beach from Railay Beach at mid-tide.
During high tide, it’s a slightly longer trail so plan your time accordingly. As we mentioned, there are only 2 options if you want to stay on Tonsai Beach. Tinidee Hideaway Tonsai Beach is more hostel-style while the Tonsai Bay Resort is a nice hotel.
Stunning Phra Nang Cave Beach
Don’t worry, we saved the most unique of the Railay Beaches for last! Also known as “Princess Cave,” this gorgeous cavern is set on the other side of Railay. There are a few different legends behind the name but as you’ll see it’s a very meaningful place to Thai people. Local fishermen leave offerings at Phra Nang Cave for luck on their travels at sea.
If you walk past where the offerings are you can swim under the overhanging rocks, through a tunnel, and climb to the other side. The actual Phra Nang Cave Beach is also stunning! West Railay may be the most popular, but don’t miss out on another one of the best beaches in Railay.
How to Get to Phra Nang Cave Beach
Phra Nang Cave is located on the opposite side of the other Railay beaches we mentioned. To get there you’ll have to walk a path from the port about 10 minutes through the forest. On the way, you’ll pass the Emerald Lagoon hike which has great views of the area. Just be careful, as you need ropes to get up the steep trail!
Once you arrive at Phra Nang Cave Beach you’ll see it’s more than worth the walk. There is also a second fun way to get here! You can rent a Kayak on West Railey Beach and make a quick trip around the rocky coast. It’s only 10-15 minutes of paddling to get there!
If you want to stay on Phra Nang Cave Beach, the beautiful luxury resort Rayavadee will be your one. Railay Princess Resort is actually where we stayed and only a 10 minute walk from here while also being close to the port and West Railay Beach as well.
Have any questions on Tonsai Beach and Phra Nang Cave Beach or want to share more info about the Railay Beaches? Leave us a comment below!
Brigitte & Jake
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Thailand Travel Planning
Transportation: While traveling through Thailand 12Go is where we find all our ferries, trains, buses, and transfers! You can find everything from island hopping speed boats to the night train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Tours: Check out Get Your Guide to find activities all over Phuket! You can find everything from a James Bond island luxury sunset cruise, to Phuket Old Town 15-taster food adventure, and 5-hour island tour!
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without protection. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.