Our first stop in Southern Thailand took us first to Krabi Town, and then onto some beach time on Railay.
Krabi is the quintessential stopover town, as it is the gateway to Ko Phi Phi, Ao Nang and Railay. It gets huge volumes of people, but mostly only for one night. This makes me sad because it really is a nice, friendly Thai town, but just suffers from the popularity of places around it.
We luckily arrived in Krabi on a Saturday, which meant the night market was in full swing. After first eating a delicious Massaman curry at the local market, we headed to the night market where we tried all sorts of food on sticks, as well as the hottest Som Tam I’ve ever eaten.
Sadly we did join the legions leaving after one night, as we didn’t have a huge amount of time in Thailand. I would one day like to explorer Krabi properly and stay a bit longer.
Also, how cool are these traffic lights?
There were some even better, held up by gorillas, but I didn’t get a decent photo.
The next morning we caught a Songthaew to Ao Nang. At this point we were undecided whether to stay in Ao Nang or go straight to Railay, however 5 minutes drive through Ao Nang confirmed we really didn’t fancy staying there. The beach looked awful, though perhaps it was just the wrong time of year – from a quick image search it looks really nice!
So we were soon on a boat to Railay (aka Rai Leh), which only took around 20 minutes. Railay isn’t an island but it may as well be – there is no way to get there except by boat.
We arrived and started a search for accommodation on the so called budget side of the bay (east) but even there, in low season, prices were ridiculous. Eventually we settled on the least awful, though still the most expensive place we stayed in Thailand. There were slightly cheaper places but they were either up in the hills or terrible quality.
I have to say straight away we weren’t impressed by the east side of Railay. There is no beach, only mangroves growing in the mud, with an ugly concrete walkway keeping everything above the tide. It looks ugly, there is no way around it.
In fairness the West side is much nicer with a decent beach, but the prices of bars and restaurants around there were eye watering.
A short walk away was Phra Nang beach, where we spent a good few hours relaxing. It was actually a really nice beach for swimming and sunbathing.
It is also home to the famous phallous shrine..
We also got to watch some people rock climbing. Really, this is what Railay is known for, and why most people visit. We had half intended to do a beginner course but after seeing people waiting around for ages in the scorching heat it looked like you wouldn’t do much climbing on a short course like that. However for experienced climbers Railay is supposed to be one of the best locations in the world, and I could see why.
Near to the beach in Phra Nang Cave, which was small but really cool inside, and well worth a visit for the modest entry fee. Just watch out for slippery bat droppings!
Around the corner from the west side of Railay is Tonsai, a smaller, more budget focused area. The focus is still on climbing here but also on some cool beachfront bars and cheap accommodation. We visited for a few hours, which involved a surprisingly sweaty trek up and over some rocks and forest, as the bay is cut off by the sea. It was nice, but I would have felt even more left out if we’d stayed there as non climbers.
After 2 nights we’d had enough – we never really clicked with Railay. It wasn’t bad in any sense, but there didn’t seem to be a huge amount to do if you weren’t climbing. Add to that the expensive accommodation and the limited, pricey options for food, and we weren’t exactly devastated to leave.
Where We Stayed
Our 2 nights were spent at Anyavee Resort. For 1000THB a night, we got a decent sized room with large balcony. The room was nice enough but it was the surroundings that let it down – it looked like the resort had been built in the 90’s and never ever renovated. The grounds were overgrown and scruffy and everything needed a lick of paint. The high point? It had a really good swimming pool, which was much needed considering East Railay was unswimmable.