For three weeks, I’ve been travelling around Thailand. We’re currently waiting to board our flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, so it’s the perfect time to blog my memories of Railay while still fresh in my mind. Hopefully our plane won’t mysteriously disappear in the Indian Ocean before I can publish this post–
East of overpopulated and Westernized Phuket lies Railay, where you’ll find truly some of the most beautiful beaches on Earth.
Although mildly traumatising, the trek there was totally worth it. It’s not an island, but the small peninsula of Railay is inaccessible to cars, surrounded by limestone mountains speckled with palm trees. I didn’t know this beforehand, so when we landed late in Krabi, I was surprised to hear that we would need to take a boat. I’ve always been a little afraid of boats, so when I saw the rickety long tail boat waiting for us to board in the pitch black, I was not happy. Two Dutch girls and my boyfriend tried to assure me it was safe – that Thais and tourists sail this route multiple times daily – but I was panicking. This is all I saw behind me for the 20 minute journey:
Right after an enormous beetle 3 inches in diameter scurried underneath my feet, the Thai driver stopped about a 800 metres from shore. With our huge 15 kg suitcases, he says we have to get out and walk the rest of the way, thanks to the low tide…
Almost ten minutes later, we arrived on shore, exhausted and soaking wet from the hip down- definitely a story!
We stayed at the Railay Princess Resort and Spa, aka my dream hotel. I search for infinity pools in every city I visit, and this hotel had a beautiful one. The Princess, as we called it, was clean with a great restaurant, and every patio had a sign warning you that adorable monkeys might come in to your room and steal the mini bar items. Although we kept our door closed (bugs beware), I couldn’t get over how cute that was. Monkey complaints have obviously been made before. Ultimately, the best part of this hotel was the PRICE – Luxury hotels are usually out of the question for me as a budget traveller, but this one was only $18 USD per night each-literally cheaper than a hostel in Paris.
Of the three beaches on the peninsula (within 5 minutes of each other), Phranang Cave Beach was of course our favourite. Huge limestone rocks and caves are everywhere and aesthetically unbeatable. The trail there is covered with monkeys. This was really the highlight of my trip. Adjacent to Phranang, Railay West had sandy outdoor restaurants and pretty sunsets, so we spent our nights there. Dusk is my favourite time of day at the beach, so I loved this.
The third beach, Railay East is somewhat of the port of the peninsula, rarely seeing swimmers, unless they’re trekking from a boat like we did. My boyfriend stepped on a rock and cut his foot there on the way back from elephant trekking on the mainland (a more enjoyable trek). Three days later when arriving in Koh Samui, we realised how infected the wound was, and had to go to the hospital. We joked all night about our status as international hospital critics, having gone in Spain, too.
- Malaga, Spain: D – slow, solo español
- Koh Samui, Thailand: A+ – quick, not crowded, young doctors
Other notable places:
- Ethical elephant trekking- 800 baht/hour ($25 USD)
- Railay Garden View – a decent eco-hotel up a mountain with a nice view, where we stayed for 2 nights, only because they were already paid for ($22 USD/night)
- 250 baht ($8 USD) massages (all over Railay)
- Koh Phi Phi Ley – arguably the best beach in the world (it’s the filming location of The Beach with Leonardo Dicaprio), and its sister island, Koh Phi Phi Dom (way less touristy and larger with beaches almost as picturesque)- a day trip took us to both, a few more islands, lunch, and snorkeling- 1500 baht ($50 USD)
- Phra Nang Noi Cave – a scary walkway deep into a bat filled cave (40 baht)
- Thai pancakes…MMMM