Stunning white sand beaches end in steep limestone walls. Warm ocean waters lap up on the sand. The seaside towns of Krabi and Railay are the perfect start to your Andaman Sea adventure.
Krabi is a sleepy seaside town at the mouth of Krabi River as it enters the Andaman Sea. It is a typical Thai city with mom and pop stores and local restaurants. Someone in the city must have a sense of humour as many of the traffic lights and street lights have unusual statues.
Krabi is mostly a jumping off point for island trips, but there are a few spots for the traveller. It was pouring rain when were in Krabi, so we didn’t visit many sites. One place we did get to see though was Wat Kaew Korawaram. This pretty white temple has a typical pointy roof and delicate details on its eaves.
On the edge of town a walkway follows Krabi River. In the distance you can see tall karst limestone pinnacles gracing the river’s edge. To get a closer look at these features we took a long-tail boat cruise up Krabi River. We passed more of these spectacular pinnacles before travelling through a thick mangrove forest. The mangroves ended at Than Bok Khoram cave. This small cave is filled with large stalactites and stalagmites and is good for a short visit.
The village of Railay is on a peninsula not far from Krabi. Because it is bordered by steep mountains on one side and the Andaman Sea on the others, Railay can only be accessed by boat. This seclusion definitely adds to its charm.
The 30-minute long-tail boat ride from Krabi is like a being on a sightseeing cruise. The boat passes many tall karst islands that rise straight up from the sea. Each one has a unique shape resulting in a fascinating landscape. The most interesting is Chicken Island, can you spot it below?
Railay is a popular climbing destination due to its large limestone walls. The features on the limestone are very intricate and extensive making them ideal for climbing. Although the climbs are mostly only single pitch (30 m) you can still get high enough to have amazing views from the tops of the climbs. We climbed with local guide, Pon. He’s a very good climber and took us to 2 great climbing crags; 123 and Phra Nang.
Climbing in Railay is quite different than we’re used to in Alberta. The holds are water-worn and very ‘greasy’ due to the humidity. Most of the climbing walls rise straight up from the sandy beaches. Begining a climb on sand was a unique experience for us. Since the grip of your shoe is very important in climbing, Pon, cleaned the fine sand off our shoes before each climb! We had a great day climbing on the beach!
Phra Nang is a small beach with two shrines dedicated to fertility Goddess Phra Nang. We were initially confused by the odd looking carvings in the shrines. Both cave shrines are filled with numerous Lingams (penis shaped carvings). Fishermen place them as offerings to the goddess for a safe return from the sea. The funniest part is the sign that reads “Do not leave any inappropriate objects”.
Railay West is the largest beach. Its white sand is framed on both ends by tall limestone walls. There are several vendors along West Beach who rent kayaks for a reasonable price. We had a blast paddling on the Andaman Sea going between the rocky islands and finding hidden coves and beaches.
On the oppposite side of the peninsula is Railay’s East Beach. It’s not very busy since it’s narrow and lined by mangroves trees. We thought it would be a quiet, peaceful place to go for a walk until we heard noises coming from the bushes. We went to check out the noise and found these really peculiar looking Spectacled Langur monkeys in the trees.
The town itself is slow-paced with no roads and therefore no traffic. Most of the people visiting are tourists, but the hectic pace of most tourist towns has escaped Railay so far. There are two main pedestrian streets linking the beaches. These sandy paths are lined with Thai ‘Rastafarian’ run coffee shops and small pubs. The town feels like you’re in Jamaica with a ‘don’t worry’ attitude. Bon introduced us to a fantastic local coffee shop. The Bob Marley looking barista has a 15-minute process, including hand grinding the coffee beans, to make one of the best coffees you’ll ever have. We love Railay.
How to get to Railay
Longtail boats depart from Ao Nam Mao Pier in Krabi and arrive at Railay East Beach in 30 min. Long-tail boats from Ao Nang arrive on the Railay West Beach in 10 – 15 min. Krabi has an international airport.
Coming Next – Koh Phi Phi in Thailand’s Andaman Sea
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