What We Saw on Railay Beach

Railay Beach is technically in the town of Krabi, but it’s cut off from the rest of the city by jungle and cliffs, so the only way to get there is by boat. We were here for two days, and here’s what we did:

  • Phra Nang LagoonSa Phra Nang (Hidden Lagoon) [link has good photos]: This is a hike of sorts, with a lot of rock scrambling involved. If you’re afraid of heights or mud, in poor physical shape, or lack shoes with traction (hiking boots or climbing shoes are best), this is not a good idea for you. Otherwise, this is a fun few hours, as long as you’re relatively careful. To get to the lagoon, you climb up a bunch of rocks by finding hand- and footholds, using some ropes that flank the path.

    The distance to reach the first plateau is quite short. If you go left, you can see the viewpoint, which has a nice view of Railay Beach West and the jungle and water around it. If you go right, you’ll get to the lagoon. This path is a downhill climb that’s harder than the first part, as the rocks are more vertical. Again, no harnesses or clipping in to anything to protect yourself, but it is very doable. At the bottom is a lagoon surrounded by high cliffs: it’s pretty and muddy and not at all a place you can swim unless you come during the rainy season. Despite that, I found the climb very satisfying, if partly because it took a lot of concentration to make sure I was on solid footing the whole time.

    Some tips: remember a headlamp if you plan to go up for sunset, go with a buddy, and wash off the mud on Princess Beach afterwards.

  • Phra Nang Phallic CavePhra Nang Cave (Phallic Shrine): This is a mini-cave set into the big rock on Princess Beach (between Railay East and Railay West). Inside are hundreds of mini phalluses, primarily made of wood and plastic. They are offerings to the princess, to ask for fertility.
  • Kayaking: I have no idea why sea kayaking in Dubrovnik made me so much less sick than sea kayaking here. Perhaps the scorching sunlight or the higher temperature? Either way, half an hour in, I couldn’t stay in the kayak any longer, so I jumped out and swam towards the hour-away-by-kayak island we were going to. Not surprisingly, I never quite made it, what with swallowing about a liter of sea water from the surrounding boats’ waves and the current. This turned out to be good, however, since staying in the boat gave B such a bad sunburn that lobsters would envy his coloring. He was a hero though: he helped me get back to a shore so I could go pass out, and then he rowed almost all the way to the island in the hot sun and alone to meet my cousin and her boyfriend. Then, he returned the kayak and even brought me back a shake. Best husband ever.

What We Skipped

  • 5 Islands Tour: This is a tourist rip-off. We met a couple who had gone on this, and they said the other islands’ beaches were worse, and the whole thing was an industrial tourist herding complex. Happy to miss that.
  • Snorkeling: Much of the water was only a few feet deep and pretty clear, so getting a mask seemed pretty silly.
  • Rock Climbing: After our lagoon experience, this seemed repetitive.
  • Fire Show: We watched for a bit, but not the whole show: we waited until our next destination for that.

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