One of the most popular destinations in Krabi is Railay Beach. Railay beach is only accessible by boat, but is not an island, limestone cliffs surround it and cut it off from the other part of the mainland.
We were staying on near Ao Nang beach and it was really easy just to catch a long tail boat from the tour boat office located at the Wangsai Restaurant on the Napparat Thara beach. The long tail boats cost 200 baht per person (Zoë was free) for the trip there and back (during low season). Unbeknownst to us we had the choice to be dropped off at different parts of the beach, (West Railay Beach, Phra Nang Beach, or Tonsai Bay) so we hopped off the long tail into the high tide surf at West Railay beach about 20 minutes after leaving the dock at Wangsai. West Railay Beach is lined with a few restaurants and resorts, a tattoo shop, and a mini mart. There was probably more as well, but we did not spend much time there.
We wanted to see the limestone cliffs and the beautiful beaches, but our goal for the day was to traipse past the east beach to see the Phra Nang Cave. This cave is thought to house the Phra Nang, Princess Goddess, and is a place where sailors still come to leave offerings for safe journeys. These offerings are usually flowers, incense, and such. Oh and others come to leave fertility offerings which are phallic sculptures. For those of you who may be confused, that means that there are all different sized wooden penises throughout the cave, piled up on each other all over the place. Yep, we had to see it, so we headed that way.
We started walking from the west to east beach. The two beaches are connected by a walkway that was mostly without shade and a little confusing as the resorts DO NOT want you on their property unless of course you are their “guest.” The security guards let you know if you put a toe over the line, too. It was a little annoying. Regardless, the walk only took about 10 minutes.
When we arrived on the other side of the peninsula, we realized that the due to the high tide, the walkway to the cave we wanted to see on Phra Nang beach was covered by about a foot of ocean. We didn’t mind getting a little wet and decided to walk through it. It was a bit tough at some points, but was fun and we felt adventurous. On the way to the cave, we realized that we could have been dropped off from our long tail boat much closer to the cave if we had just waited and gotten off at Phra Nang beach.
Finally the path sloped upwards and our now prune like feet got a chance to dry off as we walked down a lovely laid out stone path around a limestone cliff. It was a nice leisurely walk and after passing some clean bathrooms (10 baht charge) we came to Phra Nang beach and cave.
The first thing that I noticed was that the beach was rather small, well it seemed more that way as a tour group was taking up most of the beach and yelling encouragement to their friends and families as each of them climbed the limestone cliff there. At the far end of the beach though were the Phra Nang caves. Yep, that’s right, there are two caves, well, one is really more of an alcove, but both had area’s for praying (chanting?) and giving offerings to the princess goddess. Obviously I am not a person that believes in this type of thing, but the beauty of the cave and the humor of all the male parts (we were very respectful, but still!) were worth the easy and beautiful walk there.
Z and Chad played in the surf for a while (even finding some of the wooden statues on the ocean floor! Oops.) and then we started the walk back. We decided to try a different way back and quickly found out that only resort guests were allowed that way, so doubled back and went back the way we came in.
The walk around Railay Beach was easy and the cliffs were gorgeous. I would really recommend checking out Railay beach if you are in Krabi, but I have a few tips for you if you do:
Tips to Make Railay Beach the Best!
1. Make sure to check the tide schedule. It would have been a lot easier and much more accessible for us if it had been low tide. Unless you like to tread water while you walk, check the tide schedule.
2. Bring your own snacks, take-away lunch, and drinks. As with anywhere else in the world, if you are forced to buy from only one or two places because you are on a secluded resort beach, you will pay the exorbitant prices.
3. Don’t bother bringing a stroller. Regardless of what the water levels are, this area of Krabi is not made for strollers. We actually were trying out a product that we bought to review called The Piggy Back Rider. You can read that review next week, but it was great for this excursion.
What do you think about caves filled with awkward statues? Have you ever been to Railay beach? Would you wade through sea water to get to your next destination? Leave a comment and let me know!