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Railay Beach

Eat and meet

Railay Beach

Railay has an ample selection of traveller-oriented bars and restaurants that are similar to what you'd expect on an island, although the quality here is worse than many islands. The cheapest and most abundant choices are found on Railay East. Prices are generally high, especially on Railay West. You'll be able to find a decent meal, but food probably won't be the highlight of your stay.

On Railay East, Good Friend Restaurant serves decent Western breakfasts, Thai rice and noodle plates and baguette sandwiches for a reasonable 60 to 120 baht. The fresh coffee is excellent and fruit smoothies also good. The family who runs it normally seem to be screaming at each other in the kitchen but are polite as can be when greeting customers. Further east along Railay East, the best Thai food we found in Railay was from Yam Yam Restaurant. The staff hail from northeastern Thailand and they pound a good, spicy papaya salad to go with grilled chicken and whole fishes. The khrapao chicken stir-fry we tried was spicy and authentic, and Thai dishes are transliterated into English on the menu so those who are familiar with Thai food can actually know what they're reading. Yam Yam stays open late and sells cocktails.

If you've worked up an appetite, head over to Viewpoint Resort for their nightly barbecue buffet. You can choose from barbecue items such as snapper, shrimp, steak or chicken for 229 baht, which is a great deal considering you get unlimited access to a salad bar and buffet with a healthy selection of stir-fried vegetables, curries, fresh fruit and sweets. We were amazed when an entire half of a barbecued chicken arrived along with corn-on-the-cob and barbecued veggies -- that alone is more than enough to fill up most. For a more refined dining experience, Bhu Nga Thani's restaurant serves roasted duck salad, salmon rolls stuffed with prawn and blue cheese sauce, and grilled red snapper for between 120 and 550 baht -- not too shabby for Railay.

The area's only serious nightlife is also found on Railay East. Last Bar, which really is the last bar to the east of Railay East, hosts techno dance parties that thump until 03:00 on most nights. Not far away is Bamboo Bar, which has free WiFi and lounge tables for relaxing, and a muay Thai ring where morons try to fight experienced Thai boxers after downing beers and buckets. For a safer competition, head for Bamboo's billiards table. If you want to have a yarn and a beer with locally based rock-climbers, head to Ya Ya Bar inland from Railay East near Puthawan Resort.

Over on Railay West, the first bar up from the beach on "walking street", Flame Tree, serves quality coffee, beer and cocktails to go with Thai and Western dishes in a quintessential reggae beach bar atmosphere. Across the way you'll find roti, ice cream and noodle soup, but it all goes for 100 baht and up. A little further down walking street, Utopia serves tasty Thai and Indian food in a jungle hideaway setting that's a good spot to chat with other travellers and laid back locals -- bring mosquito repellent after dark. Apart from Raileh Beach Club, all of the resorts on Railay West offer restaurants with terraces that make for a romantic -- but expensive -- sunset dinner.

Phra Nang beach has no restaurants due to Rayavadee's control of the entire beachfront, but in ever-crafty Thai fashion, a team of locals set up a simple food and drink stand on a longtail boat that cruises right up into the shallows. If you've never waded into cirulean blue water for a plate of pad Thai and a Singha, we highly recommend it.

Over on Tonsai, food generally runs over 100 baht even for a simple rice plate. Andaman Nature serves decent sandwiches and Thai food on its large terrace that's also a good spot to hang out and play cards with a beer or two. If you prefer a sea view with your dinner and drinks, Mambo is always a popular choice. But the best food in Tonsai is probably at Mama's Restaurant. She grills up excellent chicken and fish to go with home-cooked Thai, including perfectly balanced Thai salads. Food is spicy, portions are large, and prices are some of the cheapest around.

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