Accommodation is abundant on Railay East, but don't be fooled into thinking that this side of the peninsula is blessed by a beautiful beach. If on a budget, we'd instead opt for one of the inland options that put you within easy walking distance to anywhere on the peninsula. Railay West is stunning but expensive, while Ao Tonsai has long been a backpacker favourite.
So many places, so many beaches, which is the right one for you?
Railay’s accommodation is quite pricey on the whole. Most of the midrange resorts are underachievers, at best, or flat-out awful at worst. Well-heeled travellers will have no trouble finding a luxurious room, but backpackers will find things more tricky. Even so, a handful of quality places to stay in all budgets do stand out from the pack. Don’t worry, you can walk to Haad Phra Nang from... Read our full review of Where to stay on Railay Beach.
Railay’s largest and most popular beach is a prime spot for swimming, beach lounging and soaking in sunsets, but you'll need to pay for the privilege of staying here. If the beach club and three mid- to upper-range resorts aren’t luxurious enough for you, rates at Rayavadee start at 15,000 baht in high season, with the top-end villas fetching a mere 139,000 a night.
Spanning the entire northern half of the beach and continuing far into the peninsula’s lush interior, this community of beach houses was established in 1985 and was the first development to appear on Railay. Back then it was just a handful of simple wooden houses with no electricity. Though Railay has seen loads of development in the ensuing decades, the club has retained its low-key character... Read our full review of Railei Beach Club .
Not in the luxury league of Rayavadee but a definite step up from Railay Bay and Sand Sea, Railay Village is an all-round excellent upscale resort. The reception area, minimart, coffee shop, restaurant and one large swimming pool front the beach, with the fairly narrow grounds stretching back for quite a distance before ending at another long pool overlooked by the cheaper rooms, set in... Read our full review of Railay Village Resort.
There aren’t many bad things that we can say about Sand Sea, but it’s not the most memorable resort on Railay either. The cheapest detached superior bungalows with green tin roofs overlook an old but large swimming pool at the centre of the property. These are clean and come with utilitarian white tile floors, dated wood furniture, generic paintings of beach scenes, straightforward wet... Read our full review of Sand Sea Resort.
Railay’s long east coast has been almost entirely filled in by resorts that run the gamut from 500 baht mattress-on-the-floor rooms to 12,000 baht luxury pool villas. Our two favourite resorts also happen to be the most isolated. Note that both Rayavadee and Railay Bay resorts cut all the way across to Railay East but have their reception areas on Railay West.
The aptly named Great View marks the end of the walkway at the northern end of Railay East, so you might as well stop reading now if you want a central location. For seclusion seekers, the gorgeous cabanas perched on brick stilts over a wooded hillside, helpful staff, private beach and hilltop infinity pool with, yes, great views, combine to make this a top pick. Created out of natural woods and... Read our full review of Railay Great View Resort & Spa.
The owners of this isolated hilltop bungalow joint may have sold themselves short by naming it Garden View when, in fact, many of the bungalows afford sweeping ocean views as well. Like a simpler version of neighbouring Great View, the stilted tin-roofed wood-and-bamboo bungalows are spread fairly far apart over a forested hilltop with abundant tropical flowers. Interiors are well kept and have... Read our full review of Railay Garden View Resort.
The newish Princess is a bland but comfortable large-scale resort with huge three-storey concrete stacks stretching far into the peninsula’s interior. The location puts you in the middle of Railay East; in fact this is the first resort you see if arriving on this side of the peninsula. Situated around a lagoon-style swimming pool and small pond, the priciest rooms are in a three-storey beige... Read our full review of Railay Princess Resort.
Rapala showed noticeable improvements since our previous visit, sporting fresh coats of dark violet paint on the coconut-wood bungalows and hammocks strung to porches that used to have only cracked plastic chairs. Inside, the mosquito nets were actually strung up and the rock-hard mattresses had been raised off the floors, putting you that much closer to the wall-mounted fans. The attached... Read our full review of Rapala Rockwood Resort.
The best part about Sunrise Tropical is how it blends into the natural scenery rather than erases it in a frenzy of concrete. At the back of the leafy grounds, a two-storey hotel block contains the cheapest “tropical chalay” rooms, which, while comfortable, were looking rather worn and could use some sprucing up. Most of the accommodation comes in large and immaculate freestanding villas with... Read our full review of Sunrise Tropical Resort.
Railay East has four bland but large midrange resorts: Anyavee, Diamond Cave, Diamond Private, and Viewpoint. We opted to list the latter because it struck us as the lesser of four evils, but it’s really a tossup. The only reason we’re including any of them is that, if everywhere else is full, you’ll probably find a vacancy here. When we inquired about a room, the young receptionist looked... Read our full review of Railay Viewpoint Resort .
A couple of decent budget to midrange resorts are located on the inland road past Phra Nang Nai Cave and on the way to the forest path to Ao Tonsai. They put you within a five- to 10-minute walk of either Railay West or Railay East, and around 20 minutes to Haad Phra Nang and Tonsai. Both are good choices for a quiet atmosphere and reasonable rates.
Located just past Phutawan where the trail to Tonsai begins, Cabana Garden is the antithesis of Railay’s sprawling upscale resorts. A small collection of rustic but well-kept bamboo and coconut wood bungalows are nestled over a hill with a shaggy limestone cliff rising up behind. Similar to the simple rooms found over on Tonsai, they come with rough wood floors with small gaps between the... Read our full review of Railay Cabana Garden Bungalows.
Phutawan has gradually evolved over the years to offer a wide mix of rooms for everyone from budget solo travellers up to midrange-budget families. Spread around a frangipani-filled hill, fresh-scented air-con villas come with large windows, high ceilings, private terraces, TVs, fridges, polished concrete bathrooms and thoughtful extras like umbrellas and slippers. You'll pay twice as much for a... Read our full review of Railay Phutawan Resort.
Tonsai has long danced to its own hippie-rock-climber drum, but at time of writing preparations were being made for the construction of a large resort that, we were told, will cover nearly all of the beachfront land and drastically alter the vibe. A handful of the reggae shacks had already been pushed back towards the woods, where bare-bones huts are still readily available. Most of the resorts run electricity only from around 18:00 to 06:00, with some of the cheaper places shutting it down around midnight. Rates are almost always negotiable, especially if you’re staying for a few nights or more.
The centrally located Andaman Nature has been around for a long time and remains one of the better options for a really cheap room. Bungalows stretch back in rows behind a large restaurant where you can choose from a wide range of food and often sit back to watch a movie. The rooms appear to have been added at different times over the resort’s history, evidenced by a range of different... Read our full review of Andaman Nature Resort.
One of Railay’s best-known rock climbing outfits has expanded in recent years to take over management of The Forest Resort while offering a couple of other rooms types on the adjacent property. If you seek something more liveable than Tonsai’s typical bare-bones bungalows, a freestanding bamboo and polished concrete cottage is smartly designed with a small sitting area and fairly spacious... Read our full review of Basecamp Tonsai and The Forest Resort.
We arrived at Chill Out to find the soft-spoken dreadlocked owner patiently trying to tell a pair of not-so-happy backpackers that the big concrete wall out front was not his idea. The wall now looms in front of all Tonsai bungalow joints except for those further back along the forest road, so it’s not like this is the only place where you’ll have to look at it. The bungalows have more... Read our full review of Chill Out Bar and Bungalow.
Dream Valley is the only resort in Tonsai to offer a swimming pool -- and it's an attractive one with two tiers and spacious decks. Aiming squarely for flashpackers who appreciate their comforts, the resort runs electricity for all but a couple of hours during high season. Polished concrete deluxe rooms face the pool and are the most luxurious that we saw in Tonsai, simply decorated but very... Read our full review of Dream Valley Resort.
A large resort by Tonsai’s standards, Mountain View’s bungalows are set amid a tree-lined hill at the foot of a towering cliff and a five-minute stroll from the beach. The cheapest wooden bungalows have a countryside cottage feel with mint green interior walls, plaid drapes over several windows, ceiling mounted fans, firm beds on log frames, white tile floors, hot water in clean bathrooms and... Read our full review of Mountain View Resort.
Paasook offers a slightly shorter walk to the beach than other options thanks to its location at the far corner of main lane through Tonsai. The cheapest rooms are set in an attached building and are rather dungeon-like, with very little light and cement floors. For roughly the same price you’d be better off at nearby Andaman Nature or one of the cheap places on the forest road. On the other... Read our full review of Paasook Resort.
The bed of an old, broken-down Mazda pick-up truck serves as a big flower pot in front of Sai Thong's reception shack, setting the mood for this chilled out jungle retreat. It was the first basic bungalow operation to appear on the inland hill road and remains one of the best. Blended into the forested hillside, small stilted bamboo-and-wood huts have nothing more than fans, basic cold-water... Read our full review of Sai Thong Bungalow.
Tiew Khao is one of a few small and simple bungalow outfits peppered amid the wooded hills on either side of the inland road that links with the forest trail to Railay. Half an hour after receiving a warm welcome from one of the older Thai women who runs the place, she was still chatting away while feeding us her own homemade sticky rice banana sweets and boiled pumpkin drizzled in sugar and... Read our full review of Tiew Khao Bungalow.