Photo: Looking over West Railay.

Where to stay in Railay Beach

Railay’s accommodation scene is pricey on the whole, but backpackers will still find cheap bungalows at Tonsai and Railay East. A fair selection of midrange and upscale resorts gets the job done for families and honeymooners. Expect to pay a minimum of 4,000 baht a night to stay on world-class Railay West in high season. That jumps to roughly 20,000 baht at Haad Phra Nang, which is home to a single super-lux resort.


Railay West

Only midrange to upscale rooms here. For something special, we highly recommend renting a beach house at Railei Beach Club. Otherwise you’ll find a few midrangers offering direct access to one of Thailand’s finest beaches. But remember: just because your resort has direct beach access does not mean that your room won’t be a 10-minute walk from the sand.


Railay West
4,000B to 8,000B

Railei Beach Club

Railay West T: (086) 685 9359 https://raileibeachclub.com/

Fronting the entire northern half of Railay West and continuing hundreds of metres into the peninsula’s lush interior, this community of beach house owners at Railei Beach Club was established in 1985 as the first development on Railay. It remains one of our favourite midrange to upscale places to stay not only in the Krabi area, but also in Thailand’s entire Andaman region.

What a front yard.

What a front yard. Photo: David Luekens

Hemmed in by towering vertical cliffs, the 25 fan-cooled houses dot a seven-hectare expanse draped in flowers and fruit trees where hornbills come to graze. The setting has changed little over the decades, in stark contrast to the rest of Railay’s flat terrain that’s now blanketed in concrete room blocks. Nearly all of the houses are made of wood, including several with detailed carvings and names like Baan Hollander and Baan Ling (“Monkey House”) painted on signs.

Privately owned and rented out by an organised management team when the owners aren’t around, each of the houses is unique in size and design. Some stand within sight of the beach while others are hidden in private spots near the cliffs. Most boast extensive outdoor chill areas and plenty of shade from the trees that cover the grounds. Kids can run off steam on wide stretches of sand and grass between houses.

Beachfront.

Beachfront. Photo: David Luekens

Some of the largest houses have four bedrooms along with living space and kitchen found inside, plus more room to chill outside on decks and in salas. While large groups can rent entire houses, in many cases the owners rent out rooms in two or more separate wings and these can be good choices for couples and families looking to save some cash. If you’re a couple and don’t want to share space, several smaller houses have only one bedroom.

All houses were built in a natural style relying on numerous screened windows and wall-size doors that can be propped open. Some rooms have multiple bathrooms, most of them sporting a partially open-air design. Decoration varies based on owners’ tastes, but most interiors feature traditional Thai arts and textiles that join the darkwood walls to create an elegant ambience.

Call me Crusoe.

Call me Crusoe. Photo: David Luekens

One of our favourites is Baan Garden of Heaven for its artistic design and location at the back of the property, draped in greenery near the foot of a cliff. Overlooking the beach, the high-end Baan Solly boasts a four-poster bed set in a screened-in loft high above the sand—you’ll be hard pressed to find a more romantic villa in Thailand. There was not a single house that did not look inviting to us after walking around the property.

The only rooms we’d avoid are the three doubles in the Hong Jan “clubhouse”, which are rented out individually and set in a longhouse right next to reception at the centre of the property. As the cheapest options at Railei Beach Club, these have very thin walls and partially open-air bathrooms that allow sound to carry from one room to the next. We could hear our neighbours, who stayed up late chatting, as though they were in the same room as us.

Bring books.

Bring books. Photo: David Luekens

Also keep in mind that Railei Beach Club is not a resort in the traditional sense. While staffers were helpful to us, the office closes at 18:00 and there is no restaurant, swimming pool, fitness centre or tour booking office. The club does employ a private Thai chef and masseuse who can both be arranged in advance for private sessions at your house.

Homeowners come from several countries though mostly from Europe, we were told. To meet them, head to the little bar, free coffee station and sea-view lounge attached to the clubhouse. Benches, tables and a fence stand along the beachfront and anyone not staying here is forbidden from entering the grounds.

Interiors are often equally lovely.

Interiors are often equally lovely. Photo: David Luekens

Each house is priced individually and rates change several times per year, so you’re best off browsing Railei Beach Club’s excellent website and inquiring directly. The club is not found on any third-party booking sites like Agoda. Note that there’s a three-day minimum stay in high season, and this jumps to a one-week minimum from mid December to mid January.

Below we’ve listed the peak season (December through February) rates, but rates for all houses drop significantly in the shoulder months of November, March and April.

More information

Walk–in rates: 2,400 baht—16,000 baht

Maps: Apple | Google
GPS: 98º50'15.44" E, 8º0'43.63" N

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Railay West
4,000B to 8,000B

Not in the luxury league of Rayavadee but a definite step up from neighbouring Sand Sea Resort and Railay Bay Resort, Railay Village is a solid upscale beach resort with two pools and direct access to Haad Railay West.

A modern resort with two pools.

A modern resort with two pools. Photo: David Luekens

It’s a fairly large operation with a spa, a large beachfront restaurant and an experienced team of uniformed staff. While rooms do not come with sea views, the two swimming pools are none too shabby. The long and slender property cuts back for some distance, ending at a run of duplexes built on either side of a lengthy lagoon-style pool draped in frangipani. While these rooms are fine, we prefer the freestanding villas, each with wood-shingle roof and a little moat, table in a garden and Jacuzzi tub inside. The design is classy enough, if not super memorable, and you get a full range of amenities (as you should for high-season rates that may make you gasp).

If looking to save cash, Sand Sea’s rooms are dated and worn down in places, but clean, and it also has two pools that are very popular with families. The scene at Railay Village tends to be quieter.

More information

Walk–in rates: 3,300 baht—6,400 baht
Book online: Agoda | Booking
Maps: Apple | Google
GPS: 98º50'16.5" E, 8º0'40.04" N

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Railay East

Railay’s long east coast has been almost entirely filled in by resorts that run the gamut from 500-baht shacks to 12,000-baht private pool villas. There’s really no beach over here—just a shoreline of mangroves, silt flats and a long concrete walkway. But it’s the widest room selection on the peninsula and the better beaches are an easy five- to 10-minute walk away.


Far northern end of Railay East
600B to 1,500B

Railay Garden View Resort

Far northern end of Railay East T: (088) 765 0484 http://www.railaygardenview.com/

Run by the same tie-dyed crew behind nearby Great View, this place may have sold itself short by using the name Railay Garden View when, in fact, many of the bungalows afford sweeping ocean vistas as well.

No shortage of swaying palms.

No shortage of swaying palms. Photo: David Luekens

All of the stilted woven-bamboo bungalows are fan cooled and spread fairly far apart along a hillside filled with flowers and palms. As with the neighbours, expect a fair amount of climbing stairs here.

Simple but well-kept interiors have woven bamboo walls, desks, large safes, comfy beds donning mosquito nets and solid hot-water bathrooms sporting ceramic basin sinks. Do try to score one of the bungalows with the best views.

Classic Thai bungalow interiors.

Classic Thai bungalow interiors. Photo: David Luekens

Prices are a tad higher than we’d expect for stretches of high season, but the room quality is a big step up from Rapala Rockwood, and rates are always within flashpacker spending range, diving below 1,000 baht in low season.

More information

Walk–in rates: 800 baht—2,200 baht
Book online: Agoda | Booking
Maps: Apple | Google
GPS: 98º50'42.37" E, 8º0'46.98" N

Far northern end of Railay East
1,500B to 4,000B

Railay Great View Resort

Far northern end of Railay East T: (075) 819 472-3 [email protected] http://railaygreatview.com/

Seclusion seekers should check out Railay Great View, occupying both sides of Railay East’s northern headland.

On paper the location looks poor, but when arriving you find a beautiful setting that affords vistas in multiple directions along with a terrific infinity pool and a path leading down the back slope to a hidden beach that faces south to Ao Nammao.

A pool with a view.

A pool with a view. Photo: David Luekens

Built on both sides of the headland, some of the large woven-bamboo cabanas require an awful lot of steps to reach, often rewarding the effort with the best views from cushioned chairs on spacious decks. Tree branches drape over decks of some rooms, blocking the views but resulting in more privacy. Set on tall brick stilts, all rooms are freestanding with no big room blocks to speak of.

Inside you get an elegant natural style with hardwood accents, vaulted ceilings and mosquito nets draped over cushy beds. Wood-and-glass front doors can be opened to let the breeze in. The usual mod-cons (fridge, TV, WiFi, coffee/tea facilities) are included along with smart extras like umbrella, flip-flops, torch and large safe. Spacious brushed-concrete bathrooms sport rain showerheads and ceramic basin sinks to go with glazed-glass sunroofs.

Some rooms deliver an almost treehouse effect.

Some rooms deliver an almost treehouse effect. Photo: David Luekens

Around the property you’ll find lounge chairs on a spacious deck fronting the pool, plus the small spa, restaurant, bar and stairs leading down to a private beach facing back towards the mainland. The water off this beach was as calm as can be when we last visited. The only way to reach it is by boat or by walking through the resort, so almost no visitors to Railay make it there unless staying at Great View.

We think Great View is ideal for couples looking to take it easy. Families with small children should beware of the seaside walkway with no railings that leads to the resort. Also keep in mind that accessing the resort can be exhausting, starting with the long entrance staircase that leads to additional stairways to reception and all of the rooms. Don’t stay here if you’re not into steps.

A natural outlook.

A natural outlook. Photo: David Luekens

While the location is beautiful, it can also be annoying if you like to go out after dark. Expect a 1.5-kilometre walk to Haad Phra Nang and Railay West, with the nearest independent restaurants and bars found a half-kilometre away. Nearby Tew Lay Bar is a good option for a change of scenery if you stay at Great View.

Tie-dye-shirted staffers are not overly friendly but they were quick to show us some rooms when we last swung through. They jump between here and Railay Garden View Resort, a cheaper spot that’s run by the same group and located nearby on the way back towards civilisation.

More information

Walk–in rates: 1,800 baht—4,500 baht
Book online: Agoda | Booking
Maps: Apple | Google
GPS: 98º50'53.75" E, 8º0'47.1" N

Railay East
1,500B to 4,000B

Completed in 2014, Avatar was the last resort built on Railay and while we’re not generally fans of tightly packed concrete room blocks, there’s no denying that these digs are significantly smarter than those in most similarly priced resorts.

Well positioned for pool frolicking.

Well positioned for pool frolicking. Photo: David Luekens

Along with a few super-cushy villas with private plunge pools facing a small courtyard up front, most rooms come in two pale orange three-floor concrete stacks with a sizeable pool in between. First-floor editions have direct pool entrances, but you do pay significantly more for the privilege of being able to roll out of your room into the pool.

We’d be more than happy in an upper-floor room with a cushioned daybed nest on the balcony and a smart, fully kitted-out room with widescreen LCD TV and bathrooms with rain showerhead, sink and toilet each placed in a separate compartment. In low season these rooms are a steal.

If there’s more to spend, check out the suites with their own private plunge pools built on a greenery-shrouded terrace above the main pool. If booking in advance, ignore the inflated rack rates listed on the hotel’s website and book through a third-party site.

More information

Walk–in rates: 1,700 baht—4,500 baht
Book online: Agoda | Booking
Maps: Apple | Google
GPS: 98º50'30.51" E, 8º0'40.97" N

Towards the northern end of Railay East
Under 600B

Rapala Rockwood

Towards the northern end of Railay East T: (080) 973 7778 [email protected] http://www.rapalarockwood.com/

Preserving the only remaining backpacker-range bungalows on Railay (not including Tonsai), Rapala Rockwood is an old family-run spot that has showed improvements in recent years.

Family run and affordable.

Family run and affordable. Photo: David Luekens

Mostly made of coconut wood with a few walled in bamboo, the small freestanding bungalows get the job down with soft beds, mosquito nets and bucket-flush toilets in cold-water bathrooms. You’ll also find cheaper rooms in a couple of long houses with shared bathrooms. Most rooms are fan cooled, but air-con has been added to a few.

To reach the resort you’ll ascend a long stairway near The Last Bar and other night haunts that do blast music late into the night—bring earplugs. The father/son managers do a good job, offering free WiFi in a restaurant/lounge with floor cushions and a sea view. There’s even a little plunge pool. Though we’d class this place as “just average” in destinations with a wider range of budget bungalows, on Railay it fills a crucial role for backpackers.

More information

Walk–in rates: 400 baht—1,200 baht
Book online: Agoda | Booking
Maps: Apple | Google
GPS: 98º50'37.25" E, 8º0'46.11" N

South side of Railay East
1,500B to 4,000B

Sunrise Tropical Resort

South side of Railay East T: (075) 819 418-20 [email protected] http://www.sunrisetropical.com/

The spacious villas at Sunrise Tropical Resort have held their integrity over the years, constituting some of the best midrange value on Railay.

Cute pool.

Cute pool. Photo: David Luekens

They dot a leafy property that blends into the natural scenery, rather than erasing it in a frenzy of concrete like other resorts. While the pool is relatively small and the only seafront faces scruffy Railay East, the location is convenient to the pier and—the best part—closer to Haad Phra Nang than any resort apart from super-lux Rayavadee.

Sunrise Tropical has a modern two-floor room block but we suggest throwing down the extra 800 baht or so for a villa—they’re similar to (arguably better than) the pricier villas at Railay Village Resort. Inside you get a sumptuous king bed and silk daybed among a full list of luxuries, plus huge bathrooms stacked with Jacuzzi tubs and rock-garden showers. It’s all done Thai style and designers really showed some class.

Cuter interiors.

Cuter interiors. Photo: David Luekens

A five-minute walk from either Haad Phra Nang or Haad Railay West, this is a long running and reputable resort with a large restaurant, coffee shop and massage.

More information

Walk–in rates: 1,900 baht—6,000 baht
Book online: Agoda | Booking
Maps: Apple | Google
GPS: 98º50'26.86" E, 8º0'35.64" N






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Railay Inland

Just beyond Phra Nang Nai Cave, Railay’s inland walkway ascends to the long-running Phutawan Resort in a cradle of cliffs and a hill rising to offer a sea view. It was the only place to stay that was open up here at time of writing, unless you’re camping out over at Highland Rock Climbing. (Neighbouring Cabana Garden Bungalows has sadly closed).


Inland past Phra Nang Nai Cave, Railay
600B to 1,500B

Phutawan Resort

Inland past Phra Nang Nai Cave, Railay T: (075) 819 479 [email protected] http://www.railayphutawan.com/

Phutawan’s reasonably comfortable rooms sit in freestanding cottages and a couple of room blocks on a hill rimmed by impressive cliffs.

Now that is a horizon pool.

Now that is a horizon pool. Photo: David Luekens

If you don’t mind a climb to your room, this is a beautiful setting within a 10-minute walk of both Railay West and East. The resort makes the most of the location by way of a pool, bar and loungers on a large patio with a sea-and-cliff outlook to mountain of Ko Pu in the distance and climbers hanging from the nearest crags. The jungle trail to Tonsai also begins behind the resort.

The cheapest rooms come in a three-floor stack and while the interiors are nothing special, they’re all cleaned daily and attached to balconies affording a grand view to the northern cliff and jungle in between. The newer rooms are a step up, set in a brushed concrete structure with glass doors opening to the same view as the pool. There are also some family rooms and large concrete bungalows with super-high roofs on the bathrooms.

Smart and spacious rooms.

Smart and spacious rooms. Photo: David Luekens

The old bamboo huts are now for staff only, so Phutawan is strictly a flashpacker to midrange spot, which is a shame given that the old Garden Cabana joint has closed next door. Rooms are all well equipped with minibars, WiFi and the like—a bit overpriced at times in high season, but solid value in the slower months.

More information

Walk–in rates: 1,100 baht—7,000 baht
Book online: Agoda | Booking
Maps: Apple | Google
GPS: 98º50'31.2" E, 8º0'53.28" N






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Ao Tonsai

On Tonsai, electricity comes from individual generators and most bungalow spots shut it down late at night or in the morning, switching on again at around 18:00. Dream Valley and Tonsai Bay resorts are the only two with air-con at research time, though we heard plans are continuing for the construction of a large upscale resort covering most of the beachfront. For now, Tonsai remains a hippie enclave with a handful of small bungalow spots peppered off the jungle trail and a lane lined by imaginative wall art.


On the hill road to Railay, Ao Tonsai
Under 600B

The Forest Resort

On the hill road to Railay, Ao Tonsai T: (081) 149 9745 [email protected] http://basecamptonsai.com/

One of Railay’s best-known rock climbing outfits, Basecamp Tonsai, has expanded in recent years to take over management of The Forest Resort while offering a couple of other rooms types on the property abutting their office.

Jungle setting.

Jungle setting. Photo: David Luekens

If you seek something a tad cushier than Tonsai’s typical bare-bones bungalows, a freestanding bamboo and polished concrete cottage is smartly designed with a small sitting area and spacious cold-water bathroom downstairs, topped by an upper loft with a king-size mattress draped in mosquito net and curtains that can be drawn over an open-air front.

You’ll also find three different types of more standard bamboo-and-wood bungalows, including some at The Forest that bag you chunky bamboo bedframes and spacious porches perched high above the greenery. There’s also a cheap fan dorm and small motel-style building with dark, utilitarian private rooms that appear to be better sealed than your average bungalow—worth keeping in mind if you cringe at the thought of creepy crawlers invading your sleeping space.

All rooms are equipped with fans and mosquito nets, and overall they’re of a higher standard than most digs in Tonsai. Inquire at the Basecamp Tonsai office if you find no staff at The Forest.

More information

Walk–in rates: 0 baht—800 baht

Maps: Apple | Google
GPS: 98º50'12.75" E, 8º1'11.51" N

Ao Tonsai
Under 600B

The soft-spoken, dreadlocked owner of the aptly named Chill Out Bar & Bungalows sets the tone for Tonsai’s hippie-reggae vibes.

Chill out here.

Chill out here. Photo: David Luekens

Live music and fire spinning often entertain the bar decked out in yellow, green and red, making this the go-to option for backpackers in the mood for a lively social scene. Ask for a bungalow way back in the woods—and bring earplugs—if not joining the party every night. The huts stand beyond the bar in two rows on a hill stretching to forest and cliffs behind.

Four-bed dorms are set in the largest bungalows with personal mozzie nets for each single bed (no bunks), though we’d splash out for a private bungalow sporting firm bed, mozzie net, hardwood floors, woven-bamboo walls and attached wet bathroom with cold water and bucket-flush toilets. The well-kept bungalows have more character than at most places in Tonsai, with coconut-wood exteriors, flags of various countries painted on doors and tall windows to prop open. Hang around here and you’ll meet some characters.

Use the net.

Use the net. Photo: David Luekens

Unlike some of Tonsai’s bungalow joints, this one stays open year round. We noticed that rates on Booking.com were much higher than walk-in rates.

More information

Walk–in rates: 200 baht—600 baht
Book online: Agoda | Booking
Maps: Apple | Google
GPS: 98º49'59.67" E, 8º1'14.88" N

Ao Tonsai
Under 600B

Paasook Resort

Ao Tonsai T: (086) 267 0343

The decent bungalows at Paasook offer a slightly shorter walk to the beach than other options thanks to a location at the far northern corner of the only lane running through Tonsai.

Classic Thai huts.

Classic Thai huts. Photo: David Luekens

The large and re-painted (again, this time blue!) shacks are spacious and quite inviting, with hardwood floors, fresh sheets on firm mattresses, mosquito nets, fans, several screened windows and large tiled wet bathrooms—cold water only and definitely a critter or two. We’ve always liked these rooms and it’s great to see them being kept up.

The rest of the rooms, set in a couple of small motel-style cement structures, are down at the bottom end of the price scale and they are dungeon like indeed. Either way you’ll be close to roughing it on tree-draped grounds that are removed from the parties and shrouded, also, in various types of flowers.

Interiors are bright and clean.

Interiors are bright and clean. Photo: David Luekens

The same group operates the adjacent Mountain View and Jungle Hut, both of which were closed in June 2018, but expected to reopen. Pop into the office in front of Paasook and the experienced team will sort out a budget room for you, no doubt.

More information

Walk–in rates: 200 baht—600 baht
Book online: Agoda
Maps: Apple | Google
GPS: 98º49'54.73" E, 8º1'13.64" N

Jungle trail behind Ao Tonsai
Under 600B

Tiew Khao Bungalows

Jungle trail behind Ao Tonsai

Tiew Khao, meaning “Travel Mountain”, is our pick out of the four tiny bungalow joints that have held it down out on the jungle trail for years.

A leafy outlook.

A leafy outlook. Photo: David Luekens

After chatting with one of the older Thai women who runs the place, she fed us her own homemade sticky rice banana sweets and boiled pumpkin drizzled in sugar and coconut. When available she gives these and other treats out freely to guests, at least when she and the sisters are around to oversee some of the sturdier backpacker huts in Tonsai. That typically means high season only, as they head for the comforts of the non-Railay mainland for most of the rainy months.

Perched on stilts and reached by a steep stairway and often a small ladder, the woven bamboo bungalows have firm beds and mozzie nets raised off wood floors, with portable fans and bucket-flush toilets in the tiled bathrooms. The best part: porches set high up among branches. Hammocks are hit or miss so you may want to bring your own.

Welcoming.

Welcoming. Photo: David Luekens

The place is closed for parts of low season, and no phone number was provided (again). Walk-ins only. You might also check out The Forest, Sai Thong and Sai Ngam Botanic, which is the last bungalow joint before you hit the trail to Railay. Bring plenty of mozzie spray and coils if staying anywhere out this way.

More information

Walk–in rates: 0 baht—500 baht

Maps: Apple | Google
GPS: 98º50'13.63" E, 8º1'10.66" N

Ao Tonsai
600B to 1,500B

Dream Valley is, at time of writing, the only place in Tonsai to offer a swimming pool—and it’s an attractive one with two tiers and spacious decks.

Smart digs for Tonsai.

Smart digs for Tonsai. Photo: David Luekens

Surrounding the pool are the brushed concrete superior rooms with terraces, desks, fridges, safes, flatscreen TVs, firm beds on raised concrete frames and modern bathrooms with hot water. Freestanding cottages fetch a bit more cash and while neither of these room types are particularly memorable, they are the most luxurious digs in Tonsai at research time (June 2018). You even get electricity all night long.

A second wave of older rooms come in orange freestanding bungalows that stretch back for some distance into the forest beyond the pool. This is the Dream Valley of yesteryear—it’s like a different resort and is only worth checking out if you’re having heatstroke and need air-con for as cheap as possible. The air-con bungalows are musty and old, and the only redeeming feature is the air-con itself.

An example of the older rooms.

An example of the older rooms. Photo: David Luekens

There are also fan bungalows but the ones we saw didn’t have mozzie nets and you’ll find better at Paasook or Chill Out. But we do like that pool if you’re willing to splurge on a deluxe.

More information

Walk–in rates: 400 baht—2,500 baht
Book online: Agoda | Booking
Maps: Apple | Google
GPS: 98º50'4.59" E, 8º1'11.5" N






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What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Railay Beach.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Railay Beach.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Railay Beach.
 Read up on how to get to Railay Beach, or book your transport online with 12Go Asia.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Railay Beach? Please read this.
 Buy a SIM card for Thailand—pick it up at the airport when you arrive.
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