Photo: Looking over West Railay.


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A climber ascends a final ledge, summiting to see brilliant beaches stretching beneath vertical limestone massifs as longtail boats and isles dot the Andaman Sea in three directions. Not an island, nor a beach town, the Railay peninsula is one of the most breathtaking spots in Thailand.

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Reaching from the coast of Krabi province like a hitchhiker’s thumb, Railay feels more like an island than part of the mainland due to a half-ring of impenetrable cliffs denying overland access. Unless you’re some sort of spider person, you will arrive by sea. Some of the cliffs rise to hundreds of metres and many are rigged with rock climbing routes. A bunch of climbing outfits offer assistance, education and gear, keeping up Railay’s status as a key waypoint for climbers in Southeast Asia.

The setting can be close to sublime. Photo taken in or around Railay Beach, Thailand by David Luekens.

The setting can be close to sublime. Photo: David Luekens

Between the gnarly cliffs stretch four beaches that any lucky human could hope to visit once in their lives. They draw families, honeymooners, hippies and sand snobs from the world over and host around 25 places to stay, ranging from high-end luxury villas right on down to the humblest bamboo shacks.

Backpacking climbers set the tone for Railay’s tourism situation in the 1980s and ‘90s and while they remain in full force, the peninsula went through a phase of serious development starting in the 2000s. Much of the flat isthmus between beaches now contains tightly packed resorts made up of multi-floor concrete room blocks. If you can look past the cement walls, low-hanging wires and scavenging macaques, Railay can be enjoyable for strolling and it did look cleaner in May 2018 than on our ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 1,200 words.)

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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.
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