My review of Ao Nang ended in a bit of a downer about the boats, true, but they doesn’t mean you are stuck in Ao Nang for your entire stay. There a few beaches around that cannot be reached by road and the only way to get to them is by boat. These beaches are quite stunning, small coves lined with beautiful sand and huge white cliffs.
The best and most popular of these is Railay (pronounced ray-lay) Beach. It is a short 10 minute boat ride from Ao Nang. Getting a boat there is very easy. We went to the main beach and at one end there was a ticket stand selling tickets at 100 baht each. There were some seats for waiting at.
Because the boats operate as a collective you get marshalled at the ticket office for the next available boat. The wait will not be too long as there are boats going all the time.
We got to Railay Beach around 10am and things were already quite busy. The beach looked nice and we managed to find a slightly shady spot to sit towards one end of the cresent shapped beach. The sand was nice but as the tide went out it looked quite grey.
One thing that really annoyed me was the boats again! They were moored in the very centre of the beach, just out of the low tide line and took the prime position. The noise was a factor, but to be expected. The sucking up of so much of the beach seemed to be a shame to me.
For a place cut off as it is, Railay Beach has some good facilities. There are places to stay, and really nice ones at that. I’d have loved to have stayed at one of the beachside resorts. There are shops and plenty of places to eat and drink, and a really cool ice cream store right on the beach (near the centre).
Most of the places to eat are on a path that leaves the beach in the middle of its length. This path goes all the way to the other side of the isthmus, where there is another, slightly less developed, beach. Indeed the entire path gets less developed and cruder as you go on. But go on you should, for there is some great value eating places around five minute walk from the beach where less people bother to go. We had a great value (and great tasting lunch).
After lunch we headed back to the beach for some ice cream. It was getting really hot and shade was becoming scarce. Also, with the tide going out, paddling in the water became a less attractive proposition.
We left early in the afternoon. It was a quiet time to go back so we had to wait a while for a boatload of people ready to make the journey. This was annoying but unavoidable as the only way around it was to hire an entire boat.
That said we had a great day at Railay and went back another day to visit again. My advice would be to avoid the low tide time and go earlier in the day or in the afternoon.
Want an inland destination rather than the beach? Read our article on Chang Mai.