Posted by: ghostdawg2 | May 11, 2009

Travel To Railay Beach In Krabi:For Ambitious Travelers,This Quiet Beach Is a Tropical Gem by Doug Brown

Island hopping, Doug Brown

photo by Doug Brown

In southern Thailand, Krabi is sometimes described as “the new Phuket.”

Railay Beach at the southern tip of Krabi offers a secluded, tropical getaway for adventurers.

Many travellers dream of finding the perfect vacation spot, unknown to tourists who opt for the low-risk familiarity of brand name hotels and well-trodden sights. Phuket island in southern Thailand was once a dreamy, exotic spot, but has become increasingly commercialized in many of its popular beach areas.

Granted, Phuket is "easy." It offers a range of delights, from quiet pampering at exclusive spa resorts, to grinning Thai ladies plunking down cheap buckets of beer at beach bars. However, there is a class of travelers who are confident enough to step off the tour bus, go explore an interesting street, and return home with experiences that weren't in the travel guide. Krabi’s Railay Beach offers this sort of experience.

Fly Direct to Krabi Airport

Until its airport opened in the year 2000 Krabi was only accessible by a two hour drive from Phuket and is the reason why the town is just appearing on travelers' radar screens. Taxis go to Ao Nang beach where longtail boats and drivers will be bobbing in the surf waiting for passengers. Railay’s charms are preserved somewhat because it is only accessible by boat, so visitors wear flip-flops and shorts, and carry a minimum amount of luggage. Prices are somewhat fixed, and all provide the same basic service.

A lovely trip along the stunning cliffs and islands of the Andaman Sea follows, and fifteen minutes later, the boat will arrive at either Railay Beach West or East, depending on the hotel. "West" has beautiful views and a stunning beach, and "East" less so. A range of accomodation exists, from the ultra-premium Rayavadee resort with its own beach and boat service, to the numerous, cheap bungalows. If jumping in and out of longtail boats in the waves sounds challenging, the reward is a semi-private white sand beach, soaring rockfaces and a view that stretches to the horizon.

Explore, Swim and Relax

Excursions and activities are plentiful in Railay. Rock climbers know it well and can be seen climbing up the huge peaks on either end of the beach. Piloted longtail boats are available for island-hopping, and numerous shops offer climbing lessons, scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaks, windsurfing and parasailing. Most hotels have a range of pre-booked activities and can help with any questions. There are trails between the West and East beaches, as well as plentiful exploring opportunities around the mountain bases. And as the tide goes out, a wide range of sea life is visible and several shallow caves open up.

The day ends with a cold drink, the setting sun over the Andaman Sea, darkening cliffs and still-warm sand that comes up between the toes. For a few hours Railay is a quiet paradise until the bars and restaurants perk up, encouraging the young, fit climbing crowd get into party mode. This is bedtime for those who want a stunning sunrise and breakfast on the beach, or the start of the evening for those who will awake in bright sunlight. Before too long, the longtail boat will be departing one last time, and travelers more often than not will be planning their return trip.

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