Since its airport opened in mid-1999, Krabi has been accessible to hardworking Bangkokians wanting to get away for a weekend. While the beauty of Krabi is quite indisputable, judge for yourself whether the cost of a trip away is worthwhile with this breakdown of what you’ll need to spend for a getaway in Railay, one of Krabi’s most spectacular locations.
Krabi province features more than 30 small islands of its coast, however most of the island accommodation is basic, and getting there takes time. Of the beaches on mainland Krabi, Ao Nang is the most accessible, but this beach has become somewhat crowded. Railay, still on the mainland but only accessible by boat, offers a more peaceful alternative along with some impressive limestone karst scenery. It’s composed of two beaches, East and West, with East being geared more towards the backpacker crowd, and West being more upmarket. From Railay, it’s a ten-minute walk to arguably the most stunning beach in Krabi, Ao Phra Nang.
THAI has daily flights to Krabi from Don Muang, leaving at 8.10am, and return flights on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 4.10pm. Return tickets are Bt4,240. From Krabi airport, hire a limousine to Ao Nang for Bt400 per car, and then catch a longtail for the ten-minute ride to Railay for Bt50 per person with a six-person load. If you don’t want to wait – you’ve only got a weekend, after all – negotiate to pay the extra to leave straight away.
Where to stay
Budget-conscious travellers should head to East Railay, where bungalows are cheaper. Diamond Cave Bungalows have bungalows starting at Bt400 with fan, or Bt1200 with airconditioning, while Viewpoint Bungalows has fan rooms only for Bt500 to 1000. Ya Ya Bungalows – three-storey wooden houses amidst trees – are popular with climbers and go for Bt450 to 750.
West Railay’s budget spot is Railay Bay Bungalows, with fan rooms starting at Bt450 and deluxe aircon rooms for Bt1800, including breakfast. Up a few notches are Sandsea Resort,with bungalows ranging from Bt900 to Bt2,750 (including breakfast) and Railay Village, which offers Bt800 and Bt2,000 rooms. A less densely built up place to stay is the green Railei Beach Club, with various houses and rooms available starting at Bt2,000 and Bt1,200 respectively. If you’d like to really splash out, there’s the Dusit Rayavadee, with its two-storey pavilions starting at Bt20,000 per night. The Dusit is the sole resort on Ao Phra Nang, and also fronts West Railay.
Seafood is your best bet, and the restaurants along Railay West can’t be beaten for a sundown meal. Several of the restaurants are Muslim and do not serve alcohol, although you can bring your own. The beach is not big on parties: kitchens close by 10pm, and the main bar at Railay Bay turns off its stereo around midnight. Expect to pay Bt70 for a Heineken at most places, and around Bt400 at the most for a good seafood meal for two.
Railay is one of the top rockclimbing spots in the world – few areas have climbing, the beach, and accommodation all within walking distance. A one-day trip with King Climbers Rock Climbing School will cost you Bt1,500, or if you’re staying longer, a 3-day trip will cost Bt5,000. Other schools include Cliffsman, who offer a private guide for the day at US$120.
Diving is another popular activity here. Phra Nang Divers offers a PADI-certified Openwater I dive course that will set you back US$275 for three to four days, while those already qualified can go on two-dive trips starting at US$50. Kayaking or canoeing is a further water-based alternative. Hire your own kayak on Railay West beach for Bt 500 for a full day, or Bt150 by the hour. Guided trips are available from Ao Nang for around Bt1,200 to 1,500 per day. If you’re not that energetic, negotiate to hire your own longtail and head to some outlying islands. Around Bt800 for half a day is the norm.
Low season means lower prices
From April/May, many prices for both accommodation and activities drop due to the start of the wet season. Boat trips to the province’s islands may not run, but Railay is still accessible.