Krabi is a true paradise for beach lovers and Railay is one of the most famous and most popular beaches in the region, second only to Ao Nang. I have already written a guide to the top 7 beaches in Krabi, and of course Railay is included there, but what I have not yet talked about is how to actually get there. So I thought I would do just that today.
Most people travel to Railay Beach from 2 places: Krabi Town & Ao Nang. Krabi Town is the capital city of the province of the same name, and Ao Nang is the biggest and most developed beach town in Krabi with most of the hotels, restaurants, travel agents, markets and also a bustling nightlife.
Here are the different ways to get to Railay:
Krabi Town to Railay Beach
If you have just arrived in Krabi from Bangkok and want to get to the beach right away (or you have already spent a few nights there) then you have basically two options: You can either travel to Railay on your own or you just book your ticket at a local travel agent (most hotels have a travel desk, otherwise you can easily find them in the riverside area – that’s where all the hotels and tourist facilities are located).
I would recommend that you book the ticket at a travel agent – the price difference is just about 50-80 Baht and it will save you a lot of hassles finding and waiting for the songthaew that brings you to the ferry pier. I will describe both ways though, so you can make up your choice.
By Travel Agent
The travel agents in riverside Krabi will easily arrange your transportation. The price is about 250 Baht one way and that includes the minivan pick up from your hotel, the drive to Klong Jilad Pier (Krabi’s main pier) and the public boat to Railay Beach.
The drive from downtown Krabi to the pier takes only about 5-10 minutes – the distance is around 3km. Once you get there, you will board the boat and wait until it’s full. The boat trip itself takes 25-30 minutes and you will arrive at Railay East – from there it’s less than 2 minutes walk to Railay West – the main beach there.
On your own
If you are a little bit more adventurous you can also do it all yourself: There are songthaews (pick-up taxis) serving the route from downtown Krabi to Klong Jilad Pier in about 20 minutes intervals. The fare is around 12 Baht. Yes, that’s cheaper than the all-inclusive option with minivans (see above), but you never really know when they depart, maybe there are delays, you will have to ask the locals for help which particular songthaew to take and you also don’t have much space for your luggage.
I have marked the main stop of the songthaews on the map below, but you can hail them everywhere you see them.
Once you have arrived at the boat pier of Krabi, you will have to pay 200 Baht for a one way ticket to Railay. The boats run every half an hour from 8:30am to 5pm. And like already mentioned above, the travel time in these long tail boats to Railay East is 25 to 30 minutes.
An alternative to the shared boats are the private boats that will cost you between 900 and 1,200 Baht (it’s not worth it though if you ask me – these are the same boats and the only advantage is that there are no other people on board).
- For a more direct boat access point to Railay you can go to Ao Nammao Pier. Coming from Krabi Town, you can either take a taxi (15 minutes, 350-400 Baht) or a white colored songthaew (up to one hour, 60 Baht). The boat fare is 80 Baht and they leave when full.
- Important: The last boat from East Railay to both Klong Jilad Pier and Ao Nammao Pier leaves at 5pm. If you miss that one (or it’s full) you will have to spend the night in Railay, since there is no road leading to Railay.
Ao Nang to Railay Beach
The trip from Ao Nang to Railay is much shorter, more pleasant and the views are also better compared to the Krabi-Railay route.
There are longtail boats that leave when full from early in the morning (usually 8am) until 5 o’clock in the evening. Just walk to the eastern end of the beach promenade where you will see the ticket office:
There is no need to buy your ticket at one of the many, many travel agents in Ao Nang – just go to the official ticket office and buy your one way ticket (100 Baht) or return ticket (200 Baht). Some boat drivers will already be waiting for new passengers right opposite the ticket office. Once there are enough people who have bought their tickets you will join them down to the water.
The boat ride takes about 15 minutes, and you will get nice panoramic views of Pai Plong Beach and Ton Sai Beach, which are located between Ao Nang and Railay. The long tail boat will eventually park right on the main beach on West Railay.
Now it’s time to jump out of the boat and enjoy your time on this magnificent beach that is surrounded by massive limestone cliffs – which make it Thailand’s number one spot for rock climbing – both for beginners and pros. I have done just that on a recent trip to Krabi and you can find my report on it here.
But of course you don’t need to climb here to enjoy yourself. You can as well just bring a towel and a book and relax a couple of hours in the late afternoon sun. There are also a few atmospheric beach bars – perfect to have a cool Singha or two and soak in the fantastic atmosphere. Here’s a picture I took on Railay Beach last month:
Once you have enough of Railay and want to go back to Ao Nang, you can just walk towards the boats and buy your ticket directly from the captain.
- Be careful: The boats leave every half an hour, and the last service is at 5:30pm (just before sunset). When we went there last time and asked for the last boat they told us 5:30pm, but the ticket would not be 100 Baht (like usually), but 150 Baht. Typical southern Thai style trying to rip off the tourists. Up in Isaan they would not do things like that. We ended up taking the 5pm boat to Ao Nang and paid 100 Baht each.