Thursday, December 14, 2006

Krabi/Railay/Ton Sai Areas updated


last visited August 2013 last updated Sept 2014

Krabi beaches layout - Phra Nang in foreground, East Railay far right, West Railay opposite, Ton Sai behind, Ao Nang and then Nopharet Thara top far left. (image surfersvillage)


Google Earth image - most popular Krabi beach areas.
I forgot to placemark Ao Phai Plong - it's the small bay with the blue box between Ao Nang and Ton Sai.

Google Earth image - greater Krabi area. Tubkaak Beach is at the high end of the strip of beach above Khlong Muang far left. Hat Ton Son is above the A of Ao Nang mid-left. Longish Hat Yao leads away to the south-east from the O of Mao mid-right. I forgot a scale and direction symbol. The distance between the Krabi town and Khlong Muang markers each side is 16km. North is straight up.


Main tracks Railay-Ton Sai - modified Google Earth image
1-East Railay to Phra Nang 2-Main West Railay to East Railay path 3-West Railay by-pass 4-Last Bar to Garden View& Great View 5-Diamond Cave/High Valley track 6-West Railay to Ton Sai headland scramble 7-East Railay to Ton Sai high track 8-Ton Sai loop and off-shoots - for complicated reasons I didn't put in the bit of the loop which goes back down to the western (left-side) of Ton Sai beach.

LATEST MAP OF EAST/WEST RAILAY SIGNPOSTED AT THE BEACH - NEW TO ME IN 2013.
Details may be clearer if you click image to expand.


Relative position of Krabi/Railay to nearby Andaman locations. Because Railay can only be accessed by vote many visitors are under the impression it is an island - not part of the mainland.

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BEACH OVERVIEW

WEST RAILAY


Probably the second best of the Krabi Beaches. Spectacular landscape. Book-ended by soaring limestone cliffs - this shot is snapped from one. Nice sand at all tide levels. In all my visits I've only noticed shallow water at low tide a problem once and that coincided with one of the full moon/no moon lowest low-tide/highest high-tide periods. And it was only a problem for an hour each side of lowest tide.
Busy with longtails but they are confined to a set area this end of shot leaving a big area for swimmers. Wind is off-shore in high season meaning smooth conditions. Can get a bit bumpy on windier wet season days. Beach gets pretty crowded peak season but is super cool in evenings when daytrippers leave and small beach bar mats with candles are set up on the sand.
Big pool far right is part of super luxury Rayavadee. Smaller pool (but it aint a small pool) to left belongs to Railay Bay Resort - the main path across to East Railay starts next to this pool. Next left is Sand Sea and then Railay Village - all midrangers. These end about half way across shot - further left are the grounds of the Railay Beach Club with scattered holiday houses in a nice wooded area. This place has a few beachfront bungalows, more set behind beachfront fence and trees - got a pix about 50% down page. The  other resorts' accommodation is set back from beach with restaurants/pools beachfront you won't get a beachfront room there.
More than a quarter of the beach is out of view to the left (image Andaman Adventures)

The quietest section of West Railay is the far northern end. There is some shelter under trees to right of frame - the steep climb over to Ton Sai starts there too (look for the helper ropes or for fit climber-dudes appearing from above). No lack of kayaking opportunities around these beaches.


2013 - new to me:  the busy little business/restaurant area just north of the Railay Bay/Sand Sea/Railay Village resort strip has copied Ko Lipe and named itself WALKING STREET. Not quite the range and size of Lipe's but not a bad area today and considerably bigger than in 2010.
Those 2 beach-fronting bar/restaurants are nice places to sit and check the passing scene but I notice prices now are maybe 50% up on normal budget places in the Andaman. Similarly the adjacent resorts' beachfront restaurants were always only slightly dearer than budget places - they are now markedly dearer (although still a bargain by western standards and the outlook beats most).


West Railay is a bit over 600m long. Note the main route to East Railay is left of the last y in Railay Bay. Walking Street turns into a path which will get you across to the East Railay to high valley and high Ton Sai path.


EAST RAILAY
(image Dreams Of Mountains) - 5 minutes walk across the narrow spit from West Railay lands you here. Looks okay in this highest-tide shot but you can't see the mud flats of low tide or most of the mangroves which cover two thirds of the shoreline - their start can just be seen center and to the right.
Nevertheless this is a good beach to stay on because it has a wide range of accommodation from budget to high end, some good restaurants and bars and is only a few minutes walk from two of the nicest beaches in the Andaman landscape/seascape wise (Phra Nang is off to the left-bottom of shot). Some of the higher-set accommodation places like Diamond Private (out of shot to the right) have pretty spectacular cliff-bay-offshore island views.
There's more pix and info on East Railay accommodation starting about 50% down page.

2013 - PROGRESS! At last they have put in a paved path right across East Railay. Down-page I have a rant about having to walk in the water when king high tides hit - well no longer, trend setters. Note this section  along the northern half of the beach actually passes on the OUTSIDE of the bars, restaurants etc - the old path is on the inside so there are now parallel paths here. The new path continues on the sea side of Last Bar so people heading around the rocks to Garden View and  Great View Resorts (the last one new to me since 2010) no longer have to walk thru the bar.
East Railay beach track June 2010 before the concrete path - still a bit daggy looking in big sections. But East Railay even then should not have been overlooked by people seeking Railay accommodation. Lots of places to stay here in all price ranges, some good views from the higher joints (there is a pretty decent hillside behind a lot of the places). Ignore the mangroves and low-tide mudflats - it's a short walk to very good West Railay and a shorter walk to even better Phra Nang. That vegetation at right of shot is part of the mangroves. The wet ground is not from rain - that's high tide.


2013 - PROGRESS OR DISASTER?? - the famous Ya Ya resort is gone. For some time it has been run as the budget wing of Railay Princess Resort which bought it a few years back. The new joint certainly aint budget. Now I have a fun rant about Ya Ya down-page but this is an institution to several generations of backpackers. At least Princess will now have direct waterfront access.


I didn't try to put all accommodation in on East Railay - just some of the places mentioned on this page. Note good old Google Earth shot this at high tide - mud flats don't look too flash. East Railay is nearly 800m long from Last Bar (top) to the start of the Phra Nang path.


PHRA NANG
Fabulous shot from Me Not at Work - you are looking at only the southern end of Phra Nang - the beach actually continues to the right around the corner of that wide section at top left of pix and terminates against the inner of those far cliffs. I have a shot of that far section about 70% down page - I prefer that area because it tends to be less crowded in high season.
And yep, the above shot is definitely low season despite the lovely looking weather - in high season the part you can see is covered by people. About half the area leading down to the cliffs below-camera is taken by a buoyed-off swimming enclosure - water is deep all tides. Food vendors' longtails line the beach towards the far corner - there are always inexpensive yummy stuff and cold drinks available. I've noticed on many trips that the section of the beach mid-shot gets pretty skinny at highest tide although there is always plenty of sand on and past the turn and this end near the cliffs. The super luxury Rayavadee is behind the beach for about two thirds the distance to the corner.


The quieter northern section of Phra Nang - this is at the opposite end from where the access track from East Railay hits the beach. Very few people in this June 2010 shot, but even in high season this end tends to be less crowded. I noticed that maybe 100m behind the camera Rayvadee had a new (to me) beach bar operating.

You can climb up on top of the headland at the opposite end of the beach from part way along the access path from East Railay (look for the ropes opposite the shelter shed) to a couple of fairly good viewpoints and to a spot where you can climb down into the Princess Cave which is actually open topped with a small lake in bottom. I found this climb down is a bit tricky and should be done in shoes more suitable than joggers.

The far section of the beach around the corner in 2013 - I've been saying for years that it is less crowded than near the access path. Still true, but these days it aint exactly uncrowded.


Boats are banned from the near and far thirds of the beach, so the middle section is jammed up pretty well. These are the catering boats - surprisingly good value eats and drinks. Just to their right.....
...is a scrum of transport longtails and speedboats (rear) which are waiting to take people away, the latter as far as back to Phi Phi. Interestingly, many Ao Nang to Phi Phi daytrip speedboats also call in here for a few hours, saving Ao Nang based travellers a separate trip over here.

Phra Nang has got to be the most spectacular beach on the Thailand mainland. It is nearly 700m end to end. Note the afternoon shade given by the high headland to right of the entrance track. And yep, Rayavadee has a 3 beach exposure - here at Phra Nang and smaller frontages on East and West Railay. Note too a fair few boats on the far western end of the beach - this wasn't the case in March 2013, but March aint exactly peak season.


TON SAI
Ton Sai from The Melting Wall high on the northern headland. You can see why this is a climbers' paradise (image Wiki Commons)
This is the climbers' beach and because it has developed a bunch of good value bungalows over the years, has also become a backpacker favourite - there is not a lot of budget accommodation left over on the Railays in high season so this is the best place for bucks-down travellers wanting to avoid the bustle of Ao Nang, the isolation of Hat Ton Son or the distance of Krabi town. It's not too difficult to trek from here over to the nicer beaches at West Railay and Phra Nang.
Ton Sai beach is nice enough high tide with pretty okay sand and nice protected water - I have some pix down page - but as tide goes out a lot of rock and dirty sand is exposed as in the above shot, so it aint exactly a great swimming beach. However you can climb over the south-eastern headland out of shot on the right to West Railay in a little over 5 minutes although many people wade around at lower tide levels. There is also a high saddle track to East Railay going over that lower high area just right of centre.
Most of the accommodation is up the loop track (starting 100m from the cliffs at right and heading up the valley) and its offshoots. It loops back down to the beach this end. These days there are some lower midrange places making inroads to what was once exclusively climbers'/backpackers' budget/flashpacker bungalows. A big development taking most of the beachfront in this shot and a lot of the central uphill area has been stalled for a number of years since the early 2000s (and still no progress March 2013).

Google got this image at high tide too. Ton Sai is approx 600m long.


AO NANG
The full length (1400m) of Ao Nang from the south-east headland. The further half of the beach in front of the town is not particularly attractive with lots of boats and backed by a high concrete wall, but this last 500m or so is not bad at all. Pretty okay sand, water not too shallow at low tide, a fair few food vendors and massage cabanas in the trees behind beach (although a cemetery dominates the last 50m or so). 
This pic is shot from the steep walkway which goes across to neighbouring and rather gorgeous Ao Phai Plong.


Part of the nicer section of Ao Nang - 2013. There is 2010 shot of this south-eastern section about 85% down page.

As said, much of the area under the trees in back of the nicer section of Ao Nang beach has food vendors, bars, massage cabanas etc. In some areas the rows of chairs containing boozing chubby Euros reminded me of the area under the tress at Bali's famous Kuta beach except the boozers there are chubby Aussies.





AO PHAI PLONG
This is a gorgeous little beach between Ao Nang and Ton Sai. It was deserted when I first saw it from the passing Railay-bound longtail last century, except for a lady-camper who was drying out her sleeping bag after an overnight deluge. These days it is the site of the high-end CENTARA GRAND. However access to the public is quite easy because National Parks has a walkway which climbs over the steep headland from the eastern end of Ao Nang beach one shot above - takes about 10 minutes - some pretty steep steps. There is a security guy at the Centara end of the walkway gets you to sign a book on entry and exit but otherwise no problems.
Note Centara Grand's floating pier - I ended up doing a "running surf" along this when an incoming wave caught up with my stroll back to the beach from pier's end. In dry season you will not get these sort of waves here.


This sweet little beach is no much more than 350m long.


HAT NOPPHARET THARA Noppharet Thara is immediately north-west of Ao Nang, 10 minutes walk along the main coastal road behind the small headland. This is a long beach - behind the eastern half is an extension of the Ao Nang town area with lots of accommodation places. Because there is more room, some of the bigger, flasher resorts have located here. The beach is reasonably nice but suffers from the low tide blues with lots of sand being exposed. It is a very popular place for Thai family groups - so there is always a bunch of food vendors found in the trees behind the beach.
This is shot from the western end of Nopparet Thara, not real crowded in this June low season pic - fairly long beach, over 2000m, extends right up to that headland mid-shot (better seen if you click to expand pic). Far karst cliffs and islets are Railay-Phra Nang area.



Noppharet Thara is a pretty long beach at approx 2.3km. Note there is a bad weather long tail embarkation point for Railay etc at the far east of the beach in a sheltered inlet under the Nang of "to Ao Nang."


HAT TON SON
I first visited Hat Ton Son in my travel-lite days without camera. This is an embedded Google Earth image from Olav Sejeroe - panoramio - most of his other shots tagged for this beach are actually of the access-khlong or the main eastern section of Noppharet Thara. But the striking thing about Ton Son from the sea is the line of casuarina trees - it is hard to pick the half dozen or so bungalow places until very close.

About 3km west of Ao Nang is the western extension of HAT NOPPHARET THARA beach called HAT TON SON - I've also seen it called Ao Son. This is the section across the far side of the klong (small river) from the National Park HQ. You access it from Krabi town by climbing off the Ao Nang songthaew where it first hits Noppgaret Thara beach (UPDATE 2010 - I notice not all the songthaews come this way now). Walk thru the National Park gates to the west, go to adjacent the pier about 100m away where long tails will take you across the small inlet to the beach (latest price - 50 baht in March 2013). Note the National Park is not charging entry into the area.
Alternatively you can access from the road which goes across to Klong Muang (see below) via a bunch of nicely sealed minor roads behind the beach. The resorts along Hat Ton Son are well signposted from the Klong Muang road. But note to get into Ao Nang via this route is abt 11km - 300/400 baht by taxi.
There are about a half dozen mainly budget bungalow places spaced along this 3 km section of beach. ANDAMAN INN, one of the first places you come to is a good one with a range of bungalows including some adequate cheapies up the back, and a good big restaurant. Back in 2002 I paid 150 baht for one of those bungalows.

I got back to Hat Ton Son in March 2013. As you can see it is a pretty nice and very quiet beach (few long tails, no traffic noise, not many resorts or people) with good sand and plenty of water for swimming above mid tide. However it does get the low tide blues as shown 2 shots below.


I stayed at Ton Son's P.A.N Beach Bungalows March 2013. The following text is white and smaller because I copied parts of a review I did on a booking website and I can't be bothered going into the html to correct it - skilled I'm not. Maybe you could hit control + or whatever your browser requires to expand the page. Old time backpackers will like PAN – rooms are beach bungalows mk2, the more durable/comfortable type which replaced the first bamboo jobs. Price is right too – 700 b 2013 - most bungalows of this type in the Andaman are at least 30% dearer. They should approve of the position on the least developed, most laid back beach on the Krabi coast. Some guests complained of isolation without a vehicle – but the cheap way to Ao Nang is to walk the beach to the klong (15 minutes – PAN is near the far western end of this beach), hail one of the longtail boats to take you across, walk the short distance to the main road and catch one of the frequently passing Krabi town to Ao Nang songthaews for the 3km into Ao Nang (20b). Or walk this last step on the winding path under the trees in back of Nopparat beach in around 40 minutes. Thais seemed to approve of this place too – the weekend saw most of the vacant bungalows taken by Thai families – always an indication of value and good food. Holidaying Thais tend to be good neighbors. My bungalow was just big enough for two + gear, was clean, had a firm but comfy queen sized bed, good insect screens on the windows but no net, quiet fan, lots of internal lines and clothes hangers, and okay bathroom with bucket flush western toilet, a nice veranda with hammock. It was very quiet at night with no traffic or long tail boat noise.


I like this shot taken as I was downing a big Chang at PAN's restaurant on arrival for a number of reasons. 
First is the obviously romantic angle - this couple like many westerners have decided to do a Buddhist re-enactment of their wedding, perhaps in their favourite place. Unlike many similar events I have witnessed over the years, no family seems to be present, but the bride is cool in her wedding dress, the groom cooler in a no-tie dress shirt and shorts.
Additionally the pic shows the low tide blues plus the nice outlook towards Ko Poda (right) and the cliffed mainland at Ton Sai, Railay (far left).
The sea view restaurant served nice food. Pricing was scattered – western seemed cheaper than average budget bungalows, some Thai cheaper, some higher. Small Chang beers at 50baht were the least expensive of a dozen similar restaurants all trip. Staff was friendly and obliging with Pan herself having good English. The free bicycles were great for fanging around the backroads, although I resisted the urge to ride into Ao Nang or Klong Muang.

 I noticed is that the quiet klong separating Hat Ton Son from Noppharet Thara has now developed into a crowded little port area for longtails, speeboats, some fishing boats and ferries. The Ao Nang-Railay-Phi Phi ferry, the direct ferry to Phuket and the speedboat to Kos Yai Noi & Yai and then Phuket start from the pier here.


The National Park HQ area at right is the area to access longtails across the klong to Hat Ton Son. (btw I have swum across twice but I don't recommend this unless you are have a strong side-stroke while holding your daybag above water. Gets bumpy when a speedboat comes by). Because this area has a busy pier plus dozens of daytrip longtails and speedboats moored in the river there is no 200baht charge for NP entry. To give some idea of the low tide blues, that small island left of bottom center is land-locked at full low tide.  I haven't tried to put the 3 or 4 other Ton Son resorts on the map. The beach is a little over 2km long if you start opposite NPHQ.



KLONG MUANG/AO TUBKAAK
There is an enclave of midrange and upper hotels in this isolated beach region north-west of Ao Nang and Noppharet Thara/Hat Ton Son. I hadn't visited this area in early trips because it is way out of my budget range, but I did know this section of coast has sensational views of the great karst island seascape of Phra Nang Bay. Websites of some of the hotels up here sure look nice but they are pricey with western-level accommodation AND food charges. But the hotels must be good - they get rave reviews although guests say the beach itself is not fantastic, tending to be a bit like Nopparet Thara and Hat Ton Son at low tide - (image and more info Krabi.com)
Beach areas to the west (Hat Ton Son) and north-west of Ao Nang/Hat Nopparet Thara.

DEC 2010
I got to stay at Klong Muang at the end of November 2010. And there is budget accommodation
- google Ko Kwang Resort. There are also quite a few cheap rooms attached to shops and other businesses along the beach road around Ban Klong Muang and adjacent Ban Ko Kwang.
The strip of coast along here can be divided into 4 beach areas as seen on the modified Google Earth image above.

KLONG MUANG SOUTH
This was the nicest of the beaches in this area when I visited. There is maybe double the beach seen in shot behind camera with the very nice SHERATON resort situated behind the sand. Building at right is a good beach restaurant with budget prices and some nice fabric deck chairs you can set up in the shade of the casuarinas with a beer or 5. Lump left background is Ko Kwang islet, landlocked at low tide.
This beach has a lot of exposed sand at low tide, but not too unattractive - swimmable by wading out a bit. Pretty clear water at higher tide levels despite a fair bit of rain run-off while I was there.
Views directly out to sea here are mostly of long mountainous Ko Yao Yai - not the karst islands of west Phang Nga Bay.

KO KWANG BAY
Tiny Ko Kwang Bay is a bit daggy - sand and rock low tide, full of water high tide (I waded across at high tide from Nth Klong Muang where Ko Kwang Resort is located). The Bay is home of the very nice NAKAMANDA RESORT - location no problems because the pretty good Klong Muang South beach begins 30m behind camera and there is a bunch of good budget restaurants and shops on the main road on the inland border of the resort.

KLONG MUANG NORTH
This shot just below high tide looks pretty good but this beach was way inferior to KM South - looked a lot daggier at low tide, gypsum loading pier at north end, quite a bit of fishing junk and less-than-flash buildings behind the beach at this south end. Fairly inexpensive KO KWANG RESORT is across the road from this end but you have to trek a vacant block to get to the road. Only takes 10 minutes to walk to KK South beach from the camera position.
Further north from the camera the road hits the beach and parallels it. The nifty SOFITEL and KRABI SANDS are along here, inland side of the road. They have swimming enclosures, sun lounges on the beach and keep it pretty clean, but I dunno - I think I'd go for one of the other beaches if I wanted to stay on this strip of coast.
Views directly west off the beach are Ko Kao Yai and Noi - and some karst stack islands to the north-west

TUBKAAK BEACH
The northern-most beach on this section of coast did not particularly whelm me. This was shot at low tide and if you click to expand you can see it is pretty shallow a fair way offshore. The shot also shows there is virtually no beach at full high tide. Nevertheless there are some pretty swish resorts along here including ANYAVEE TUBKAEK (ex AMARI) and THE TUBKAAK KRABI BOUTIQUE - these are immediately behind the beach with the coast road on the inland side - and knowing the way the Thais do flash hotels, they are probably very nice places to stay. They sure get good reviews on the user forums. This is the best beach for views of the west Phang Na Bay karst islands.
Note transport to these beaches is a bit expensive. You are looking at 400-500 baht taxis (late 2010) from both Krabi town/Krabi bus station, the same from Ao Nang and more from the airport. Infrequent songthaews do run to Nth Klong Muang from Krabi town.


KHAO NGORK MAK
The coast road ends at a National Park parking area less than one km north of Tubkaak Beach. No entry fee. A sign says it is 3.9km to this viewpoint at the top of Mt Ngork Mak. Seemed a bit further to me. The climb is up through nice rainforest, easy to moderately steep most parts with only a few really steep and rough sections.
A storm hit when I started the climb and it poured! Took me about 90 minutes to go up - I hurried back in just under an hour because it was getting dark.
The viewpoint above is 500m above sea level and the panorama was covered in mist and low cloud. I waited for it to clear a bit - this is the best shot I got - in this case towards the south-east (there is about a 270 degree outlook here).
That's the karst landscape of the Railay/Phra Nang peninsula top left. I didn't realise the klong (stream) which separates Hat Nopparet Thara from Hat Ton Son (mid-top) was so broad - it isn't where it reaches the shore. There is a side track about 15 minutes below the summit to a waterfall but I didn't have time to check it out. This pic may be worth clicking to expand.

There are a couple of nice swimming holes next to the carpark. Rain and poor light from the storm plus a broken flash on my Canon (failed one minute after the warranty expired) means poor quality shot.

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AO NAM MAO
This beach area is roughly midway between East Railay and Krabi town. Not a bad place for someone wanting a beach away from the crowds in the Krabi area. Used to have only one accommodation place, the funky DAWN OF HAPPINESS, but these days has a few others including the high-end AMATAPURA. Note the beach aint great at low tide with lots of exposed rock (funny how Krabi property shows a high tide shot). But the scenery is very good - there are limestone cliffs north behind the beach, plus good views of the karst offshore islands and the karst cliffs around East Railay and Phra Nang. Phi Phi is to the west. This beach is the rough-rough weather departure point for Railay longtails, although I have used it in fine weather too - (image Krabi Property)



------------------------------- HAT YAO - LONG BEACH
(image - wildething - panoramio). This is the new frontier - about the only Krabi area beach with lots of cheap beachfront land left for new developments. Unlike the other Krabi beaches which are westward of Krabi town this 5km stretch of sand is south-east, across the other side of the Krabi River.
I first heard of Hat Yao several years ago when a Thorn Tree poster said better get there soon because the development is starting. I still haven't managed it - the closest being about 1km off-shore from the Lanta ferry. But from all accounts the beach is pretty ordinary, suffers the low tide blues and the water not particularly clear which figures if you check the map below - this is actually on an estuarine island with klongs draining into the sea both sides. But the midrange hotels there (The Beach Boutique Resort, Sea House Beach Resort, Nantra) seem to do the typical good Thai job of presentatation and the joint does have great sunsets and nice enough views of distant karst islands/mainland coastline. Seems to me there are plenty of nice midrange hotels not beachfront in Ao Nang and Noppharet Thara which can't boast good sunsets and views but people still enjoy holidaying there - although I guess they are closer to shopping, entertainment and really nice beaches.
Now that Thorn Tree poster mentioned at least one budget joint on the beach but like a dope I didn't write it down. I figured it would be just a matter of people arriving and finding it - like at Hat Yao on Phi Phi. That beach is 500m long - not 5km like this one! Well DUH - there are degrees of yao (long) on Thai beaches. Imagine that!

Hat Yao location - Google Earth image. Take no notice of that little info box on the nw corner - if you click the actual Google Earth it says Layana Resort and Spa, which is actually about 35km away on Ko Lanta.


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ACCOMMODATION AT THE BEACHES
It's not my intention to cover all the many accommodation options in the area. I'll only deal with places I have stayed at or know about.

WEST RAILAY
The north end of West Railay is a real nice place a holiday swim (image - http://www.krabi-tourism.com/index.htm)

West Railay has 3 nice midrange+ places, RAILAY BAY, RAILAY VILLAGE and SAND SEA.  Their bungalows are too expensive these days for cheapskates like me and they rarely have a room walk-in away from low season. However they have good beachfront restaurants with a great outlook daytime or evening from the front tables. Until recently restaurant prices were pretty reasonable at a small premium to their counterparts over on East Railay. Last visit the gap had blown out to 50% or so - still good value by western standards, particularly given the view. One restaurant is Muslim owned, (Sand Sea I think) and does not sell booze, but I did see customers bringing bottles in from elsewhere. My notes say the service there was incredibly slow - but the other joints were okay.
Railay Bay has a nice pool, beachside and quite attractive. The competitors have or their own pools but further back in the complex. Note none of these resorts have beachside bungalows - to get that you need to shell out for (some) of the Railay Beach Club chalets).

A couple of the shacks at the Railay Beach Club. You guys looking for a place sleeps a bigger family might find rates compare with multiple resort rooms.


Note that high end Rayavadee which most people associate with gorgeous Phra Nang beach has a smaller frontage on West Railay.


EAST RAILAY
The “beach” area at EAST RAILAY is mainly mudflats and mangroves at low tide, although it can look fairly attractive from some of the higher beachside bungalows at high tide.
East Railay from the viewpoint on the Princess Cave headland. West Railay is behind the trees just 5 minutes walk to the left and Ton Sai beach can be seen past the headland top left.
(image -
Panoramio - Itze )
This place has changed a fair bit since my early visits, with a lot of new development towards the far end from where the path from West Railay (5 minutes walk - this path starts alongside Railay Bay's pool) hits the beach. A lot of this looks more midrange**, but there is still a bit of budget accomm here - see the BACKPACKER ACCOMMODATION section down page.
There are also plenty of places to eat, some small “supermarkets” and a couple of bars along here and plenty of trip booking desks.

Two midrange accommodation places on East Railay which have attracted good user reviews are SUNRISE TROPICAL RESORT and DIAMOND PRIVATE RESORT (not to be confused with associated DIAMOND CAVE RESORT which is a big, slightly more budget oriented place). I finally got to stay at DIAMOND PRIVATE in LATE Nov 2010. Nice place , great views but killer stairs. See Lady Tezza's trip report with a fair few pix HERE.

SUNRISE TROPICAL is over on the flat behind Railay Bay Resort, and is no effort. The pool area next to the beach looks real nice.
DIAMOND CAVE has moved upmarket and has a pool and some fine looking bungalows and rooms. I think this big place still has budget rooms high up the back)
Note too that old favourite VIEWPOINT has done the same upmarket move with a pool and some fine looking bungalows. But Viewpoint also still has some affordable rooms - Mark has a user report on the same link as Laddy Tezza's a few lines up.
Actually there is a pretty good choice of midrangers along East Railay these days. Looking decidedly midrange is a fairly flash place called ANYAVEE, just past (south of) the path to the Diamond Cave, Highland/Phurit Valley Resort and Railay Cabana).
In 2008 there was a heap of construction just south of where Ya Ya was located -  THIS IS A NEW PLACE, THE VERY FLASH BHU NGA THANI - GOOGLE SHOWS SOME PRETTY GOOD LOW SEASON PRICES FER YOU FUGITIVE WALL STREET DERIVATIVE TRADERS). Not that the beachfront is anything great at East Railay (well the cliffs can look spectacular).
A budget place which has attracted good reports is RAPALA ROCK WOOD RESORT. It is the second last place going south along East Railay, with bungalows spread up the hill. I read somewhere they have even put in a small pool.How a budget place like this in such a great position has survived so long beats me - 450 with bathroom, 390 without in Nov 08.
June 2010 shot of Rapalla - up a steep flight of wooden stairs far end of East Railay's beach track - seemed to be a few dozen of these traditional beach bungalows set in a nice garden setting. Only 200baht for one with bathroom in low season 2010 - subsequently had a fair few travellers hanging about in what was the quietest Railay I have seen. Tiny pool was empty. Gotta say the middle aged lady with the 70s hippy singlet look was the most brusque bungalow manager I've come across. Nah, she was downright rude. Maybe tired of guys like me wasting her time.
A NEWER ONE TO ME - on my longtail in from Ao Nam Mao I noticed a few bungalow-like roofs uphill over the rocks to the south of Last Bar on East Railay - that is away from the beach area towards Krabi town. So I walked thru the bar - a path just above high tide level runs around the rocks abt 80m to a set of steps leading up to RAILAY GARDEN VIEW RESORT. This is apparently a fairly new flashpacker joint and gets a good review on Trip Advisor or similar. Unfortunately it started pouring rain when I reached the stairs so I didn't continue on to check the place. Something for you guys wanting somewhere different. If you google this place, don't be confused by a similarly named joint in Ao Nang which looks more upmarket.
June 2010 pix of Railay Garden View - really nice bungalows not too closely packed in a hillside garden setting. Going for 400 in low season 2010 - Google website for high season prices.


THE HIGH VALLEY
Two paths head inland and up from East Railay - they meet up and the single path continues up past Diamond Cave. Not too far past there you come to PHURIT VALLEY RESORT which started life as Highland Resort - a flashpacker standard place. It is now mostly lower midrange but there are still some more budget orientated options. Not far from here the rather nicely positioned Highland Restaurant and Bar has been refurbished. Worth the 10 minute walk up from East Railay to sit with great views of the karst cliffs while listening to the gibbons hoot.

Shot from the lobby area of the new Phurit Valley Resort's hotel wing in the high valley behind East Railay. The views of the spectacular surrounding limestone cliffs in the reverse direction are better. Dunno why I didn't shoot one - duh!
UPDATE 2013 - it looks like this place is now calling itself Railay Phutewan Resort.


A short distance past Phutewan is RAILAY CABANA with a bigger range of bungalows than when it opened as Park View, but it is still a reasonable cheapie.

Newer Railay Cabana bungalows with 2 dbl beds. Some pretty impressive cliffs close behind off shot to the left.
Railay Cabana may not always be the quietest location these days - this bar was tucked into the cliffs just 80m east of the above bungalows - and was advertising a party for that night and frequent Thai boxing shows. It would be far enough from Phurit Valley Resort for noise not be a problem.
This is a Nov 2010 shot of the new budget bungalows at Railay Cabana. The original cheapies I stayed in were in this spot. But my Nov 08 trip saw them gone - nothing here in June 2010 but 5 months later we have these.

Old timers may remember NEW BUNGALOWS a little higher up the valley. This has been shut down for several years. My 2013 visit saw a new locals' mini-village close by, just before the track gets really steep on its way over to Ton Sai.
This steep section begins only a few hundred meters past Railay Cabana where it, enters the rainforest. goes over the divide and reaches the highest highest TON SAI bungalows in around 15 minutes.

Ton Sai beach is always a good place to spend some time, with some scenic restaurants and the usual toned rock climbers doing their thing. Rock climbers tend to swagger way less than divers, which is interesting, because they are entitled to bung it on much more. Ton Sai is pretty nice for swimming and sunning in the higher half of the tide, but not as attractive as West Railay, and rather drack at low tide with heaps of reef-rock and dark sand exposed.
The short but steep track from the southern end of Ton Sai over the headland back to West Railay is not too difficult to follow - follow other trekkers along this popular route. Look for the rope if coming from the Railay side. Nevertheless, a lot of people still wade around the headland at lower tides, which is much more difficult.


BETWEEN THE RAILAY BEACHES
If you push inland from East Railay and turn left instead of taking the path towards the high valley you will come to a big flash midrange resort callled Railay Princess. This also can be reached from West Railay by continuing inland from Walking Street. In the past it had the disadvantage of no direct beach frontage but several years ago it purchased old time backpackers' favourite Ya Ya and ran it as its budget wing. However my last visit saw Ya Ya gone and new construction underway, decidedly upmarket - looks like Railay Princess will soon have frontage to East Railay. This should be finished my next visit in Feb 2015 - I will post an update.


BACKPACKER PRICED ACCOMMODATION AT THE BEACHES
Railay used to be a backpackers' haven. But for many years there has been no cheap accommodation on West Railay. East Railay is becoming increasingly mid-range but there is still some budget accommodation. Repeat that sentence for Ao Nang except there is still PLENTY of budget accommodation.
Hell even the climbers'/backpackers hang of Ton Sai is getting more and more flashpacker/lower midrange stuff, but this is far outweighed by the huge amount of budget accommodation there.
This blog section mentions other beach locations in the Krabi area where you can get a cheap bungalow/room. Of course Krabi town tops the lot (and has no shortage of midrange places) but it aint exactly the beach.
I did the below report for MozzieBite Backpackers' Guide to the World - there is some repetition of stuff already mentioned higher on this page - but cheap accommodation at the beaches is a very common question on the travel forums and so putting it in a dedicated section here aint a waste of space.

1 - YA YA - budget priced rooms on East Railay. Good restaurant and travel desk. Can be noisy. UPDATE MARCH 2013 - Ya Ya is gone. See up page.
2 - RAPALA - up a steep flight of wooden stairs near the far end of East Railay's beach track (note I have put the place marker too far west )- a few dozen traditional beach bungalows closely spaced in a garden setting. Only 200baht with bathroom in low season 2010. Even has a tiny pool but empty in June.
stairway to Rapala - this is a March 2013 shot: how long can this budget place last? - the land would be worth a fortune to upmarket developers.

3 - RAILAY GARDEN VIEW RESORT - walk past LAST BAR at far end of East Railay and then follow rockside path for 80m and turn left up steep stairs to find really nice bungalows not too closely packed in a hillside garden setting. More flashpacker than backpacker but worth the stretch.

ELSEWHERE ON EAST RAILAY - in low season you may find the better resorts reduce their prices to reachable levels. This is particularly so for ex-budget joints like DIAMOND CAVE andVIEWPOINT which still have a few cheaper rooms up the back. I have found the high season prices for these up the back rooms reasonable. They have nice pools these days.

WEST RAILAY - for some time even low season prices seem beyond backpacker levels.

4 - RAILAY CABANA - take the high valley track up past the Diamond Cave. RAILAY CABANA has some 4 bed bungalows for bigger groups.
PHURIT VALLEY RESORT is not quite as far up, has some flashpacker bungalows and a great elevated restaurant with fabulous cliff views.
5 - RIGHT HAND BRANCH TRACK TON SAI - some of the cheapest bungalows in the area are found high on this track before it hits the rainforest section over to East Railay (150 baht early Dec 2010!!).
6 - TON SAI LOOP TRACK AND OFFSHOOTS - big range of inexpensive accommodation particularly away from close to the beach which is becoming gentrified into lower midrange/flashpacker. Note most of absolute beachfront still closed off in Dec 2010 to accommodation because of big (stalled) development project.
7 - AO NANG - lots of inexpensive accommodation. Particularly good along eastern side of U shaped beach road as it heads up the hill away from town where you will find many backpacker priced hotel and resort rooms plus some bungalows along the street offshoot lanes.
8 - HAT TON SON - is the eastern extension of Hat Nopparet Thara, the beach east of Ao Nang. The latter these days tends more to midrange and high end, but if you go across the small river at the National Park HQ you will find half a dozen backpacker and flashpacker places including ANDAMAN INN. This area seems more a high season overflow area for the more popular places. Beach is nice enough - uncrowded. Quite shallow at low tide.
Good value sea-view restaurant at P.A.N Beach Bungalow, Hat Ton Son.



ACTIVITIES AT THE BEACHES
Chicken Island and Ko Poda - favourite beach-snorkelling locations off Railay (image - www.krabi-tourism.com/ )

Besides the swimming and sunning, ROCK CLIMBING is a big deal at Railay and particularly Ton Sai. It is possible to hire gear and do beginners’ courses.

The 3 ISLAND and 5 ISLAND long tail daytrips are offered everywhere in Railay, Ton Sai, Ao Nang and Krabi town and involve cruising the spectacular off shore karst islands, snorkelling and spending some beach time on islands like Ko Poda and Hen and Chicken Island.
UPDATE AUGUST 2013 - I spoke to some fellow guest on my KO HONG daytrip who had taken the 5 islands trip the previous day. They were most unimpressed - particularly at the amount of rubbish on Hen and Chicken and Ko Poda islands. Sad - looks like this trip has gone downhill. I have done 2, the last a good 10 years ago, and enjoyed them immensely. BTW those complainants really enjoyed the Ko Hong trip.

THE KO HONG TRIP, judging by the number of speedboats and longtails out there in what was low season, is equally popular. We visited several islands, not just Ko Hong. My son Mark was with me - his TRIP REPORT here has a fair few Ko Hong pix etc.
The inner lagoon at Ko Hong is huge....
....and the outer one aint exactly tiny either. Beach continues around corner far left.

KAYAKS can be hired to cruise the headlands between the beaches - I have seen them out as far as Ko Poda - maybe 4km offshore. There are also organised KAYAKING DAYTOURS around the mangrove system near Krabi town and I have seen PHRA NANG BAY kayaking tours advertised in Krabi. Some of these do the fantastic mangrove coast around Ao Thalan. Others cruise around the west Phang Nga Bay islands including Ko Hong, others go up to the east and central bay area around James Bond island which also has a Ko Hong ( a hong is a karst stack island that has a tunnel thru it and where the top has collapsed to form an inner lagoon. The west bay Ko Hong is a bit different but still spectacular - arguably a much better daytrip destination because of its nice beach).
You can also do the commercial PHA NANG DAYTOURS both west bay (including that area's Ko Hong) and east-central (James Bond island, Ko Panyee). And PHI PHI DAYTOURS. The latter involve both the normal ferries or faster more expensive speedboats and usually include Maya Bay and Bamboo Island.
There's a lot more - wait til you are there. I'm writing this last bit in late 2010 - on my latest trip I was staggered by what was on offer. Name your interest - chances are someone has it.


Sunning and snorkelling on Hen and Chicken Island - all 3 images www.krabi-tourism.com/











Ton Sai climbing
















5 island trip takes in Ko Poda undercut.

A popular non-beach attraction is the famous Wat Tham Seua (Tiger Cave Temple) not far out of Krabi.
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KRABI TOWN - Lots of travelers stay in KRABI TOWN and catch long tails to Railay-Phra Nang or songthaews to Ao Nang daily (each about 30 minutes). Krabi is an okay place to stay with a good range of accommodation in all price ranges, plenty of restaurants, lots of shops and a multitude of travel agents.. A nice place I’ve used on 3 occasions now, with clean rooms, a good restaurant, internet and a trip booking desk is CHAN CHA LEY GUESTHOUSE (click) This is close to downtown and to both night markets. I stay in the cheapest rooms which are great value. The newer aircon rooms at the back are said to be very good. Another place which has attracted lots of positive posts on travel forums is Krabi River Hotel, on the river near town-central with good views, nice rooms and attentive staff. Another attracting praise is Grand Tower - warren55 says "250 and800? Nice clean rooms, towels, soap, toilet paper and water supplied.Also has tv, with music, sport, news and movies channels in english. Walk beside the river (on your left) and it's just up the hill one block.Get a room on or near the corner overlooking the river, the higher you go the better the view.It's one block from the famous riverside food nightmarket, yummy :)"
blue gave this good info: -
I have stayed at @Krabi Pura a few times now and really enjoy being in the center of Krabi Town. Atchara - the owner - is a font of good information and the welcome you get is lovely. The guesthouse is more like a boutique hotel, with great garden, internet, bookings for trips and transport and more importantly is fabulously clean. It overlooks the river too. The pickup vans going to Ao Nang pass by the front door. All in all it's a great little place - I stayed here for nearly 2 weeks (in total) over the summer.Photos and other information here
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g297927-d657196-Reviews-Krabi_Pura-Krabi.html# The webpage is http://atkrabipura.multiply.com/
Things to do in Krabi town: ONAMATAHO mentioned the following -
Starting at 8 PM, check out the karaoke singers at the Thai Hotel...you might have a little fun. ;) Tell Wow and Bam Bam Matt said, "hello."
There's a good little Thai restaurant down on the river just about 50 metres past the Krabir river Hotel. Eat a lot for 100 baht!
Check out the Night Market for fresh fruit.
Hire my friend Sep down on the pier to take you on a private longtail boat tour...he needs the work. He'll take you to a fish farm, a Muslim village on an island, up river....wherever you want ot go.
Get a traditional Thai massage from Usa at Noteko Spa...she is the best in Thailand!
Chill out...it's actually a fun place if you take off your dark farang glasses and look around a bit!


The ferry pier for PP and Lanta-Jum has for some years been about 3km west of downtown instead of adjacent the night market area - riverside town central which allows the more unscrupulous of the local transport people to play their sneaky games. The bus station is about 2 km the other side of town, with a frequent and cheap songthaew service into the city. The airport is much further out - maybe 15km from Krabi town and 30 from Ao Nang. The taxi mafia seem to have a monopoly on transport here and it aint cheap, 350 baht into town and 600 to Ao Nang many years ago. You buy your ticket at a stand inside the arrivals hall. I found it dead easy to find people willing to split the fare to Ao Nang.
Crocodrilo sent me the following shots of Krabi town after her January 2010 visit.
This is Utarakit Road just down the hill from my favourite guesthouse Chanchalay This road comes in from the main coastal highway about 3km in the background. If you turn left at the bottom of the hill you reach the first of the 6 or so central business district blocks. Turn right for the night food market and longtails to East Railay. The songthaews for Ao Nang come thru the central business district, turn into Utarakit and come up the hill towards the camera. The airport shuttle bus comes along this road and used to stop at all accommodation places but frequent traveller billp says it now goes directly to a bus stop 10 minutes walk behind and to left of camera near the Loma Hotel - looks like the taxi-motorcycle mafia have put their foot down - although there are quite a few good guesthouses along the same street as the Loma.

The night food market is an excellent place for some cheap tucker.
This is the Maharaj day food market - its a few blocks in to the left of Utarakit near the vicinity of Soi 10 - maybe 500m from the camera in the first of Coco's shots. The night market is also in this vicinity - not quite as far to the left.

AO NANG: - I reckon it's hot and a bit tatty during daylight. The beach aint much until you move south of the shopping /restaurant/bar area towards Ton Sai/Railay.

Southern end of Ao Nang beach maybe 500m from the main street area is not too bad. There is a bunch of food vendors and massage places behind the trees lining beach. Area up near the boats in front of the shopping area is not real attractive - hence most poeple not heading for Railay-Phra Nang head down here.
However Ao Nang is one of these places which get much more attractive when lit up at night. There is a great range of shopping, restaurants and bars and heaps of good value places to stay, some of them very snazzy indeed. Frequent longtails run to and from Railay and neighbours - daylight price was 100 baht in June 2010. You usually have to wait for a reasonable load of passengers, although my arrival in March 02 saw the guy take off straight away with just me - well, a few locals tagged along at the last second, no doubt gratis.
Beach road Ao Nang - (image www.krabi-tourism.com/ )
I hadn't stayed at Ao Nang since 1997 and the place is now gone, but for less expensive places the following info from Jan 09 may be useful:
BILLP - Try YaYa Bungalows down a lane off to the right of the main road (not YaYa in Railay), or Green Park next door. Both are in a shady grove. Around 500 baht. Private bathroom, but don't expect hot water at these price levels. Not necessary anyway.
CAPTAIN_BOB - On the main road down to the beach strip before the right-hand turn there is
J Mansion but it's more like 750+ Baht, and directly opposite is PK Mansion in a similar price range. Even my usual Adam Bungalows (opposite McDonalds and a bit further up the hill, sorry no website) is now pushing nearly 1000 Baht.

In June 2010 I decided to take Bob's advice - I stayed in J Mansion. Got a very good hotel like room, fan not aircon, hot water, fridge, 68 channels of TV for 250 baht. Okay, low season but not too bad. There is a whole bunch of similar places within 2 minutes walk. This area is only 50 m up the northern branch of the U shaped main road into-along the beach-out of Ao Nang.
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MOUNTAIN AND TREKKING FANS
You might consider this place - Phanom Bencha Mountain Resort - I haven't visited but ThornTree poster Mangoholic2 said: "I chilled at this place, up in the hills of Krabi near Khao Phanom Bencha National Park. The staff organize hikes into the jungle that lay outside of the park boundaries, and even a trek up to the peak of Khao Phanom Bencha Mountain itself. A truly wonderful place to kick back" .....Okay, this place has attractive looking has 4 bed bungalows as well as the normal smaller ones (family bungalows are not that common), a nice pool, great surroundings and the prices seem pretty good apart from the tents which at 350 are a bit expensive. One to check my next trip. Mangaholic2 said you need a taxi (about 500baht) or a motorcycle to get here - no public transport. Apparantly it is up past the big tourist attraction Tiger Temple.

SOME OTHER HINTERLAND ATTRACTIONS.....baanthai gave this info :
Khlong Thom - Hot springs are 90 baht for farangs and well worth it. Very good. About 43 degrees I believe. The crystal lagoon wasnt cheap at 200 baht but it's also a great place for a swim.KT is about 40km from Krabi Town and best done with a car. One of the few places in Thailand that is worth the entry fees.
Tiger Temple -Visiting here late in the day we werent keen to climb all 1237 steps. After 300 we gave it a miss. Very steep and according to some not really worth it.
Bor Thor - The caves are pretty good here. The food given to us was also generous and tasty.1000 baht low season we paid and were the only ones so was basically a private tour. The lagoon at Phu Tara Resort is also good for a swim afterwards as Tha Phom is closed to the public. Apparently in high season tour prices jump to 1700 baht.
Besides baan's suggestions, I've seen promotions for Krabi area everglades tours (I think by kayak) and daytrips to the fabulous Phang Nga Bay. And of course the Phi Phi daytrips mentioned above.
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KRABI IN WET SEASON
May to early November can be a good time to visit Krabi because there tends to be some really good discounts offered by booking sites like Agoda, Sawadee.com etc particularly for midrange and better joints (walk-in prices are also discounted but I find I often can't bargain down to Agoda etc prices) and the main problem of shoulder and high seasons, crowding, is not a factor. Wet season weather usually sees enough sunshine to make a beach holiday okay. And the biggest plus of Krabi, the fabulous landscape/seascape doesn't change.

Wet season Railay (West) - I'd never seen so few people. But June 2010 was my first wet season visit to Railay - I reckon the aftermath of the World Financial Crisis and the Thai political upheavals were having an impact. Plus I'm sure a normal July/August when Europe and US are on holidays would see more people. Fact is, apart from Ao Nang and Krabi town, the place was dead in June 2010.
Ditto Phra Nang. Hell, I'd just come from Phi Phi and even the laid back east coast beaches had more people on them. But Phi Phi June 2010 although reasonably busy had fewer visitors than August two years earlier.


The beach and water at East Railay never attract many people any season - although the path behind can be crowded at shoulder and peak because this place has some good places to stay/eat/drink and is very close to the nicer beaches. Actually this is a pretty flattering shot of East Railay - looks very drack when the low tide exposes the sand/mud flats.
DOWNSIDES OF LOW SEASON INCLUDE - can be a bit boring for some people away from Ao Nang and Krabi town - long waits for enough passengers to make a longtail trip non-expensive - some pretty bumpy longtail trips when the wind and seas get up.
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Getting there

TO TON SAI - RAILAY.
From Krabi town - jump on a white songthaew to Ao Nang, get off at the far northern end of the beach in Ao Nang town proper (lots of shops etc, so you won’t confuse it with Hat Noppharet Thara beach a few km earlier if the songthaew comes that way - I noticed in 2010 some are short-cutting direct to Ao Nang), go to the long tail ticket counter on the beachside and get a ticket to Ton Sai/Railay for 100 baht March 2013 (good grief! - 2010 price was 80 and before that 60). Anyway, these days the price is shown on a board near the ticket counter, so whatever it is, the individual longtail drivers won't be trying it on. don't need to - 8 passengers at 100 each is a juicy take for a relatively short trip. Once there are enough passengers for both Ton Sai and Railay, about 8 and usually a short wait (unless it is low season when it can be a big wait), the long tail takes off and you are on Ton Sai 10 minutes later - Railay maybe 5 minutes longer. Nice scenic ride. I got the impression latest trip that the price around to Phra Nang was 100 too .
If you don't want to wait and decide to charter a whole longtail you are looking at 400-500.
People arriving off late flights etc ask about boats after sunset. In high season longtails shuttle across until quite late (lots of Railay/Ton Sai people come across to party in Ao Nang) but there is a night-time surcharge - I think 50% for both sharing a boat and chartering.

Note you can catch a longtail directly from Krabi town to East Railay for about 150 Nov 08 and probably gone up a bit since. It is only a 5 minute walk across the spit to West Railay. But it is a helluva walk to Ton-Sai, very difficult with big bags. These long tails will go around the peninsula to Ton Sai, but charge a bomb to do it.

From Krabi airport - the set taxi fare is to Ao Nang was 600 some years ago (I haven't used it recently), a rip-off by Thai standards. It was a likewise 350 ripoff into Krabi town. Google will probably find current (2014) prices. I did have a link to Krabi airport's website but that link brings up a generic airport site now.

The history of the airport shuttle bus is interesting - dudes tried to start this over 10 years ago but were frustrated by the airport taxi mafia. However in recent years things seemed to have settled down and there are reliable services into Krabi town and I think Ao Nang.

In June 2010 the airport shuttle was waiting at the Krabi pier when my ferry docked and I had read earlier that it now runs regularly into Krabi town and to the pier from the airport.
In town I also saw quite a few of the songthaews which run to villages south of Krabi town had "Airport" written on them, which suggests they now either call in to the terminal or drop people at the main road gate which is a very short walk to DEPARTURES.



From Phi Phi - the Ao Nang Princess or sister ferry does an afternoon trip to Ao Nang, stopping off in Railay bay to unload Railay and Ton Sai passengers (they go to shore by long tails). This service used to be high season only but has run for several years all seasons. I assume at least one of the meeting long tails will go to Ton Sai - there was one from there to take us across to the ferry for the reverse trip in 2010 (no extra charge on the ferry ticket which in then was 350 to 390 baht depending on yer bargaining skills).
In low season you will have to catch the Phi Phi to Krabi town ferry if you want a morning arrival.

From Lanta - there is also a high season Lanta to Railay/Ton Sai/Ao Nang ferry. In low season this ferry does not run. Nor does the Lanta to Krabi town ferry. You will have to catch the minibus service off the island to Krabi town then. I noticed a 2010 Lanta Hotel website saying these regular minibus services will now drop-off into the airport and in Feb 2013 a poster on Ko Lanta was saying they run right thru to Ao Nang.
From Ko Jum - in 2013 the Lanta ferry which picks up at Ko Jum only ran as far as Krabi town. The Lanta to Railay/Ton Sai/Ao Nang ferry no longer stopped at Jum. Frankly, tourism on Jum is picking up so much I can't see that lasting.

Note some wet season bad weather transport problems:
In wet season on really blowy days when the seas are up, longtails from Ao Nang to Railay can be suspended (although judging by the seas I came across in June 2010 when they were still running, they must only cancel in horrendous conditions). In that case you have to access from Krabi town into East Railay which is sheltered from the westerly monsoon winds. On REAL bad days, it gets rough on the trip out of Krabi town too, and so you will go via Ao Nam Mao which is about halfway along the Krabi town - East Railay route, at the start of the most sheltered section.
Fortunately this does not happen very frequently and the taxi/minivan drivers will know the situation and when to go to Ao Nam Mao.
NOV 08 - the minivan from Krabi pier off the PP ferry to Ao Nang** (200baht ask - 100baht bid - "no can do" - "sure you can" - well he could for 120) dropped us Railay-bound travellers off at Ao Nam Mao even though conditions were okay - did us a favour - saved another 15 minutes in the van and a whole 5 minutes and 20baht for the longtail - 60 v 80. Only had to wait 10 minutes for enough passengers for the boat, so this pier is used a fair bit.
**This van was not running when I arrived low season June 2010. Lots of taxis, motorcycle taxis and tuk tuks hanging around wanting ridiculous amounts to Ao Nang - I managed to talk a motorcycle taxi down from 300 to 150.

From Further afield.
I noticed minivans from Pak Bara, Trang and Lanta were advertising in 2013 they now run right thru to Ao Nang rather than terminating in Krabi town. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if the vans from Khao Lak , Khao Sok and the Surathani were now doing the same. Of course you can also catch big public buses from Bangkok, the Gulf coast and all over the Andaman coast to Krabi bus station from where you need the public songthaew to Ao Nang. Plenty of minivans run from Trang to Krabi town and Ao Nang. Ditto from Pak Bara out of Lipe, Bulon Lae etc.
If you are on one of the southern Gulf islands (Samui/Phangan/Tao) you can buy a combined ferry-minivan/bus ticket right thru to Krabi town, Ao Nang or Railay. Unfortunately some of these trips are noted for a fair bit of time-wasting waiting around transport depots once the mainland is reached. I'm doing Tao to Railay in Feb2015 - I aim to buy a ferry ticket to the mainland, a bus ticket into Surathani, go to the bus station and buy a big-bus ticket to Krabi town bus station.


GETTING FROM PHUKET AIRPORT TO KRABI
Because Phuket is the destination for quite a few international flights plus a no-cost or low-cost add-on for carriers such as Thai, Malaysian and Singapore, people often ask how to get to Krabi from there.
The taxi fare in 2006 was 2200 baht, time about 2.5 hours. I'd say you'd be looking at around 4000 in 2013/14.
I have a sublink on the PHUKET page should have prices at time of reading.

This ia a copy of info from billp and tagemi -
BILLP - You don't need a taxi, unless you find some other people at the airport to share it with and split the cost. Otherwise you can pick up a public bus to Krabi every hour heading up the main road past the airport toward the bridge. Cost is something like 80 Baht and it takes about 4* hours. Just ask information at the airport for directions and transport to the main road. The buses have "Krabi " in Roman letters written on them. It's easy! From the bus station in Krabi, you take a songthaew to Ao Nang and then a longtail boat to Rai Leh.
...you could also take the early ferry to Phi Phi and then from there to Krabi and also to Railay/Ao Nang.


TAGEMI - I took a motorcycle taxi the 2 km's from the airport to the main road (10-20B, can't remember), then bus from the bus stop just south of the intersection to Krabi (4 hours, ca 100B (maybe a little more now)). There is a food stall** at the bus stop where you can ask people to help you wave down the right bus. I didn't have to wait long so I think the buses are frequent or maybe I was just lucky.
......

* 4 hours seems too much even with stops - I would say about 3.
** I reckon it would be politic to first buy something from the food stall people.

Note that a longer way of doing the bus thing is to catch the airport shuttle down to Phuket town bus station and then pick up a waiting Krabi bus. Problem is the airport is near the northern end of the island near the bridge to the mainland, whereas Phuket town is a long way to the southwest so that you retrace your steps to get to Krabi, adding something like 90 minutes minimum to the trip.

There is also a link to a Krabi based limo outfit below - I have read posts of people arranging to be picked up by operators from Krabi.

GETTING FROM PHUKET BEACHES TO KRABI.
The fastest would be a taxi, but you would be looking at something like 4000+ at 2013/14 prices.
Cheapest would be songthaew into Phuket town, and bus from Phuket town bus station. This goes to Krabi bus station which is about 4-5km out of Krabi central. Regular songthaews run down to town and to Ao Nang.
Most scenic would be ferry from Phuket town to Phi Phi and then change for ferry to Krabi town or to Railay/Ton Sai/Ao Nang.
There is also a direct high season ferry from Phuket town to Ao Nang/Railay/Ton Sai. In Dec 2010 I caught this direct ferry in the reverse direction. Very nice, quick, hassle-free trip. Vans picked up and took passengers to the main Phuket beaches as part of the ticket price. I also noticed they had a van to Phuket airport - a great service, it's 35km from the pier.

Note Green Planet speedboat run a service from Phuket's Bang Rong pier (about mid-way up the east coast of the island) to Ao Nang via Ko Yao Noi and Ko Yao Yai.
Board outside Ao Nang travel agent - click to expand for details. I caught this service from Ao Nang to Phuket in March 2013 and waiting vans at Bang Rong took people to the big 3 beaches and from memory the airport. Ask travel desks in Phuket about the reverse trip.

Wild card - travellers' minibuses go twice per day between Krabi and Phuket beaches. They must do a return trip, but I don't know where they start from. However I reckon any of the small travel agents at the Phuket beaches or in Phuket town could sell you a ticket. These minibuses might even go right thru to Ao Nang, and may pick up at Phuket accommodation places. If so, they would be next fastest to taxi and not much dearer than the bus option.
This site (limos and minibuses) has a timetable for minibuses from Krabi to Phuket beaches (and Phuket airport) so it might be worth using their email link to see where and when they leave Phuket.
I noticed on my Dec 2010 trip that the Krabi to Phuket town and beaches minivans were advertising they now will drop off at Phuket airport. No indication of a reverse service.
I know the Lanta-Phuket minibus service drops off/picks up at Krabi town bus station - there is a sublink to the website on the LANTA page.

There was also a seaplane service from Phuket to Krabi - not cheap but the views would be awesome - but I understand the sevice has not run for the past few years.

From Ko Yao Noi and Ko Yao Yai.
See the above pic for the fast speedboat service.
If you can't afford this you can catch the big longtail taxi boats to Ao Thalan north of Krabi town and jump on the waiting public songthaew into town via the bus station. See the Noi and Yai pages for more details.


FLIGHTS INTO KRABI
For a couple of high seasons Nok Air and Tiger ran Krabi flights. Google to find the current position. Air Asia flies from Bangkok and KL and Bangkok Air has a flight from Samui.
In February 2013 a Swedish lady on Ko Jum told me she got a direct flight from her country into Krabi. When you see how many Swedes are on Ko Lanta this is no surprise.


Schedule for ferries out of Krabi town/Ao Nang/West Railay for other islands - plus other nearby routes (click)

This site is pretty good for bus information.) although the date suggests it maybe hasn't been updated.
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GOOD OL' YA YA
*A few years back I got me a fan room at YA YA. A bit shabby and not particularly cheap, but it was late Nov and Railay was pretty busy. Thing is, Ya Ya is double and triple storey and largely wood construction, meaning it is noisy.
Okay, starting about 2 am a party of ravers comes home, not together, but is shifts spread over 20 minutes or more. Must have been about 30 people staying up there. They go CLOMP CLOMP CLOMP up the wooden stairs at the side and when they are all in the room, decide to rearrange the furniture. This goes on interminably. Until I grab my ever-present really big bush stick and tap the ceiling rather forcefully a few times. Problem solved.
Then about 4am, a returning couple decide to have a domestic on the stairway. Until I stick my big ugly head out the door and politely suggest they take themselves and their dispute and fuck in the direction of off.
Quiet again until 5am when Ya Ya’s battalion of rodents decides to have a line-dancing contest in the wall cavity. Until I whack the wall with my good ol’ bush stick for a few minutes. No more noise from them, but the cheeky bastards upstairs are tapping on the floor rather forcefully. And someone downstairs is yabbering quite loudly is Swahili or something. Jeez, how ungrateful - I probably saved them from the bubonic plague.
Anyway, if any of you guys were down in Trang on Nov22 2003 and heard the scamper of paws outside around 6am, that wasn’t the local dog-pack chasing Garfield - that was Ya Ya’s rats on the stampede. Of course one of you smart marthas is gunna suggest it was more likely Domestic-Dispute Couple. Yeah sure. My head may be rough but it aint that scary.
So I’m less than whelmed with Ya Ya, check out next morning, wander along the beach path and see a sign NEW BUNGALOWS - PARK VIEW pointing up the hill path . Should be quiet up there, I think.
Well it is, except for the Gibbons.
East Railay Boot-Scootin' Champions - 2003 - (image Fairfax-Rippingale)
UPDATE - I passed by Ya Ya in June 2010. Still got the 2 and 3 storey wooden buildings. Have to be fair - the restaurant has always been a good place with nice food and fair prices, and the little service area there with a small bunch of shops is quite good. I think there is an ATM there - there certainly is on the lane between East and West Railay.
Further update 2011 - I understand Ya Ya has been taken over by the Railay Princess Resort and is now part of its budget wing.
March 2013 - gone baby gone.

More info and photos can be seen on the Krabi Trip Report page.
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SOME LINKS
http://www.krabi-tourism.com/index.htm - a good Krabi area website

Another good Krabi area website here

And another one there
Krabi airport website here

AREA MAP - Krabi town, Railay, Ao Nang, Ton Sai, Noparet Thara
CLOSE UP - West Railay, East Railay, Phra Nang, Ton Sai

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If you visit Krabi/Railay you might also be interested in nearby:

KO LANTA

KO SIBOYA

PHI PHI

KO YAO NOI
KO YAO YAI
KO JUM

If you have any questions, please ask them in THE FORUM rather than below. I don't get a chance to check all threads daily, but unless I'm travelling I'll try to monitor THE FORUM regularly.

10 comments:

jane said...

Wow, thanks for all that info, brilliant!

nOonOte said...

very good blog lol

Svante said...

Hi Tezza, thanks again for the blog !!!
I just returned to Railay after some 20 years, when Joy (now on Koh Jum) run a place at Prha Nang beach, and there was nothing much else. Some development !
We stayed at Diamond private resort and it was really nice (1200 bt for a bungalow early march and after some negotiations) They have several alternatives, and at first we stayed in a room by the poolside wich was nice, and after a few days we negotiated an upgrade to a "mountain wiew" bungalow - really luxurious !
They hav a few rooms / bungalows up the valley wich is a bit cheaper than the rest 800 bt for the cheapest ones. It is next to the generator, but in about a month time they will have POWER at Railay, so by next season a lot of noice will be gone !
When I arrived I had a look at the Rapala but te wanted 600 bt for a really crappy bungalow on grounds full of rubbish and just next to the generator - don't think so !!
The location is good jus above the little shantytown with bars and restaurants at the end of Railay east.
A huge Uberdelux place is almost completed at the middle of Railay east, and they have built all he way into the sea, so now there is no way walking dry-footed along the beach at high tide ! I agree with you, it's an outrage - I guess that in 2 years time the shantytown will be gone, and so will the charm of the place. Lets leave it to the package tour travellers and try to remember it as it was.

Svante Rosén, Stockholm

tezza said...

Thanks for the update Svante. Some day I'm gonna stay at Diamond Private. Hey, I bet you got mega-fit climbing the stairs from the beach!

Cass said...

Hey Tezza, wanted to say thanks for the blog, was very helpful in my recent Thailand trip. I returned also to Railay after 20 years, me & my partner chose to stay at Anyayvee which is now owned by Best Western (though they're very subtle about it, you'd only know because the logo is in the info folder) walk in rate of 1000 baht for a/c bungalow in June 09, but you can bargain down pretty easily if you offer to commit to multiple nights. Not bad: not super clean but acceptable & the bathroom's slightly tatty, but fine for the price & on Railay. Quite happy with everything and would stay again.

The new flash place on Railay East mentioned by Svante has opened too, btw. It's called Bhu Nga Thani Resort & Spa, and the Agoda prices seem pretty reasonable for how flash it looks (at least from the outside) - it's so new I haven't seen *any* reviews for it yet, not even on Tripadvisor. I agree it sucks they've built all the way to the sea though, and it doesn't fit at all with the existing 'shantytown' feel of Railay East: admittedly all of it was a far cry from the Railay of 20 years ago anyway, but it really is magical still.

We also loved the food @ view from the restaurant at the Phurit Valley Resort - well worth the tromping up the hill.

Cheers!

Cass

Ezra said...

very nice info. btw, can i know how im i going to had yao from aonang with the cheapest and fastest way? or most suggested way? thanks

Mel said...

Thank you sooo much for all of your amazing information! It is MUCH appreciated. Your blog has the most in-depth, detailed information that I have yet to find. So thank you thank you thank you for taking the time to share it with us all! Sending Infinite Love and Eternal Blessings in your direction, from my heart to yours! Love Love Love ♥♥♥ ;)))

Kurt Takashima77 said...

awesome info...thx. goin on 21st to 24th of febuary this yr. hopefully this wud be an adventurous trip. No hotel booking made so far but still looking fwd and doing research on9 for guesthouses, backpackers activities eg b4 making any final decision for place to stay with reasonable price and packages rate !

Sbipk said...

Woww!!! nice trip. If you can’t decide for your next trip…Phuket is the best choice for you!!

And if you are looking for hotel in phuket for your holiday. Surin Beach Hotel will be the best choice for you too.

yoxx said...

this is an awesome place... nice photos, mate