Railay Beach Sunset: A Magical Experience in a Thai Paradise

Railay Beach Sunset
Railay Beach Sunset

Sunset at Railay Beach is my favorite time of the day. While there are many things to do in this remote Thai paradise, you can’t beat simply kicking back and catching a Railay Beach sunset.

Located on a peninsula between Krabi and Ao Nang in Thailand, Railay (Rai Leh) Beach is only accessible by boat. Cut off from the mainland by impressive limestone cliffs, Railay feels miles away. There are no cars on Railay, but there are four beaches to choose from as well as some fascinating caves.

Daniel and I spent a week on Railay in Southern Thailand after I finished hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Just arriving at Railay was an adventure. After travelling to the Krabi International Airport, a long-tail boat ferried us to Railay past spectacular limestone cliffs jutting from the Andaman Sea.

We found Railay to be a laid-back place with Rasta vibes and fabulous beaches. While relaxing on the beach was my favorite pastime, there are plenty of other fun activities to keep one occupied. Railay is particularly popular with climbers due to the plentiful climbing opportunities among the area’s limestone cliffs. Monkeys are everywhere and we spent hours simply watching their antics (although beware that they don’t steal your food when you’re not looking!).

There are also several local caves to explore, including Diamond Cave and Princess Cave (Phra Nang Cave). Princess Cave is especially unusual as it is home to a shrine filled with wooden phalluses. Local fisherman leave the plalluses at the shrine to pay respects to the goddess of fertility, Phra Nang.

But for me, the real highlight of every day was the Railay Beach sunset. The best place to catch sunset on the peninsula is West Railay Beach. Each evening, we’d head over to West Railay and sit on the sand as we’d watch the sun dip lower in the horizon.

On one magical evening, we were caught in a rainstorm as we watched the sun set. The sudden downpour chased away the other beach-goers and we soon had the beach to ourselves. We were prepared, however, and calmly pulled out our umbrellas as we watched everyone else fleeing the scene. It was the best sunset of our trip and I was glad we didn’t miss it due to a little rain.

Continue reading to see some photos of our trip to Railay Beach.

Boarding the long boat to Railay Beach
Traveling by long boat to Railay Beach
First views of the limestone cliffs surrounding Railay Beach
First views of the limestone cliffs surrounding Railay Beach
First views of the limestone cliffs surrounding Railay Beach
Daniel relaxes at a local bar. With his man bun.
A local bar with gorgeous views of East Railay Beach at night.
West Railay Beach Panorama
West Railay Beach
West Railay Beach
Wait – monkeys? What monkeys?
Oh! Those monkeys!
OMG! Look at how cute the monkeys are! That baby monkey is nursing! Awwww!!!!
More monkeys! Squee!!
We planned a hike to local viewpoint until we saw the trail – vertical jagged rocks covered with slimy mud. Abort! Abort!
On the way to Princess Cave
Ao Phra Nang (Princess Bay)
Shrine at Princess Cave. Local fisherman pay respects to the goddess of fertility, Phra Nang, by leaving wooden phalluses at the site. That’s a lot of plalluses.
Wooden phalluses at the Princess Cave shrine. These were almost as tall as me.
Yeah! We’re at the beach! Woo!
Inside the Princess Cave
Stalactite inside of Princess Cave
Long boat vendors on Ao Phra Nang
Buying snacks on a long boat
Tham Pranangnai (Diamond Cave)
Entrance to Diamond Cave
Holy Stalactites, Batman! There were also a lot of bats in here.
Chillin’ in Diamond Cave.
Chilling in the shade on Ao Phra Nang
Ton Sai
OMG more monkeys! How adorable!
OMG! Those monkeys stole our snacks! Daniel puts on his shoes for a quick escape.
Hiking through the trees from Ton Sai beach back to West Railay Beach.
A cool bird that looks like a Toucan. Anyone know what kind of bird this is?
West Railay Beach at sunset
West Railay Beach at sunset
West Railay Beach at sunset
The dock to the long boat that took us back to the mainland. Goodbye Railay!

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