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Railay has four beaches: Railay West, Railay East, Phra Nang, and Tonsai. All these beaches are reached by boat, giving them their own special character and making each a separate destination.
Tonsai is the quietest beach of the four, and it is ideal for simply relaxing on the shores. There are a few beach bungalows and some bars and restaurants to make you comfortable, but for the most part the activities at Tonsai mean sunbathing and rest.
Railay West is a beach with great sand, laid-back restaurants, and some great activities. Especially busy in the evening, you can have more of the beach to yourself if you arrive early in the day, although it gets hot and you will want to seek out some shade eventually. The soft sand make an excellent location for both sunbathing and beach games. Many people visit the beach just to take a walk and enjoy the scenery, which includes limestone cliffs and, of course, turquoise water.
Railay East is a nice beach that is known for its nightlife. It can be pretty quiet during the day, when the sun makes for hot but still enjoyable weather. The beach is narrow but a recently added pathway adds to the beach’s daytime attraction, since it is suitable for walking and jogging. There are restaurants and bars here that are open both day and night. You’ll find both lively and mellow venues here.
Also at Railay East are some rock climbing schools that often offer day trips to good climbing locations.
About a fifteen minute walk from Railay East is Phra Nang Cave Beach. It’s much busier than some of the other beaches, and with good reason. It has great sand, safe water, snorkeling opportunities, and an amazing shrine known as the Phallic Shrine in the Princess Cave. Fishermen make offerings in front of the phallic symbols here, asking the sea princess for protection and good catches.
There is a resort on Phra Nang but otherwise there is no place to stay the night, so plan to leave once you finish for the night unless you can stay there. Overall, Phra Nang is a good beach to enjoy the beautiful water and limestone cliffs, catch some sun, and meet locals and fellow travelers.