We arrived via ferry to Railay Beach late in the afternoon. This place had been on my travel bucket list for a while, but my vacation-length first trip to Thailand two years ago meant that I didn’t have a chance to visit.
We had a few hours stopover on Koh Phi Phi, so we decided to check our bags at the marina and take a longtail boat over to Long Beach, just five minutes from the busy main town. This was our first taste of Thai beaches, and though Long Beach in Koh Phi Phi is busy, it doesn’t lack for white sand and glorious stretches of turquoise water.
After a few hours of relaxation, we were back on the boat and on our way to Railay. Nothing can adequately prepare you for the sight of those sheer karst cliffs jutting out of azure water, looking for all the world like they’ve been masterfully painted in a series of rust, orange, and brown.
We were deposited on Railay West, a small stretch of beach dominated by resorts. Our research suggested that we head toward Railay East for more cost-effective lodging, so we passed over the small spit of land that separates the two towns and started our series of walk-ins to the guesthouses and hotels. We were surprised at the prices here – it’s small enough that there seems to be floor price amongst most of the accommodation providers. Not that $30/night is expensive, but it was more than were expecting to pay.
We finally chose a place that had air conditioning and a pool nestled under one of the looming karst cliffs, and a sunset dip closed out our first day.
One purpose of my travels is to try out potential new hobbies. With Railay as the rock climbing mecca of Southeast Asia, my sister and I decided we would give it a try one of the days we were here. After a morning on Railay West trying to treat my bedbug bites with seawater and sun, we hopped on a half-day Seven Islands tour that promised to show us the best of the small islands off the coast of Railay.
The tour was a huge disappointment. We never stopped in any place for very long, and were constantly being rushed from one site to another. Why they chose to pack so much in a half day, I’ll never know. We also were with a group of Chinese tourists who were all together, leaving us and another couple feeling like the 26th – 30th wheel. At one stop on the tour, we could climb up rope ladders that had been anchored into the cliffs and cliff jump into the water below. My sister and I both tried to climb and discovered our upper body strength meant we couldn’t even get up the ladder!
Needless to say, that put the kibosh on any thoughts of rock climbing. I had visions of being halfway up a cliff and unable to lift myself any further.
Since we had scrapped our plans of rock climbing, we decided to set out the next day for Koh Lanta. I knew it would be decidedly less expensive, and I had been itching to get back to it since I had visited it the first time in 2013.
As we hopped on the ferry from Railay West, I said a final farewell to the beautiful cliffs, with a tiny flash of regret that I hadn’t taken on the challenge that they offered. Next time, Railay.