Railay Beach, Thailand (map)
While we were still on Phi Phi island we talked with the lady who helped organize our snorkeling trip to Maya Bay. We were curious since she had lived in the area for the past 20 years where she recommended we go next. We knew we were not ready to leave Thailand that was a fact. So, she told us we should definitely check out Railay Beach. She assured us it was “off the radar” and we would love the dramatic views from the beaches there along with it having world class rock climbing.
So, the decision was quick and we booked our ferry leaving Phi Phi for the next day. At this point both Dustin and I were starting to feel a bit under the weather (great way to start the new year right?), but we decided to head out as planned. Unfortunately there was only one ferry per day heading to Railay and it had us arriving there close to dark.
This story does not go well…
Once we arrived to Railay, we immediately trekked over to the East beach, which is where all the supposedly affordable hotels are located. Dustin left me with the bags and proceeded to literally check with EVERY hotel and they were ALL booked. We were out of luck. The smart thing would have been to just hop on a boat and head straight to the mainland (Ao Nang), but instead we decided to hike up into the forest hills (with all our stuff) so we could reach TonSai beach. This area of Railay is what people refer to as the “Backpackers” beach of the area. Once we arrived we were drenched with sweat, our heads were pounding, and it was now dark outside.
Dustin once again went on a mission to find us a place to stay. After what seemed like eternity he returned with little good news. Turns out Railay beach and the surrounding area IS a prime location and since there are not many places to stay, the hotels fill up quickly and those that remain the hotels jack up prices during high season. What our choices were at this point were 1. Spend $100 on a higher end hotel with A/C or 2. Spend $15 on a bungalow that the owner said “had recently had a rain leak and the bed/pillows were still wet”.
We decided the best plan for us at this point was to eat some dinner. We have realized over the past 6 months that making quick decisions usually leads to regret and everything is always better once you have some food in your stomach.
As it turns out during our dinner we met a few nice travelers (one from Dallas) who shared with us that they also had had issues finding a place, but that they knew the bar down the beach still had a free (dry) bungalow available. We ended up heading to the bar and finding a very simple bungalow to lay our heads for the night. It was a steal at just $12, but it also had no fan and the shower was a bucket of water with a cup. Our new Dallas friend took one look at the water for the shower and made us laugh by saying that “most parents from the USA would not even let their kids play in water that looked like that, let alone use it for bathing”.
That night we slept little since we were behind the bar that played techno music until well after 1:30 AM. The best part though was when Dustin awoke in the night to go to the restroom and he was startled by a dark figure standing in his path. The next morning we immediately met our nighttime visitor because he had decided to wait outside our bungalow to personally greet us! Apparently the bar has a goat mascot.
At this point we were ready to call it a day and just altogether leave Railay. We had gotten off on the wrong foot to begin with and thought maybe we should move on. We changed our minds and ended up making up for the money we saved at the bungalow and splurged on a better hotel for the next night. That ended up being a smart move because I ended up getting very sick that following night 🙁
The next day we made our escape and headed to Ao Nang and then onto Krabi. In all fairness to Railay, it does seem like a great place. Our advice would be to plan in advance during high season and of course don’t get sick 😉