Railay East, West and Pranang Cave Beaches
Krabi, Thailand is a great alternative to it's neighbor Phuket. Krabi is a smaller resort town with Railay being its highlight. Railay is attached to the mainland but can only be accessed by boat, so it feels like a small island with no cars and barely any motorbikes. The rumble of cars is replaced by the sound of long tail boats that sound like lawn mowers on water. Railay is only an 80 baht and 10 minute boat ride away from Ao Nang beach but is very laid back compared to Ao Nang. Come here to relax, sleep on the beach all day, and only get up to eat and drink.
Even though you can only get here by a long tail boat, we were surprised there were so many families that make the trek to Railay, strollers and all. Railay has 2 sides to it, Railay East and Railay West. The east side is nothing but mud when the tide is out, while the west side has a nice beach with a back drop of limestone cliffs. The two sides are only a 10 minute walk apart from each other, so many people don't mind staying on the east side as it's just a short distance to the nicer beach. The east side offers some nice inexpensive restaurants and a few lounges to waste the night away in.
Railay is also home to a breath taking beach called Pranang Cave Beach that can get packed with people during peak hours when the tour boats drop people off. Even with the crowds, this was my favorite beach in Krabi. Swimming under limestone cliffs with turquoise water and long tail boats along the beach selling barbecued food is truly special.
We stayed at a hotel on the east side of Railay called Railay Great View. It's a very short boat ride away from the main area of Railay, making it a very peaceful hideaway. It was quite a treat to be taxied back and forth from the resort on a long tail boat, it's exceptionally beautiful at night.
Another big draw to Railay is the rock climbing. Being surrounded by beautiful limestone cliffs does make it very tempting and it's only 800 Baht to take a half day course to learn the basics of the sport. By the end of the class you will be climbing up the side of a cliff.
Ao Nang Beach
If resting and relaxing gets a bit much for you, head over to Ao Nang beach for lots of shops selling beach clothing and spa services complete with merchants yelling to get you into their stores. Something we found interesting about Ao Nang is they have a small strip behind the beach full of nothing but massage huts. There must have been at least 40 little shops, full of people getting massages. At 300 baht for a 1 hour massage, it's hard to resist.
Nopharat Thani Beach
Right next to Ao Nang beach is Nopharat Thani beach. This beach is long, beautiful and very quiet, a real contrast to Ao Nang. We found ourselves laying under the trees that line the beach for hours. Behind the beach are small local restaurants, we didn't find the food to be any thing special, but the fruit smoothies are always delicious.
With 3 very distinctive beaches so close together, we think there is something for every one in Krabi. You can change beaches as you change your mood.
There are inexpensive buses to and from the airport and Ao Nang beach. The cost is 150 Baht and takes around an hour as it makes a few stops. Also ask your hotel if they can pick you up.
To get to Nopharat Thara beach from Ao Nang, hop on one of the small trucks that has a sign in the front saying where they are going. We hopped on one that was heading to Krabi town, you just wave it down, hop in the back, then ring the bell when you want to get off. When you get off ask the driver how much, they seem to have standard rates and we only paid around 20 baht for the two of us 1 way.