Railay Beach is, in fact, a small peninsula which counts four beaches. Now on every savvy traveller's list, Railay is nevertheless one of Thailand's most sought-after beach areas. Just south of Ao Nang Beach, around a rocky headland and accessible only by boat, Railay presents a tranquil and extraordinary world. In just one small peninsula you'll find gorgeous white sand beaches, soaring limestone cliffs, viewpoints, caves and a lagoon hidden inside the cliffs, shaped and fed by the changing tides.
All within walking distance! At Railay there are no roads; only footpaths. No buses, no cars, just longtail boats. Although it's actually connected to the mainland, the spectacular Phra Nang Peninsular is effectively cut off from the rest of Krabi by limestone headlands and steep jungle valleys; the only access is by sea. The very picture of tropical paradise, with no roads and no hassle, Railay offers lazy days, adventure forays and chilled-out evenings. Rai Leh also commonly known as Railay, is a tourist area located on the Andaman Coast of Thailand, in Krabi Province. Rai Leh is primarily known as a rock climbing hot spot, attracting climbers from all over the world to its superb towering limestone. As Rai Leh is a peninsula surrounded by ocean and mountains, final access can only be by boat. Long-tails depart from Ao Nang (10 minutes, 100 baht/person, minimum 8 people) and Krabi (30 minutes) on demand, making those towns the gateways to Rai Leh. If you arrive after 6PM on a later flight, and nobody else is around to share the boat, they will charge you a very steep 1500 baht from Ao Nang to Rai Leh West, as of Oct 2013. It's also possible to access Rai Leh via regular ferries that run between Ko Lanta, Ko Phi Phi, and Phuket Town (from Rassada Pier) (more frequent in the November-May dry season; times available from local travel agents, or check online ferry schedules).
If you're going to Tonsai, it's closer to get a boat from Ao Nang (but you can also walk from Railay - just mind it's a trail, not a paved path). A note: if you get to Ao Nang on a bus from the airport and you mention "Tonsai", bus guys might try to convince you to exit earlier at Chaya resort - there are boats to Tonsai there, but way less people so you might end up paying for the whole boat or walking to Ao Nang - so just go to Ao Nang. The Krabi, Phuket, Ko Lanta and Ko Phi Phi articles have information on reaching the gateways to Rai Leh from throughout Thailand. From Bangkok there are flights to Krabi and Phuket, direct bus services, and trains to Surat Thani with onward connections by bus. Railay is a small peninsula between the city of Krabi and Ao Nang in Thailand. It is accessible only by boat due to high limestone cliffs cutting off mainland access. These cliffs attract rock climbers from all over the world, but the area is also popular due to its beautiful beaches and quiet relaxing atmosphere. Accommodation ranges from bungalows and medium-priced resorts in East Railay to a collection of luxury resorts focused on West Railay, though one, Rajavadee, spans both waterfronts and also has a beachfront restaurant at Ao Phra Nang. The four main areas of Railay consist of Phra Nang, West Railay, East Railay, and Ton Sai. Ton Sai caters to climbers and the backpacker set and is more rustic in character than the glitz of West Railay and the shops and restaurants of the East Railay boardwalk.
East Railay:-East Railay Beach is the docking point for boats arriving from Krabi. The East Beach is primarily covered in dense mangroves and is unsuitable for swimming. At the northern end of the waterfront there is a commercial area along a boardwalk/promenade with many restaurants and bars and various services including a muay Thai school, and lower-priced resorts than in West Railay. Above, on the trail that leads to Ton Sai, is the Diamond Cave, which features a walkway into its depths.
West Railay:-West Railay Beach, connected to the east side by paths through the large resorts or by trails through thin jungle cover, is the primary destination for beach-goers in Railay. The beach is flanked by high limestone cliffs on either side. Long-tail boats are available to hire for transport to Ao Nang, 15 minutes north of Railay. In addition, ferries departing Railay for Ko Phi Phi and points west including Phuket depart from the West beach. The focal point of West Railay Beach is a short promenade (walking street) lined with restaurants and shops. Rai Leh is considered to be all of the peninsula, which has four primary areas:
Phra Nang: -(shown as Pranang Cave Beach in local maps) a white sand beach, on the southern tip of the peninsula. Can get crowded and busy. This just average beach, is 20 minutes away from Ao Nang by long-tail boat. It has a nice scenery and is a good swimming beach when the tide is high. However, during the low tide it looks dreadful and the only thing to do here is to listen to the never-stopping boat noise while watching the climbers right off the beach. It already has all the things that spoil a beach: pollution, traffic, noise, over-enthusiastic hawkers, and lager louts.
Rai Leh East: the mangrove side of the peninsula, used by long-tails to/from Krabi. Not good for swimming or sunbathing. Some of restaurants and bars. Mid-range to budget accommodations.
Rai Leh West:- a fine beach of white sand and shallow water, where most long-tails arrive from Ao Nang. North end of the beach is great for swimming but as Most of other beaches in the area, completely unusable during the low tide. Be careful, it is rocky under the water. Mid- to high-end accommodations. To the right, the bay stretches away past Ton Sai to the massive Sleeping Indian cliffs, so named because that is exactly what they resemble at night. The kilometre-long Sleeping Indian is lying on his back, with his hands folded across his midriff, his feet sticking up and a feather sticking out of his headdress. It’s an uncanny resemblance, especially at night-time. Ton Sai: a cove around the corner from Rai Leh West where rock climbers and backpackers hang out in cheap accommodations and practice climbing. The place to catch the sunset is at Flametree's very comfortable bar, right in the middle of the beach. This, the only bar on west Rai Leh, is always a quiet, and has to be a candidate for SE Asia’s best beach bar. After sunset West Rai Leh Beach starts to empty and by midnight is usually almost completely deserted, except for the occasional party of illicit skinny-dippers, enjoying a dip au naturel at the northern end of the beach, where there are no resorts and thus no people around.
Midnight swims, au naturel or otherwise, are sensational on dark nights, when the brilliant-blue bio-luminescence in the water lights up disturbed water like a neon-lit Christmas tree. To best appreciate this amazing phenomenon, bring a pair of swimming goggles along and swim underwater for a while. The bio-luminescence will wreath your body in a million tiny blue lights, in surely the loveliest clothes you've ever worn. It's a 5-10 minute walk between any of these landmarks, except for Ton Sai, which is a longer hike through the jungle. The village itself is a pedestrian's dream, as there are no cars, and the uneven bumpy walkways make even bicycles impractical.