In the search for perfect Thai beach we’re heading to Railay. Twice. And it’s not enough. We’re going by a wooden boat with engine taken straight from a car and we’re landing on a beautiful, amazing, picturesque beach. These trips by long-tail boats made me realize why everywhere in Ao Nang you can buy waterproof bags. And I have no idea why I haven’t bought one. Long-tail boat stops not directly on the beach, but few meters before sand starts. Even if you try to stay dry, a wave will come and you will end up with wet butt, wet backpack and generally you will be wet.
Everywhere on the internet there are people telling that Railay is so commercial and luxury hotels are destroying views and atmosphere. So my imagination created a vision of huge, white hotels with 20 floors. How wrong I was… Cute bungalows hidden in the trees, monkeys jumping on roofs, that’s how it looks like. This combined with beaches and cliffs amazed me so much that I promised myself to come back one day and stay for 3 nights or so in one of the bungalows.
From Railay Beach we’re going to Phra Nang Beach, which was supposed to be even better. One last turn and… oh my God, does paradise look like this? Because that’s exactly how Thailand looks like in catalogues. Cliffs, caves, white sand, turquoise water. Can I stay here? Only two things don’t match to this paradise: cave with wooden penises and soldiers next to the sign “Portuguese man o’war”. The cave, Phra Nang, is filled with wooden penises of all sizes and colors. Local fishermen believe that a ghost of a princess lives there and they’re praying for luck and good fishing. If that’s fulfilled, they’re putting well.. penises… in the cave as a “thank you”. And what about soldiers? Portuguese man o’war is a very nasty jellyfish, which you can’t really see in the water (it looks like plastic bag), but it does sting. In the worst case you may not see any other beach again. So I guess that soldiers are there to call for a helicopter which will bring unlucky one to the hospital (Railay can’t be access from land). Let’s leave the jellyfish and admire the landscape:
After swimming and sunbathing, we’re trying to find good and cheap food. According to the internet, there’s another beach: Tonsai, which is more for backpackers and so are the prices. We have no idea where the path leading to Tonsai starts, so we’re following people looking like backpackers. The beach ends and we’re in the front of rocks and jungle. But our guides are climbing there, in flip flops. Some other guys are going in the other direction, in flipflops. They’re not bleeding and we have sandals, so let’s try. Jungle, like a jungle, welcomes us with insane humidity and even more insane mud. Cliff on the left side, rope hung between trees on the right and slippery mud under our sandals. Every few seconds we’re meeting other adventure seekers, very emotionally using the F word. Covered in mud and bitten by whatever was in the mud we’re arriving in Tonsai and… we’re disappointed. Ok, it’s pretty, but it looks like there was a tsunami one week ago. Destroyed bungalows, tall grass and few people on the beach. It doesn’t look like anything is happening there and to me, it doesn’t look like backpacker’s paradise. I don’t expect the world to be a 5 star hotel, but Tonsai didn’t look very inviting. Disappointed, we’re walking back to Railay and once we’re there, we’re running straight to the sea.
Out of the curiosity we have decided to check how expensive it is to eat in a restaurant at the beach in Railay. After quick look into the menu, decision is made: we’re eating here. Table in the first row by the beach, sea view and delicious prawns (I got more prawns than in the meals bought from food carts). Lunch for two with drinks and payment by Polish card was around 15 USD and I’m still dreaming about my ginger stir fry…
Frankly speaking, I don’t like going to the beach. It gets boring too fast. But Railay doesn’t get boring, because I can’t stop staring at the landscape. The beach is wide, so we were able to play with our frisbee, and when we got tired, we could go for a guava juice or other tropical thing. It was very sad to leave Railay and go back to Ao Nang. Just think about sunsets. How amazing they have to be in Railay. I have to go back there and I will. Probably for 3 nights only, because what can you do in this very small area?
How to get to Railay? The only way to get there is by boat. Long-tail boats from Ao Nang are leaving when they have 8 people. Sometimes you have to wait 10 minutes, sometimes (at 8am) 40 minutes. On the way back it was easier. One way price: 100 THB per person (~2,85 USD)
For how long? Some people need only one day (you have to go back to Ao Nang around 4pm), some people are staying for few days and some are coming from Ao Nang few times.
What can you do? Sunbathing, swimming, rock climbing, you name it.