Designating something as the “most” or “best” is always tricky. I mean, I haven't BEEN everywhere or SEEN everything, so how can I confirm if I have, in fact, eaten the BEST pizza in Chicago or seen the MOST CHARMING village in England?
Similarly, how can I confirm or deny that the most beautiful beach in Thailand lies on the Railay peninsula?
Well, the truth is that I can't. I haven't been to all of Thailand's beaches. There are so many of them that it would take years, maybe even decades to see them all. And even then my definition of “most beautiful” might be different than yours.
What I CAN do, however, is show you some photos of the beaches that often get these “best” and “most” designations on Thailand's Andaman Coast, and let you draw your own conclusions.
Let's talk about Railay.
Many people think Railay is an island since it and its beaches can only be reached by longtail boat from either Ao Nang or Krabi town. It's actually a peninsula, though. The reason you can only reach it by boat is because of the tall limestone mountains that make the peninsula so famous.
These mountains give Railay its breath-taking scenery — and also make it really popular with rock climbers.
I didn't go to Railay to climb rocks or party on the beach, however. I went over for the morning to see what I had heard been called “the most beautiful beach in Thailand.”
Visiting Railay West Beach
The easiest and cheapest way to reach this beach is by taking a shared longtail boat from Ao Nang Beach. It costs 100 baht each way, or roughly $3 USD, and you'll be dropped off on Railay West Beach.
This long sweeping beach is usually lined with longtails and can get quite crowded in the afternoons. The limestone cliffs here are really impressive, though, which definitely makes it worth seeing.
This isn't the “most beautiful beach in Thailand,” however. That designation goes to a beach a little further south along the peninsula.
Railay East Beach
Nope, still not the “most beautiful.” You have to cross over to this side of the peninsula, however, if you want to head further south.
This beach isn't really made for lounging or sunbathing, however. It IS popular with rock climbers, though, and is also the beach you'll be dropped off at if you take a longtail boat to Railay from Krabi town.
Pranang (Phra Nang) Cave Beach
Finally. We've reached THE beach. It's not far from the other (beautiful) beaches on the peninsula, but there's no denying that this beach is indeed slightly better-looking than the others.
With soft, golden-white sand, turquoise water, and limestone cliffs rising up out of the sea, Phra Nang sure is a looker.
And it's got character, too.
Here, instead of sandy-floored restaurants, you can order snacks and beer from longtail boats floating in the clear water.
You can also visit the Phra Nang Shrine inside the “Princess Cave.” This cave, dedicated to the spirit of the drowned princess, is unique because fishermen leave quite… interesting offerings here.
Pranang Beach is the beach that is often dubbed the “most beautiful beach in Thailand,” and appears on various lists naming the best beaches in the world.
Like I said, I haven't been to every beach in Thailand, let alone in the world.
But I it would be hard to deny that this beach IS, in fact, quite beautiful.
Want to visit?
You can catch a shared longtail boat from Ao Nang Beach. It costs 100 baht each way, or roughly $3 USD, and you'll be dropped off on Railay West Beach. Similarly, you can take a longtail boat from Krabi town to Railay East Beach. Each boat ride takes 10-15 minutes.
Once there, it is very easy to walk to the opposite beach, and also to the famous Phra Nang Beach.
Conversely, this speedboat tour will take you to Phra Nang Beach along with 3 other nearby islands on a fun day trip.