Is This the Most Beautiful Beach in Thailand? Visiting the Beaches of Railay

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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?

Pranang Beach, Railay
Most beautiful beach?

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.

Limestone Cliffs at Railay
Limestone cliffs of Railay
Longtail boat to Ao Nang from Railay
Taking a longtail boat to Railay

These mountains give Railay its breath-taking scenery — and also make it really popular with rock climbers.

Rock climbing at Railay
Rock climber in Railay

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.

Railay West Beach, Thailand
Arriving at Railay West
Longtail Boats at Railay West Beach
Longtail boats in a row
Railay West Beach

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.

Railay East Beach
Railay East Beach

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.

Pranang Beach, Railay
Pranang Beach

With soft, golden-white sand, turquoise water, and limestone cliffs rising up out of the sea, Phra Nang sure is a looker.

Pranang Beach, Railay
Quintessential Railay

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.

Pranang Beach, Railay
Snack boat at Pranang Beach

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 Cave, Railay
Phra Nang Shrine

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.

Pranang Beach, Railay

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.

So what do you think? Are these some of the most beautiful beaches YOU'VE seen?

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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47 Comments on “Is This the Most Beautiful Beach in Thailand? Visiting the Beaches of Railay

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  1. Hi Amanda!
    Very nice post. Railay beach is definitely one of my favourite beaches. I think the cliff does make my visit became more interesting than other beaches.

    Another beach that I would recommend it Surin Beach, a beach that is located between Bang Tao and Kamala beach. It is such a peaceful and relaxing beach to visit. Also, there are many excellent accommodation around this area.

    Hi Amanda,

    We are headed to Thailand next month! Where did you stay in Railay/ Pranang (Phra Nang) Cave Beach? I’m also having a similar problem trying to decide between the islands. We are set on Phi Phi and Railay…. (I think, for today anyway… until I change my mind again) But it was a toss up with Koh Lanta… Any helpful thoughts?


      Hey Lauren! I actually didn’t stay in Railay at all (it was all way too far out of my budget by the time I got around to booking things). I stayed in Ao Nang instead and took the boat over to Railay for the day. I honestly don’t remember where I stayed, though, because it wasn’t that great. I also did a day trip to Phi Phi and a couple other islands from Ao Nang/Krabi.

      I stayed on Koh Lanta for a few nights, too, though, and LOVED it. It’s so much more chilled out, which is exactly what I was looking for for the end of my trip.

        Thanks, Amanda! Your Thailand posts have been a great planning guide for our trip!

    As a regular reader of your blog ( 🙂 ) and as a Thai, I thought I would jump over to your Thailand section and see what’s happening.

    The limestone cliffs are called karsts in English na kha 🙂

    And Phra Nang/Railay is often packaged to visitors as the most beautiful in Thailand, but few Thais agree with this designation. There are multiple beaches in Thai travel literature that are considered more beautiful and more appealing.

    I do like how you craft your post to take into account possible alternatives.

    If anyone is headed to Thailand, let me know and I would be happy to share those spots.

      I have only been to a few beaches in Thailand, so I certainly can’t say which is the most beautiful! I DID really like this beach, though, and was glad I went! 🙂

    Phra Nang is definitely a cut above Railay West and (the barely a beach) Railay East. Gorgeous limestone caves which remind me of the Phang Nga Bay (where they shot James Bond movie). But for me, my favorite beach in Thailand is still Hong Island. It’s huge, bluer than blue, full of huge cliffs and relatively less crowded as compared to other beaches along the Andaman coast.

      Good tip! I’ll have to check it out next time I’m in Thailand!

    There are so many beautiful beaches in thailand and one of the best is Koh Samui island, have the chance to stay at Crystal Bay Beach resort at Koh Samui experienced the perfect white sand beach.

      Koh Samui is definitely on my list!!

    It is pretty beautiful but I haven’t been YET =D I’ll let you know when we make it around those parts!

      Sounds good! At the very least, it’s definitely worth a visit.

    I’ve been to quite a few beaches in Thailand (and Southeast Asia in general!) and I always name this as one of the most beautiful among them 🙂 She’s a stunner!

      Glad to hear you agree, Alex!

    The ‘most beautiful beach’ is certainly subjective. This one definitely looks like a contender for me though. My favourite beaches in the world (so far) have been in Mexico and New Zealand 🙂

      I really need to travel more in Mexico! So many great beaches there, too, I’m told.

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