If you’re travelling to Thailand, you no doubt already picture yourself in either or all of these scenarios: 1) You’re lying supine on a white, sandy beach, slick with coconut oil, sipping a cocktail and occasionally going for a dip in a warm, turquoise sea. 2) You’re partaking in the type of hedonistic activity that will ultimately have you handing out bras in a Thai prison, a la Bridget Jones. Or 3) You’re buying bargains in a market, the stories of which will have your friends “No freaken way!”-ing at your next braai. Well the good news is you can very easily fit in all three if you have a week there!
Krabi is a small town on the west coast of Southern Thailand, on the eastern shoreline of Phang Nga Bay. This is not the pumping beaches and raucous night life of Phuket. Here you spend your hours languishing on bean bags on the beach sipping Mojito’s by day and have quiet candle lit dinners with your feet in the sand by night. It is a more convenient base for day trips to Koh Phi Phi and Railay than Phuket.
Railay is, in my humble opinion, the undiscovered jewel of the Andaman Sea. Sheer cliffs have their feet firmly planted in long, white beaches and there is not a lounger in site. There are over 700 climbing routes in the area and even though it is not an island, the cliffs mean it is only accessible by boat. Long boats can be chartered from the dock in Ao Nang. (Make sure your life insurance is in order before boarding – it’s almost safer travelling on the N1 in December. When we were on Bamboo Island two locals dragged themselves on to the beach after capsizing the previous night and swimming for 8 hours with nothing more than a polyester cooler box to keep them afloat! It if was my husband’s cooler, the beer would’ve sunk us.) The longboats from Ao Nang drop you off in the sea on the Eastern side of the peninsula. And by in the sea, I mean IN the sea. Depending on the tide and whether the skipper likes you or not, we’re talking thigh high at least, so dress for the occasion. There is a walkway to the western side where there are views of the rock climbers and more imposing cliffs. Mangroves grow on this side, so it’s not for beaching, but it’s absolutely beautiful none the less. From here, make your way to the right towards the cliffs. A path follows the foot of the cliff through forests and stalactites and will eventually bring you to the beach. Be sure to have a peek at Phra Nang Cave to get your fill of phalluses (if you’ll excuse the turn of phrase).