1. Climb to the Railay Viewpoint
This was by far my favorite adventure in Railay! We got a map from Railei Beach Club with things to do around the island and we heard great things about the Viewpoint so we asked the petite, sweet hotel manager about the hike. She said that it wasn’t “that hard” and we’d be fine so off we went. Boy did she overestimate our abilities!
We arrived at the “trail head” which was really just some leather ropes and a dirt face to climb up. We realized that we didn’t have the proper shoes so Steve-o and I just decided to go barefoot which worked out pretty well for us but I should probably recommend wearing hiking shoes. We did get a few concerned looks from some people that came more prepared! I did have one slip on the way up but I just held on tight to the rope and swung into the cliff. Left me with a big bruise on my thigh but I quickly recovered my balance and didn’t have any other heartpounding slip-ups on the way up or down.
After climbing and scrambling you eventually get to a walking trail. If you go left at the fork you’ll reach the viewpoint which was truly breathtaking. If you go right you’ll get to a lagoon that you have to climb down to. Steve-o was about to have a heatstroke (too much partying the night before and zero sleep) so after the viewpoint we ended up heading back. We tried to take a “short cut” to the lagoon that others had mentioned but it got too overrun by plants for us to cross. Our friends that went to the lagoon couldn’t make it down because it was so slippery but they did say others had done it.
You can’t help but think something like this would be forbidden in the U.S. out of safety concerns but you’re in Thailand now so give it a go. The view is worth it, I promise!
2. Put Penises on a Pedestal at Phranang Beach
Phranang Beach is my winner for most beautiful beach in Thailand! You can explore the caves, watch the rock climbers or just relax and take in the view. So now you’re probably wondering what the deal with the penises is?! Well the cave is named Phar Nang Cave or “Princess Goddess” cave after the mythical sea princess Shiva (or the Siwaleung… or Palad Khik in Thai) who is believed to reside in the cave. Fisherman would make a pledge to Shiva before their voyage for good luck and upon their return, wishes fulfilled, they would make offerings to her. Common gifts are flowers and incense sticks, but usually the offering comes in the form of a lingam which is a symbol of divine generative energy especially a phallus or phallic object worshiped as a symbol of Shiva.
The cave, on the east side of the Railay Bay is famous for its wonderful stalactites and stalagmites. Since ancient times, Phra Nang Cave has been where fishermen, before going out to sea, have made offerings to the symbolic Phallus of Shiva. You would naturally think this had something to do with fertility but there’s actually a plaque saying the exact opposite: “However, this has nothing to do with the Thai people’s religions, neither Buddhism nor Islam, that the belief of lingam and holy womb, shall create fertility and prosperity to the whole earth and mankind.” Elsewhere in Thailand phallus symbols do tie into fertility like the Lingam Fertility Shrine in Bangkok.
3. Eat a bunch of Thai Food
My favorite breakfast / snack was the Thai Pancakes from the little stand to the right once you enter the Walking Road from East Railay that will instantly remind you of fair food. I loved the nutella and banana ones!!! We would eat breakfast at the first place on the left but you can order the pancakes from across the little road and pay for it all together. I also loved trying all the coffees, teas, juices and smoothies! You can get a fresh coconut water here, too.
For an authentic, cheap meal try the laid-back Local Thai Food. We enjoyed picking out fresh fish and king prawns for them to grill! My favorite curries are green and panang but you really can’t go wrong. We always got some Tom Yum soup to try since everyone seems to have their own way of making it and for dessert you have to try the mango sticky rice!
If you’re looking for something a little more special and romantic, check out Krua Phranang located in the lux Rayavadee Resort. We didn’t get a chance to check it out but I hear they have a great happy hour. They’re particularly known for their seafood and grilled fish.
4. Hang out with the Monkeys
You can find them on the walk from East Railay to West Railay playing on the fence and in the trees. The funniest thing happened to us one day. The girls and I were taking selfies and the guys caught two monkeys having sex – which lasted all of 5 seconds – and then the male monkey went straight to sleep. Another girl near them was Snapchatting and caught the monkeys mid act in the background of her Snapchat! #BestSnapEver
5. Explore Diamond Cave
We spent a little bit of time here exploring this cave that belongs to Nopparat Thara Beach – Phi Phi Island National Park. The cave has bats (which I happen to love), a high roof, stalactites & stalagmites! It doesn’t take long to get to the end of the cave and it’s a nice break from the heat. Entrance fee is 40 baht for adults and 20 baht for children.
6. Get Your Drink On
I had the best thing I ever drank at the Bamboo Bar, a tiny reggae tiki bar on the Walking Road near East Railay. The Bamboo Paradise is made in a blender with fresh fruit, juice and rum. I wish I remembered which ones but man was that thing addictively delicious and refreshing! It quickly became our favorite bar in the area and was a great place to meet fellow travelers. We played some Connect 4 and Jenga and made fast friends with the bartenders. There’s plenty of other bars to hop to just make sure you at least go here to try the Bamboo Paradise!
7. Catch sunrise & sunset!
With jetlag you’re probably going to be up early anyways so head to East Railay Beach which you will have almost entirely to yourself to watch the sunrise. It’s a magical experience being in the calm waters as you watch the limestone cliffs change as the sun hits them. No better way to start your day! We were even lucky enough to catch some monkeys swinging through the trees in our backyard one morning while we were waiting on everyone to get their swimsuits on.
Pretty much everyone heads to the beach to watch the sunset so grab a cold Tiger beer and watch the show!
Even More Ideas: Along the Walking Road or on East Railay Beach it’s easy to find a longtail boat to hire, shops offering excursions or classes, and Thai masseuses!
- Take an excursion or hire a boat – There are plenty of excursions offered around the island. Hire a long tail boat to take you on the “4 Island” tour or go on a cruise with drinks, meals, snorkeling and a nighttime swim with bioluminescent plankton!
- Learn Something New – from Thai Cooking Classes to Rock Climbing sign up for a class!
- Relax with a Thai Massage – you can even get one right on East Railay Beach!
- Rent a kayak and head over to Tonsai Bay! I hear it’s another rock climber area and very chill.
- If you’re staying at Railei Beach Club consider having a private chef prepare you dinner.
What are your recommendations for Railay?