Long-tail boat arriving at Railay Beach

Thailand’s southern coastline is renowned for its picturesque beaches, both on the mainland and nearby islands. On a recent trip there, we fell in love with some of the beaches in Krabi, a popular tourist town off the coastline of the Andaman Sea. These beaches may require a short boat ride, but are truly worth going the extra distance to visit.

Although there are many beaches in Krabi major from which to choose, we were blown away by three beaches located along the city’s outskirts. A sub-district of Krabi called Ao Nang is home to West Railay and Phra Nang Beaches. Right off Ao Nang’s shore is Poda Island. These have become some of our new favorite vacation spots, and they each offer something unique.

West Railay Beach

View of Railay West from the sea

What we like most about West Railay Beach is that it sports a “Walking Street” home to several small bars, restaurants, and shops right on the beach’s edge. Marked by a big sign, it’s in the middle of the beach strip, making it a convenient place for all beach goers.

The restaurants offer Thai food and simple Western food, and small independent food stands serve fruit smoothies and Thai snacks. There are plenty of cold beverages available to buy and take on the beach, including beer, to quench your thirst. We could have comfortably stayed at West Railay Beach all day if we had wanted to!

Southern Coastline of Railay West

The far right side of the beach (southern end) is populated with several open-aired resorts, including the Sand and Sea Resort and Railay Village Resort. It’s possible to enjoy several uninterrupted days at the beach with amazing waterfront views at their outdoor bar areas if you choose to stay there. This part of the beach also offers shady areas from nearby trees, which was an unexpected but welcomed find.

TIP: Buy liquor from a Family Mart or 7-Eleven in Ao Nang and bring it with you. For a tropical adult drink, get a fruit smoothie for 50 baht and top it off with liquor. Otherwise, expect to pay around 200 baht for cocktails.

Phra Nang Beach (Cave Beach)

Cave area at Phra Nang Beach

Phra Nang Beach, also known as Cave Beach, stands out among other beaches in Krabi because it features sky-high cliffs that extend over the southern coastline. There is also a small ground level cave that becomes more or less exposed depending on the tide. It’s a fun place to climb and explore. Needless to say, it makes for a gorgeous backdrop.

View of Phra Nang Beach from a cave

High-end private resorts like the Anyaee Railay Resort and Rayavadee Hotel are also at Phra Nang Beach’s southern end, but keep in mind that their bars and restaurants are only accessible for overnight patrons.

View of the northern end of Cave Beach in Krabi, Thailand from a Long-Tail Boat

For the rest of us daily visitors at Phra Nang Beach, food and drinks can be purchased from a series of long-tail boats that are moored on the north end of the beach. They sell hot food, snacks, smoothies, and adult beverages. We think it’s pretty creative!

Longtail boats selling food and adult beverages in Ao Nang, Thailand

We love that Phra Nang Beach is accessible from West Railay Beach, so it’s possible to visit both beaches in one day! To get to the Phra Nang Beach from West Railay Beach, there is a paved path at the entrance of the Railay Bay Resort and Spa. When the path ends at a shoreline (East Railay Beach), turn right and another minute walk through rock formations will end at the Phra Nang Beach.

Entrance to Railay's walking paths

Poda Island

View of a tall rock from Poda Island

Poda Island is the least populated and most secluded of the three beaches in Krabi we’ve mentioned, but perhaps the most gorgeous. As we remembered it during our visit there in October 2012, Poda Island was much less crowded than Railay and Phra Nang Beaches. This may be because we were visiting right before the high season, which begins in November and runs until February.

Poda Island Monkey, longtail boat, and foreign tourists

On Poda Island, there is a small drink stand selling cold drinks (including beer) and food vendors selling som tum (papaya salad), grilled meat, whole ears of roasted corn, and ice-cream. Simple but satisfying, an afternoon here made us realize we could live in Thailand one day.

Food on Poda Island

What we love most about Poda Island is the incredibly beautiful deserted beach areas to explore. As we walked around the island, away from where the long-tail boat dropped us off, we had the beach practically to ourselves. We explored while the tide was low, and the beach seemed to go out forever.

Empty Beach on Poda Island

There are a few monkeys that wander around the Poda Island beach, so be watchful of your bags. These monkeys are in search of food, but you certainly don’t want them to mistakenly take off with your wallet or passport! Of course, this won’t discourage us from visiting there again. It was too beautiful and relaxing to pass up.

TIP: There are no umbrellas or lounge chairs for rent at any of the above three beaches, so it’s wise to bring your own beach gear. Colorful woven fold-out mats can be purchased for about 100 baht at the shops along main strip in Ao Nang.

Where Are These Beaches in Krabi?

West Railay Beach, Phra Nang Beach, and Poda Island are accessible from a small town on the outskirts of Krabi called Ao Nang. Once you’ve landed at the Krabi International Airport, there are several booths selling tickets for transportation to nearby towns.

Ao Nang is easily accessible by public bus (150 baht per person) or a private taxi (around 600 baht) or private shuttle van (800 to 1,200 baht). Because the public bus makes multiple stops, the trip can take up to an hour. Otherwise, it’s a 30 minute drive.

Once in Ao Nang, the beaches are just a short ride away on one of Thailand’s charming long-tail boats.

Buying Tickets to Beaches in Krabi

Ao Nang Longtail Boat Service Club

A small building on the east end of Ao Nang’s main strip sells tickets for boat rides to nearby beaches. Using cash, buy a round-trip ticket about 10 or 15 minutes before you want to leave. Give the ticket to the men at the top of ramp leading down to the beach, but hold on to the return ticket. As soon as a long-tail boat has a minimum of eight passengers, it departs.

Destination Length of Boat Ride Round Trip Cost
West Railay Beach 10 minutes 200฿
Phra Nang Beach 10 minutes 200฿
Poda Island 25 minutes 300฿

Boat departure begins as early as 8am, but the last boat heading home is between 4pm (Poda Island) and 6pm (West Railay and Phra Nang Beaches).

TIP: Be sure to wear shoes that can get wet because you have to walk through water to get onto the long-tail or speed boats.

Other Beaches in Krabi, Thailand

There are other destinations available to visit by long-tail boat, including (but not limited to) Chicken, Hong, Bamboo, and Tub Islands. It is even possible to charter a private speedboat for the day, which allows for more flexible exploration of islands that are further away, such as Koh Phi Phi or Koh Lanta.

A List of Beaches in Krabi Accessible by Longtail Boat

Keep in mind that several beaches in Krabi are recognized as National Parks, including Tub, Hong, Chicken, and Bamboo Islands, and have a fee in addition to the round-trip cost.

Map of Krabi and Many of Its Islands and Beaches

View Krabi Islands and Beaches in a larger map

Keep Krabi and its beaches in mind when deciding on a trip to Thailand’s southern region. A place like this may have what it takes to convince you to stay in Thailand for the long run. It did for us!


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