Railay is the island town the entire world has dreamed of. This small town only has walking paths, rock climbing walls, small markets, and a few hotels and guest houses all plopped between two beautiful beaches with no crowds… This town is located just south east of my last post about Ao Nang, squeezed between the beautiful warm crystal clear coastal waters and the tall deep green – monkey filled jungle. It’s about a 5 minute boat ride from Ao Nang or a 35 minute ride from Krabi town. There are no loud streets, cars, motorbikes, taxi’s, 7-Eleven’s, big parties and even police… The laid back – no rush atmosphere – makes for a very enjoyable place. This post can be looked at as sort of a “Must Do” list of activities everyone should experience in there life.
The East side of Railay hosts more locals than tourists.This side has markets, tree-top bars, and small restaurants with less of a “beach front hotel” feel to it. Here you can see a long-tail boat (which is the only way to and from this place) and one of the many climbing walls in the background. For reference, that wall is roughly 400 ft tall.
Our first activity: rent the few pieces of climbing gear we were missing and get climbing on this world class rock. Here is Rob roping up on the sandy bottom. All the photos of rock climbing were taken by my beautiful girlfriend Jessica, she is really learning how to use the camera well on this trip.
All throughout Railay, you’ll likely run into a monkey or two. During our 4 nights here we saw 4 different species of monkeys. Here is one of my favorite photos of them. Cute little creatures aren’t they?
Railay is known for its less touristy activities that you can’t just “pay” to experience. This was our kind of spot. Off the beaten path… we hiked up the steep cliffs and out to one of the most amazing views anyone could see with their eyes. Large tree roots with crazy tall trees in a lusciously green jungle. After 15 minutes of root-climbing up, were at the fabulous view point overlooking all of Railay… a few hundred feet above the sea level… without a single safety bar or net to keep us from falling.
Immediately after the killer view we proceeded to “the lagoon” which we heard was not an easy hike to get to. We had no idea what we were in for, or how insane the lagoon would be, or – if we could even make it.
Lucky for us, some locals had tied ropes to various rocks, trees and other jungle items to help people get down. As you can see, this isn’t just a walk down a stair case. Here is Jessica and Rob after the 1st and 2nd of 4 descents down into the lagoon. We decided it was best to go bare foot for maximum grip. As you can see, this is like climbing down a wet, slippery, broken ladder with a mud covered slick rope as “protection” or safety… The only issue was that the next step is never right below your last. Same goes for hand placement. Right about here I was thinking “We should have brought the climbing gear…” we were unprotected.
After about an hour of safe and slow descents – we finally arrived. This lagoon is a sea filled lagoon that is only filled during high tide. The water seeps up through the ground and fills as the tide rises, creating this magical place only a few hours each day. The lagoon is a hidden gem that is in the center of one of the mountains. If you were to look down into it you’d be between 500-600 feet above the lagoon. It was like something you’d see base jumpers soaring into on the Discovery Channel. Not real life.
This panoramic and following few photos from the lagoon are from Rob’s sweet waterproof camera. I need to get myself one of these things!
On the opposite side of the lagoon, after swimming across, we discovered a huge cave. Inside this two story cave was a mosquito net. We were excited and wish we brought our sleeping bags to spend the night. We climbed up there and enjoyed overlooking the beautiful lagoon for a few minutes. It was one of the most peaceful moments of our lives.
Even after all the crazy adventures we had gone through in Railay, in such a short amount of time, we then decided to hike to the nearby village, Tonsai… which is known to be the cheap alternative to Railay for rock climbers. This little village has a few bars, a small market and some fun activities. You can stay in a bungalow for as low as $1 USD per night. There are tons of climbing routes all over the area. After a few of those special mushroom shakes… we did exactly that.
We finished our day climbing in Tonsai and hiked back to Railay … and continued through the largest cave any of us had ever seen! We roped up and rappelled down during sunset. Here are a few photos of that final journey… or what we had planned as a final journey. As you can see, the cave is huge. I would guess that if you were to put some greyhound buses into this cave we could easily fit 40 of them. Like I said, the cave was HUGE, dark, and covered with squeaking bats on the top of the cave… all the perfect ingredients for creating an unforgettable adventure! We had to hike through the cave, up rickety bamboo ladders, and through small tunnels – in pitch black. Good thing we brought headlamps!
We decided to celebrate on our last night in Railay with a few drinks… Jessica brought out her hula hoop, we watched a Thai boxing match, some fire dancers and finished off the trip with a night climb at 3am. This was also Jessica’s first time rock climbing. One of the reasons why we fell in love with Railay, tree-top restaurants and bars that felt like giant tree houses for adults. LED lights, chill music, and traditional Thai floor pillows (called Mon Thai), created a unique ambiance and a relaxed vibe.
Guess who won the fight?
Even Jessica tried her first climb… in the dark! I was pleasantly surprised to see my girlfriend quickly make her way to the top. I think she found another hobby to add to her list from this trip.
“If your getting rad and no ones there to see it, are you really getting rad?” -Ryan Cribbin.
Ya… we know how to get rad.