Krabi to Railay

How to go from Krabi to Railay

The beach community of Railay sits on a peninsula between Krabi and Ao Nang in Thailand. It’s physically cut off from the mainland of Thailand by both mountains and jungle. It tends to be pretty quiet and it’s the perfect place to chill out for a while, or just visit for the day like we did.  The only way to access it is via boat, which you can take from either Krabi or Ao Nang.  Here’s our guide on how to go from Krabi to Railay – which route is best to go to Railay from Krabi and why and what you can expect on the journey.



Railay Peninsular Boats

Take a Day Trip To Railay from Krabi

The easiest and most popular way to visit Railay from Krabi is to tae a day trip, you’ll get to visit 6 other islands, have great snorkeling opportunities and a fabulous lunch option too.

The peninsular that Railay is on sits between two areas of Krabi – Krabi Town to the south and Ao Nang to the north.  Ao Nang is the most developed beach area of Krabi. Krabi Town is the capital city of Krabi Province.  We’d arrived in Krabi from Koh Tao, spent a couple of days there, and were heading to Railay to explore.  Unless you’re wanting some serious beach time, or if you’re a climber, then most people will view Railay as a day trip from Krabi, and that’s a really easy way to explore.  You can pick up a day trip that includes exploring 7 islands, a stopover at Railay Beach, snorkeling, and a BBQ on the beach to watch the sunset.  This is the most popular way to visit Railay Beach.

Railay is known for its beaches, the glorious Phra Nanh Beach and cave, and for rock climbing.  This is a great place to come to learn, or to enhance your skills in rock climbing.

Staying on Railay Beach

If you plan to stay on Railay, then it’s worth booking in advance, as the best properties go weeks in advance.

Where is Railay?

Railay is in Southern Thailand on the Andaman Sea.  It’s part of Krabi Province. The area is split into Railay Beach East and Railay Beach West.   Railay can be approached from either Krabi town or Ao Nang, but it is only accessible by water – by fast boat or by longboat.

Here’s our guide on how to get to Railay from Krabi and how to get back to Krabi after visiting Railay. 

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How to Go from Krabi to Railay – Transport Options

In this guide on how to go from Krabi to Railay, we’ll whether it’s best to approach Railay from Krabi Town or Ao Nang, and what the difference in the routes is.  We’ve traveled between Railay and Krabi both ways, and there are definitely pros and cons to each route.

How to get to Railay from Krabi

The primary choice to make when you want to go to Railay from Krabi is whether you want to go there from Ao Nang or Krabi town.  You’ll first have to make your way to where the longtail boat leaves to go to Railay, so factor that into your transport.

You can pre-book a guaranteed connection on the following routes

Krabi town to Railay –includes hotel pick up and a guaranteed connection.  Book a taxi and ferry here.

Krabi town to Railay via Ao Nam Pier – guaranteed connection to East Railay.  Book this through ticket here.

Ao Nang to Railay West – book tickets here.

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Krabi Town to Railay

As I mentioned you can get to Railay from two main areas in Krabi Province.  Let’s start with getting there from Krabi Town.  First, you need to get to the longboat pier in Krabi town.

Krabi Town to the Krabi Main Pier – Klong Jilad Pier

You’ll first need to get to Krabi’s main pier – Klong Jilad Pier.  This is where the longtail boats from Krabi to Railay leave.  Klong Jilad Pier is about 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) and it will take about 10 minutes in a taxi.  You can also take a songthaew from Krabi to the Klong Jilad Pier.  (Songthaews are covered in our guide about Transport in Thailand)

Krabi Town Pier

Longtail Boat from Krabi Town Pier to Railay

Longtail boats from Krabi Town to Railay are supposed to leave every 30 minutes or so from 08:30  until about 17:00.  Longtail boats to Railay from Krabi Town take about 25-30 minutes to get there. 

Krabi Longtail Boat

However, they usually will only go when they have a minimum number of people (usually 8, sometimes more).  And the ticket price per person is 200 THB.  So you can always convince someone to go earlier if you pay more.  Or you wait. 

Longtail Boat leaving Krabi Pier for Railay

If you’re traveling in the low season (we were) then you could wait a long time.  Work on your bargaining skills or prepare to wait.  Or pre-book a transfer and longboat trip here and do away with the need to haggle.

The boats from Krabi Town go from the Klong Jilad Pier to the Railay East Floating Pier.  This is the best way of getting to Railay if you don’t want to get your feet wet, or if you have luggage.  (read on for the alternative route which includes wet feet and no piers…)

Railay East Floating Pier

Once you’ve arrived at Railay East, if you want to go to Railay West, then you just put your back to the sand and the Andaman Sea and set off walking.  It will take you around 3 minutes to walk across the peninsular to Railay West.  This is the main beach area.

Returning from Railay East to Krabi

If you plan on returning to Krabi from Railay East, then the last longtail boat usually leaves at about 17:30.  So plan ahead and make sure you’re there on time. 

Ao Nam Pier Krabi to East Railay

You can also take a longtail boat from Ao Nam Pier in Krabi to East Railay.  This has the benefit (the same as the previous route) of boarding the boat from a pier and landing on the floating pier.  So you’re less likely to get wet.

You can prebook a transfer from Krabi AND the boat to Railay here.

Krabi to Ao Nam Pier

First you’ll need to get to Ao Nam Pier.  This is about 15 minutes in a taxi from downtown Krabi, or its about an hour in the white songthaews. 

Ao Nam Pier to Railay East Floating Pier

It’s a much shorter distance from this pier to Railay than from the main pier in Krabi.  Boats still only go when full , these boats usually need 6 people to leave.  Fares are (usually) 80 THB.

You can prebook this option including a transfer from Krabi here.

Ao Nang to Railay

Ao Nang is the developed beach area of Krabi and long tail boats also leave from here to go to Railay.  It’s a shorter journey to Railay from Ao Nang than it is from Krabi Town.  So if you’re staying at the beach area this is an easier trip to take. And the boats are easy to catch.

You can book tickets on these boats here.

Ao Nang Beach to Railay West

You need to make your way to the east end of the beach area. There’s a ticket office – the Ao Nang Longtail Boat Service Club (the name is in English).  Buy your ticket from here and then follow the instructions.  Boats leave from Ao Nang to Railay West from about 08:00 until about 17:00 every day.  They leave when full.  You can buy tickets from many of the travel agent shops, but there’s no benefit (and you might pay more than the going rate – currently 100 Thai Baht). 

To get on the boats, you’ll need to wade into the water and “hop” in.  Or slide in.  Or crawl over the edge.

Longtail boats at Ao Nang

Arriving at Railay West from Ao Nang

You’ll depart the boat at Railay West the same way you got on.  Into the water and wade up through the surf to the beach.

Returning to Ao Nang from Railay West

The last boat from Railay West to Ao Nang is usually at 17:30, which should get you back to Ao Nang for a sunset beer.  Again, you’ll wait until the boat is full, or full enough.  Pay for your ticket (100THB) on the boat, or just before to the captain.  And landing at Ao Nang is the same as your way here, hop off the boat, wade through the water.

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Our Trip to Railay

We took a longtail boat from Krabi Town to the East Railay floating pier, explored Railay for the day, and then left from West Raily to Ao Nang.  From Ao Nang, we took a Songthaew back to Krabi. It’s an easy day trip.

Songthaews are a familiar form of transport here in Thailand.   They look like (and probably are) converted pickup trucks.  There are bench seats in the back, there’s a roof (most of the time) and, well that’s it.  Sometimes there are steps to get in and out.  Sometimes not.  They’re the local bus service.

Arriving at Krabi Town Pier

We were approached by boat drivers as we approached the pier, offering us their services.  There is a set fee for the route (it was 150 THB, it’s now 200 THB).  And the boat won’t depart until there are at least 8, usually 10 people in it.

Negotiating for a Longtail Boat at Krabi Town Pier

We traveled in low season, and as we’d arrived mid-morning we could probably have waited all day for another 6 people to arrive, but we had time on our hands and so we waited. We were passed from one boatman to another, each losing interest in us quite quickly.  The first offer was for 600 THB in total (i.e. a 4 person rate). After 15 minutes we agreed to pay 400 THB in total and ended up with our own private long-tail boat taking us to East Railay.

We had to pay upfront, this was because our boat had no fuel. And so our payment allowed the boatman to send a motorbike rider off with a fuel can to purchase the means to get us to Railay!

Traveling in a Longtail Boat in Thailand

The long-tail boat or Ruea Hang Yao in Thai is watercraft that is native to Southeast Asia.  That’s a car or truck engine you see in the picture (near the top of the page) and that’s normal.   There’s a long canoe (but wider) like hull,  The engine is mounted on a pole that can swivel through 180 degrees.  There’s a propeller on the end of the drive shaft, which is several meters long.  The prop sits someway back behind the boat.   The engine is water-cooled.

It was a pleasant 40 minute ride to East Railay in this spectacular part of the Andaman Sea. 

Arriving at East Railay Floating Pier

The tide was in when we arrived, and traversing the floating pier was easy.  East Railay was mostly deserted when we arrived.  This side of the peninsular is more built up than the west side, but the beach isn’t as nice. Here’s more on the best beaches to visit on Railay.

East Railay to West Railay

It’s just a 10 minute stroll across to the beautiful West Railay Beach.   From here you can take beginner rock climbing courses, rent a canoe or pick up a longtail boat to Ao Nang. We lunched and watched everything and everyone else go by.  The food was fuel but wouldn’t win any awards.  Prices were similar to Krabi and Ao Nang.

West Railay to Ao Nang

Catching a ride to Ao Nang was easy.  We walked towards the waterline, found someone yelling Ao Nang, paid 100 THB each, and waited.  We had to wait until there were another 7 people before wading out to the boat and taking our seats.

The wind gets up in the afternoon in this part of the Andaman Sea and the longtail boat made hard wet work of the 20 minute trip back to Ao Nang.  The young American in front declared loudly several times that our captain was an amateur and wanted to get off.  I would have been happy to help her leave but restrained myself on the grounds that I don’t fancy the inside of a Thai jail.

Arriving at Ao Nang

Landing on the beach there (there’s no pier) when we had wind against a falling tide meant that everyone got wet.  Not, though as badly as some others we saw, who had to jump out into waist-high water.  However, don’t expect to get your luggage home and dry on this route when the weather isn’t perfect…

Ao Nang to Krabi Town

There are songthaews that ply the route back to Krabi Town and it’s a 50 THB 16 kilometer (10 miles) ride back.

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Map of Longtail Boat pick-up & drop-off points for Krabi to Railay

The full map of the pick-up and drop-off points for longtail boats for the route Krabi to Railay is here.

Map of boats from Krabi to Railay Thailand

The quickest way to get from Krabi to Railay

The quickest way to get to Railay is from Ao Nang Beach, however, in windy weather, this is a more difficult route. The boats here leave from the beach and land on a beach.  You’ll be getting in and out of a boat in (depending on your height) up to thigh or waist-deep water.  It’s difficult if you have luggage.  You can book tickets for this boat trip here.

The easiest way to go to Railay from Krabi

The easiest way to get from Krabi to Railay depends on where you are staying in Krabi.  If you’re staying in Krabi town, then head for the Krabi to East Railay option.  If you’re staying in Ao Nang, then you’ll want Ao Nang to West Railay.  If you don’t want to stay or travel independently, then a day trip to Railay is an easy way to travel.

The best way to go from Krabi to Railay

A day trip from Krabi to the islands, including the beach at Railay is the most popular way to visit Railay from Krabi. 

If you’re traveling to Railay to stay, then I’d recommend taking the East Railay Route, as you’ll land on the floating pier and your luggage will have more chance of staying dry. Otherwise, you have to wade in and out of the water on the Ao Nang to Railay route.

Popular Routes in Thailand

Want to know more about different forms of transport in Thailand? Our guide to Thailand transport is here. And here’s how to travel some of the popular routes around Thailand, your options, and how we did it.

Travel Tips for Exploring Thailand

Final Words on How to Go from Krabi to Railay

Railay really is rather a lovely place to visit and it’s all the more special that you have to get the boat here.  Doing this as a day trip from Krabi and visiting Ao Nang was a great way to explore.  Staying longer – i.e. overnight on Railay means that you’ll get the beach to yourself after all the day trippers have gone and before they arrive the next day.

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