Railay Adventure Sports
Railay is arguably the best bolted winter rock climbing area in the world, with over seven hundred bolted routes up limestone faces with breathtaking views over the ocean. There are only a few routes suitable for beginners, which get very crowded during the high season, so beginners are advised to take their introductory course on Koh Phi Phi, which has a greater number of easy routes.
The kayaking around the peninsula at Railay affords a less strenuous way than climbing to get up close to the sensational scenery. Several of the limestone islets off Phra Nang beach have sea caves eroded into their bases, including a few large enough to beach a kayak in. Paddling into caves and through subterranean passages is particularly interesting, but watch out for low, jagged ceilings. For those with more ambition, a short open-water crossing (about one hour of steady, heavy paddling) leads to the island of Koh Poda, which has beautiful and relatively isolated beaches, plus some decent snorkeling. A bottle of water, a hat and plenty of sun protection are essential!
Superlatives fail when attempting to describe Railay, when seen from above. A fact that most visitors never become aware of is that you don't need to be a rock climber to get fairly high above the beaches. The only gear you need is a stout pair of sandals.
The easiest trek is to go to Phra Nang beach, then walk all the way to its northern end. The enormous rock pillar in front of you and separating you from West Railay beach is called the Thaiwand Wall, and is hollow. You can trek right through it to the West Railay side. All you have to do is follow the other people who will be going the same way and you will eventually, after climbing fixed ladders and holding on to fixed ropes, emerge in a cave high above West Railay Beach.
You may recognise the view, as it appears in thousands of posters all over Thailand promoting Krabi province. Just don't forget to take two torches with you, as the hollow insides of the Thaiwand Wall are completely pitch black. Those terrified of bats should stay away. After retreating back to Phra Nang beach the way you came, you will want to jump straight in the water to wash off all the mud with which you will by this stage be covered. From the beach, up to the cave and then back down again takes less than an hour.
Take a change a clothing.
If the above trek has whetted your appetite, maybe you'd like to check out the Princess Lagoon too. On the right hand side of the path from Phra Nang beach to East Railay beach is a huge limestone karst. Like the Thaiwand Wall, this one is also hollow. Not hollow from side to side, like the Thaiwand wall, but from a large hole in the top down to a sea-level lagoon. Using fixed ropes you scramble up its slippery and muddy side and then, after following the right-hand of two trails, down into its middle, you come to a hidden glen where not a sound disturbs a silence so deep you can hear a leaf fall.
Descend further and you eventually reach the eerie Princess Lagoon. One of Thailand's most special places, the lagoon is breathtakingly beautiful, particularly when lit from below by turquoise light streaming in from an underwater window to the karst's exterior. Try not to step in, though, as the bottomless muck has quite an appetite for trekkers' footwear: you really don't want to have to climb back up barefoot. The last ten metres down to the lagoon require ropes when muddy and are dangerous even when dry. On the way out, trek back up to the point where the trails divided earlier and you took the right-hand trail. Take the other trail and after five minutes you will emerge at the "Low Viewpoint", which isn't so low and affords lovely views over the East beach.
It is possible to climb right to the topmost point of the hollow karst, called the "High Viewpoint", but you need a guide and a rope. This is technically a rock climb as it requires a rope to ensure safety, but it is too easy a route to really qualify as rock climbing. This route is so easy it is virtually a staircase made of stone, and can be ascended by anyone fit enough to make it up the muddy scramble necessary to get to its base. From the top of this route you walk across dagger rock to the topmost point on the karst where, underneath you, is spread out the entire Railay peninsula, in a majestic panorama of peaks, palms and beaches. This is one of the best and most easily accessible views of Railay. Almost anyone can get to see it but few ever do, as guides don't like the muddy scramble to its base, so don't encourage clients to ascend it.
We offer a guided trekking/climbing day-trip to Railay - click here for more.
Island-Hopping and Snorkelling
Railay is a good place from which to take an island-hopping and snorkeling trip to the lovely and strangely-shaped nearby islands. Deep-pocketed Rayavadee guests can charter the resort's Chinese junk.
Koh Tup vies in beauty with Koh Poda - don't forget your sun-block.
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