I frequently get asked for Railay, Thailand, travel tips from other travelers who are wondering about ATMs, internet access, and other basics. Railay isn't an island, but it feels like one!
Adventurous, beautiful, and isolated -- Railay, Thailand, is a unique destination that will be on your mind long after you leave. But there are a few things you should know about going there.
- First, read this travel guide for Railay, then use these important travel tips to stay safe and squeeze the most out of your visit!
- Don't Shop: Nearly everything costs a little more in Railay -- purchase toiletries, sunscreen, and consumables before you arrive. Railay certainly isn't the place for souvenir shopping or picking out a new shirt.
- ATMs: Cash is available from a few ATMs found on the main walkways; the usual 180-baht fee applies for each transaction. Bringing enough money for the first few nights is always a good idea just in case the ATM network is down when you arrive.
- Credit Cards: Credit cards are typically only accepted in major resorts and at diving or climbing shops; a commission fee is usually added if you pay with plastic. Don't plan to rely on credit cards -- bring plenty of Thai baht!
- No 7-Elevens: Unlike pretty much the rest of Thailand, there are no 7-Eleven minimarts in Railay. Prices can differ significantly between the many small shops and independently owned minimarts. See some average daily costs for Thailand.
Health and Safety
- Monkeys: Curious macaque monkeys patrol the main paths, beaches, and even make occasional raids into restaurants. Although usually harmless, you should avoid encouraging them -- don't feed the monkeys or taunt them with anything! Read more about how to stay safe around monkeys in Southeast Asia.
- Drugs: Although some people openly smoke marijuana in Railay -- particularly in Ton Sai -- getting caught with drugs comes with harsh penalties in Thailand.
- Dengue Fever: Mosquitoes are a real problem in Railay because of all the caves and mangrove areas with stagnant water. The daytime variety can carry dengue fever. See some cool tips for avoiding mosquito bites.
- Jellyfish: Although rare, jellyfish encounters on the beaches in Railay can take the fun out of a beach day. Sometimes only pieces of tentacles are in the water, but it's still enough to create a sting. Scrape the sting carefully with something to remove stinging cells (they are barbed) and then douse the area with vinegar to help alleviate the pain.
- Cliff Jumping: The tides are extreme on beaches in Railay, particularly on Railay East where most boats arrive. Attempting the cliff jump on Phra Nang Beach during the wrong tide is the difference between a fun plunge and a fatal fall. Don't be the first to jump!
- Solo Climbing: Although 'solo climbing' without ropes is possible on some of the sea cliffs, doing so is extremely dangerous without proper training and experience.
Accommodation in Railay, Thailand
- For Budget Travelers: Aside from Ton Sai, you'll find the cheapest accommodation options at the extreme end of Railay East. You will also find more bars and restaurants for budget travelers. If you don't mind climbing a few -- or a lot -- of stairs to get home, the different bungalow operations located on the hills above Railay East are good bargains with verdant gardens.
- Wi-Fi: Finding reliable Wi-Fi in Railay can be tricky. For budget bungalows set in a lush garden with free Wi-Fi, check out the Railay Garden View Resort.
- Getting Better Deals: Prices for accommodation can nearly always be negotiated in Railay during the Thailand low season (May to October) or if you are staying a week or longer. Negotiating prices is a part of local culture; there is no harm in asking for a discount!
Getting Around Railay
- Walk Everywhere: Every part of Railay, Thailand, can be reached by walking -- good thing, because you won't find any tuk-tuks, motorized vehicles, or taxis!
- Getting in: The longtail boat ride from Ao Nang can get extremely wet -- for passengers and luggage -- depending on the temperament of the sea and the driver; waterproof your electronics and valuables.
- Getting to Ton Sai: The 20-minute scramble from Railay West to Ao Ton Sai starts sharply up slick rocks with fixed ropes; doing the scramble with luggage is extremely difficult. It is possible to walk in the water around the rocky outcrop to Ton Sai Beach from Railay West only during low tide. Otherwise, you'll need to hire a longtail taxi boat to bring you and luggage over to Ton Sai. Team with other travelers to get a better rate on the short ride.