Thailand’s Triple Crown: The Beaches of Railay, Tonsai and Phra Nang

Long tail to Krabi

Long tail to Krabi

When you live on an island in Thailand, one would think that perhaps holidays are not necessary. After all, isn’t a tropical island the place most people want to vacation in the first place? In defense of sounding completely greedy and ungrateful, I must say that I have come to the conclusion that when one gets used to living in a place–any place be it Thailand or Toronto–it soon feels humdrum and the itchy feet syndrome begins afresh.

So, when an old friend came to visit, Steve and I decided it was the perfect time to take a little trip and show her a couple of Thailand’s most famous beaches; Railay, Tonsai and Phra Nang in Krabi province.

Arriving at Railay East

Arriving at Railay East

A paradise lover’s dream, the Railay Beach peninsula is a remote outcrop of land on Thailand’s west coast. Though it’s not an island, it can only be reached by long tail boat…the jungle is simply too lush for roads to venture through.

The long tail boat pulls up in a lagoon in East Railay, the mangrove lined back side of the peninsula. Watch your flip flops as you hop into the water and walk through boggy terrain to the main path. From here, signs direct visitors to the triple crown of Thai beach perfection; Railay, Tonsai and Phra Nang.

Steve loves Railay Beach!

Steve loves Railay Beach!

Touristy Railay wins the prize for the softest, whitest sand. This is the most visited among the three beaches, which shows in the number of people dotting the beach and the steady hum of Bob Marley pulsing from the myriad beach bars lining the water. Grab a massage from one of the many women wandering the beach, or simply join the fray of body surfers bobbing in the azure sea.

Toes on Tonsai

Toes on Tonsai

Reaching Tonsai is more of a trek. Steve and I set out on a trail that began as a paved walking path, yet suddenly veered off into a vertical climb through  jungle infested mountain. Terrified as I am of all things slithery, this was a bit alarming to me. Yet 40 minutes later we emerged unscathed, rewarded for our breathless efforts by the view of golden sand, emerald water and towering rock formations.

Tonsai is a favorite among the rock climbing set, and the faces of the jagged karsts are considered world class.

Tonsai is a favorite among the rock climbing set, and the faces of the jagged karsts are considered world class.

Phra Nang is tops for its sheer, wild beauty. Located on the south-facing side of the island, the coastline here is the most rugged. The waves roll in unimpeded from the Indian Ocean, The Beach (Leonardo Dicaprio, remember?) looking islands rise from the horizon and one has a general sense of wonderment at the immensity of the rock formations rising hundreds of feet in the air overhead.

Leslie in Wonderland

Adventures in Wonderland

Tips for a chic adventure:

Plenty of bungalows pepper the Railay peninsula, including the Railay Garden View Resort. Perched on a hill looking over Railay East, this collection of thatched roof bungalows offers the basic accommodations–think mosquito net, bed, toilet–for a very reasonable 600 Thai Baht ($20 based on two people). The best part? Watch for monkeys leaping amongst the treetops from your private deck.

Save yourself the trek and take a long tail boat to Tonsai (unless you are the hiking type like Steve, then by all means!).

Amble up to one of the funky beach bars to try a Samson bucket! This tasty concoction made of Thai whiskey and Red Bull comes in an actual bucket and is meant to be enjoyed with a few friends.

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10 responses to “Thailand’s Triple Crown: The Beaches of Railay, Tonsai and Phra Nang

  1. Hi, It’s posted now. Turned out your post was so good we pretty much posted the whole thing! Thanks again, it’s always very much appreciated. All the best to both of you! 🙂

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