Railay Beach – A peaceful getaway from Krabi Town

Railay is a small peninsula located between the city of Krabi and Ao Nang with a beautiful beach, named as Railay Beach. There are high limestone cliffs which block the access from mainland; hence one has to take a ferry to this location. Railay is divided into East Railay, West Railay, Pranang and Tonsai. Tonsai section is the hub for climbers and attracts rock climbers from all over the world.
West Railay Beach (landing point for speedboats)

West Railay Beach (landing point for speedboats)

Living in Ao Nang gives you the options to explore numerous beautiful locations in the vicinity and Railay Beach is a must visit! Apart from rock climbing, Railay Beach also offers you the option to hire a kayak on an hourly basis. There are various spots for snorkeling as well. There are also some good restaurants to eat and resorts to stay in Railay – from bungalows and medium-priced resorts in East Railay to a collection of five-star resorts focused on West Railay.
Pranang Cave
To reach Railay Beach, you can take a speedboat from Noppharat Thara beach which ply at an hourly frequency. They will charge you a mere THB 100 per head for the 20-30 minute journey one side. But the operators only take off when they have around 8-10 customers, hence it is advisable to plan the journey in the morning to avoid waiting for a group to be formed. Also for your return, do check the timing for the last speedboat beforehand.
Quick Map
Promenade at West Railay
The speedboat drops you at West Railay, which has a short promenade with shops and restaurants. There are operators which can help you with Kayaking in West Railay and Rock climbing in East. We did not have prior experience of Rock climbing and also were there for a short period, hence decided to indulge into the familiar territory – Kayaking. You can hire one for THB 200 per hour and explore the rock and coastline nearby. They will offer you a space at their shop to keep your belongings, but it is advisable if you have your own water bag which you can carry along during Kayaking.
Kayaking around Railay
West Railay is quite crowded because it is also the point where ferries plying from Phuket to Ao Nang and the island tours stop by. If you want a quitter place, then you must head to Pranang. There is walking path from Railay Bay Resort which leads you towards east. From there you can walk along Rajavadee resort to reach Pranang caves and beach. It is an approximately 20 mins walk.
The sea bed on the beach has a steep decline. Within a few meters you will actually feel like swimming in nearly open water. If your returning back in the evening, owing to low tide your speedboat might have to half much before hitting the Noppharat Thara Beach. If you have around 4-5 hours during the day, you must plan this visit to Railay and probably after the swim and kayaking, your body will enjoy the massage back in Ao Nang before retiring for the day.
A Rock climber at Railay
And while you are at Krabi dont miss out a day trip on a 4 island Sunset BBQ trip
If you have any questions, dont hesitate to mail us at info.nameplaceanimalthing@gmail.com 

4 Island Sunset BBQ Tour

You must add the 4 island Sunset BBQ tour in your itinerary when visiting Krabi! Barring a few exception, most of the full and half day tour in Ao Nang begin early morning. Even if you are taking the first flight to the closest airport at Krabi from Bangkok or taking a ferry from Phuket to Ao Nang, you will miss out on most of the tours for that day.
Railay and chicken Island krabi

Railay and chicken Island

We were taking the first ferry out from Phuket to Ao Nang and were scheduled to check into our hotel by 12. Since we did not want to lose out on the limited time at hand in Ao Nang, we searched for possible options and found that Krabi 4 Island Sunset BBQ tour by Longtail boat was the best bet we had. Since the tour pick up from our hotel was around 12:45 p.m., minutes after scheduled arrival at Ao Nang, we wanted to ensure that we don’t end up booking and then missing the tour. Hence we mailed the team at KrabiTrek much in advance and they were extremely helpful in understanding the situation and advised to stay in touch with the tour operator Khun Da once we reach Ao Nang so that we dont miss the 4 island sunset bbq tour.

You can also click here to book your 4 island tour with Trazy departing from Krabi!

Our ferry was delayed by 30 minutes but Khun Da confirmed that they would still arrange a pick up for us by 1:15 p.m. We had just enough time to check into our room, change and immediately rush to the pickup point to enjoy our 4 island sunset bbq tour. At the departure point, we discovered that ours was a small group of 8 adults and 2 children which meant that we had enough space on the longtail boat. As luck would have it, we were soon upgraded to a speedboat as they planned to combine the passengers in two tail boats. Our first stop on the 4 island sunset bbq tour for approx. 30 mins was Poda Island. We got off with our snorkeling equipment but there were less fishes and more of broken corel and sharp stones near the coastal area. As an alternative, we took a walk along the beach and then just relaxed ourselves for the journey ahead.
Our next island on the checklist was Chicken Island. No points for guessing why it was called so. A rock naturally carved into a form giving an impression of a skinny chicken. Honestly it looked more like camel with a humpback resting on the ground. The speedboat was anchored a little far from the island for snorkeling. Only when we jumped into the water, did we realize that it was quite deep and almost felt like open water snorkeling. Experiencing strong currents, the sea bed level rose steeply as we swam closer to the island. It was definitely quite an exhaustive experience and a little scary too for someone who doesn’t do this regularly. Some members of the non-snorkeling gang on the deck were throwing pieces of bread into the water to attract fishes. But who would have imagined that this would also attract 3 large jelly fishes as well in the same area where everyone was snorkeling. Almost everyone panicked and rushed to the deck and that was the end of it. The guide also agreed that it wasn’t the best place to snorkel, but also sighting a jelly fish in that area was unusual.
Tup Island
By now it was almost late evening and we were headed for the final destination of our 2 island sunset bbq tour with a delicious barbeque preparation awaiting at Tup Island. It is a small island with white sand and blue crystal clear water around. Tup Island is connected to another small island (Thale Waek) on the opposite side though narrow sand bar which sometimes is submerged in calf deep water. If you reach amongst the first few ferries to reach, it will be less crowded and you can enjoy the silent beautiful view of sun setting over the horizon while your tour guide prepares the pre-cooked grills. Our meal comprised of boiled rice, grilled chicken with seasoning and shrimps. We saw some other tour operators prepare fresh meal for their group. Also since they are carrying specific quantity, you will have to be cognizant about the extra quantity you request for. Once done with the meal, the tour operators got together and entertained us with some interesting fire acrobatics in the dark.
The only light source available on the island by the time we were heading out was the light bulb aboard the ferry. Just when we sat on the deck to enjoy the cool breeze on the way back, our speed boat engine and lights were turned off near an island. We thought there was some malfunction, but our guide briefed us about our last and most spectacular experience of the tour – witnessing phospherscent plankton underwater. For once we all thought he was kidding when he asked us to jump into the water despite it being pitch black. Soon he filled a bucket of water and splashed it on the deck and we could see what he was talking about. Even though it might scare you, but don’t think twice before jumping into the water. As we jumped in with our snorkeling gear, all we could see under the water in the abyss were glowing fireflies. The guide very aptly described the experience as one that the camera inside our memory will never forget. We reached the dock around 8 p.m. and had a cab waiting to drop us back to the hotel.
Bioluminescent Plankton Credit: Maldives.net

In case you are wondering which was the 4thisland? – it was Railay beach which we crossed right in the beginning and since it was crowded, we all requested the guide to skip it and utilise that time at Tup island instead.

A few things to keep in mind in order to enjoy this memorable experience:
  1. Check in advance with the tour operator on the availability and if it’s not too crowded, you can actually pay them when you arrive at the docking station
  2. Since the tour starts during the peak afternoon, it is advisable to carry your shades put lots of sunscreen on
  3. Things to carry – towel, sunscreen (atleast SPF 50), sunglasses, waterproof bag, snacks, swimming trunks
  4. The tour operator will provide you – snorkeling kit, fruits (watermelon), water bottles, food at Tup Island, pick up and drop from hotel, Insurance
 Also read about our experience at Railay Beach while at Krabi.
If you have any questions, dont hesitate to mail us at info.nameplaceanimalthing@gmail.com 

Best way to travel from Phuket to Ao Nang

Rassada Pier
The best way to travel between the two locations is to hop on a a ferry from the two piers in Phuket. This is definitely a cheaper and more enjoyable experience. While hiring a cab would set you back by minimum 3,000 THB / person and will take atleast 3 hours by road, the ferry on the other hand will take 2 hours time and set you back by a mere 700 THB / person.
However, the flipside is that unlike a cab which can be booked for any hour of the day, the Ferry service is functional only in the morning around 8:30 a.m. The ferries ply not just to Ao Nang, but also to other locations such as Krabi Town, Koh Lanta, Phi Phi Island, Langkawi and Railay Beach. There are two piers in Phuket – Rassada Pier and Sea Angel Pier. Both of them are located 10 mins from Phuket Town.
Sea Angel Pier
There is also a pick-up service offered by the operators and the cost would depend on which part of the town are you residing. One thing you must ensure is that you book the tickets in advance to block a seat. The online portals providing booking service offer a higher rate, hence advisable to check with a few agents on-ground to get the best rates.
Nopparat Thara Pier
From the pier in Ao Nang, Nopparat Thara, one can take tuk-tuk to the destination. The other option is that you can ask your hotel to arrange for a pick up. Most of the places are not more than 5-15 mins away from the pier. You can also visit Phuket Ferry for more details on schedule.

Visa on Arrival in Thailand – things you need to know

CNTraveller
If you are planning a trip to Thailand for not more than 15 days, then you have the option of securing a Visa on arrival provided your passport is valid for not less than 6 months from the date of application. A lot of people travelling to other cities in Thailand from Bangkok will be taking a connecting flight from Don Mueang International Airport. If this is the case, then it will be critical to calculate the amount of time you can end up spending in transit, including the time required for processing Visa on arrival. A few things that you can keep into account:
FLIGHT TIME – In case a lot of flights are landing around the same time, chances are that you will find a longer queue at the Visa counter. Hence it is best to check before you embark on your journey on the number of flights landing at the airport within +/- 1 hr window. Around midnight, there are a lot of flights from South East Asian countries.
VISA PROCESSING FORM – Once you get off, would suggest you follow the signage and immediately rush towards the Visa processing counter. Just as you enter the Visa section, there will be a counter you will get a form which you need to fill. It will prompt you for basic details about your passport, hotel you will be staying in and the connecting flight etc. If you are staying at a hotel, keep the confirmed booking status of your reservation handy. You will also need to carry a passport size photo (4 cm x 6 cm) which needs to be attached. Also please carry your full paid return ticket which is usable within 15 days since the date of entry. Make sure you fill your form quickly as within minutes, you will see the queue in front of the Visa counters pile up
EXPRESS VS REGULAR PROCESSING – There is a separate queue for Express Service where in you end up paying 200 THB / person additional to expedite the processing. But unless you are in a major hurry and the queue is extremely long for regular service, there express service will not make too much of a difference. The Visa processing fee for regular service is 1000 THB / person. Also please ensure that you are carrying this amount in cash in local currency. We had got the currency exchanged from Delhi itself to avoid spending additional time on the airport for this. Also we had read in couple of places that they also accept this fee in USD, but this is not the case. The payment needs to be done strictly in THB.
CASH REQUIREMENT – As per the Visa laws, the applicant must possess means of living expenses at the amount of 10,000 THB / person and 20,000 THB / person accordingly. But we dint see anyone being questioned on this element, including us.
Last but not the least, keep into account atleast an hour (post 11:00 p.m.) and two hours (during day time) travel time between the two airports to be on the safe side.