Southeast Asia is an enticing hot spot for escaping the winter cold, exploring rich culture, and enjoying a multitude of adventurous activities. Southern Thailand, in particular, has long stretches of beautiful beaches and plenty of impressive limestone islands. With a one-week trip to Southern Thailand, consider visiting Koh Lanta (koh means island in Thai) and Railay beach in the Krabi province for a tranquil getaway.
Koh Lanta is a gorgeous island in Thailand’s Andaman sea. It’s known for the expansive beach line and dense rainforest. It is a great place for a family trip or for those who want to decompress and avoid crowds. At Koh Lanta, some popular activities include taking long beach walks, boat tours of the nearby islands, snorkeling, relax with beachside massages, sip cocktails at sunset, and explore the remote Mu Ko Lanta National Park.
The best way to get here is to fly into Krabi airport, then either take the mini-van shuttle direct or a ferry from Krabi Town pier. Expect to pad a few hours for travel and be mindful of the transfer schedules.
@reloutnabout enjoying a beach walk at Long Beach in Koh Lanta wearing the Featherweight Tee and Jammer Short
Railay Beach and Tonsai
Fairytale limestone cliffs surrounded by jungle, awe and welcome tourists to the Railay and Tonsai beaches. The only way to access these beaches is by Thailand’s iconic longtail boat from either Krabi Town or Ao Nang. It is quite a scene to witness travelers descend on the beach for a day trip, or even for overnight visits as they carry their bags high overhead to keep from getting wet.
This coastal strip attracts less crowds than Kho Phi Phi and quiets down once the day trippers have left. With monkeys hanging off of roofs, be mindful of their mischievous behavior as you walk around to indulge in cheap fruit shakes, fresh coconuts, and a variety of Thai seafood cuisine. Railay and Tonsai attract rock climbers from around the world to send the exquisite formations, while other travels enjoy the scenery, boat tours, paddle boarding/kayaking, and lazing on the beach. Be sure to book beachside resorts ahead of time since there are limited places to stay at Railay, or make your way over to Tonsai for cheaper resorts amongst the rock climbers. In the evening, get ready for Rasta bar vibes and sometimes a spontaneous fire show before the midnight hour.
View of Railay/Tonsai beaches
1) Reserve a Beach Bungalow or Resort:
Visiting Thailand is quite affordable. During high season (such as in December), it can get a bit pricey. Get ahead of the curve and book a high-end resort or quiet beach bungalow to have effortless access to the heavenly beaches at Koh Lanta and Railay. Staying at Long Beach, Koh Lanta is a short tuk tuk ride from Saladan Pier (the ferry drop off spot). This beach has sweeping views of the sea, amazing sunsets, and phenomenal beach walks. There is an added convenience of being able to meet at the boat tour pickup for a scuba diving adventure or island hopping.
For Railay Beach, the most options of where to stay are on the east side of the island. Although Railay West is where the iconic views are, it is only a 10 minute walk between East to West.
2) Take the 4-Island Boat Tour with Emerald Cave from Koh Lanta
With so many boat tours offered, it can be hard to choose. There is a good reason that one of the most popular is the 4-Island Tour including Emerald Cave. The Emerald Cave is apart of Koh Mook and can only be reached by boat. When you arrive, it is an 80 meter swim through a cave, where on the other side is a garden of eden cove. On this tour, enjoy some snorkeling, fresh fruit on the boat, and a Thai lunch on the white sand beach of Koh Ngai. It is highly recommended to take the speed boat tour instead of longtail boat because it will get to the islands faster, and it will be favorable to those who are susceptible to sea sickness.
Emerald Cove, Koh Mook
3) Scuba Dive near Koh Lanta
Thailand boasts some of the world’s best diving, so this opportunity is not to be missed. If you are new to diving and can spare a few days, sign up for the open water courses in these warm waters. If you are certified, consider blocking out a few days of diving for Koh Haa and Koh Bida to experience the vibrant coral and diverse marine life. With advanced certification, one of the most renowned dives is at Hin Daeng Hin Muang due to stronger currents. It is supposed to be well worth it because you can see manta rays, a rainbow of soft coral, and is home to grey reef and leopard sharks.
A school of yellow snappers at Koh Bida
4) Enjoy a Thai Beach Massage
Thai massage is an ancient practice that is believed to have been developed by Buddhist monks in Thailand 2,500 years ago. Often clothed (especially for beach massages), this form of massage includes gentle stretching and mild pressure along the body’s energy lines to increase flexibility, relieve muscle and joint tension, and balance the body’s energy systems. At Koh Lanta, there are many opportunities to appreciate Thai massage at beach resorts at roughly $10/hour. Soak in the sun’s rays and listen to the sounds of the sea while re-energizing your body with a Thai massage.
Thai beach massage at Long Beach, Koh Lanta
5) Climb at Railay Beach or Tonsai
With massive limestone cliffs jetting out of the jungle and lining the sea, Railay and Tonsai tease climbers to take on these fantastic rock walls. In fact, climbing can be enjoyed by any level with multiple outfits at both beaches offering classes and private guides. Even when traveling solo as a seasoned climber, it is relatively easy to meet other climbers while hanging out at the crags or taking part in the nightlife bar scene and chatting with other travelers. What makes this area such a climbing paradise are the hundreds of diverse routes that have short approaches from the main beaches. Furthermore, you can get to the main hub to grab a fruit smoothie or feast on marvelous Thai seafood.
@reloutnabout climbing at Railay West in the Tech Travel Tee
6) Explore by Kayak
Looking to get exercise and see the incredible views from a different perspective? Kayaking gives you an ideal vantage point gliding through the water. It is easy to rent kayaks from Railay West and row for a few hours around the island. You can also rent paddle boards from beachside shops. A scenic route to consider is from Railay to Ao Nang (or the reverse) to see lovely strips of beaches and the limestone rock formations that surround Railay and Tonsai. Be sure to pad a few hours for a round trip adventure by sea.
Incredible views of limestones while kayaking
7) Relax Every Evening with Beach Sunsets
The most memorable way to close out the day is with gorgeous beach sunsets. Grab a lounge chair and order a drink as the sun sets with orange, red, and with random purple hues that fill the sky.
Sunset at Railay Beach West
Blog post by: Ariel Sultan