It all started with a romantic getaway at Rayavadee Resort
My wife and I spent Valentine's Day holidays as special guests (aka a complemented stay) at the resort. After visiting 20+ different resorts and hotels and Phuket, we took a 2-hour roadtrip to the edge of Krabi, and took a small ferry to what would later take us to Rayavadee.This excursion was the ulimate blend of luxury getaway and an eco adventure. We were invited as potential event partners since at the time, we ran our own destination wedding and events company. But then the pandemic (and a pregnancy) caused that business to grind to a hault.
And our time as destination event professionals were exciting, though they were sometimes trecherously on-the-go years.
The constant monthly grind of hosting events and seeking new venue partners did enable us special opporunitieis to stay at several incredible resorts in Southeast Asia.
Ravayadee Resort in Krabi to me was the most memorable experience of all stays.
There was never and still has not been a place I've enjoyed that has matched up to Rayavadee's versatility of a jungle-like atmosphere, activities, food, a bungalow village, and friendly wildlife, all at the shores by caves, cliffs, and karts, makes me long to go back.
Railay Beach’s surf and turf
Accessible only by boat due to its enclosed surrounding by giant cliffs, Railay Beach is a smaller beachside coast with enough to see and do for a day or days, depending on your tastes. The views are majestic, with rocky cliffs looking back at you from the sand.
All spectators can’t miss the *ahem* “childbirth cave” a shrine which promises to aid visitors in fertility and reproduction, embedded in the towering cliff that protrudes into the ocean.
Phra Nang Beach is perhaps the most frequented of all sections of Railay, and the entire beach is open to the public.
Be sure to check out Railay Beach’s little tourist village street with enough shops and restaurants to enjoy for all times of the day. Inland, there are options for rock-climbing, hiking, and other outdoor activities.
The friendly jungle of Rayavadee Resort
Spread over 26 acres of lush tropical forests and enshrouded by soaring limestone cliffs is the conversation park of Rayavadee Resort.
This people-friendly jungle park is paved with long winding trails. And if not mindful of where you’re heading, you could find yourself circling the paths for an hour or two.
Although you likely won’t miss spotting any monkeys.
Spectacled Langurs (called “Spectacles” because of the black rings around their eye sockets which resemble spherical sunglasses) and Macaque monkeys can be seen frolicking the palm trees’ limbs above, as shown above too.
You might even wake up to them running across the rooftop of your pavilion if staying overnight. If you’re lucky you may encounter a monitor lizard crossing your path. For bio-diversity enthusiasts, Rayavadee is home to 20 types of plants and tropical trees, and over 250 types of ferns and herbal trees.
Coastal kayaking around caves and boulders
Paddle along the rugged rocky cliffs of Krabi’s famed lime stones, or better yet, go inside some with wondrous sea caves and lagoons. Some of the most oddly shaped boulders can be boated up to all at the same time with aquatic lifeforms teeming beneath.
Be sure to bring a Go Pro or at least have your phone protected in a water=resistant case to capture some truly indescribably amazing beings of nature. With nothing but crystal clear ocean waters and the sky, kayaking and snorkeling along these rocks’ ridges is a must.
Outside of Rayavadee Resort; To embark on a group kakaying or larger boating adventure, you’ll need to go through a tour operator. Where are some of the most recommendable kayaking areas? Some are In the waters right outside of Rayavadee.
Where to stay in Railay? Rayavadee.
For the eco-councious luxury traveler, Rayavadee Resort is an immaculate destination.
First, you'll need to arrive to a pier and wait for the yacht/speedboat to take you there. After maybe 20-30 minutes (or shorter, it just felt longer) you arrive. When we went, tractors had to pull in our boats because the tide was too low. Thankfully they did because those shores were muddy as hell.
Fresh off the boat, we felt as if we'd been transported to The Jungle Book. Rayavadee Resort offers pavilions that make the perfect jungle house, along with fine dining and watersports, and private boat transportation. And Rayadee has front end access to the beach, complete with a cafe that is right on the sand with an exlcusve cave for special dining. You can also walk out beyond Rayavadee's shore and enjoy the beautiful views of the rest of the beach.
A Krabi Insider's Travel Tips
Getting to Krabi from Bangkok is (almost) very simple. Direct flights run daily, although you may have to transfer airports if coming in internationally from outside of Thailand. Just be sure you give yourself at least 5 hours between flights if coming in the same day. Locally if you're traveling within Thailand, airfare is relatively affordable depending on the season. Fortunately, Krabi's airport is only 30-45 minutes away from Ao Nang and easy to get to. If staying in Railay, expect a water transfer and possibly a few tractors to pull your boat from the shallow beach's mud and onto the land.
Food & Fun
Again, Krabi is far calmer than its neighbor to the left, Phuket (only because in comparison, Phuket is a global tourism megacenter) but nevertheless bustling with plenty of options in culinary entertainment. Ao Nang is the place to be for food. A lively street packed with bars, restaurants, and the coveted night market. Be sure to enjoy a glass of Thai Milk Tea, too. Walking the main street of Ao Nang, expect prices to be double or triple what they are in restaurants further from the epicenter.
Krabi isn't limited to Ao Nang of course. Railey Beach is quieter, and there are other beaches with even lesser tourists. If you're looking to do a stint in Railey and then venture to Ao Nang, there is only one way: a fisherman boat. Just be aware that these are the same boats used for island hopping and not your comfy ferries with docks. Ideal if you're a backpacker. Less ideal if you lugging a heavy suitcase that needs to be wheeled onto the sand and hoisted above your shoulder as you walk into the ocean to your boat: not advised, but a fun story to tell.
If you are a natural paradise love like me, Krabi could be your ultimate tropical adventure in southern Thailand. Krabi is relatively quieter compared to its western neighbor of Phuket. Not far from its livelier neighbor, Ao Nang Beach, Railay Beach is a secluded coastline of boundless natural wonder. From limestone boulders in the beach to wildlife in lush jungles, there’s much to explore in this subterranean paradise.
Part of this story orginally appeared in the print version of Hai Life, by Hainan Airlines