During our stay at Ao Nang Beach, Krabi, in Thailand, we took a long-tail boat to visit Railay Beach.
This beach is located around a small bay called Railay Bay and is inaccessible by road or on foot because of the large limestone cliffs and rock mountains surrounding the peninsula. However, long-tail boats and speed boats frequently come and go throughout the day to visitors who stay in other nearby beach areas like us.
From Ao Nang Beach, visiting Railay Beach is a quick 15-minute boat ride and costs 200 TBH per person for a round trip.
Aside from swimming in the stunningly clear turquoise green water and relaxing on the extremely fine powder sand beaches, climbing limestone cliffs is a popular activity in Railay.
The main streets, with lots of bars and restaurants, also had a lot of climbing service shops so people of any level of climbing experience could come without their own gear and enjoy climbing on vertical limestone cliffs with the support and instruction from local staff.
But for us, climbing and beaches were not the reason to come here. Instead, we came here for a short hike to visit some caves. The bat cave was our first destination.
The limestone cliff with the bat cave stands between Railay West Beach and Phra Nang Beach, the most popular beach at the peninsula’s tip, and the long tail boats coming from Ao Nang Beach only go to Railay West Beach.
We walked through the main street connecting the west and east beaches. It was still relatively early, and the street was quiet as many shops were not opened yet.
Railay East Beach has a floating boat deck for people from downtown Krabi. The east side of the peninsula seemed to have most resort hotels, and the beach line was almost entirely covered with mangroves.
All people there were heading toward the bay tip on a wave-washed narrow path, so we followed them.
The bay’s tip is a gigantic limestone rock mountain with a beautiful blue lagoon in its center. But Thailand had been a dry season, and I read that some people who went there recently wrote that it is dried now, so we walked through a path detouring around the bottom of the cliffs and leading us to Phra Nang Beach.
The Phara Nang Beach
Phra Nang Beach was definitely famous, and already so many people were there.
A big group of climbers gathered by the cliff; other crowds stood along the beach to take photos of beautiful turquoise water and limestone islands.
At one end of the beach, at the bottom of the cliff, there were two small caves.
Despite the crowds of people on the beach, it was relatively quiet around the caves. People seemed to hesitate a bit to come close to the caves for an obvious reason.
Apparently, the caves were Thai shrines and piles of colorful wooden sticks that looked like phalluses. Though many were more modest looking, some were pretty graphic and detailed.
But we were used to seeing these kinds of things and shrines in Japan, and because a few couples were earnestly praying for a long time there, I assumed they must have had something to do with fertility and later, after googling, I found I was right.
The Bat Cave
The bat cave was supposed to be located at another end of Phra Nang Beach, but high tide covered the central part of the beach in the morning around this time of the year. I believe the entire beach should be above the water in the afternoon during low tide.
Thankfully, the water level was not that high, around my knee high, and people who wanted to go to the other side were walking in the water to cross that part.
We already changed our shoes from sandals for getting on the long-tail boat to our regular Altra trail runners. Feeling too lazy to change again, we decided to go into the water with our Altra, as these shoes are pretty fast dry and don’t keep water inside like Gore-tex shoes. It worked very well whenever we had to walk through heavy rains both on the paved road and in the mountains.
But this time, the beach sands were too fine, like powdered sugar, and we had a hard time getting rid of all sand entirely from our shoes. For the next couple of days, even after we thoroughly washed the shoes and they got dry, sands still came off from the shoes.
This side of the beach was much quieter.
Finally, getting to the end of the beach, we entered the forest covering the lower part of another gigantic rock cliff. Soon, the path through the trees reached the bottom of a steep upslope with a thick rope and other places to hold, so it was easy to go up on it.
After walking a bit and passing a few cave wall climbers, we arrived at the bat cave.
As its mouth was wide open, stalactites were pretty weathered and could no longer keep their delicate forms.
Still, the cave was fun to explore, and we found a way to go further into dark holes where bats family hanging from the walls upside down to rest, and I managed to get a nice photo of them.
According to maps, there should be a path to go through the cave and reach the other side of the cliff.
We did find a bamboo ladder placed leaning toward another dark hole.
Actually, a man only in his speedo and hiking sandals with a headlight came from behind, disappeared into the hole, and came out of it again after a while. We also heard some human voices, probably in or beyond the hole.
Our original plan was to go through the hole to the other side, walk down to Railay West Beach, and proceed to Tonsai beach, then walk through a nature path that should run through forests to the Diamond Cave by Railay East Beach. We had a GPS track for the route and headlights.
But we didn’t feel like it and had to go back and pack for the next morning’s checkout; we changed the plan and headed back the same way we came and went to the Diamond Cave via Railay East Beach.
The Diamond Cave (Phra Nang Nai Cave)
Diamond Cave (Phra Nang Nai Cave) is a show cave with well-maintained passageways and light-ups of beautiful stalagmites and stalactites. To enter, we paid 200BTH per person.
Although the size of the cave was not the biggest of all caves we have seen, about 10 to 15 minutes to follow the entire passageways, I think it is still worth visiting.
The big cave hall decorated all over with various shapes of delicate and beautiful stalagmites and stalactites was quite impressive, and we really enjoyed it. It was easily accessible from the main street too.