Ao Nang or Railay Beach: Where Should You Stay?

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If you are planning a visit to Krabi, then you might come across two of the most popular places to stay – Ao Nang and Railay Beach. These two places are home to some of the beaches in the Krabi Province, and honestly, they have a special place in my heart.

I’ve visited both spots more times than I can count, and each time, I discover something new that just makes me fall in love all over again.

In this article, we’re going to talk about these two incredible places – comparing, contrasting, and maybe even stirring up a bit of friendly debate.

Whether you’re a seasoned Thailand traveler or planning your first trip, stick around as I dive into the nitty-gritty of what makes Ao Nang and Railay Beach unique and different from each other.

Ao Nang or Railay BeacH Where Should You Stay
Ao Nang or Railay Beach

Quick Comparison of Ao Nang And Railay Beach

Here is a quick comparison table of Railay and Ao Nang for those without time to read the entire article!

CategoryAo NangRailay Beach
AccommodationsA wide variety of accommodations from hostels to 5-star resortsA small selection of accommodations from hostels to luxury hotels.
Things To DoPlenty of activities and attractions in and around townLimited to a few things to do in town, such as rock climbing and going to the beach
BeachesDecent Beaches For Swimming and SunbathingFine White-Sand Beaches For Swimming and Sunbathing surrounded by limestone formations

Ao Nang vs Railay Beach: Accommodations

Rainy Season in Thailand Railay Beach
Railay Beach Main Strip

When it comes to accommodation options, both Ao Nang and Railay Beach offer a range of choices that cater to different budgets and preferences.

Ao Nang Accommodations

In Ao Nang, you’ll find everything from budget-friendly hostels to luxurious 5-star resorts. The town is also home to a few all-inclusive resorts that offer guests an entire package of activities and amenities.

If you’re looking for a more local experience, there are also plenty of guesthouses and homestays available in the town. These options tend to be more affordable and give visitors a chance to connect with the local community.

Railay Beach Accommodations

Railay Beach has a smaller selection of accommodation options compared to Ao Nang, but they are just as impressive. The beach is home to luxury resorts and villas, as well as budget-friendly bungalows and guesthouses.

The main difference in terms of accommodations is definitely the serenity. Railay Beach offers a more secluded and peaceful experience compared to the bustling town of Ao Nang.

The trade-off is the smaller selection of places to stay, and it is slightly more expensive in Railay than Ao Nang because of that.

What Is Ao Nang Like?

View from Ao Nang Krabi

Ao Nang is a vibrant beach town located in the coastal province of Krabi, Thailand. It’s a bustling hub that’s filled with restaurants, pubs, and shops lining its main street. But despite all the activity, the town retains a good amount of tranquility – it’s the perfect destination for both relaxation and adventure.

The beach itself is stunning with its white sand and crystal-clear water. You’ll find longtail boats lining the shore, ready to take you to some of Krabi’s best islands and snorkeling spots.

As for accommodation options, there are plenty of choices in Ao Nang – from budget-friendly hostels to luxurious resorts. And when it comes to food, you won’t have any trouble finding a delicious meal at any time of the day.

What Is Railay Beach Like?

Railay-Beach Thailand Bucket List
Famous West Railay Beach

Railay Beach, also known as Rai Leh, is a stunning peninsula located on the Andaman Coast of Thailand. It’s often referred to as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world – and for good reason. Surrounded by towering limestone cliffs and lush greenery, Railay Beach is a true paradise.

One of the major draws of Railay Beach is its secluded location. It can only be reached by boat, giving it a sense of exclusivity and privacy that’s hard to find in other popular beach destinations. From Ao Nang, it takes approximately 20 minutes to get there on a long-tail boat.

The beach town itself is divided into two main sections – East Railay and West Railay. West Railay is known for its calm and scenic beach, perfect for swimming and relaxing.

Meanwhile, East Railay is known for its pier, which is the main point of arrival and departure for other types of boats besides the long-tail boats.

Railay is world-renowned for its rock climbing opportunities, and you’ll often see climbers scaling the cliffs that surround Phra Nang Cave Beach.

📚 Read More: Is Krabi Worth Visiting?

Ao Nang vs Railay Beach: Things To Do

When we discuss the things to do in Ao Nang and Railay Beach, it is important to note that Railay Beach is only a short long-tail boat journey away from Ao Nang.

So technically speaking, it is possible to stay in Ao Nang and still explore what Railay Beach has to offer.

Things To Do In Ao Nang

Tiger Cave Temple near Krabi

Besides the town of Ao Nang and its beach, there are plenty of activities you can do around Ao Nang.

The Tiger Cave Temple is a popular attraction for visitors – it’s a beautiful temple located at the top of a mountain with an incredible viewpoint.

The Dragon Crest Mountain is another great hike that rewards hikers with a breathtaking view of Krabi’s coastal landscape.

Krabi Town is also easily accessible from Ao Nang, where you can find local markets, restaurants, and cultural sites.

For those interested in water activities, Ao Nang offers plenty of options for snorkeling, diving, and island-hopping. You can also rent a kayak and explore the stunning coastline at your own pace.

Things To Do In Railay Beach

Rock Climbing In Railay

Railay Beach may be smaller, but it certainly offers a unique and unforgettable experience. The most popular activity here is rock climbing – with over 700 bolted routes, it’s a dream destination for climbers of all levels.

If you’re not keen on climbing, there are still plenty of things to do in Railay Beach. You can explore the Phra Nang Cave and its stunning beach, or take a boat tour to some of the nearby islands. You can also relax on the beach and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere.

But since it’s not reachable by car, it limits the accessibility of some activities. But of course, you could always take a boat back to Ao Nang, but this would be very inconvenient since the boats don’t depart so regularly.

Ao Nang vs Railay Beach: Which Has Better Beaches

There are plenty of beaches on Ao Nang and Railay Beach, but which one you enjoy more will ultimately depend on your preference.

Ao Nang Beaches

Ao Nang Beach Krabi
Ao Nang Beach

To be honest, Ao Nang beach is nothing to write home about, especially when compared to other beaches in Thailand (such as the ones in Phuket or Koh Samui). However, it still offers a decent spot for sunbathing and swimming with soft sand and clear-ish water.

The bustling atmosphere is definitely a bonus when going to Ao Nang. The beach is often very lively, and you’ll definitely see some fire twirlers there. It is very family-friendly and easy to get to, which makes it very popular among locals and travelers with kids.

Ao Nang Beach is a long strip that eventually becomes Nopparat Thara Beach, where you can also find a quieter and more secluded spot to relax. That beach is slightly better than Ao Nang Beach in my opinion.

📚 Read More: Phuket or Krabi: Which Is Better?

Railay Beaches

Phra Nang Cave Beach

Railay Beach is divided into four beaches – East Railay, West Railay, Phra Nang Cave Beach, and Tonsai Beach. Each one offers its own unique experience, but they all have one thing in common – stunning beauty.

The West Railay Beach is known for its calm and scenic beach, perfect for swimming and relaxing.

The East Railay Beach has a picturesque pier where you can watch boats come and go.

Phra Nang Cave Beach is surrounded by towering limestone cliffs and features a small cave with a shrine inside. This beach is also known for its world-class rock climbing opportunities.

Tonsai Beach (not to be confused with the one on Koh Phi Phi) is a bit more rugged and less developed, offering a more laid-back atmosphere. It’s also known for its excellent rock climbing routes.

In terms of beaches, Railay definitely wins in terms of beauty and serenity.

Ao Nang or Railay Beach FAQs

Is Ao Nang or Railay Beach Better to Stay?

Both Ao Nang and Railay offer unique experiences and choosing between the two depends on your personal preferences. Ao Nang is more lively and bustling, while Railay offers a more relaxed and serene atmosphere.

How Can I Get From Ao Nang to Railay Beach?

You can get from Ao Nang to Railay Beach by taking a long-tail boat or a speedboat on the beachfront.

Is Railay Beach Worth visiting?

Yes, Railay Beach is absolutely worth visiting. It’s considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Thailand with its stunning landscape and peaceful atmosphere.

Does Railay Beach Have Monkeys?

Railay Beach is home to many macaque monkeys, but they are quite used to human presence and don’t usually cause any problems. Just be careful not to leave any food unattended as they may get a bit too curious!

Ao Nang or Railay Beach: Which Do I Prefer?

If you have read this far, you probably know that although Ao Nang and Railay are very close together, they are very different.

I personally prefer Ao Nang more since there are more things to do and it is more convenient (which is very important in this part of Thailand). With only boat access to Railay Beach, you limit yourself to certain activities and can get stuck there if you miss the last boat back.

However, I absolutely love Railay Beach, and I would highly recommend you to stay there for at least one or two nights if you can. This way, you can experience both the bustling town of Ao Nang and the tranquil paradise of Railay Beach.

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