Epic Sober Beach Guide: Exploring Railay Beach Without Alcohol

Do you dream of divine beach vacations? One of my favorite feelings in the world is experiencing the warm sun on my skin, watching the ocean lap up at the coast, and sipping on a fresh coconut!

It wasn’t always this way – beach vacations used to be associated with a whole lot of booze and alcohol-infused nights out. I felt like I couldn’t relax unless there was an alcoholic beverage in my hand, as if life wasn’t “special” enough if I wasn’t drinking.

Stepping into a life of sober travel was intimidating at first, and yet now, I can’t IMAGINE my life without sobriety! My travels have taken me to the most magical places on earth, and I’m so deeply grateful to experience them through clear, sober eyes.

Railay Beach is one of these magical places. Imagine aqua-blue waters that are crystal clear, surrounded by stunning karst cliffs jutting out from the water and the rocky coast, covered in electric green trees and inhabited by playful monkeys. That’s just a taste of the adventure that awaits you in Railay Beach.

Exploring Railay Beach without alcohol is a transformative experience, because it’s a place that demands your attention and in my case, devotion. There’s a Mary Oliver quote that comes to mind when I think of Railay Beach – “Attention is the beginning of devotion.”

Can Railay Beach be really touristy? Sure, I’ll give you that. There are parts that are very touristy. However, the natural beauty remains and you’ll discover beautiful secluded beaches, deep forest hikes, encounters with local wildlife, and peaceful sunrises and sunsets on its coasts.

Thailand isn’t known for it’s sober-friendly spots, in fact I’d say Thailand is a country that a lot of partiers seek out. But you can absolutely have a transformative and meaningful sober trip here, and I’m extremely excited to share with you my sober guide to Railay Beach. Exploring Railay Beach without alcohol will not only give you an adventure of a lifetime, it will nourish and transform.

Lookout point in Railay Beach viewing the ocean and karst mountains

Getting There

Railay Beach is accessible from Krabi, Thailand. You can fly into Krabi’s International Airport, and I would recommend staying in either Krabi Town, Ao Nang Beach, or Railay Beach itself. Railay Beach is located on a peninsula in Krabi Province, but it can’t be accessed from the mainland due to the mountains surrounding it. You’ll have to access Railay Beach by boat.

From Krabi International Airport & Krabi Town

The closest port to Krabi Town is the port located at Ao Nam Mao Beach. It is a 25 minute drive from the center of Krabi Town to Ao Nam Mao Beach, and you can use a motorbike, taxi, or Grab ride to get there. Once you arrive at Ao Nam Mao Port, you can purchase a one-way ticket to Railay Beach for 100 baht ($2.85USD) at the ticket counter. You will wait for the boat to fill up with other people, and once they have a full boat you will travel by longtail boat to Railay Beach. The wait is normally 10-20 minutes in my experience.

The longtail boat ride to Railay Beach takes about 20 minutes from the port, and the boat will take you to a port on Railay Beach East.

From Ao Nang Beach

Ao Nang Beach is a beautiful and famous beach in Krabi, and a more affordable place to stay than Railay! It’s also incredibly easy to travel from Ao Nang to Railay Beach, whether you’re planning to spend the day or multiples days there.

There is a ticket booth where the road meets the beach in Ao Nang, and there you can buy tickets to Railay Beach on the day of your trip! You can travel to Railay Beach between 8:00am and 6:00pm for 100baht ($2.85USD) each way. If you decide to leave Railay Beach after 6:00pm, the rate will increase to 150baht ($4.36USD) or more, depending on the boat driver.

Thai longtail boat in Railay Beach

Where To Stay

In Railay Beach

The Railay Phutawan Resort is a piece of paradise that’s tucked away behind the other beachside hotels in Railay Beach East. You’ll enjoy the same luxurious grounds and views, for a fraction of the price of a luxury hotel. I recommend booking a room with a poolside or seaside view. These rooms are bright, large, and beautiful! You’ll pay between $40.00-$50.00 USD per night, depending on the room you choose.

The resort features a stunning infinity pool that overlooks the ocean and is nestled between picturesque rocky cliffs. The pool has a bar and restaurant that serves you around the clock and you can easily charge everything back to your room for ease. You can enjoy a swim at anytime of day, but I recommend the late afternoon when you can watch the monkeys on the island migrate! You can watch hundreds of monkeys moving across the island with a non-alcoholic beverage in hand!

 The resort also has a complimentary breakfast which is large and incredibly delicious! You’ll find Western and Thai style option in the spread – eggs and pancakes made to order, as well as a buffet with Thai dishes and fresh fruit and coffee! We started our day at the buffet each morning – it was divine. 

Railay Phutawan Resort surrounded by mountains and greenery in Krabi

In Ao Nang Beach

As I mentioned, Ao Nang is a famous and beautiful beach a mere 10 minute longtail boat ride from Railay! Accomodation tends to be less expensive, and you’ll have the opportunity to rent a motorbike and easily explore the rest of Krabi!

AoNang Lodge is an absolute oasis! The rooms are large and spacious, with two floors. The beds are luxuriously comfortable, and boast a magnificent view of the rocky cliffs of Krabi. The lodge is owned by the nicest family, who we enjoyed many deep and meaningful conversations with. There was also a strong WiFi connection, which was of the utmost importance for me. Aonang Lodge is the perfect stay for the digital nomad!

A night at Aonang Lodge costs about $35.00USD/night, and it is well worth the price. Be sure to book in advance since there are only seven rooms, and they book up pretty quickly!

Ao Nang Lodge with poolside view beneath the mountain

What To Do – Railay Beach East

Explore Local Restaurants in Railay Beach East

Exploring Railay Beach without alcohol is just as sensual and divine you could imagine! The food here is absolutely divine, and you’ll find so much to savor. Railay Beach East is a less populated beach and features more local dining options. This beach isn’t a spot for swimming or lounging, but it’s a good place for seaside restaurants. It’s also a great place for grabbing a longtail boat for island hopping! Everyone on the beach is incredibly kind, and we enjoyed walking down to Railay Beach East in the morning for a walk and a fruit shake! 

Since it faces the East, it’s also the PERFECT spot for catching the sunrise! Now that you are traveling sober, you can watch the sunrise because you won’t be hungover! We woke up before the sun and made it down to the dock to watch the sunrise come up over the rocky cliffs and the ocean. To say it was stunning is an understatement – it was absolutely magical. 

Thai Pineapple Fried Rice
Thai Barbeque Shrimp
Thai Papaya Salad

Adventure into Phra Nang Cave

My favorite way to experience epic sober travel is through adventure. Railay Beach has so many incredible adventures waiting for you to discover. Phra Nang Cave is located on Railay Beach East. Entry to the cave is free and there is a guide outside the cave to tell you about the cave and answer any questions you may have!

The cave is small but really beautiful. Be careful – it’s also home to many bats! We enjoyed walking around the cave but desperately wish that we put on bug spray so…be sure to do that! Even with all the bats, we got mauled by mosquitoes! 

Explore local islands with a boat tour

Island hopping was one of my favorite experiences we enjoyed in Railay Beach! You can book a tour in advance that includes lunch, or walk on down to the dock and join a tour the day of. Booking in advance secures your spot!

We arranged a half day tour and were able to get a private experience for the four of us (my partner and I, and his parents). This was such an insane experience! The driver took us to four different nearby islands and we were able to get out and explore, swim, or snorkel.

We ended up loving snorkeling the most, so we got out and explored on the first island, and then snorkeled near the others! We were able to see rainbow fish, sergeant majors, moorish idols, crabs, and even an albino lobster! It was a beautiful experience snorkeling and I especially loved riding on the longtail boat around the islands for the day.

This might be my favorite activity for exploring Railay Beach without alcohol! You’ll enjoy an epic day exploring islands, snorkeling in that electric blue water, and taking in the beauty of Southern Thailand!

Island in the ocean in Railay Beach Thailand
Island in the ocean in Railay Beach Thailand
Island in the ocean in Railay Beach Thailand

Climb on Krabi’s epic karst mountains

Railay Beach is world-renowned for outdoor rock climbing! I didn’t take advantage of this, and I regret it! My partner, Jeremy, is a huge climber and did go climbing while we were in Railay Beach! Jeremy has climbed twice now with Spider Rock Climbing and highly recommends it! 

Here’s his account of his day climbing with Spider Rock:

Railay Beach is a world renowned climbing destination, and it’s not hard to see why. The limestone cliffs are stunningly beautiful, the rock is full of unique holds, and the views are just incredible. 

There are a number of experienced climbing guides on Railay Beach, and I don’t think that you can go wrong. However, I will absolutely recommend that you check out Spider Rock! The owner, Nut, took me on 6 different routes, knowing every single hold so that he could shout up advice from the ground if you ever need some help. He has been leading people on climbing trips for over 15 years, and he was a blast to chat with throughout the day.

I walked up to the shop at 9am, and signed up for a half day of climbing. We climbed for over 4 hours, with Nut catering an experience with interesting climbs, building to a challenge that was perfect for our level. These guys are incredible and deserve the support!

Man rock climbing on a karst mountain in Railay Beach, Thailand
View from the top of a mountain in Railay Beach, Thailand
Woman rock climbing on a karst mountain in Railay Beach, Thailand

Delve into the jungle and hike to Railay’s Hidden Lagoon

Hiking might be one of the best ways to explore Railay Beach without alcohol. I love hiking because it’s such an embodied practice. It not only gets your heart pumping but it instills this wonderful sense of adventure in me. I have hiked all over Asia, and this remains one of the most memorable hikes of my life. Shortly after beginning, we were covered head to toe in mud!

You can access the head of the trail at the end of Railay Beach East, on the walking trail from the East Beach to the Phra Nang Beach! You’ll weave through a rocky walking trail and find the trail entrance on your left hand side. It’s a straight shot up the side of the cliff and there is a rope for you to hold onto. Use the rope to scale the side of the cliff and climb the muddy path!

Once you reach the top, you’ll find a nice walking trail that will take you to a beautiful look out point. We met the nicest Korean man on the way and he got some cute photos of us! I still can’t get over the view from this lookout point! If you are looking for a short and more accessible hike, you can come to the lookout point and head back – it’s worth the journey!

After the look out point, you’ll follow the trail a short while and then come to a rocky decent. You’ll hold another rope and descend down a muddy slope to the next point in the trail. Be careful if it recently rained – it’s quite slippery!

At the bottom of this decent is where you’ll find the cliffside that takes you to the lagoon. There isn’t a rope here, so you’ll have to rock climb down the side of the cliff to access it. It looks really intimidating, and I almost didn’t attempt it. Jeremy (the rock climber) did the descent and determined that I could do it. I followed him down slowly and with some instruction – it was well worth the trip! 

You’ll find a beautiful and serene little lagoon surrounded by rocky cliffs! We dove in and spent some time swimming around and enjoying the secluded little paradise. This is a challenging but incredibly fun hike!  

My boyfriend and I smiling together at a lookout point in Railay Beach Lagoon
An ocean lookout point in Railay Beach Lagoon
My boyfriend and I smiling and making a heart together at a lookout point in Railay Beach Lagoon

What To Do – Railay Beach West

Railay Beach West is more “touristy” beach and is full of eclectic shops, restaurants, and a beach where you can swim and lay out in the sun. It also boasts the best spot to catch the sunset! Cotton candy sky doesn’t begin to cover it – you’ll be immersed in the brightest orange, red, and purple skies as the sun sets. It will take your breath away!

After a day of island hopping, hiking to the lagoon, and eating delicious food – plan to spend your evenings at Railay Beach West! There are a wonderful amount of beautiful restaurants to spend your evening at, with tons of fresh juices and delicious mocktails to enjoy. You’ll find Thai food, barbecue, Indian Food, and there’s even a vegan food stand for plant based delights! There’s also tons of live music in the area to enjoy.

Discover the relaxation of Phra Nang Beach

You’ll find a walking path to Phra Nang Beach on the South end of Railay Beach East. This is also the same trail that you’ll walk in order to access the Railay Beach Lagoon hike. Follow the winding path through rocky overhangs and lots of monkey hang out spots, until you reach the beach. This path is short and the walk will only take you 5 minutes or so. 

This is the most beautiful beach in the area, in my humble opinion. It’s far less “touristy” as it doesn’t have tons of shops and restaurants. The beach is large and there is loads of space for relaxing on the beach and swimming in the ocean. If you’re interested, shops on Railay Beach East have non-alcholic beer! Grab one before your walk and enjoy your non-alcoholic beverage beachside.

Posing on Phra Nang Beach in a swimsuit
Karst mountain island in Phra Nang Beach
Posing on Phra Nang Beach in a swimsuit

Visit a local fertility cave

Phra Nang Beach is also home to some caves, and they are easily accessible. On the end of the beach closest to the trail, you’ll find the Phra Nang Princess Cave. This cave is deep but there isn’t a walking path like Phra Nang Nai Cave. You can stand at the mouth of the cave and peer inside, taking in the rocky beauty as well as the fertility offerings from locals inside. 

That’s right – this cave is a sacred space that is home to a fertility shrine. The artwork is gorgeous and such a unique experience. Phra Nang is actually the name of a princess goddess, which is the cave’s namesake. Local fishermen bring phallic art as offerings to the goddess to be kept safe at sea. It’s definitely an experience! 

There is also the Bat Cave on the other end of the beach. This is accessible by hike, and often included on a rock climbing trip. I haven’t made it there, but Jeremy has climbed there and shared some epic photos.

Fertility Cave in Phra Nang Beach

Experience an epic sunset by paddle board

Freedbird Paddle Co offers a variety of Stand Up Paddle boarding tours, but I have to say that the evening tour is my top recommendation! You will want to head to their shop in Railay Beach West a day in advance or contact them online, because their evening tours fill up quickly!

You can reserve either a clear Paddle Board or a clear canoe for your journey. The tour meets before the sunsets and leads you out on the ocean to experience the sunset out on the water! Once the sun sets, your guide will help you turn on lights on your paddle board and you’ll be able to look down and see the coral reefs below!

You’ll see all kinds of tropical fish, huge crabs, and may even see some sea turtles or octopus! They’ll also take you to a place where you can see phytoplankton! You can hop off your paddle board and swim around. I had never seen the glowing phytoplankton before and it was a worthwhile experience! 

I had also never paddle boarded before, and the guides were incredibly kind and supportive! I felt encouraged and coached every step of the way and it made for a positive and fun experience! 

Colorful sunset on Railay Beach West

Final Thoughts on Exploring Railay Beach without Alcohol

Railay Beach is a haven in southern Thailand, and refreshingly less of a party destination than the more famous town of Phuket. Exploring Railay Beach without alcohol is riveting, because there are so many adventures to uncover and stunning karst cliffs to marvel at. I was delighted to even find non-alcoholic beer there on my last visit.

I hope you have an epic and meaningful trip, and enjoy sunrises, sunsets, magical lagoons, stunning islands and rock climbing adventures! I recommend at least a week in Railay Beach so that you can include all of its adventures while having time to do some beach-bumming and pool-lounging as well! This beautiful destination can nourish you in so many ways.

Did you find this article helpful? Be sure to comment what you are most excited for, and to share with your community! Together, we create a community of soulful, sober travelers.

Posing in a swimsuit on Railay Beach
Posing in a swimsuit on Railay Beach
Posing in a swimsuit on Railay Beach

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