Railay Bay - Thailand

Trip Start Mar 31, 2012
Trip End Aug 01, 2012

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Where I stayed
Railay Great View Resort & Spa Krabi
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of Thailand  , Krabi,
Monday, April 9, 2012

We had already purchased joint tickets from Phantip Travel in Surat Thani for 350 baht and that allowed us to get on the ferry in time to grab seats.  There were not enough seats for everybody though and some people elected to enjoy the sun on the boat deck.  This turned out to be a poor plan as an intense rain storm blew in after we had stopped at Koh Samui.  The “express” ferry turns out to take about as long as the regular ferry due to that extra stop at Koh Samui, so I was glad it didn’t cost us any extra baht.
From the ferry we were provided stickers that sent us on the appropriate bus to the down of Krabi.  Unfortunately the bus was a piece of junk that was obviously in a very serious accident and held together mostly with bondo.  As I was the very first person on the bus, I grabbed the front seat with lots of extra leg room, which also allowed me to notice that this bus had a very bad shake in the front left corner.  I think it was this shake that forced the driver to go so slow, but perhaps I am just making excuses for him.  Either way, we rarely cracked 60km/hr and the two hour trip was more like three hours.
The last time we caught this bus, we went all the way to Phuket but noticed that the bus dropped people off in the centre of Krabi town.  That was no longer the case though and instead they tried to force people to take a 250 baht ride in the back of a pickup truck for the extra 5-10 minutes to the pier.  Out of 50 people, we were the only ones that refused to play into this scam and instead started walking our suitcases in to town ourselves.  It took all of 5 minutes before a local songthew stopped and asked us where we were going.  After making some boat/water sign languages signals, we paid the man 30 baht each and promptly got a ride to the pier.
As soon as we got off of the truck, we were approached by long tail boat owners that attempted to solicit our business for a ride to Railay Bay at 150 baht each.  We had heard that this ride should only cost 60 baht each, but soon figured out that there were two different ports for getting a ride to Railay Bay and we were at the wrong one.  We wanted to eat before we left anyhow, so we ventured in to town for some pad thai and fruit shakes.  I explored to the town of Krabi quickly and noticed that the prices were some of the lowest that I had seen in the south of Thailand.  It was easy to find a room with hot water for 150 baht and even the 10 baht water bottles that we always bought from 7/11 were only 6 baht here.
After eating, we ventured back down to the pier where there were two other guys waiting for the boat ride.  It turns out that these boats only leave when there are eight passengers, so we were going to have to wait for more people to join in.  Unfortunately for us, it was getting late in the day by now and the other two tourists needed to make it back to Krabi for 5PM (when the last boat leaves Railay) and so they opted out.  We didn’t have that luxury however, as we had already paid a deposit for a 1200 baht a night room which we were going to have to pay whether we made it or not (for two rooms)
We decided to just pay the 1200 baht that eight passengers would normally pay and soon we were on our way.  This ate up any benefit that we saved from avoiding the 250 baht truck ride to the pier.  In hindsight it was probably worth sticking with the large mob of people, although if we didn’t have those reservations already, it would’ve been easy enough to spent the night in Krabi and catch the boat to Railay the following morning.  
We were told that if we left right then, the boat would be able to drop us off right at the beach, but if were to wait an hour the tides would go in and we’d have to traverse 100 meters of muddy rocks with our suitcases to make it to land.  This turned out to be very true, although we still had to get a little bit wet and walk 5 meters threw shallow water with our bags to get to East Railay Bay.  Once we were on land, we were told that another boat would come to get us and bring us to the Great View Resort.  We didn’t get a clear answer on whether this would cost us 200 baht or be free, but once saw a map and realized it was 800 meters away, we decided to opt out of the boat and walk it ourselves.
It was very easy walk down a paved pathway, which only became difficult once we approached the resort itself.  This resort is the last one on the pathway, which was going to ensure we had quiet nights, but also meant that it was a bit of a hike to get into the stores of the town.  We were quickly checked-in by extremely friendly and professional staff and taken to our room, which was room #6, the last one before hitting wilderness.  We immediately saw some Dusky Leaf monkeys from our porch, which large and comfortable enough to pass by entire days of relaxation.
The room cost 1200 baht/night (including tax, which gets added to higher end hotels/resorts in Thailand) and was stunning and immaculate with a bathroom that I would like to emulate in my own house one day.  The room also included a TV, fridge and a huge and wonderful buffet breakfast.  The only thing that was lacking was Air Conditioning, which seemed like a big deal after carrying our bags, but wasn’t really necessary again for our stay.
With a fridge in our room, we were able to make journeys into town where large Beer Chang could be found at 70 baht/640 mls and keep our room stocked with ice-cold beer.  Our friend Scotty brought an extra chair down from his room and we ended up spending a lot of time on our porch, consuming beer and listening to music and surfing the Internet (WiFi also came with every room at Great View).  It was really cool to use Dell Voice to make free telephone calls from this remote location to our friends in Canada.  This would be interrupted by trips to the infinity pool and lounging around the pool chaises and heading to town for meals.  My only real complaint about the Great View Resort was the cost of meals at their restaurant.  The food may have been good, but it is hard to imagine finding higher quality meals than what we found with “Last Bar” which was well under 1/3 the price.
The Last Bar was named from its proximity along the path that we walked to the Great View Resort:  it was simply the last bar you’d see when heading in that direction.  Of course when coming from the resort, it was the first place that you would see and after our first meal there, we didn’t bother going anywhere else for meals for our three-night stay.  I do not know how to speak in Thai, so we had trouble getting some of the staff to understand that we liked our food spicy (really spicy for farang, not so spicy for Thai folk), but when they understood us, it was hard to rate their Pad Thai (60 baht) as anything less than perfect.  Even without it being spicy, we just added our own peppers and it was still exceptional.  They also served Indian food from their Tandoor oven (we tried lots of their naan), and had an awesome lineup of grilled fish.  Scotty tried a red snapper, but as I don’t generally like seafood I stuck to the Pad Thai mostly.  It still makes my mouth water by just thinking about it, so it is safe to say that I can recommend going to the Last Bar if you are staying in East Railay Bay.
Our stay at the Great View Resort in East Railay Bay was some of the most relaxing time that I’ve experienced in my life, but there was one notable exception.  An earthquake that was originally reported at a magnitude of 8.7 occurred off of the shore of Sumatra, which prompted a tsunami warning for the Andaman Sea, including where we were.  Suddenly I was very glad that we climbed all those hills to get to our room.  We were probably around 70-80 feet over sea level, so I felt completely safe.  We could hear the sirens blasting though, and this prompted Lisa to head for even higher ground.  I just waited it out with my camera in one hand, a beer in the other, and kept hoping that nobody would get hurt from this major quake.  It turns out that nobody did from the quake (which was downgraded to 8.3) and no tsunami occurred.
As beautiful as it was in East Railay Bay, you are really doing yourself a disservice if you do not visit West Railay Bay.  There were two walking streets from East to West Railay Bay, which only take about 5 minutes to traverse.  Resorts in the West are more expensive and it is easy to see why.  This is a place I’d recommend staying at for a honeymoon or something else very special, as it is perhaps the most beautiful place that I’ve seen in the world.  The beach is surrounded by very tall karts and the turquoise water is shallow and pleasant to swim in.  Of course you will not be alone on this beach, as it is a popular place for day-trippers to visit from the nearby town of Krabi.  No touts pestered us while on the beach, which was rather surprising considering the high-end clientele that was sunbathing along it.  There are no budget places to stay in West Railay Bay that I believe a room could easily cost you 10,000 baht (US$300)/night.
During our time in Railay Bay we talked to some of the travel agencies and found out that there was an express ferry that went directly from Railay Bay to Phuket, the next stop on our trip.  The cost was 650 baht, which included a minibus in Phuket to take you to any resort on the island.  Since this would only take a couple hours and save us from dealing with multiple vendors (boat, bus & taxi) and save us a couple additional hours of travel time, it was worth the extra (200-300) baht for us.
To use this service, we had to catch a long-tail boat from West Railay Bay (in front of the Sea & Sand Resort), which left at 10 AM.  This long-tail boat was simply to take us to deeper waters where the ferry to Phuket was waiting for us.  We spent about 2 hours on this ferry admiring the scenery from an uncrowded and air-conditioned seat in the cabin.  There was an option to sit on the deck and suntan, but I preferred the AC instead.  The boat dropped us off at the port of Phuket town and within 10 minutes we were in a crowded minivan for Patong Beach.  Luckily this wasn’t a long ride and was included in the price.

My Review Of The Place I Stayed

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