Limestone Galore

Trip Start Dec 28, 2006
Trip End Jun 08, 2007

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Monday, April 23, 2007

Krabi is a region on the southwest coast of Thailand on the Andaman Sea.  To get there from Ko Tao on the east coast I first took a 5 hour ferry ride to Surat Thani and then a 2 hour mini-van ride across the skinny southern part of the country to reach Krabi Town.   I spent the night in Krabi Town and in the morning I took a long tail for 30 minute ride to Railey.

Although Railey is a peninsula, it is only accessible by boat.  Railey is known for its amazing limestone formations right off the coast and dramatic cliffs and caves which surround the beaches.  Railey has 4 beaches, each with its own style.  I stayed on Railey East since it has cheap accommodations and gives easy access to the more upmarket Railey West beach and Phra Nang beach.  The downside of Railey East it has a muddy mangrove beach that really isn't very nice.  However the pretty Railey West and Phra Nang beach are less than a 10 minute walk away.  The fourth beach, Ton Sai, is more difficult to access, but has the cheapest hotels and is known as a climber's beach due to many climbing routes on its limestone cliffs.  The limestone cliffs that surround all of the beaches make for a real change from the typical beach.  Railey has literally hundreds of sport climbing routes on its many cliffs and many people come for the climbing. 

My first day hanging out on the picturesque Railey West beach I ended up playing volleyball with a bunch of Canadians for most of the day.  I haven't had the chance to play sports much on the trip and I had a blast. 

The next day I paid a visit to Phra Nang beach, which is one of the most stunning beaches I've ever been to.  Both ends of the beach are anchored by enormous limestone cliffs and a massive limestone formation rises out of the water about 200 meters off the beach.  Be sure and check the photos is really amazing.  I chilled on the beach and enjoyed the grilled corn on the cob sold by vendors.  I also explored the caves a bit and one of the bigger ones was filled with bats.  There is only one hotel on this beach - the very exclusive Rayavadee Hotel which has rooms starting at $600 USD.  This beach is pretty popular with daytrippers from other areas and there were many tour boats unloading people along the shore.  Later that day I met up with Team Canada again and played beach volleyball.  At one point we were challenged by a group of local lady-boys....we beat them (whew), but they were better than you might imagine. Their shrieks, giggles, and long nails only added to the surreal nature of the game.   The only bad thing about the volleyball each day was that it left me too worn out take on the cliff climbing. 

Railey is absolutely beautiful and worth a visit, although I would say it's a bit overpriced compared to the other beaches in Thailand I've been to.  

After a few days in Railey I headed to the nearby Sheraton Krabi resort.  Using a long-tail and taxi combination I reached the Sheraton in about 30 minutes.  The Sheraton is a bit isolated on a nice stretch of beach north of Ao Nang.  The Sheraton grounds are huge and offered everything from tennis to its very own pet elephant.  I rented a scooter and spent a couple of days exploring the local area.  I came across a national park and did a bit of hiking one day.  Another time I found a nice little fishing park, but I only stayed long enough to have a smoothie.  The roads were all in great condition and didn't have too much traffic, so it was ideal for just cruising around.  I spent a relaxing 3 days in the luxe accommodations of the Sheraton.  While I wouldn't necessarily recommend staying at the Sheraton, it was a nice and free place for me to go.

Phuket, about 2 hours south, is my next stop.
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