After two weeks of hanging out in Bangkok and one week in Chiang Mai, we spent most of this week on the move. It started with our return overnight train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok on Saturday. We arrived in Bangkok Sunday morning to meet my dad and show him around the city for a few days, but only a few. By Tuesday night we were on an overnight bus to Krabi with a final destination of Railay Beach.
Now let’s go though it all in a bit more detail.
My dad is here! Yesssss!
Those of you who have been following my blog know that Bob makes it out to visit me all over the world.
Yes, my dad’s name is Bob and I am Bobbi.
So far, he’s visited me in England, Fiji, Australia, New Zealand and now Thailand. As you can tell, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. My dad is just as adventurous as me and proudly at 60 years old, he’s still up to the same antics as well. On his last visit, he went skydiving over the Abel Tasman.
As usual, I was really excited to show him around Bangkok. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the city at this point, so I knew the spots I wanted to take him, like the Jim Thompson House, The Grand Palace, Reclining Buddha, Khao San Road and Mandarin Oriental. We also spent a few nights eating kebabs and drinking buckets around the city.
Yes, he’s 60.
I hope it’s a genial thing.
After two days of exploring Bangkok, it was time to show him why Thailand is known for having some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Our over night bus to Railay left out of the Southern Bus Terminal, which is about 45 minutes out of the city. The trip cost THB666 and taxi fair out there about THB240. Ric and I had to make a round trip to purchase the tickets and one last trip to catch the bus, so in hindsight, it probably would have cost the same, but saved us a lot more time if we had just purchased the tickets from a travel agent in the city.
Further hindsight made me remember why we were opting for train travel this time around in Thailand. Bus travel in Thailand is really good for the price and quite comfortable, but I find it impossible to sleep in an upright position. Plus the buses often make several stops at night. The only bad thing about taking a train down south for us is that the tracks end in Surat Thani, which is still two hours away from Krabi. In the end I would have rather finish the trip in one ride.
We arrived at the station to catch a taxi (THB500 for three) to the local port where we hopped on a long-tail boat to Railay Beach, which is on the mainland, but surrounded by limestone mountains therefore impossible to travel to by minivan.
From the moment I arrived in Railay, I was in love with it. In a nutshell, it’s really chilled out beach town, with a bit of nightlife and stunning scenery. The set up of Railay goes like this.
On one side you have Railay East, which is surrounded at sea by mangroves. Because this area doesn’t have the beautiful beach, it’s where a lot of the budget or midrange guesthouses are located. We stayed on this side at Railay Viewpoint Resort in a room with a private bathroom and fan for THB700 a night. The resort was really went maintained and has a large, clean pool with numerous lounge chairs around it. Also on this side of the are popular backpacker joints, like Bamboo Bar and The Last Bar.
Walk on the sidewalk towards the most dominant limestone rock for about 15 minutes and you’ll reach Penang Beach, which is the most stunning place in the area. Gold sands outlined by jungle and limestone cliffs, topped with warm clear waters. This is where mega lush Rayavadee is located. Rich people may get this view from their room, but it’s at a price. Budget travelers staying elsewhere get to play at it all day for free.
Finally there is Railay West, which can be accessed by a path cutting through inland around Anyavee Resort. It’s the only pathway you are allowed to cut through from Railay East. At the T junction, make a left. You’ll pass Utopia and a local Thai Food restaurant. Utopia plays films every night and offers yoga on the beach a few times a day. Keep following the trail through a sort of Thai main street of shops (Walking Street) until you reach the beach. This is Railay West, the best spot to watch the sun go down while sipping pina coladas.
Those first few days we went a bit mad with all the luxuries Railay has to offer. I think I had a massage a day at the spa at Viewpoint (THB250). Feeling a bit tired of Thai, we opted for pizzas at Joy Bar instead of the local cuisine. The wood-fire oven-cooked pizzas and calzones are the second best I’ve had in Thailand (Pizza e Vino in Chiang Mai wins that competition), but expensive compared to local food. One pizza costs THB220-250.
One free activity Dad and I took advantage off was a trek up to the viewpoint. Along the walk from Railay East to Penang, you’ll see arrows to the viewpoint that look like they’re just pointing at the tall limestone rocks. Look closer and you’ll see ropes. That’s how you reach this scenic lookout. It really wasn’t that bad, actually quite exhilarating and the view is well worth the world. Also located in this area is a lagoon that we didn’t make it to because it got too dark.
Our biggest splurge in Railay was spent on diving to Koh Phi Phi with Railay Dive Center (THB3500 for two dives, lunch and rentals). Our trip left at about 8 a.m. on Friday and returned at about 4:30 p.m. The reefs around Koh Phi Phi aren’t that colorful, but you see a lot of amazing sea life.
I’ve never seen so many sharks. At one point, we had about four black tip reef sharks actually circling us. We also saw a turtle, ray, eel, octopus, lion fish and loads of nudibranchs. Plus, we swam through a tunnel, which is always fun.
The only bad thing about the day was that Dad and I either had food poisoning or ate something the night prior that just didn’t agree with us. It’s the first time I’ve ever thrown up on a boat. I have a new respect for people prone to sea sickness. I don’t want to name the place or the meal we think it was, because I’ve tried both before and they were fine. I just don’t think it’s fare to completely write them off.
But a little bit of Thai belly didn’t ruin our day. It was my first dive since the Philippines and I absolutely loved being underwater. We even passed by Maya Bay, famous for the film, “The Beach”.
Altogether it’s been a great first few days in Railay. and we still have almost a week left!