Penis Caves and Monkey Business in Railay

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We tend to be a bit lazy on travel days, hiding out in our air-con room and putting off packing until check out time. However we got our sleepy bottoms into gear for our 7.30am pickup from Ko Lanta to Railay. (Incidentally I’d like to state that this was the second early start in a row following my attempt to regain some fitness with an early morning run along the beach which was both lovely and sweaty in equal measures.)

Railay is situated in the Krabi province, and whilst it’s not an island, it is only accessible via boat. That said we drove the majority of the way there, using a car ferry to get off Ko Lanta. Once in Ao Nang, we loaded onto a Longtail boat to take us the final 10minutes of the journey.

There is a risk of becoming blase when island hopping because we are immersed in such beauty all the time and we need to savour each day. We’ll be pining for these days when back in cold Blighty.

We arrived by midday and checked straight into our room which was a major upgrade in terms of space and luxury compared to some previous digs. By staying on the east coast of the island we forfeited a prime beach location but we got much better value.

The east coast where we were dropped off is less pretty and boasts plenty of boat traffic and a rather unfortunate smell but our hotel was great and had an amazing pool.

It’s only a 10 minute walk across the island to the famous Railey West beach which is gorgeous. The stretch of powder white sand and crystal water sits in-between majestic limestone cliffs making it a must see location on most tourist routes.

This means that Railay gets incredibly busy with day trippers and boats, but once the crowds leave there is a nice, more laidback vibe with family run restaurants and the obligatory rasta bars.

We took advantage of our location and got up early on one of the days to hit the beaches in the morning sun before the hoards of tourist boats descended on the shore. We had Phrang Nai beach to ourselves and it was so peaceful and beautiful.

This beach is impossibly picturesque and has the added bonus of a cave filled with phallus offerings!

Princess cave is where fishermen, before going out to sea, have made offerings to the symbolic Phallus of Shiva. The fishermen, who say the cave is the home of a mythical sea princess, believe their offerings will bring them success in their fishing and protect them from danger.

Keen for more adventure, Gary tackled the insanely steep and rocky trek up to a look out point and lagoon on one of the mornings.

Having seen the route the day before I wasn’t even tempted to join him and as he regaled me with details of sheer rock faces, bamboo ladders and ropes to use when scrambling down I was relieved I wasn’t there. He said that the views were amazing and that going early morning before it got too sweltering and busy was a strong move.

On our last day we walked to Tham Phra Nang Nai, also known as Diamond Cave due its insanely sparkly rocks that glimmer when illuminated. I assume it’s the minerals in them.

It was pretty cool but I was more excited by the school of monkeys hanging around outside.

We had a great time exploring in Railay, swimming in the amazing sea and discovering caves and little beaches dotted along the shoreline. The islands and cliffs jutting out of the sea make for such a dramatic and unforgettable backdrop. Having said that, it’s sad to see that it may soon become a victim of its own beauty, with unchecked development, huge numbers of tourists and infrastructure put under strain. The smell on the east side of the island is from poor drainage systems and we saw boats piled high with rubbish. I guess all beauty has a price and by travelling and visiting these places we are playing a part in that.

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