Krabi Beaches

From the diving paradise of Ko Tao we took a boat/bus/van combination ticket to the island of Koh Lanta on the Western coast of Thailand. The eight hour boat trip was our first overnight sea journey. It was fun but very cramped, with about eighty backpackers wedged like sardines onto communal mattresses.

In Koh Lanta we followed some other backpackers to a cheap resort on the main beach. We found that most of the island consists of large expensive resorts which cater more to holiday-makers than to backpackers. Unimpressed with the atmosphere and expense, we decided to high-tail it after just one night, booking a boat to Railay.

Railay is a series of beaches on the Thai mainland nestled in between jagged limestone cliffs, making it one of the top ten rock climbing places on Earth. The beaches are inaccesible to road vehicles due to the huge cliffs, so long tail boats ferry people around the beaches and back to towns with road access.

We arrived on the main beach at Railay and quickly found ourselves completely out of our price range. The first place we saw didn't offer rooms for less than 10,000 baht, where we were used to paying around 300! After a long trudge in the heat without success, we decided to head to Ton Sai, the beach next to Railay. This beach is only accessible by foot in low tide, and requires a walk over very sharp rocks. Since we were carrying our packs and wearing flip-flops, the walk seemed very treacherous and we were very relieved to arrive safely.

We managed to find a bungalow for a not-too-unreasonable price and relaxed, very tired from our long journey and far too much walking in the tropical heat. The following day we took a dip at the beach, where the water was as warm as a bath thanks to the rocks that are exposed to the sun in low tide.

In the afternoon we joined a snorkeling tour of four of the stunning islands near Railay. This was a wonderful experience, as the sites had generally good visibility and a mind blowing number of fish. We saw schools of literally thousands of small fish, and many varieties of larger fish. We swam into one cave and through another, and swam around small islands looking at beautiful coral and fish along the way.

As the sun was setting we parked on a isolated sand bank between a couple of islands and enjoyed a hearty meal of seafood curry with a few beers. As the sky darkened, we watched bats leave their caves towards the mainland for the night. Then we returned to the boat and had a quick night swim. All of the boat lights were turned off and we plunged into the dark sea. We were astonished to find thousands of luminous green dots surrounding us in the water! These are a variety of microscopic bioluminescent plankton, and they seem to glow when they are disturbed by nearby motion.

The next day we took a boat to Ao Nang, the next beach along from Ton Sai, which is accessible by road and hence far more developed. The beach here was absolutely glorious for swimming, so we spent most of two days in the water perfecting our aquatic gymnastics skills. With our Thai visas running out, we then decided to move south into Malaysia.

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