side by side photos of two popular attractions Railay Beach or Phi Phi Island

Railay Beach or Phi Phi Island: Which is Better?

Railay Beach or Phi Phi Island, is a popular destination debate in the Krabi Province of Thailand.

While both destinations have their similarities, they also have significant differences.

In this comparison guide, I will highlight the main attractions in each place, hotel/restaurant recommendations, and the main differences between Railay Beach and Phi Phi Island.

I will also include tips and descriptions of both places to help you decide whether you’d prefer to visit Railay Beach or Phi Phi Island.

By the end of this Railay Beach vs Phi Phi Island comparison guide, you should know where you’d prefer to stay between the two!

the main walking street in Railay Beach empty in the morning hours

How long is the ferry from Phi Phi to Railay? And vice-versa.

The travel time between Phi Phi to Railay is between 40-50 minutes.

Railay Beach vs Phi Phi Island – Main Differences

Here’s a quick table breakdown of the main differences between Railay Beach and Phi Phi Island.

While this table breakdown is helpful, I’d recommend you read further to know where you should visit!

Things to ConsiderRailay BeachPhi Phi Island
Main AttractionsGreatGreat

Railay Beach or Phi Phi Island: Things To Do

Let’s discuss the best things to do in both places.

Railay Beach and Phi Phi Island are full of things to do, but specific activities and other factors might have you favoring one place over the other!

Things To Do in Railay Beach

There are several things to do in Railay, beach days, island hopping tours, rock climbing, and much more.

Relax at the Beach

There are three beaches to spend the day in Railay, and I highly recommend you visit them all because they are all alluring in their own right.

Choosing between Railay Beach or Phi Phi Island will be easy if beaches are essential to you because Railay has better beaches than Phi Phi.

Railay West Beach – This is the famous main beach here

Tonsai Beach – Located next to Railay West Beach, you can only access this beach by swimming, hiking over the rocks, or by boat. It’s the most peaceful beach among the three on this list.

Phra Nang Cave Beach – Located in the Southern area of Railay, this beach is ranked one of the best in the world and is the most ideal for swimming in Railay.

large high rocks at the end of Phra Nang Cave Beach in Railay, Krabi

Rock Climbing

One of the most popular activities to do in Railay is rock climbing. There are several large limestones ideal for rock climbing in Railay.

Some well-known rock climbing spots include Bat Cave, Diamond Cave, and Phra Nang Cave Beach.

To participate in any rock climbing in Railay, you must book through a local company – Book Rock Climbing

Kayaking or Paddle Boarding 

One of the best ways to appreciate the picturesque views in Railay is by kayaking or paddleboarding along the water.

With beaches surrounded by large limestones and exotic views everywhere you look in Railay, it’s one of the best places to glide slowly along the water!

You can rent a kayak or paddleboard and do just that. Both options will cost 200 baht to rent per hour, or if you want to use them for the entire day, each should cost 800 baht.

Krabi 4 Island Tour

The Krabi 4 Island Tour is the most popular island-hopping tour from Railay. On this excursion, you will visit four famous islands in Krabi province.

All the islands you will be visiting are unique in their ways. There’s Chicken Island (an island with a chicken head limestone formation), Koh Poda, a beautiful island for its beach shoreline, and more!

  • Ko Thap & Ko Mor (twin islands)
  • Chicken Island 
  • Koh Poda

The Island tour is a half-day tour, 6 hours long.

Ko Ma, an island rock formation in the middle of the ocean, being photographed from Ko Poda in Krabi

Things To Do in Phi Phi Island

The Phi Phi Islands are one of the most popular places to visit in Thailand. Phi Phi Don is the main island of all the “Phi Phi Islands”; it’s known for its nightlife and overall island vibe.

One can only discuss the Phi Phi Islands by mentioning the famous Maya Bay Beach, the reason many tourists initially become curious about the Phi Phi Islands!

Besides Maya Bay, there are many things to do in Ko Phi Phi. Other attractions include the Viking Cave, Pi Leh Lagoon, the hidden beaches, hiking to viewpoints, snorkeling, or just exploring Phi Phi Don!

Phi Phi Island Tour (including Maya Bay, Pi Leh Lagoon, & more)

The most popular thing to do in Phi Phi is visit Maya Bay and the other unique places surrounding Phi Phi Island.

On this tour, you will visit Maya Bay Beach, Pileh Lagoon, Viking Cave, and more.

But the main attraction tends to be Maya Bay Beach because of its world-fame. The beach was featured in the movie “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio.

Hike Viewpoints 1 and 2

aerial view of the entire Phi Phi main Island showing clear skies, forest filled mountains and turquoise waters from each side of the island from Viewpoint 2

Whether you enjoy hiking or don’t, you must hike these viewpoints in Phi Phi; the views are worth it!

At the top of the second viewpoint, you can see the entire Phi Phi Don island from above, the way it connects, both sides of the sea on the island, and the luscious green mountainous backdrop!

The hike takes around 20 minutes and can get a tad steep sometimes, but there’s a trail and stairs, so you don’t have to worry about getting dirty. Halfway through the trail, you must pay 40 baht, a small price for the views above!

Go Snorkeling 

You’re visiting an Island in the middle of the Andaman Sea; snorkeling is a must-do activity here. The clear water and rich marine life make for a snorkeler’s dream.

During this excursion, you will get the opportunity to snorkel, they provide you with everything you need, so you don’t have to worry about purchasing goggles or anything from the shops!

Have a Beach Day on the Island 

Phi Phi Island has a few beaches to spend the day relaxing; some are better suited for relaxing, and others are better suited for grabbing a drink and relaxing.

Loh Dalum Beach is the main beach on Phi Phi Don, full of beach bars, kayak rentals, and longtail boat taxis. While this beach is stunning and offers a fantastic backdrop with luscious green mountains, it’s okay for swimming, but there are better beaches for swimming here.

But if you’re looking for quick access to a beach and want to follow up your beach day with lunch on the island, go to Loh Dalum Beach.

Better beaches for swimming are the following; unfortunately, you cannot access any of these beaches on foot. You must take a longtail boat taxi to get to any of them.

  • Viking Beach
  • Long Beach 
  • Loh Moo Dee Beach
large limestone in the middle of the Andaman Sea with long tail boat going by at the Phi Phi islands in Thailand

Railay Beach or Phi Phi Island: Hotels & Resorts

Several accommodation options exist, whether you visit Railay Beach or Phi Phi Island.

I will include three different accommodation options in each place: a luxurious choice, a mid-tier, and a hostel.

The only significant difference between the two places accommodations-wise is Phi Phi has many more hostel options than Railay. Phi Phi is famous for its hostels!

So no matter your budget, these are the best hotels to stay in when visiting either place!

Where to stay in Railay Beach

These are your three best accommodation options in Railay to choose from! – No matter your budget!

Rayavadee5 Star

Located at the south end of Railay’s West Beach is Rayavadee, a stunning 5-star oasis. This resort has done an exceptional job delivering a luxury experience in the middle of the jungle.

The backdrops surrounding the hotel are spectacular, to say the least.

Bhu Nga Resort4 Star

front exterior of the Bhu Nga thani resort in Railay beach

Bhu Nga Resort is the highest-rated 4-star hotel/resort in Railay, and it’s located on the Railay East, so you’re conveniently a short walk away from both sides of Railay.

They have an exceptional pool with great views and candle-lit dinners on the sand in the evening!

Blanco Hideout Railay hostel

Last but not least, those traveling solo and looking to meet others. Or perhaps you’re on a budget, well Blanco Hideout Railay is for you.

This is the highest-rated hostel in Railay, located on east Railay Beach. They’ve got a beautiful pool with stunning views.

Where to stay in Phi Phi Island

These are your three best accommodation options in Phi Phi Island to choose from! – No matter your budget!

Zeavola Resort – 5 Star

Starting with the best resort on the island, Zeavola Resort is an oasis of its own. The 5-star resort is between dense greenery and views of the beautiful Andaman Sea.

The overall atmosphere at the Zeavola Resort is very much a bohemian-chic vibe—a perfect place to relax on a famous island.

The only downside is to get to this resort, you must take a longtail taxi boat with the hotel. The hotel is only accessible by boat.

But this is good because Phi Phi Island can get quite loud at night. Staying here means you get to visit the island in peace!

Phi Phi CoCo Beach Resort – 4 Star

aerial view of the Phi Phi Coco Beach resort, showing the pool and resort rooms
CoCo Beach Resort – Credit: Agoda

CoCo beach resort is conveniently located minutes from the island’s central Ao Ton Sai Pier. The resort has separate rooms, and every room comes with palapa-style roofs. They look like small island homes.

At the front of all the rooms is a beautiful large pool with stunning views of the Sea and another side of the island. A perfect resort for those looking to relax!

Phi Phi Hostels

The hostels in Phi Phi are abundant here, and that’s because the island is well-known amongst backpackers traveling throughout Thailand.

Hostels here are fun because most of them host parties in the evening, and the mix of different international travelers here is impressive.

One of many reasons Phi Phi is a great place to visit for backpackers and solo travelers!

Here are the top two hostels on the island. If you’re looking to browse more, click the link below!

Browse More Hostels in Phi Phi Here

Railay Beach or Phi Phi Island: Restaurants

If you’re a foodie, then the choice between Railay Beach or Phi Phi Island might be decided for you.

This category has a clear winner: Phi Phi Island has much better restaurants and food options than Railay Beach.

Railay Beach has its restaurants, but Phi Phi is home to more extensive cuisine types, a small night market, and more restaurants than Railay.

Best Restaurants in Railay Beach

These are the restaurants I recommend you try in Railay; for more restaurants, refer to my Railay Beach guide!

  • Railay Family Restaurant – Thai Restaurant
  • The Heart Restaurant – Seafood Thai Restaurant
  • Railay Cafe Thai Noodles – Thai Noodle Restaurant
  • Railay Story – Thai BBQ Restaurant

Best Restaurants in Phi Phi Island

These are the restaurants I recommend you try in Phi Phi Island; for more restaurants, refer to my Phi Phi Islands guide!

  • Garlic 1992 – Classic Thai Restaurant
  • Atom Resto Phi Phi – Italian Restaurant
  • Only Noodles – Thai Noodle Restaurant
  • Thai Duck Noodle Soup – Thai Noodle Restaurant
a plate of seafood Pad Thai made to perfection at Only Noodles in Phi Phi islands

Railay Beach or Phi Phi Island: Costs

A significant factor that may help you choose where to visit Railay Beach or Phi Phi Island is the cost of your trip to visit either place.

Let’s get into the numbers and differences between both places with the help of

Both average daily spending figures include hotels, food, and transportation for each place.

Railay Beach: $110 US average daily cost per person

Phi Phi Island: $75 US average daily cost per person

As you can see, Phi Phi Island is the winner of the two, and it makes sense why Railay Beach is smaller, with fewer shops/goods and hotels, meaning costs are higher on average.

Remember, these are average figures accounted from many past travelers; you could always spend more or possibly less if you try!

walking street in Phi Phi don with several shops on the side and tourist walking

Why is Railay Beach Famous?

Railay is famous for many reasons; its most famous landmark is the Railay West Beach, which is commonly photographed because of its unique-shaped limestones in the backdrop.

Besides that, Railay is one of the most Southern points in Krabi province, offering a great atmosphere of beautiful nature.

Phra Nang Cave beach is somewhere out of this world; the many limestones, and the marine life, it’s a special place.

Despite not being an island, Railay Beach has a tropical jungle island feel to it. And it’s a very relaxing/laidback place to visit, especially compared to Phi Phi Island, which can get loud!

Phi Phi Island is mostly famous for being home to the famous Maya Bay Beach, which is only a 10-15 minute boat ride from the main Phi Phi Don Island. Maya Bay caught worldwide attention when it was featured in “The Beach,” a movie with Leonardo Dicaprio.

But besides that, Phi Phi Island is famous for being a backpacker paradise and a remote island to relax during the day and party at night.

You will spot several tourist walking around drinking buckets (these are small handheld buckets full of alcohol). Several parties are happening here throughout the island every night.

several Thai style longtail boats docked at the main pier in Phi Phi Don and a stunning backdrop of mountains and sea

Tips for Railay Beach

  • Don’t spend the whole day lying around when visiting Phra Nang Beach; walk around; there’s so much to see there.
  • If you visit Ao Nang for the day, return before 6:00 PM – Longtail Boat Taxis stop after
  • If you visit Ao Nang for the day, buy things you may need, Railay Beach has its convenience stores, but the variety of items is limited here.

Tips for Phi Phi Island

  • Take an early morning Maya Bay Tour, that way, you will skip the large crowds of tourists.
  • When booking your hotel, if you plan on going to bed early, make sure it’s not next door to a nightclub.

How many days do you need in Railay Beach?

You should spend at least three days in Railay Beach; there are many things to do here, and it’s a perfect place to relax along your Thailand adventures.

Three days are enough to see all the main attractions in Railay and get a natural feel for the place!

several tourists walking by the long tail boat taxis in Railay Beach

How many days do you need in Phi Phi Island?

A good amount of time for visiting Phi Phi Island is 2/3 days; this is enough time to do the main excursions here, hike the viewpoints, and explore the island.

2/3 days is also enough time to squeeze in a night of partying. Phi Phi Island is small, and once you’ve done everything, you’ll want to explore elsewhere!

Is Railay Beach Worth It?

Railay is one of the most beautiful places in Southern Thailand. The beaches here are surrounded by abundant nature, and it’s a perfect place to unwind.

Whether you’d like to be active or a beach bum, Railay Beach is perfect for both people.

Personally speaking here, but Railay is the most beautiful place I’ve been to in Thailand.

Is Phi Phi Island Worth It?

You should definitely put the Phi Phi Islands in your itinerary when visiting Southern Thailand.

There are several attractions to cross off your bucket list, and the main island is beautiful to walk around and explore!

Lastly, the fascination of visiting Phi Phi Island and pointing at a map and saying, “I’ve been there,” is pretty cool! It’s in the middle of the Andaman Sea!

several longtail boats docked on the beach in Phi Phi, a couple sits under the lights on the beach

Railay Beach or Phi Phi Island? — Final Thoughts

After reading this Railay Beach or Phi Phi Island comparison guide, I would like to believe you’ve decided where to visit.

But if you’re still undecided, here are some parting words about each place that may convince you to go to one place over another!

Phi Phi Island is more developed than Railay, but much louder. So if you’d prefer a quieter relaxing beach vibe, go to Railay instead of Phi Phi Island.

Both are touristy, but Phi Phi Island is more touristy than Railay, though Phi Phi Island has its conveniences.

While deciding between visiting Railay Beach or Phi Phi Island may be difficult, I recommend you go to both.

Both places are in the Krabi province, with only a 40-minute ferry ride between them!

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