side by side photos of two popular attractions Railay Beach vs Koh Phi Phi

Railay Beach vs Koh Phi Phi: 5 Things to Consider

A Thailand tropical paradise showdown: Railay Beach vs Koh Phi Phi. Are you trying to decide between visiting either Railay Beach or Koh Phi Phi?

This guide covers five points you must consider first! Both destinations are popular in Krabi Province and share many similarities but differ in ways, such as beaches and atmospheres.

I will highlight 5 standout comparisons I noticed after visiting both that will help you decide which place to visit. I’ve also included a few must-know tips for each destination!

Now, let’s get into it and help you decide which of these two nature-rich places in Southern Thailand you should visit!

several tourists walking by the long tail boat taxis in Railay Beach / how to get from Phuket to Railay Beach / Is Railay Beach worth visiting


Koh Phi Phi and Railay Beach have a few key differences regarding the atmosphere in each destination.

Railay Beach is located along mainland Krabi, but despite that, it’s only accessible by boat. The atmosphere in Railay is as laidback as it can get with dirt roads, you can walk everywhere, businesses are all local and owned by residents, and overall, it’s a slow-paced environment in this tropical paradise.

Additionally, Railay Beach isn’t nearly as touristy as Koh Phi Phi. Sure, it has tourists, but this is a standout difference compared to Koh Phi Phi.

Koh Phi Phi is an island in the middle of the Andaman Sea. It takes almost 2 hours to get there by ferry from Phuket and 45 minutes from Krabi. Due to its natural surroundings, Koh Phi Phi has a definite island atmosphere. However, the island has many tourists and foot traffic daily, which detracts from its atmosphere.

Compared to Railay Beach, Koh Phi Phi is more commercialized with fast food chains at present, and the island is known for its nightlife atmosphere, so it’s not considered a laidback island.

Each destination has a distinctly different atmosphere, which is the first thing you should consider when deciding which of these two tropical destinations to visit.

three longtail boats docked by the beach shoreline on a sunny day in Koh Phi Phi, Thailand


Railay and Koh Phi Phi are home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Thailand. They are full of palm trees, towering limestones, clear waters, and everything we desire on a tropical beach.

However, in Railay, the beaches are very accessible, and you can walk to them. But in Koh Phi Phi, the best beaches are only accessible by short longtail boat taxis. There are two beaches you can access on foot in Koh Phi Phi, but they don’t compare to its best beaches.

Railay’s most known beach is Railay Beach, the main beach of the town, a perfect place to relax in the day by beach bars, and at night, many come here to watch the sunset every night!

Phra Nang Cave Beach in Railay is the best beach there. The shoreline looks like a movie backdrop, it’s just breathtaking. Tonsai Beach is another lovely beach in Railay, and it’s a secluded beach known for its ultra-soft sand, calm waves, and island-like atmosphere.

Being an island, Koh Phi Phi has its fair share of exceptional beach shorelines. The best beaches in Koh Phi Phi are Long Beach and Laemtong Beach, both only accessible by longtail boat taxi.

Lah Dalum Beach and Phi Phi Beach, a tiny shoreline by restaurants, are both accessible by foot in Koh Phi Phi.

large limestone isolated in the ocean being views from Phra Nang Cave Beach in Railay, Krabi, Thailand
Phra Nang Cave Beach

Things to Do

During the day, both destinations offer various activities to experience. However, each is more known for specific activities. Overall, Railay offers more active things to do than Koh Phi Phi, while Koh Phi Phi offers a better mix of active and laidback.

Due to its location in Krabi, Railay Beach offers a wide variety of island tours to experience, such as the Krabi 4 Island Tour, Hong Islands, and the Krabi 7 Island Tour. There are many islands to visit from Railay. If you want to experience plenty of island-hopping, Railay is ideal!

For those who enjoy rock climbing or paddleboarding, Railay is known for both activities with its towering limestones and relatively calm water. Ao Nang, which neighbors Railay, is only a 10-minute boat taxi away, and there are many things to do there as well!

In Koh Phi Phi, you can visit the world-famous Maya Bay Beach, Pi Leh Lagoon, Monkey Beach, and other unique attractions surrounding the island. Another must-do is to visit its remarkable viewpoints, which offer panoramic views of the whole island!

Also, for those who enjoy snorkeling or diving, Koh Phi Phi offers plenty of opportunities to experience both with its vibrant marine life due to its location in the middle of the Andaman Sea.

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
Koh Phi Phi Viewpoint


The differences regarding the nightlife in Koh Phi Phi vs Railay Beach are apparent. Suppose partying during your visit is essential to you. Then there’s no debate, Koh Phi Phi is the better destination for you.

Koh Phi Phi is known for its nightlife. Every night, parties are held at Lah Dalum Beach till the early morning hours. Walking around the island, you’ll notice several bars every few steps.

There are vendors selling drink buckets, which are buckets full of various alcoholic drinks packaged into one bucket, sold to visitors. Koh Phi Phi is a party island, however if you want to skip the nightlife, there are calmer gaps of areas on the island.

The nightlife in Railay Beach is very laid-back. It consists of watching the sunset, roadside outdoor bars, and laid-back reggae bars with ground seating offering board games, and that just about sums it up.

Most restaurants and bars close around midnight here, Railay is not known for its nightlife. Railay is authentically a laidback tropical destination.

For those who really want to party, most would argue the nightlife in Railay Beach is nonexistent.

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

Cost to Visit

This may not be a factor you care to consider, though for some, it may matter. That’s precisely why I’ve included the cost to visit each destination last.

Overall, Thailand is one of the cheapest countries to visit, and the cost differences for most Thailand destinations are similar.

Below are the average daily spends for travelers visiting each destination. Figures include accommodation, food, and transportation.

Railay Beach: $106 US average daily

Koh Phi Phi: $92 US average daily

Keep in mind that these are only average figures, and you could spend more or far less, depending on your travel style. However, both destinations are very budget-friendly!

Lastly, despite costs being similar for Railay Beach and Koh Phi Phi, neither place ranks among the cheapest in Thailand to visit!

clear skies, several palm trees along the three-way road in Railay Beach, Krabi

Things to Know Before Visiting Railay Beach or Koh Phi Phi

Due to their tropical locations, whether you visit Koh Phi Phi or Railay Beach, you’ll want to know a few tips to make your trip smoother!

Tips for Railay Beach

  • Don’t spend the whole day lying around when visiting Phra Nang Beach. Walk around, there are plenty of hidden nature gems to spot.
  • If you visit Ao Nang for the day, return before 5:00 PM. Longtail boat taxis stop after 5:00 PM due to lower tide.
  • Don’t feed the monkeys in Railay. Doing so will only encourage them to approach you to see if you have more food, and you don’t know what they may do for more food.
  • Consider bringing a dry bag, when you arrive at beaches and islands, sometimes you’ll need to go in the water, these types of bags ensure your things don’t get wet.
  • While visiting, ensure you at least experience one island hopping tour from Railay!

Tips for Koh Phi Phi

  • Take an early morning Maya Bay Tour, that way, you will skip the large crowds of tourists.
  • When booking your hotel in Koh Phi Phi, if you plan on going to bed early, make sure it’s not next door to a beach bar.
  • Bring cash to the island. When you enter the island by ferry, you must pay a 20 Baht environmental fee.
  • Many restaurants in Koh Phi Phi have great happy hour prices for drinks and food. Take advantage of this.
  • Koh Phi Phi is an excellent place to get your diving certification.
several tourists walking by the long tail boat taxis in Railay Beach

Railay Beach vs Koh Phi Phi — Final Thoughts

Well, there you have it. Those are five key critical comparisons between Railay Beach and Koh Phi Phi you must know before deciding which to visit!

Have you decided which of these two Thai tropical destinations you’ll be visiting? If you haven’t, I’ll leave you with a few parting words that may convince you to choose one.

Railay Beach is better for those who prefer a mix of relaxation, surreal nature, active things to do, and less-touristy destinations.

Koh Phi Phi is better for those who appreciate nature but would prefer nightlife to top off their days. Also, for picky eats, you may prefer Koh Phi Phi because there’s a wider variety of cuisine than Railay Beach.

Overall, Koh Phi Phi is far more developed than Railay Beach, and it’s noticeable as soon as you arrive, as you may ask. The first thing you spot in Koh Phi Phi by the ferry is McDonalds and Burger King.

Between Koh Phi Phi and Railay Beach, there’s only a 40-minute ferry ride between them. So if you plan to visit both, it’s easy to do!

a large ferry docked at Ton Sai Pier in Koh Phi Phi on a clear sky day with large limestones in the background

Is Koh Phi Phi better than Krabi?

Koh Phi Phi offers many attractions, a lively nightlife, and is quite touristy. However, Krabi also offers many attractions with laidback nightlife and isn’t as touristy as Koh Phi Phi.

Koh Phi Phi is popular due to its famous attractions, such as Maya Bay Beach and Pi Leh Lagoon. The island is also popular among backpackers and partygoers.

Can you get to Railay Beach from Phi Phi?

Yes, you can take a ferry from Koh Phi Phi to Railay Beach, it takes around 40 minutes.

Is Koh Phi Phi a party island?

Koh Phi Phi is well known for its parties and many bars. It can be considered a party island, but it’s easy to avoid the nightlife when visiting if you’d like to.

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