What to see in the Andaman Islands: all the places not to be missed
Railay Beach has been a thing of mine for several years, one of those places you keep seeing photos and become almost an obsession. In hindsight I have to tell you that the obsession was more than justified! This beach (actually there are 3 beaches) is located on a rocky promontory that can only be reached by sea from Krabi or Phi Phi Island and is made up of huge limestone blocks alternating with very white beaches. There are the two twin beaches of Railay East e Railay West (where the hotels and restaurants are located), but above all the beautiful Phra Nang beach, hidden among the caves on the tip of the promontory. To reach it you cross a path in the middle of the jungle where the monkeys are the masters; when you arrive on the beach the glance is wonderful! Several stacks stand out in the bay and form small lagoons with blue-green water. At one end you cannot fail to notice the big one Cave of the Princess, an important sacred place for local fishermen who usually bring wooden sculptures of phallic shape into the cave as a sign of offering to the spirit of the princess to guarantee them abundant fishing. The rocky walls that lap the bay are instead a climbers' paradise. If you have a certain spirit of adventure, halfway up the path leading to Phra Nang, you can climb another steep and rugged path that leads to a hidden lagoon known as Sacred pond of the Princess, it seems to be very nice!
I loved Railay from the minute I walked into it, here you can still breathe that relaxed and somewhat rastafarian air typical of Thailand in the 70s-80s that is slowly disappearing. There is no confusion of Phuket or Ton Sai in Phi Phi, there are several hotels, a few bars and restaurants, diving and climbing agencies and little more. Life goes slow here, during the day you go to the beach, at sunset you drink a nice iced Singha in Railay West and in the evening you can enjoy some music in some bars or attend a Muai Thai meeting, Thai boxing (which I absolutely recommend you do!).
Note: the Surin Islands are less touristy and less crowded than the Similans, and, in my humble opinion, even more beautiful. If you have a few days and you only have to choose an archipelago… go for Surin!