asia · thailand

Krabi, Railay and the Most Beautiful Beach in the World, and Climbing 1200 Steps to a Temple

We were sad to leave Koh Lanta for several reasons: our hostel family were so incredibly friendly, we were going to miss a lot of our room mates, though most of them were also leaving, and the sense of welcome and chilled out vibe were what made us fall in love with the place.

But I was excited to visit Krabi; not for the town itself, but for using it as a base to some of Thailand’s best locations.

We were turning up a day early, so once again we didn’t have a night booked. And of course our hostel of choice, Pak Up!, was all booked out. We enquired at the hostel next door and were offered a private room for the same price as a dorm room had been.

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Krabi has rather pretty surroundings. And an eagle.

We went for a wander and found the tourist food market which hadn’t interested me. On the contrary, it felt almost local (though you could tell from the hard selling that it wasn’t) so we chose the best-looking stall and I wasn’t going to turn my nose up at 50 baht for a plate of noodles and 20 baht for a can of Sprite.

My first priority the next day was visiting Tiger Cave Temple and attempting the 1,237 step climb up the side of a mountain to get to it. Ash wasn’t remotely keen on this, so I set off on a songthaew with a girl I’d sat next to on the bus from Lanta.

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Look at those steps. LOOK AT HOW STEEP THEY ARE!! Oh, and there’s a monkey.

Within minutes of arriving, we had seen ten monkeys. And as we made our ascent, we passed more. At one point we were surrounded, and as much as I wanted to keep my camera out to get some amazing pictures (and videos!), memories came flooding back of the time I had an attempted mugging by a monkey in Gibraltar.

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We were 500 steps in at this point. I was feeling good, but not positive. By 600 steps, I was waning, the drop behind me completely horrifying but the view was already something else. At 800 steps, I was ready to give up.

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And at 900 steps, I virtually did. Why did I think this was a good idea?! I sat on some steps with the heat crawling over my skin even though I was in the shade. My head pounded, my heart pounded harder, and I cried. Actually cried. I couldn’t give up now.

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And I didn’t! I MADE IT!

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The view was SO worth it, I think!

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Then we got back down and there wasn’t a songthaew in sight. There wouldn’t be one for a while, we were told. We were asked to pay 100 baht each for a taxi ride, or 150 baht between us to sit on the back of a bike. Having paid 60 baht to get there, we had more sense than that.

So we sat and waited. And waited. A policeman invited us to sit with him in his little station at the entrance, as we kept being harassed. And then he offered to ride us into town on HIS bike, with a creepy smile that didn’t tempt us. And then he invited us to eat some leaves with him. Errrrr.

In the end, we haggled down one of the taxis and got back safely. I had booked us into Pak Up! purely because we’d been recommended it so much – and it was worth giving up our private room! Pak Up! used to be a school and the whole hostel is themed as one. We were in the “IT” room and our beds were called Ctrl and Alt. There was a Thai room with place names, and a bunch of other subjects. The bathrooms were gym changing rooms and the bar was called The Playground. It was a lot of fun!

That evening, it was quiz night at the hostel, and we were considering getting a team together – Janee was up for it. I happened to be wandering downstairs when I saw a familiar face checking in at the desk. IT WAS BORIS, our friend from Koh Lanta!

He was only staying one night, so we headed back to the riverside market for some cheap food before signing up for the quiz with a couple of other girls. And we almost won!! We came second by one point.

The next day, we were headed to one of my most anticipated destinations in Thailand: Railay.

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This is why.

We teamed up with a group from our hostel room to get a longtail boat from Krabi pier round to Railay, which is only accessible by boat. We headed straight for West Railay beach – and it was stunning, and virtually empty.

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But I’d heard so much about Phranang Beach, and after enjoying some actually reasonably priced smoothies along the “beach walk” (avoiding the pricey resorts flanking the whole beach), decided we should check it out.

Even the walk itself was cool. Overhanging cliffs shadow the caves below, trees lining it and crawling around it like something out of a movie. Within five minutes (I thought it would be further than that!) we had made it.

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To the most beautiful beach in the entire world.

It was a little busier than Railay had been, but that didn’t matter. The cave is absolutely stunning, even with its famous penis shrine. (sorry, “fertility shrine” to be exact) The longtail boats are like something from a postcard – in fact, they ARE something from a postcard. And the huge, iconic stack in the sea is exactly the image you get from a Thai beach.

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I even walked there through the rocky sea, which was awesome.

We spent some of the afternoon chilling on Phranang, Ash found a rope swing, I befriended a caterpillar, and even as more boats arrived and the beach got busier, I knew we’d found it. Paradise.

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Even Gulliver bear loved it!

And then on the walk back, we saw one of those monkeys that looks shocked all the time! That was it. Thailand officially became one of my favourite countries in the world, as if it had still needed to prove it.

That evening, we said goodbye to Krabi with a beer pong contest in which we drew (it was a timed game) and we had to go to a knock-out round of Twister. Which we lost. But we had a bloody good time, and although Krabi isn’t exactly the best town to visit, it gave us a perfect send off from a wonderful country.

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