Railay: Jungle Dwellings and Cave Rapelling
This trip to Thailand has brought me back to many of the spots I visited five years ago — namely, Railay and Chiang Mai. The former is definitely more built up than it was the first time around, and beer is twice as expensive (!). Still, Railay beach is beyond stunning, thanks to the striking cliffs surrounding the tranquil bay and emerging dramatically from the ocean (the sunsets aren’t half bad, too).
A couple highlights from our few days here. One was staying at the Railei Beach Club, a gorgeous collection of raised, Thai-style wooden houses built alongside the beach and stretching back into the jungle. All of the houses are individually owned — the Club was started by two expats in the mid-’80s who, having come across Railay Beach, decided that they needed to get all of their friends there to experience the beauty. In addition to a prime location (minutes from the beach), our house was a stunning wooden affair (pictured above), filled with bright pillows, thoughtful details, and outdoor showers with views of the cliff faces behind. We were also able to have a wonderful Thai woman named Joy cook us dinner on our last night.
The other major win of this stint in Railay was actually doing some outdoor climbing — the area is a major climbing destination, and despite being a little out of climbing shape (read: completely and totally out of climbing shape), it was great to give it a shot. My beginner status aside, being rewarded with a gorgeous view of the ocean and surrounding cliffs was well worth the effort. Even better was scrambling through a cavernous, bat-filled cave, up bamboo ladders, and emerging from a hole in the massive, iconic rock (above, to the left) flanking the south side of Railay beach. Obviously, the best way to get down was to rappel… easily one of the coolest things I’ve done of late.