There are three main beaches in Railay; two are easily accessible. The third beach is only accessible when the tide is out, then you can walk along the rocks and sand to the third beach. Once the tide is in, you are stranded on the third beach. Unless, you want to do the two hour (approximate) hike back through the jungle. I happened to do the hike (who doesn’t like a good hike?) and on a sweltering day, wearing flip flops, and having to cut through the jungle, pull yourself up embankments and avoid snakes/spiders, I wouldn’t recommend this. Just keep in mind of the tide times! One of the best ways to enjoy Railay is to rent a kayak and go out on the crystal clear waters. You will get stunning views of the rocky coastline, limestone cliffs, and natural beauty, all while getting a fabulous tan.
After a week or so beaching it in Railay, we continued on our back-packing journey, through to Ko Phi Phi, Phuket, and then onwards to the oh-so famous Ko Pha-ngan. It is a beautiful island to visit, but you will not find much of true Thai culture here. This place is catered towards the backpacker. A lot of the bars are playing Friends and Family Guy, serving pizza and french fries, and everyone knows English. Ko Pha-ngan is well known for having massive beach parties in honour of the full moon. Bar shacks line the beach, selling buckets full of booze and Red Bull, music is blasting from stages, and fire dancers are everywhere. Everyone is covered in glow in the dark paint and wearing cheap Full Moon Party tank tops. These parties are easily a good time, but they are not free from danger, drugs, or injury. Cheap Thai whiskey fuels intoxication and skipping the fire jump rope can leave a few people with some lasting burns. Combine that with a dark ocean and a small mountain of rocks… The doctors on the island sure keep busy.
If you want to come to Thailand, these islands are definitely in the top most beautiful places in the world; however, you may find it hard to experience and enjoy Thai culture. For this, you will need to get off of the well-travelled backpacker trail, which can be a bit difficult in this popular country.