Railay Beach, Thailand a.k.a Paradise

I checked off a list of cities to visit while backpacking Thailand, and Krabi was number 3.

RAILAY BEACH

Although Railay is not an island, you still have to take a boat over because the location of the mountains blocks off any possible land route. The boat ride is only about 15 minutes, cost 400 Baht, and leaves every hour from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

I debated on a day trip to Railay versus staying there for a few days, and I know now that even if I had planned a day trip I would have stayed anyway.

Because how can you not stay in a place like this:

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Railay Beach just after sunset

 

I haven’t yet mentioned the world renowned rock climbing… Don’t worry, you don’t have to be an expert to try it out. Many people of different skill levels were there, they have everything from beginner to expert routes, and they’ll put you on routes based on your skill level, and they’ll let you try some harder ones if you want to give it a shot.

My guide really pushed me into doing a route that I really didn’t think I could do which involved shimmying over a tough overhang, it felt incredible to conquer it!

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Another hidden gem of the Railay area is the viewpoint lookout and the lagoon, both involve a bit of a sketchy vertical climb.

  • The viewpoint – Took us about 15 minutes to get to, and it was relatively difficult.
  • The lagoon – Took us about about 20 minutes to reach, it was more difficult than the lagoon hike, and we are faster hikers.

Many people didn’t trek to the lagoon as they found it was too far, after the vertical climb up, you basically climb vertically straight back down, so it’s a long round trip for those not used to strenuous hiking. I had read that there was a rope at the end but it was still extremely difficult to get down to, so we were just going to just check it out and see, however my update is that they actually have put in ladders to get down, so it’s really not that bad!

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The lagoon – WORTH THE HIKE!

We climbed it barefoot because we didn’t want to ruin our sneakers. Everyone we passed thought we were crazy! The funny thing is we actually enjoyed the climb a lot more with no shoes – the rocks and roots we were climbing up were very smooth, they honestly didn’t feel real. Being able to grip the smooth surfaces with our whole foot made it easier, I would not have wanted shoes on!

The lagoon was completely EMPTY when we got there, it was such an incredible sight, and the fact that no one was around made it even more beautiful. We got in the water and we yelled to hear our voices echo throughout.

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We couldn’t believe no one was here

 

We finally trekked back up to the viewpoint, which was relatively easy after the lagoon, and signs pointed us in the right direction. The viewpoint was also no disappointment.

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I plan to go back in the future and spend a lot more of my time rock climbing.

Overall, I’m so happy I took a chance on Railay!

 

AO NANG

Because we had an early flight out and wanted to visit the Emerald Pool, Hot Springs, and Tiger Cave Temple, we wanted to get to Ao Nang. In hindsight, Krabi Town would have been a better base as a place to stay.

We hired a driver for the day, as we felt it would be too far for us to scooter. We decided on the following day trip:

  1. Emerald Pool first – we wanted to get there early because we heard it gets quite crowded in the afternoons
  2. Hot springs second – we wanted to experience these before climbing up to the temple, as we didn’t think we’d want a hot bath after the climb
  3. Tiger Cave Temple – a 1,237 step climb (or so they say, it was ACTUALLY 1,260)…

 

Emerald Pool was this stunning clear, cool, turquoise, water, I have never seen anything like it!

Picture to come!

The hot springs were REALLY hot, especially on our poor burnt skin. We still got in and after a minute or so it was enjoyable to sit in.

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Water flows over the smooth rocks

 

Finally, the last stop! We suffered up 1,260 steps. Two stray dogs climbed just in front of us and they would stop and wait for us every so often, taunting us, and our slowness… they put us to shame.

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One of the peaks at Tiger Cave Temple

 

FOR NEXT TIME

I will DEFINITELY revisit Railay Beach!

I’m glad I went to Ao Nang, but I will likely not revisit.

If I had to have chosen one of the two, I would have chosen Railay Beach.

 

 

HB.-

 

 

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Scrambling Mountain Tops

Summit seeking is a passion of mine.

Recently, I went on what has become a popular annual trip with friends to climb Mount Katahdin in Maine, USA and whitewater raft the Penobscot class 5 rapids! However, the rafting story is for another post, another day.

So Mount Katahdin is the centerpiece of Baxter State Park with an elevation of 5,267ft (1,606m), and it has a very interesting intimidating feature – a tail called “Knife’s edge”. I assure you, the name is NOT misleading.

This specific trail is not for the faint of heart as portions of it span no more than a foot from side to side with steep drops on each edge. The 1.1 mile scramble starts from the summit and stretches over to Pamola Peak.

The views are indescribable the entire way across. Katahdin has a bowl-like shape that you can really appreciate as you slowly make (crawl) your way from peak to peak, however you may need to briefly pause here and there to truly appreciate it and not fall off the edge…


Should you decide to make this great climb

I learned the hard way that a parking pass is required, and you must show up by 7a.m. or they will give it away to someone that showed up on time! We arrived at 7 on the dot, which I certainly don’t recommend trying to do. They only allow 35 cars into Roaring Brook parking lot, so purchasing your pass online 14 days ahead of time is your best bet to ensure you don’t miss your day of climbing!

My favorite route on the mountain starts on Chimney Pond Trail. It’s a relatively easy trail that leads up to the base of the mountain, as you can see below:

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The end of chimney pond trail brings you out here!

 

Next up – Cathedral Trail! This is a relatively shorter trail at 1.5 miles, but don’t let that fool you. It’s pretty much a straight shot from the base of the mountain to Baxter Peak, and it’s very much a scramble. This trail isn’t sheltered by any trees so pack some sun screen if you’re heading up on a nice day.

After some lunch at the summit, the moment we have all been waiting for, it’s time to embark onto Knife Edge trail. CAUTION: If it’s rainy and windy, this is a trail you should avoid, as it becomes an extremely dangerous trail in which several people have died or been seriously injured attempting it in inclement weather.

Here’s an idea of what I’m trying to explain:

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A quick glance at the rest of the Knife Edge trek
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Yes there are people in there somewhere!

 

Finally, after a quick stopover at Pamola Peak, it’s time to head down. At this point it has already been a long day, but it’s not over yet.

It’s quite a ways down, but eventually you hit the beginning of Chimney Pond again and you know you’ve completed the loop. Congratulations!!

I recommend visiting Mount Katahdin to any regular hiker. There are many different trails to suit your needs, and Chimney Pond never fails as a beautiful less strenuous family hike if you’re short on time or not ready to climb to the peak. They also offer lean-to camping, which I haven’t experienced personally, but I’m certain it would be a beautiful spot to camp out before a big climb.

We stayed at Big Moose Inn Cabins – which is only 8 miles from the gate, and it is the last available accommodations that offer electricity and plumbing before you get to Katahdin, so we opted for the luxury “camping” this time :).

 


Things to bring in your day pack

  • Long sleeve/wind breaker for the summit
  • Flashlight
  • Small medical kit (bandaids, blister relief, etc.)
  • Whistle
  • At least 2.5 liters of water
  • Lunch and snacks that include protein
  • Camera
  • A beer for the top!

 

Trail Summary of my favourite route

  • Chimney Pond Trail (3.3 Miles – easy/moderate hike)
  • Cathedral Trail (1.5 Miles  – Strenuous)
  • Knife Edge Trail (1.1 Miles – Very Strenuous)
  • Helon Taylor Trail (3.2 Miles – Strenuous)

 

For additional information please visit: Baxter State Park – Hiking Mount Katahdin

 

HB.