Is Railay Beach Closed: What You Need To Know (2024)

Come find out whether or not Railay Beach closed and what this means for travelers. Let’s dive through all the information to determine what is true.

So if you have been scrolling the internet recently, perhaps planning your trip to Thailand to some incredible island beaches. However, after looking a bit deeper, you notice Thai authorities have shut down some areas of Southern Island, including the incredibly popular Railay Bay.

The announcement was issued on Monday the 13th of May and brought into action from Thursday the 16th of May until further notice. The Krabi islands that will be temporarily closed are:

  • Kai Island (Chicken Island) in the north, east, and west (Kang Kao Bay/Bat Bay)
  • Poda Island in the north, and Pu Ya Bay Dang Island (Red Island),
  • Railay Bay (Bird Nest Island or Happy Island)
  • Yawasam Island

Though, what exactly does this mean? People are living there that rely on tourist dollars to survive, surely you can’t just shut them off randomly one random day in May! Well, this is exactly how it sounds, but with a few caveats thrown in as well which will change how it affects you.

So let’s get into everything you need to know about this closure and figure out if Railay Beach is closed. And what exactly does this mean for travelers?

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Why Are Thailand Authorities Closing Islands?

Thailand authorities are closing certain islands to protect and preserve the natural environment, particularly the coral reefs and marine ecosystems, which have been severely damaged by over-tourism and environmental degradation.

The closures are part of a broader effort to promote sustainable tourism and ensure that the islands and reef systems can recover and thrive for future generations.

Key reasons for these closures include:

Environmental Degradation: The influx of tourists has led to significant coral bleaching, pollution, and disruption of marine life.

Overtourism: Popular islands and beaches have been overwhelmed by the number of visitors, leading to unsustainable levels of foot traffic and infrastructure strain.

Conservation Efforts: Authorities aim to allow ecosystems time to regenerate, which includes replanting corals and protecting endangered species.

Long-term Sustainability: By closing islands temporarily, the goal is to create a balance between tourism and environmental conservation, ensuring these attractions remain viable in the long run. These measures reflect a growing recognition of the need to balance economic benefits from tourism with the imperative to protect natural habitats.

A wide view of Railay Beach with its iconic limestone cliffs in the background and a few people enjoying the shallow waters.
the main beach on railay where the long tail boats arrive

So Is Railay Bay Closed?

Well, the answer is Railay Beach closed is both yes and no. It’s a bit of a complicated one.

So technically the latest closures relate to marine activities, specifically snorkeling and diving. As you can imagine Railay is surrounded by water and beautiful beaches which are certainly enticing so no doubt this new news is going to put a lot of people off visiting.

However, I must say there are so many incredible beaches in Thailand, to the point that you don’t actually visit Railay for the beach! Nor would I recommend going there for the snorkeling as there is a damn lot of boat traffic around it doesn’t seem worth the risk.

Instead, it’s a great spot surrounded by beautiful limestone cliffs providing an outer-worldly landscape. You can still relax on the beaches and enjoy hotel pools. Honestly, I didn’t find the beaches on Railay overly exceptional so this wouldn’t affect me.

Note: I have confirmed this closure ONLY affects snorkeling and diving. You are still able to swim from the beach and enjoy the ocean! So don’t cancel your Railay trip thinking you will be stuck on land the whole time!

Krabi Islands ARE CLOSED | Thailand Closes Krabi Islands
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Alternatives To Railay Bay

If hearing you cant snorkel or dive at Railay Bay is making you reconsider your holiday plans, no worries there are still some other excellent options around.

One of my favorites, not too far from Railay Beach is Ton Sai Bay. This is a quaint spot, still in the same incredible environment but with much more low-key vibes. You can find some excellent resorts here, plus there are affordable options as well for those on a budget.

Traveling further down the coast you could also head to Koh Lanta. This is a short boat trip or drive from Krabi and is an excellent island option with a chill vibe. Improvements are happening big time here with construction going on, newly paved roads, and big resorts popping up. Though this is a big island, so it will take a while for it to seem ‘overrun’ by tourism.

Nevertheless, if you are keen to be more in civilization, and perhaps a bit of a party scene Koh Phi Phi is a great choice and hasn’t been affected by these closures.

A monkey mother cuddling her baby in the lush forested area near Railay Beach, depicting the rich wildlife and tranquil environment.
some of the wildlife in railay
A long-tail boat named "Wang Sai" anchored near a towering limestone cliff covered in greenery at Railay Beach. The presence of boats and tourists hints at the beach being operational
long boat lined up on the shoreline of railay

When Will Railay Bay Reopen

Now the real question here is when we Railay Bay actually reopen?

Well, they have officially said these closures are in place until further notice, which honestly hasn’t provided us with even a hint of an answer.

Some Thai islands normally close during the low seasons, primarily to allow for environmental recovery and to ensure safety during the monsoon season. Some of the notable islands and beaches that often experience closures include Similan Islands, Koh Rok and Koh Ha, Surin Islands, and parts of Mu Koh Ang Thong National Park.

These closures help mitigate the impact of tourism on these ecosystems, giving them a chance to recover and ensuring their long-term sustainability. Additionally, the monsoon season can bring rough seas and dangerous weather conditions, making these closures a safety measure as well. In this case, we definitely know these are going to open when the high season hits, typically in November.

However in terms of the spots in Hat Noppharat Thara Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park, it is unknown, we could say and hope it will be in November this year when the high season starts, though I could just be providing false promises.

Instead, I recommend looking at what you find important from a destination, is it really snorkeling and diving, and decide whether it impacts you enough to change your trip plans.

Lively street scene at Railay Beach with tourists walking past shops and cafes, set against the backdrop of lush green hills and a clear blue sky.
beautiful cliffs lingering over the quaint town on railay
A sunny street on Railay Beach lined with small shops and restaurants, featuring a chalkboard menu offering seafood BBQ options like red snapper and tiger prawn.
walking down one of the streets passing bbq restaurant
Aerial view of Railay Beach with sandy shores, numerous boats docked near the water, and lush greenery surrounding the area under a bright sky.
looking out over the beautiful railay beach

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How This May Affect You: Island Tours

Now these closures are related to snorkeling and diving so they are most likely to affect you in the way of available snorkeling tours.

If you are planning to visit Krabi or Ao Nang you will find pretty quickly there isn’t the best snorkeling from the beaches there, and this is pretty normal in busy towns where the marine ecosystems aren’t in the best shape. Therefore the best way to explore the marine life is by taking a snorkeling tour to some nearby spots.

Unfortunately one of the most popular snorkeling tours was actually the Four Island tour which includes stops at Tub Island, Chicken Island, Poda Island, and Pranang Cave. Now a lot of operators have actually removed this itinerary from their offerings, at least while the closures last as it does affect two of the stops.

Now in terms of an alternative choice for a snorkeling tour from Krabi or Ao Nang, my best recommendation is to do the Hong Island Tour.

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Here you will have the opportunity to explore four superb islands of the Hong Island group, considered some of the most beautiful in Krabi province.

First up is the main island itself, Hong Island, which is shaped like a half-circle and uninhabited except for birds, white-faced gibbons, and giant monitor lizards you might spot on the pristine white sand beach.

Inside the island, there’s a large lagoon where you can truly connect with nature. The entrance to the lagoon is through a dramatic cliff passage—make sure to snap some photos on your way out. The tour also includes at least two great snorkeling stops, each about 40 minutes.

The best one is at Lao Lading Island, a small limestone island with high cliffs and sandy, sheltered beaches. Then, head to Pakbia Island to take photos and swim at the impressive sandbars revealed at low tide.

View from a long-tail boat on Railay Beach, showing the engine, a coiled rope, and the expansive sea under a bright blue sky with scattered clouds. This image suggests boating activities are ongoing, posing the question: "Is Railay Beach closed?"
taking the boat from ao nang to railay beach

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Why Does This Closure JUST Affect Snorkelers & Divers

Honestly, as a diver and a lover of life under the water, this sort of hits a sore spot, like a personal attack. Why does it affect just us and not the many other beachgoers?

Well, I like to think divers like myself practice and are taught good techniques to respect the environment. I mean honestly divers are some of the most respectful of reef systems out of everyone, collecting rubbish, and respecting the marine life. This is something taught in courses and is encouraged by good dive schools.

However, after my recent trip to Thailand, I found that not all dive instructors and schools are made equal, which made me reconsider many things. I mean even though you and I may have good intentions, not everyone does.

Also, I will say I have been lucky enough to go on snorkeling tours all around the world, and they all had one thing in common, snorkelers disrespecting the reef whether this is standing on coral, lifting things up, or just being a straight-up dick.

Nevertheless, these are the main reasons why this closure just affects snorkelers and divers: *sob*

Coral Reef Protection: Snorkeling and diving often involve close interaction with coral reefs, which are highly sensitive to human activity. Touching, standing on, or even swimming too close to corals can damage them. By restricting these activities, authorities aim to give the reefs a chance to recover and regenerate.

Marine Life Disturbance: Divers and snorkelers can inadvertently disturb marine life, including fish, sea turtles, and other creatures that rely on the reefs for habitat. Limiting these activities helps reduce stress on these species, promoting healthier marine populations.

Pollution Reduction: Snorkelers and divers sometimes bring pollutants into the water, such as sunscreen and other personal care products, which can harm marine ecosystems. The closure helps minimize this pollution, creating a cleaner, healthier environment.

Ecosystem Recovery: The restriction allows for the overall ecosystem to recover from the impact of tourism. This includes not just the coral reefs but also the underwater vegetation and the broader marine environment.

Another underwater scene at Railay Beach showing a starfish resting on green and brown corals, with clear blue water above.
evidence of coral bleaching affecting the reef
: Underwater view of a vibrant coral reef at Railay Beach, featuring colorful corals and a variety of fish, including a prominent black and white striped fish.
some of the snorkeling around the krabi province

What Can You Do To Help

If you want to help preserve and protect marine ecosystems like those in Railay Bay, there are several steps you can take as a responsible traveler:

Follow Local Guidelines: Respect and adhere to any closures or restrictions put in place by authorities. These measures are designed to protect the environment and ensure its long-term health.

Use Reef-Safe Sunscreen: Choose sunscreens that do not contain harmful chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate, which can damage coral reefs. Look for products labeled as reef-safe or mineral-based.

Reduce Plastic Use: Minimize your use of single-use plastics, which can end up in the ocean and harm marine life. Bring reusable water bottles, bags, and containers with you.

Support Sustainable Tourism: Choose tour operators and accommodations that prioritize sustainable practices and environmental conservation. Look for certifications or memberships in eco-friendly organizations.

Participate in Clean-Up Efforts: Join local beach clean-ups or underwater clean-up dives if available. Your efforts can help remove debris that harms marine ecosystems.

Educate Yourself and Others: Learn about the marine environment and the challenges it faces. Share your knowledge with fellow travelers to promote responsible behavior and awareness.

Several long-tail boats with colorful flags are lined up in the water with towering cliffs in the background at Railay Beach. This busy scene implies active tourist engagement, questioning if Railay Beach is closed.
long tail boats and the impressive cliffs surrounding this paradise

Wrap Up: What The Railay Beach Closure Really Means

The closure of Railay Bay to snorkeling and diving serves as a crucial reminder of the delicate balance between tourism and environmental conservation.

While visitors can still stay and enjoy the scenery, the restrictions on water activities highlight the urgent need to protect marine ecosystems from further damage. This temporary measure aims to allow coral reefs and marine life the opportunity to recover and thrive, ensuring that Railay Bay remains a beautiful destination for future generations.

As travelers, it is essential to respect and support these conservation efforts. By doing so, we contribute to the preservation of these islands, allowing us to enjoy their beauty responsibly. The Railay Bay closure is a step towards sustainable tourism, showing that this is the best way forward and something we will see more commonly in the future, in Thailand and elsewhere.

Any Questions? Let Me Know In The Comments!


Come find out whether or not Railay Beach closed and what this means for travelers. Lets dive through all the information to figure out what is true or not.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. So, if you click on it and purchase something, I get a small percentage at no extra cost to you. As always all opinions are my own and your support is much appreciated.

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2 thoughts on “Is Railay Beach Closed: What You Need To Know (2024)

  1. Avatar for Joanna Romero
    Joanna Romero says:

    We have booked 2 nights at a hotel on Railay in November. Do you think it will effect our ability to get to and from the hotel as I know you cannot drive there and need to go by boat. 🛶

    • Avatar for Tasha Amy
      Tasha Amy says:

      Hey Joanna! I will definitely need to add this to the article! But you won’t have any issues getting there by boat. It’s the corals underwater the authorities are worried about. The long tail boats have a nice sandy patch where they arrive, and there are no coral in this part :)

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