A hiking guide to the famous East Railay Viewpoint & Hidden Lagoon (Princess Lagoon) in Railay Beach, Krabi, Thailand.
Visiting Railay Beach and looking for an epic viewpoint hike? What about a hidden lagoon nested beneath towering limestone cliffs in the middle of the jungle?
If this sounds like your kind of adventure, then you’re in for a treat. The Railay Viewpoint hike is a short but steep hike involving some muddy jungle scrambling to an awesome viewpoint of East Railay Beach. On the same track, you can walk down to the Princess Lagoon (Sa Phra Nang), Railay’s hidden lagoon, a great place for swimming in the jungle!
In this guide, I’ll break down everything you need to know about this awesome hike in Railay while offering some insights into what you might expect based on my experience on the trail.
- About the East Railay Viewpoint & Princess Lagoon Hike
- How to Get to the Railay Viewpoint Trailhead
- What to Expect on the Railay Beach Viewpoint Hike
- Things to Know Before You Hike
- More Krabi Travel Guides & Adventure Inspiration
I'm Olly, a full-time traveler for the past 5 years. I visit every destination I write about & handpick all recommendations.
About the East Railay Viewpoint & Princess Lagoon Hike
Railay is a fairly small peninsula, but packs in a tonne of adventure opportunities. As far as Railay's viewpoints go, the Railay East Viewpoint is one of the best! However, be prepared for a steep climb involving thick ropes and a bit of rock climbing and scrambling to get there (especially steep on the way down to Princess Lagoon).
Although at only 290 meters to the viewpoint from the trailhead, or just 1 kilometer (return trip) if you walk to the lagoon, it really is almost vertical the whole way.
However, you don't need any special equipment like ropes to do this hike. Although I walked in flip-flops, I'd recommend you wear running or hiking shoes.
How to Get to the Railay Viewpoint Trailhead
First things first, you have to get to Railay. There are no roads leading to the peninsula, so you must take a boat. I've written a guide on how to get to Railay, which covers all the best & cheapest options from Ao Nang Beach, Krabi Town, and beyond. To make it easier you might book accommodation and leave from one of Railays Beach hotels or resorts.
Once you arrive at Railay, you'll find the trailhead for both the Railay East Viewpoint & the Princess Lagoon roughly halfway along the walking track from Railay East Beach to Phra Nang Beach.
As you walk towards Phra Nang (one of the most beautiful beaches in Thailand), keep an eye on the left side, where you'll spot the steep, orange trail leading up the slope, this is the trailhead. Below I've pinned the exact location to help you find it.
What to Expect on the Railay Beach Viewpoint Hike
- Hike Distance: 1 km (0.62 mi) return trip (including Railay Lagoon)
- Hike Duration: 1-2 hours
- Elevation: 130 meters total elevation gain (including up & down to the lagoon)
- Difficulty: Moderate (steep rock scrambling)
As I'd assume most travelers would, I stumbled upon this trail while walking from Railay East Beach to Phra Nang Beach. I noticed that there was a sign (pictured below) with a map and hike details beside the trail.
The steep trail leading up the orange, muddy slopes also caught my attention. So, looking for an adventure, we began climbing up the hill, with a bunch of monkeys looking on. Below I'll break down each section to help you prepare.
Climb Up the Wall to The Crossroad - 90 Meters
The first section is just 90 meters, but it is pretty much vertical, climbing quickly to around 60 meters above sea level. The good thing about this is that the steepest bit is right at the start, which tends to quickly deter anybody not prepared.
However, in true Thai backpacker fashion, most of the people I saw on the trail were walking barefoot in bikinis and board shorts.
The track has really good limestone holds all the way up, so the scramble is pretty easy in terms of technicality. Rock climbers won't struggle but if you've never done any climbing you might. There's also a thick rope marking the only way up, making the climb to the viewpoint easier. However, I'd say that if it was raining it'd be quite the slippery challenge.
After 90 meters, you'll arrive at the top, where you'll see a sign indicating the Railay East Viewpoint at 110 meters to the left, or the Hidden Lagoon 155 meters to the right.
Short Walk to the Viewpoint - 110 Meters
Once you're at the top, you can relax as the climbing is finished. The last bit is just a short 110-meter leisurely stroll to the viewpoint through dense jungle. Just follow the obvious track and ignore the turn-offs.
The View from Railay East Viewpoint
Arriving at the viewpoint, you'll notice a small roped-off clearing overlooking Railay East Beach. Here, you can see the floating dock and rows of long tail boats.
The elevated position also means you can see over the palm-lined isthmus over to the white sands of West Railay Beach. The view point offers an expansive, panoramic view of the Railay Peninsula all the way to Tonsai Beach.
We stayed here for 10 minutes or so, snapping some photos before the gathering high season crowds encouraged us to continue to the lagoon.
Hike from East Railay Viewpoint to the Princess Lagoon (Hidden Lagoon) - 265 Meters
Instead of turning back on the same trail, you can continue down to the right of the viewpoint for a quick loop back to the crossroad. Once you arrive, continue straight, following the sign to the lagoon.
The section leading to the Railay Lagoon is the steepest and most challenging scramble and separated into two walls. The first leads down to a small flat area beside a huge tree. Then, immediately to the left, the steepest part begins.
This section is quite fun, and even has a bit where you need to squeeze through small opening hole to descend. Once you're at the jungle floor, you can dive straight into the lagoon!
Swimming at Railay Beach Lagoon
Whether you call it the Railay Lagoon, the Princess Lagoon, or Sa Phra Nang– it really is a tropical jungle oasis. The water color is a deep emerald and surrounded by jungle-covered, towering limestone cliffs.
When we visited in the late afternoon, we had magical rays of light shining through the tops of the canopy. The water is roughly 1.5 meters deep in the middle, which is good for swimming but there are no cliff jumps here.
Along the sides of the lagoon there are many caves, just take care when walking along the rocks because they are really sharp.
We spent about 45 minutes here cooling off in the refreshing waters before climbing back up the slope.
Return to Railay Bay - 235 Meters
Don't worry, once you've made it to the lagoon, the most difficult climb is over. The climb back up is much easier than on the way down. And, the final descent back to the start is also much easier than the descent to the lagoon.
Where to Stay at Railay
Railay is a small peninsula with no cars or road transport. Therefore, you can walk to all the pristine beaches, where most of the best Railay Beach hotels and resorts are located. There are also a few budget backpacker hostels right on the beach.
Below are the top 3 places to stay in Railay for each budget.
2. Tinidee Hideaway Villa
Amazing sea-view villas overlooking the impeccable Tonsai Beach. The most romantic place to stay for couples. Features a beachside pool & world-class breakfast included.
3. Blanco Hideout Budget
Easily the best backpacker hostel in Railay featuring a pool, two bars, a restaurant, a gym, and great common areas for sunbathing and meeting other travelers.
Things to Know Before You Hike
I hope this guide to hiking to Railay East Viewpoint and the amazing Princess Lagoon in Railay has been a useful adventure preparation tool! Before you shoot off, here are some quick pointers you might want to know (especially those who skim-read this blog)!
- Did I mention this was steep? - prepare mentally as coming down is much harder than going up on steep slopes like this!
- Wear enclosed footwear - yeah I know, you're in Thailand. If you struggle with heights or climbing steep faces, I recommend leaving the flip-flops behind.
- Prepare for rain - luckily, I hiked to the Railay viewpoint in decent weather. However, in a heavy rainy season downpour, I'd imagine that this climb would be a nightmare, and pretty dangerous too!
- Take your time - there's no rush, but plenty of opportunity to slip. Remember though, there's only one way up and down. So, be considerate to others by letting them pass if you notice that they are faster than you.
- Visit the lagoon - the main attraction here is the Railay East Viewpoint. However, since the Princess Lagoon is on the same trail, I highly recommend taking the detour. It's one of the best things to do in the Railay area and one of my favorite highlights when visiting Railay.
Another epic viewpoint in Railay:The Railay Bat Cave (Phra Nang)
More Krabi Travel Guides & Adventure Inspiration
And, that's a wrap for this Railay East VIewpoint hiking guide, good luck! Still planning your adventures in Krabi and the Railay Peninsula? Make sure to check out some of my other guides below for more inspiration!