I have always loved travel and exploring new places and now with trip advisor and Pinterest and Buzzfeed posting travel articles constantly I am falling in love everyday with new places. I have seen pictures of the Rayavadee on Buzzfeed’s list of top hotels and places to stay out before you die (http://www.buzzfeed.com/chelseypippin/21-incredible-places-you-must-stay-in-before-you-die) and all over Pinterest and voted as a top hotel in Thailand. I guess you could say I became a little bit obsessed with this place.
Matt and I had decided with our original plan that we would visit Krabi and stay on Railay beach, but the hotel selections were shitty compared to the Rayavadee. Long story short while in Koh Phangan we were able to snag a room at the lowest rate possible and I couldn’t be more excited.
From the second we stepped off the plane until the second we boarded our next plane, the Rayavadee treated us like Kings and Queens. We had a private car take us to a private boat lined with white leather couches, air-conditioned and endless amounts of water to drive up to the hotel’s lobby. While checking in we were given a welcome drink, flowers, cool towels and a map of the hotel property. We were taken by golf cart over to our room situated in a private cove close to the pool and Railay beach. The room was the largest room I have ever stayed in. It was two stories with a couch, chairs, desk, big screen TV, fruit, mini-bar and bathroom downstairs with the bedroom and second bathroom upstairs.
We were given a complimentary bottle of Champaign upon arrival with an endless amount of fresh fruit and water. We quickly jumped into our bathing suits and explored the grounds of the hotel.The Rayavadee has property on three beaches, Railay beach, which can be reached only by boats but has other hotels on the property as well, Pranang beach (translates to Princess beach), which only the Rayavadee has property on and a third beach where the boats come to pick us up.
We felt like we were in a luxurious forest with tall trees, large ponds filled with catfish floating around and white traditional Thai flowers decorated the outsides. The tree trunks in the lobby and restaurant that served breakfast were carved with beautiful designs. Every detail of the hotel was beautiful.
The best part of the property was the resident monkeys who made the Rayavadee their natural home and climbed throughout the trees above. One morning we woke up to a family of monkeys climbing all over our roof, windows, doors and trees surrounding our room. The gray monkeys surrounding our room were harmless but curious and loved coming up to our windows andlooking in. The brown monkeys that lined the beaches were aggressive and we watched them open up peoples bag, find food and take it out.
Our first night at the Rayavadee we made a reservation to eat at the Thai restaurant perched on the beach next to the cliffs. We went to bed in the clean fluffy room and struggled for a little while to figure out how to turn off all the lights. We woke up hungry again and ready to indulge in the breakfast buffet that was complimentary as part of our reservation. The buffet was made for a queen filled with endless selections of bread, cheese, yogurts, fruits, cereals, Thai dishes and more. We were able to order any breakfast item we wanted or even Asian dishes to indulge in made fresh to order. When we felt like we couldn’t eat anymore we dove into the ocean. Railay beach was very unique as the ocean is a tinted green color filled with silky sand and tall towering cliffs on each side.
We decided to join the complimentary activity of the day and ventured across the beach to climb through one of the cliffs in search of bats and viewpoints. After climbing ladders in the dark with flashlights on our heads we found a few bats sleeping above us and flying around. The cave was decorated with green, white and brown limestone ice cycles. It was an adventure to be had and the climbs were tough but the views over looking the beach were worth it.
That night we had a date night in the famous grotto restaurant. The restaurant is inside a cave with cascading limestone down on the beach over looking the sunset – it is one of the most incredible restaurants and views I have ever seen. The sunset was even more colorful than Koh Tao and spread across the sky with bright pink and orange hues. I could have sat there all day watching the sunset. Matt and I shared king prawns and a spicy seafood udon noodle dish that we requested they make as spicy as possible. The dish made Matt sweat but he couldn’t stop eating it. No amount of wine could cool him down but ill give it to him, he never stopped no matter how sweaty he got. Our waiter even brought over some extra cool towels for us.
The next day we headed off on a boat tour with the hotel to check out the islands neighboring Railay Beach. We knew we wanted to see Phi Phi Island but most of the options we were given from the tourist stands on the beach had awful reviews on trip advisor and we were really concerned to give them a try. We decided to spend a little extra money and went on the tour that the Rayavadee offered and we were not disappointed. We had a private boat where we were able to sit on the boa outside and shared the experience with one other Belgium couple. On our way to Phi Phi Island we passed tons of small mounds climbing out of the water forming cliffs the views were incredible.
Our first stop was at a snorkel spot where we saw tons of bright colored friendly fish swimming about and huge coral reefs. We continued cruising along looking at the bright blue crystal clear water and were amazed at every tall mound we saw. We continued on until we approached an entire row of cliffs and mounds with the brightest crystal clear water I have ever seen. As we got closer I realized that we were at Maya Bay, where the movie the beach was filmed and said to be the most beautiful beach in the world. It was beautiful all right but it was also the most crowded place I have ever seen with boats lined up and the beach covered in people – we were told that it actually wasn’t that busy and it usually gets even busier. We grabbed a few pictures from the boat and made our way over to Phi Phi Islands. We were able to jump off the boat and snorkel except other boats packed with people like sardines surrounded us. At one island they scared a turtle into his cave but our guide was able to take Matt down with him and they got a pretty awesome view of the sleeping turtle that crawled inside the cave afraid. On our way back we were taken to a private section of bamboo island we were given a delicious homemade lunch with enough food to feed an army. We were able to swim in the crystal clear water alone without anyone around us, it was peaceful and we just listened to the waves crashing and watched the boats pass by. The Phi Phi Islands were beautiful and we had a perfect day on our trip but packed with people and so touristy that we were happy we had decided not to stay there.
It was our last night at the Rayavadee so we dressed up, ordered a bottle of wine and ate as much food as we could as we sat inside a cave overlooking the ocean. Every meal we ate here got better and better, even the bread was incredible.
Leaving the Rayavadee I cried, it was such a special experience I knew I might never get to have again. The service was impeccable; they knew us by name and room number the entire time. We are young and they could have easily dismissed us and paid us no attention but they didn’t do that. We felt cared about by a resort in a way I have never experienced. They laid out our towels before we sat down in our chairs, placed slippers by our bed, made us a bath filled with flowers and even put cookies next to our bedside. We waved goodbye to our new friends standing on the beach as our boat sailed away and we were headed to our last new stop in Northern Thailand.