We had an amazing time spending Christmas on Tonsai beach. We were glad we ignored warnings of inflated high season prices and lack of vacancies, having no problem finding a private bungalow for $14USD. Tonsai, Railay West, Railay East, and Nang Cave Beach are neighboring beaches that are geologically very similar, each reachable from the other by kayak or longboat. Tonsai being the budget backpacker option, while the other beaches have resorts ranging from expensive to outrageous.
Tonsai Beach is to the Andaman Sea what camp 4 is to Yosemite. Attracting the Climber and Hippie crowd, the bars all have slack lines, fire dance shows and advertise mushroom shakes embracing the anything goes vibe.
We saw several groups of Spectacled leaf monkeys, also known as Dusky Langur, in the area. A group of six were right above our bungalow. From a distance they look truly bizarre. The white fur around their eyes and mouth look like big cartoon eyes and teeth.
The absolute best way to experience the area is by kayak, only 400 baht ($12USD) for a full day rental, including dry bag, and snorkel gear. We headed out early on christmas eve and had an amazing day.
We found a completely empty beach half way to Railay East. We were so excited that we carelessly dumped our things on shore and the sea almost took our kayak while we were relaxing.
All around stunning, Nang Cave Beach has massive tufas right on the shore. It is the most swimmable beach we have experienced yet in South East Asia, exceptionally soft sand, warm clear blue water, and the views! The cave on the beach houses hundreds of wooded penis sculptures. The crowd gathered in this picture is watching some kind of traditional dance ceremony in the cave.