Stumbling accidentally upon a rather deserted Tonsai Beach many moons ago, I watched in awe as the sunset bathed the rock face of Tonsai Wall in a tangerine glow. High up on the rock face were the tiny figures of adventurous folk, harnessed in ropes, scaling the heights and stalactites. Had I known then how physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually engaging climbing is, I’d definitely have gotten to grips with real rock much sooner.
While one could certainly laze away hours on the secluded, idyllic beaches of Krabi in Southern Thailand, the siren call that’s lured large numbers of visitors to the province for decades has been more adrenaline fueled: rock climbing.
Krabi is a jaw-dropping paradise that’s also renowned as a world-class climbing spot. It’s home to a number of epic climbing crags, including the famous Railay and Tonsai areas, where there are many hundreds of routes, all within about a 30-minute walk of each other. And you don’t need to turn up fully kitted out or with a climbing partner – full gear rental and professional guides are readily available whether you are trying it out or going all out.
Isolated from the mainland by a mountainous border, a boat is needed to gain access to Pranang Peninsula. The Peninsula includes East Railay, Pranang Cave Beach, West Railay and Tonsai. You most certainly do not have to be a climber to love this setting – there’s plenty to do and discover for any non-climbing travel companions. From hiking to view points and a hidden lagoon, kayaking, island-hopping, standup paddle boarding and slack-lining, the list is endless.
Yet, it is unequivocally a climber’s mecca, ideal for everyone from novice climbers to pros. And those who chalk up are rewarded with the very best views. Climbers make pilgrimages to Krabi all year-round, spending days, weeks and even months ascending the rocks and challenging themselves to ever-harder routes.
Despite the seclusion, it is an easy place to reach. With an international airport, and regular 1 hour and 20 minute flights from Bangkok, Krabi is a no-brainer for an adventurous trip, even just for the weekend. Grab a cab from the airport to Ao Nammao pier, and from there, a 10-15 minute longtail boat ride will take you to a climbers’ happy place.