Rockclimbing in Krabi, Thailand
Updated: Sep 30, 2019
Almost every climber with outdoor aspirations has either been to, or dreams of scaling the rocks in, the southern Thailand paradise of Krabi, adorned with dramatic rocky landscapes, thick jungle and epic off-shore island vistas...
One of my personal favourites for outdoor climbing, Krabi Province, in the South of Thailand, is a veritable mecca for rockclimbers in Southeast Asia. With hundreds and hundreds of well-maintained, titanium bolted, marine-glue fixed routes with strong slings and firm anchors, it is almost a rite of passage for any self-respecting climber to scaling its stunning limestone walls.
Although Krabi has many climbing locations dotted around, the main attraction is a comprehensive combination of Railay and Tonsai, reachable only by boat from various ports, including Ao Nammao (best access for East Railay) and Ao Nang (most convenient for West Railay and Tonsai Bay). These two destinations, side by side, offer stellar climbing opportunities for all level of climbers, with Tonsai providing the most challenging options and Railay safe for even the clumsiest beginners.
With friendly climbing guides and instructors at reasonable prices, all gear available for rent, copious accommodation types for all budgets, from backpacker to luxury lover, this truly is a climbing must. Whether you bring all your own gear and climbing buddies, or travel solo and go with the flow, it's easy to find your way around and climb your heart out. Meeting fellow climbers, and finding people to play on the rocks with, is a cinch, if you're polite and friendly, particularly if you have your own rope and quickdraws! Even in low season (May to October), someone is always looking for others to climb with.
For cheaper accommodation, look to Tonsai or East Railay, as West Railay is now full of more expensive resorts with pools. On East Railay, Rapala is cheap and cheerful, Anyavee has a pool and cool wooden bungalows, while Avatar is one of my preferred haunts - an eco-build, with a pool and all the necessary mod-cons. If you're on a shoestring, then definitely look to Tonsai or even consider tented options, but arm yourself with plenty of bug spray and/or mosquito coils.
Be sure to either consult the locals or a guidebook, to find out what time of day the tides are in and out, and which crags are shaded or in the sun, as this naturally changes all year round. However, rest assured that all times of the days, all year around, you'll always find something to climb that isn't in the sun, isn't being rained upon (in low season) and isn't swarming with annoying insects or monkeys!
Discover cool multi-pitch climbs, breathtaking ocean views and legendary landscapes while you ascend and descend amazing routes, with new ones being added all the time. Eat delicious Thai food, hang out in fun and funky open-air bars and restaurants, dip in the ocean, kayak on crystal waters, hike to the lagoon and viewpoints, or just laze on the beach on your rest days. After a hardcore climbing session, you'll also fully appreciate the wide array of massage shops in both Railay and Tonsai.
If you are looking for gear or guides, I recommend Basecamp on Tonsai, or Real Rocks and Tex Climbing on Railay. While East and West Railay are connected by simple paths, it's also easy to traverse from Railay to Tonsai, so you can always climb both areas, in the same day, without having to hop in a long tail boat. At very high tide, you can take the jungle path from one beach to the other (about half an hour walk). As the tide ebbs away, you can cross via the beach over the headland (approx. 10-15mins), and at low tide it's actually possible to walk around the headland across the rocks, which is the quickest route - just be careful of slippery and jagged rocks!
With too many incredible crags and routes to mention, all dependent on what level you dare to climb, lead or top rope, I'll just make a few recommendations, for must-climbs for avid climbers and leave you to mull over the visual info on the pictures in this post. Beginners should stick to the easier routes on places such as 1-2-3 Wall, Diamond Cave and Phranang Cave Beach, in Railay. Yet, note, those are not exclusively for beginners! There are challenging climbs in those beautiful areas too.
Otherwise, be sure to also check out Thaiwand Wall and Candlestick Wall in Railay, and then don't miss Tyrolean Wall, Dum's Kitchen, Monkey World, Firewall, Cobra Wall and Eagle Wall on Tonsai. Arm yourself with mosquito coils and a lighter, particularly after rain or during more humid months, or take a friend like me, who mosquitos love, and you'll be left alone!
Note: While the links I've provided will give you the general idea, nothing beats the local guidebooks, such as the one from Basecamp, with all of the updated info and new routes, etc. It's definitely worth investing in one, if you plan to climb extensively.)
Do feel free to contact me, if you have any questions, or leave a comment... I'll be happy to assist, where I can, with update-to-date climbing info and recommendations.