Thailand is considered by many to be the rock climber’s paradise in Southeast Asia. Here are some can’t miss spots for anyone planning a climbing trip to this gorgeous country!
1. Krabi Island Climbing
If you’re looking for some time on the beach for an incredible swim after a long day climbing, then head south to the island of Krabi for some of the most spectacular climbing landscapes you’ve ever experienced. Here you will find the famous Ton Sai Beach, the site of oceanside stalactite sport-climbing routes of your wildest climbing dreams, along with other gems that Thailand has to offer. If you’re looking to take a course while you’re in the area, Krabi Rock Climbing.com school offers a wide variety of options for climbers of all abilities.
1. Railay Beach
On an isolated peninsula of the island, Railay Beach is a sport-climber’s paradise. With hundreds of routes to offer, you could spend a great part of your trip here and never get bored. The limestone cliffs offer not only high-quality rock but also incredible views of the surrounding sea. The Thaiwand and 123 walls are popular areas, offering routes all the way from beginner routes (F5 grades) to expert (F8 grades). You can get to Thaiwand wall from Phra Nang beach by going through this super cool cave and abseiling out onto Thaiwand wall from an opening. Remember to prepare proper walking shoes, headlamps and an abseiling device to be able to get out and down the cave easily. It’s also important to have a rope so that you can abseil down!
Phra Nang Beach is also a very popular crag in the area, offering a greater percentage of harder routes for those more experienced climbers. Considered by many to be the most beautiful beach on the peninsula hence you will find a lot more tourists here compared to all other parts of the island, you’ll be enjoying a lot of nice soft sand and clear waters (more than just the climbing) if you choose to head to this crag. Just be sure to watch out for monkeys, and don’t be surprised if they try to steal from you! Also, me mindful of the tides of the water as if you visit it at the high tide, be prepared to get yourself wet from the thigh/ knees down when you try to get across from the climbing area to the Thaiwand wall cave.
Another interesting fact about Phra Nang beach, there is also this really interesting felic temple filled with wooden ‘penises’ that attracts tons of tourists over.
2. Ton Sai Bay
Located just north of the Railay crags you will find the Ton Sai Bay, which is perhaps exactly what you imagine when you picture climbing in Thailand. With hundreds of routes, from F5c to F8c, virtually every climber will find their paradise at Ton Sai Bay. Perhaps most famous for its physical stalactite climbing, this area is sure to get your pump on. To get to the crag, you’ll have to take a boat from Ao Nang, but it’s certainly worth it.
Fire Wall, Ton Sai Wall & Roof and Dum’s Kitchen are perhaps the most popular crags in Ton Sai, but be aware that due to the popularity of the area, easy and famous routes are sure to be crowded, especially in high season (November-April). Basecamp Tonsai and The Rock Shop Tonsai both offer guided climbing excursions, gear rental, and crag info, so depending on your needs you’ll be covered!
Once again, be mindful of the tides of the day and you can actually get across to Railey Beach from Tonsai as well.
In the recent years since I last went, I have heard of 2 areas of climbing that have further developed. I have no information about them so far, but I have listed it down below for you to check out and read up more on if you are free.
3. North Wall
4. Spirit Mountain
Chiang Mai Climbing
Located in the north, Chiang Mai is perhaps the best area for single-pitch sport climbing in Thailand. You can fly directly into Chiang Mai from certain key cities like Bangkok/ Singapore, and the island’s best climbing sectors are just a short scooter or bus ride away from the city center.
5. Aircon Wall
Aircon Wall is located just a short walk from Crazy Horse Buttress. Though not quite as large as Crazy Horse Buttress, you’ll find some “steep, short, and powerful routes” if that’s more your style. Plus all of the routes are in the shade and have a cold breeze coming out from the cave, offering you some cool down and refuge if you find yourself baking in the sun on a hot, humid day. Hence the name of the wall – Aircon Cave. Though you won’t find nearly as many routes as at Crazy Horse, Aircon Wall’s close proximity gives you the option to just hop on over and take a peek to see if it strikes your fancy.
6. Chiang Dao
Located about an hour and a half from Chiang Mai, Chiang Dao is a relatively new crag being developed by Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventures. Though much smaller than the crags previously listed (it only has about a dozen routes), it’s a gorgeous, less crowded area that can offer some high-quality rock that has less crowds and traffic.
7. Crazy Horse Buttress – Temporarily Closed
Just about 25 miles north of Chiang Mai you will find Crazy Horse Buttress, the most popular climbing area in Chiang Mai. It has got around 150 limestone sport routes, mainly beginner/intermediate grades, and offers a wide variety of climbing styles. Though Chiang Mai is just a short trip away from Crazy Horse, you could stay at Jira Homestay if you’re looking to stay in closer proximity to the crag.
You should note that Crazy Horse was experiencing some closures, so get in contact with thaiclimbing.com before planning your trip if you’re really set on climbing there. They also offer gear rental options, private guiding, and the ability to purchase the Crazy Horse guide online and download it onto your phone.
Always wanting to improve your performance with a new set of climbing shoes? Check out my personal favourites and reviews on them?
Khao Yoi Rock Climbing
Less popular and known like the hotspots of Railey in Krabi and Chiang Mai, but this cave area is perfect for sport climbing from beginners all the way to advance. There are gyms like F5 Climbing Centre that provides guided tours here.
This destination and Khao Iko is the nearest climbing crags from Bangkok city so its the best options for people base in Bangkok who want to try out outdoor rock climbing.
Khao Iko Rock Climbing
If you would like to try out multi-pitching for the 1st time but do not have the chance to head over to Railey, this is the best place to be. Get it planned by a climbing gym or school if you do not have experience doing it.
Alternatively to multi pitch, cave climbing just like Khao Yoi is a popular choice here.
Other Great Rock Climbing Options in Thailand
1. Deep Water Soloing
Previously mentioned Railay and Ton Sai don’t just offer pristine sport climbing, but also deep water soloing, though not publicly allowed anymore, so you need to do more research when you are there! The five main areas for deep water soloing in Thailand, according to Andaman Adventures, are Railay/Ao Nang, Koh Hong, Koh Yao Noi, Koh Lao Liang and Koh Phi Phi. You should be aware that deep water soloing certainly presents more risks than sport climbing. You have to be aware of the tides, where the water is deep enough to climb, and how to access the rock. That’s why it’s definitely best to hire an experienced guide, such as Basecamp Tonsai, to take you out and show you the (lack of) ropes.
If deep water soloing is really your thing, you can purchase this guidebook so you know exactly what types of routes you’re getting on. Thailand has got endless potential for deep water soloing development, so new routes are being put up constantly. Just be aware that deep water soloing is a risky sport, even more so than sport climbing, so you should have some climbing experience under your belt before venturing up the wall without a rope. However, deep water soloing can be an incredibly exhilarating and memorable experience-if you dare to try it!
Deep water solo will get your nice favourite climbing shoes wet!
PRO TIP: Bring an extra old pair or borrow a pair from the climbing shops!
2. Multi-Pitch Routes
Thailand also has an impressive arsenal of multi-pitch routes to offer, most of which are bolted, with some reaching over 200 meters in height! Some notable climbs being The Ninth Life, Hart of Darkness, Candlestick, Ao Nang Tower, and Humanity, trying a multi-pitch in Thailand could be a nice change of pace. Rock and Sun offers up to 10-day guided trips if you’d like someone to take care of all of the planning for you, but adding in some multi-pitch climbing is sure to perfect an already incredible climbing vacation.
Are you considering climbing in Thailand? Which areas most interests you?
If you want to go beyond and do an overseas adventure travel aka climbing trip, then the top climbing destinations in Asia will be your next article to read. Enjoyyy….