Rock climbing in Thailand
Charlie Morris, September 30, 2014
Thailand, primarily known for its beautiful beaches and wild full moon parties, is rapidly gaining a reputation as a top rock climbing destination in Asia. Coastal and island resorts in the south combine challenging limestone walls with amazing scenery and good weather year round.
Where to go
The best and most accessible climbing is found in and around the Krabi region, on the south west coast of Thailand. The two most popular (and arguable best) spots are on Phi Phi island and Railay Beach. Other prime destinations for climbers are Koh Yao Noi and Koh Lao Liang, although these are certainly not the best places to learn to climb.
Types of climb
Southern Thailand offers routes for all levels of experience. The most popular climbing spots are on limestone walls towering over beautiful white sand beaches. Many of the routes are well climbed with metal anchors screwed into the rock, and there are varying degrees of difficulty accommodating for both complete beginner top-ropers and seasoned leading climbers.
Deep water soloing is also very popular and heavily marketed along the coast. This is essentially where you put on some climbing shoes and free-climb cliffs overhanging the water. If you slip then it’s a short (or long!) plunge into the sea below. DWS is one of the most exhilarating sports on the planet, but is also incredibly dangerous and should only be taken on by experienced climbers.
There are many Thai companies that offer guides and instruction, each with varying degrees of safety. On my first day of climbing on Phi Phi my lovely, if slightly reckless, Thai guide told me that he had just had quite a heavy night. On seeing my quizzical look he told me that he had stuck to spirits so I needn’t worry. On top of that, one of the ropes we used was distinctly old and worn, and he was more than happy for me to lead the climb without much evidence that I was capable of doing so. While that kind of attitude might do wonders for the adrenaline, we would advise checking some online reviews of climbing operators before embarking on a trip.