May 3, 2017
Last March, I was lucky enough to finally visit one of the countries at the top of my bucket list – Thailand. While the country’s culture and climbing have always appealed to me, the fact that my wife was my adventure buddy made this trip that much more memorable.
We started our trip in Chiang Mai, one of the oldest cities in Thailand. Located in the mountainous northern region of the country, Chiang Mai has historically been one of Thailand’s religious and cultural centers. We were able to explore tons of old ruins and temples, markets, and even an elephant sanctuary where we fed old rescue elephants. We were constantly impressed by how friendly the people were. Plus, the food was amazing.
After our time in Chiang Mai, we traveled to the Krabi Province where we were able to do some awesome sport climbing next to the ocean and relax at the beach. The climbing there is truly incredible; even from the airplane, I could see the rocks jutting out of the ocean. Most of the climbing there is located in Railay Beach, a small town between the cities of Krabi and Ao Nang. The only way to get there is by boat and, once we arrived, we were even more impressed by the quantity and size of the rock formations.
Railay Beach is definitely a major climbing destination in Thailand. Almost everybody goes there to climb and the local agencies offer trips that cater to any skill level, whether you’re a beginner climber or someone with a lot more experience. I decided to take advantage of the climbing there and hired a guide for the day named Sarut. He showed me around some of his favorite areas and was a great belay partner.
Most of the routes in the area were actually pretty hard, with climbs mainly in the 5.12 – 5.13 range. There were big overhanging walls and lots of features like stalactites and pockets. The rock was super grippy and sometimes even sharp. Some areas were a bit humid and chossy, but the overall limestone quality was really good.
We ended our trip in Bangkok, where we visited more temples, markets and watched some Muay Thai fights. The city was cool, but climbing at Railay Beach was the highlight of my trip. I had a lot of fun figuring out the overhangs and I enjoyed climbing right next to the ocean. My only complaint about the whole trip would be the amount of time I had. I wish I could’ve stayed longer in Railay Beach and just climbed. There are thousands of routes and some amazing multi-pitch climbs that I can’t wait to go back and try. There are some harder routes that I would really like to project too. Hopefully, next time!