Rock Climbing At Railay Beach
Hanging there with my bloodied hand wedged in a narrow crack and my entire weight resting on my tippy toes; I was seriously questioning why I had chosen to go rock climbing.
Just the week before my current predicament; I was sitting on the computer in Khao Sok National Park searching for my next big adventure. Out of the list of the best things to do in Thailand; one place immediately stood out. An area known for its beautiful beaches, massive limestone karsts, and cheap rock climbing.
The province of Krabi and its capital city; sharing the same name; lie on the West coast of southern Thailand. Much of the area consists of national parks and small islands like Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta.
There isn’t much going on in the central city of Krabi apart from cheap hostels close to the airport and a night market. For that reason, many travelers opt to stay in the nearby town Ao Nang, where restaurant bars and shops dominate the main street, and longtail boats wait on the shore to take you for a ฿100 or $3 USD ride across the bay to Railay beach.
A stretch of white sandy beach nestled beneath giant limestone karsts rising from the warm turquoise ocean and a few sandy streets lined with restaurants and rock climbing shops are all that make up the village of Railay.
Rock Climbing At Railay Beach
The rock climbing at Railay beach and the surrounding area just so happens to be some of the cheapest in the world. It’s a great place to learn and the reason that I decided to make it my next big adventure.
The average price for a half day rock climbing course is ฿1,000 or $30 USD and a full day course ฿1800 or $60 USD usually including lunch and water. Gear is of course provided. The boat ride to and from Railay beach, however, is not included, so you can add another ฿200 or $6 USD to your total.
Travel Tip: I stayed at Nice-A-Day Hostel in Ao Nang who had a discounted rate with King Climbers for ฿1600 or $50 USD for the full day course including transport to and from Railay beach. After a week of research, it’s the lowest price that I was able to find.
The King Climbers Shop
Once me and Clive; a buddy I met at the hostel; arrived at the King Climbers Shop, we were fitted with a harness and climbing shoes. If you’ve never worn rock climbing shoes before, then you will be in shock when you realize just how cramped they are (curl them toes).
After we were suited; up looking like proper climbers; we grabbed some complimentary water and headed out for our first climb.
Let The Fun Begin
Our first location was a small outcropping just behind the village. We were quite a large group, and I didn’t know how many chances I was going to get to climb. But our instructors quickly scaled the wall and began tying us up for the first run.
Ready. Set. Climb!
I had done a small amount of bouldering in the past during hikes, but I’d never really climbed. Top rope rock climbing or climbing with an anchor point above and a partner belaying; was utterly foreign to me and I didn’t realize just how nerve-racking it would be climbing that high.
However, it wasn’t long before the fear turned into adrenaline and I started to press my limits climbing faster and jumping for handholds instead of reaching nervously. I was having a blast! Clive…not so much.
What we didn’t know beforehand is that in rock climbing your legs do about 80% of the work, and your arms take care of the rest. It didn’t take long for us to wear down and start crying for our mommas.
So with our forearms in rigamortis and everyone having made a handful of ascents, we packed up our gear, said farewell to our fellow climbers who were just doing the half-day course, and headed into town for lunch.
Kicking Things Up A Notch
With a belly full of some deliciously free Pad Thai and recovering forearms, we headed off to our second climbing location. Our instructor Suu told us that this time we would be kicking things up a notch.
Now That’s A Wall
As we walked along the beach, we quickly realized that we weren’t going to be the only one’s rock climbing the limestone karsts at Railay beach. The place was crawling with climbers and onlookers.
This time around the walls looked much more challenging, and I was a little worried my forearms weren’t going to let me go on much longer. Wasting no time, I geared up and started climbing.
The route presented me with some pretty challenging holds and little to no footing. After some blood, sweat and a few tears I made it up to the small cave at the top, and the view was stunning.
The View From The Cliff Cave
However, to reach the cave I needed to climb a little further past my anchor point and away from immediate safety. I took a quick look down to tell Clive; my belayer; that I was ready to descend and suddenly realized just how high up I was. I’m not afraid of heights, but I won’t lie; I freaked a bit.
That’s A Long Way Down
After a few choice words and a quick reminder that I’m no wimp, I made my way over the edge and back down the wall.
Just Keep Climbing
We spent the next three hours climbing different routes, becoming even more exhausted with each one conquered. We also got to practice our belay skills which made both belayer and climber a bit nervous.
Tying Knots With Broken Hands
Just Keep Climbing
We even managed to pick up an extra climbing buddy April (far left) to complete our climbing crew. Our instructor Suu (middle left), Clive (middle right), and yours truly (far right).
The Climbing Crew
It was a full day of testing our metal against the rock, and I feel like we (or at least I) learned a lot from the course. Tired and sore we packed up our things and hobbled back to town to turn in our gear.
But our day wasn’t over yet. What would you imagine is a perfect remedy after a long day of rock climbing? You guessed it; the Beach!
Let’s Go To The Beach
Thailand has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, so of course, we were going back to the beach.
Back To The Beach
Warning: The transportation included with the rock climbing course leaves at 5:30 pm which happens to be before sunset. Also, the price to hire a longtail back to Ao Nang goes up 50 Baht after 6 pm.
But what crazy person misses the sunset?
Thailand has been a land of firsts for me. Be it learning to scuba dive in Koh Tao or rock climbing at Railay beach; the adventures here are endless. The climbing at Railay beach is totally worth your time and money and I think that anyone looking to learn, or veterans looking for a cheap climb, certainly won’t be disappointed.
Thanks For Reading!!
Have You Rock Climbed At Railay Beach?