Beginner Rock Climbers | Railay Beach – Thailand
During our 10 and a half month adventure travelling around South East Asia Christine and I spent 6 months of it in Thailand. 3 months of that was spent in the south checking out the islands. One of the most amazing places we visited was Railay Beach. To get to Railay you have to catch a long tail boat from Ao Nang which takes around 10 minutes.
That feeling when your sitting up the front of the long tail, sun is shining and the spray of the ocean water on your face as you come around the corner where Ton Sai & Railay Beach reveal themselves is the best! The scene is exactly like i would fantasise about when thinking of a tropical paradise. Colourful long tail boats are all lined up across the beach sitting on the turquoise coloured water and people are scattered all along the soft sand with huge smiles taking in all the beauty that Railay has to offer.
We carried our bags off the boat, across and sand to what i would call the entrance to Railay. There’s a variety of different restaurants & bars scattered all along the pathway. You have the usual Rasta Bars with signs out the front offering to take you to the moon, seafood restaurants are barbecuing up fresh fish at the entrance to entice you to have a seat and of course Thai restaurants offering cheap beers and delicious Thai cuisine.
Once you step back from the excitement for a moment you notice that you are surrounded by ginormous cliff faces with an array of different rock formations just waiting to be climbed. We dropped off our bags and decided to go and check out Phra Nang beach which turned out to be my favourite beach in Thailand, if not South East Asia.
As we followed the path to get to Phra Nang we saw climbers scaling the cliffs with guides at the bottom yelling out instructions on the best route up the wall. Watching them climb made my palms sweat with anticipation, i felt slightly anxious and remember thinking to myself “i love this shit”. We continued our way along the winding path that veers underneath the overhanging cliff face and we spotted some devious monkeys sitting on a fence, watching people walk by, waiting for an opportunity to steal their food.
When we finally hit the beach on our left were these gigantic cliff faces covered in more climbers and plenty of chalk dust, on our right there was the soft sandy beach, crystal clear ocean water and this feeling of paradise just consumed us. We wandered straight ahead and came across a cave full of wooden penises which was pretty funny. This shrine is where people often pray for fertility so be respectful if you ever visit.
There was a range of different skill levels from beginner rock climbers to experts
We sat down after a quick swim and watched all the climbers scaling the walls. There was a range of different skill levels from beginner climbers that were hitting the easy runs with a guide, to those more experienced climbers that looked to be dancing up the walls so effortlessly. By this point Christine and I were buzzing!
When we got back to our room i jumped online and looked for climbing companies with good reviews. Christine’s sister had recommended a dude she met a few years prior. I managed to find him online and he had started his own company (Karst Climbing) so i hit them up. They replied straight away and we were booked in for the next day.
Off to bed early that night (didn’t have too many beers) and woke up feeling fresh and ready to hit some walls. Mon (our guide) met us at our hotel and walked us to the first wall back at Phra Nang beach. We had a quick rundown of everything and off we went.
We’re both straight up beginner rock climbers and hadn’t really done any climbing since high school.
I won’t go into the details of every single run because it will bore the shit out of you but i will say it was an experience we will never forget. Getting to the top of our first climb and turning around just blew me away. You are sitting around 20m high and the view is spectacular. Being situated right on the beach is such a special feeling, everyone looks so small from the top and there is nothing but water as far as the eye can see. It truly is paradise.
Our full day tour consisted of around 6-7 climbs as well as lunch. Our second last climb for the day was a 30m run and definitely the most difficult.
Waiting for our turn i remember sitting at the bottom watching this guy and around 3/4 of the way up he started getting stuck. The hand grips were getting smaller and smoother and you really had to hold yourself close to the wall and drive with your legs. Christine went first and she absolutely killed it. It was so impressive watching her climb and hold by hold made it to the top.
After all this anticipation it was finally my turn and the skies decided to open up. Luckily there was a massive overhang and we only got slightly wet… Just enough to make everything slippery. I hit the run and the climb was actually really smooth. I remember just reaching out to the different holds thinking how much harder this would have been for Christine not having a reach advantage.
Once i arrived at the top i remember turning around and just taking it all in. The feeling of accomplishment combined with the incredible location made me realise how truly lucky we had been to have an adventure like this.
Karst Climbing is the company we used and highly recommend.