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Tonsai Beach, Thailand – Climbers Paradise

As soon as I finished up my brief intro to Thailand in Koh Lanta, I immediately hopped on a boat and sped over to the climbers mecca of Thailand, Railay/Tonsai Beach. The Railay beach area is made of three different bays, with the beach in each bay having a unique character. West Railay is the ritzy beach, with lush resorts and infinity pools. East Railay is the mid-range beach, with the main boat dock and a handfull of restaurants. And Tonsai is the undeveloped, dirty, raw and rambunctious climbers beach – filled with backpackers on a mission to relax at the low key beach bars at night, and rock climb the surrounding soaring limestone cliffs all day. Given how built up the rest of the area feels, Tonsai is a breath of fresh air, a utopian climbers oasis, as yet still untouched by the resort and tourism development.

To get from Koh Lanta to Tonsai, I took a big ferry across, and met a few friends along the way.

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I arrived at West Railay beach by boat, and immediately made my way over to Tonsai to check in at my own private bungalow for $4/night.

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Naturally, first stop in Tonsai was for food. And where else but Mama’s Chicken, the best chicken in the universe. Mama’s Chicken is a small shack along one of the main dirt paths into the jungle, and it’s where lots of people congregate at night. All the food, and fruit shakes, is amazing.

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And a perfect end to a solid day of travel at one of the beachside bars. During the day this place is a chillout spot and volleyball match grandstand, evening it’s a bar, and late night the deck turns into an impromptu hostel. Something for everyone, with cheap beer all around.

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Day two, the first order of the day is of course climbing on the incredible limestone.

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Here’s me getting to the cruxy section on “Groove Tube” on the Firewall.

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A few days later, I got rid of my harness and gear and went bouldering – but this time the bouldering was on rock outcroppings over the water, and the start of every climb was straight out of the water – it’s called Deep Water Solo in Thailand.

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Me!

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Later afternoon exploring secluded beaches and caves.

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Overal, the week I spent rock climbing at Tonsai was simply incredible, and I can’t wait to go back. It’s certainly a climbers paradise, with more culture, friends, good food, cold drinks, and climbs than you can possible take in during one trip. Let me know if you’d like to go back with me!

6 comments

  1. Leesa says:

    What is the name of the bungalow you stayed in? I’m in krabi now but want to transfer over there tomorrow. Sounds incredible, like I could stay and play a couple weeks!

  2. Elizabeth says:

    hey there – great blog, thanks for sharing! where did you stay that it was only $4/night?

  3. Tristan boyer says:

    Hello Jeffrey!

    I am thinking of going to Tonsai in the spring, but I am on a pretty tight budget! I was wondering if you had any suggestions for the cheapest way of sleeping/eating in tonsai and if getting from a hostel/camping to the climbing areas was a challenge? I’m guessing you didn’t have a hard time finding climbing partners? Any tips would be really appreciated!

    Your pictures are amazing by the way, and i really like your blog, keep it up!!

    Good climbing in the future!

    Thanks :)

    Tristan Boyer

    • Getting a cheap place to stay in Tonsai is super easy, just find a bamboo hut. Climbing partners are easy to find too. Be sure to eat at momma’s chicken.

      Cheers!

  4. seamus wrigley says:

    hi is there any good places were you would recommend to find climbing partners in Tonsai? like bars where lots of climbers hang out? thanks and good blog.

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