/ Ton Sai - climbs, accom, bar & general recomendations
I’m going to be in Ton Sai for the first 2 ish weeks of December. Does anyone have any particularly nice places to stay (not arsed about fancy this and that facilities, or equally places to avoid? Do you reckon booking is required at that time of year?
Also, any personal recommendations for particular routes (around English 5a to start with) or climbing areas?
I’ll be flying into Krabi fairly late on. Whats there – should I stay overnight and get to TonSai in the daylight?
Fave snorkelling spots?
Local characters to look out for (in a positive or negative sense)?
General tales of great days or nights had?
I've only stayed in Tonsai bungalows on Tonsai which is one of the better ones, don't know what the other places are like.
Easier routes on tonsai are a bit thin on the ground and often polished. Better easier climbing is probably on Railay side.
Worth doing a search on UKC, there are a LOT of threads on this, some very recent.
Aye, thanks, I have looked but, like Oliver Twist, I wanted MORE!
In the threads I've seen, there seems to be a lack of personal recommendations and background, which is what I was hoping for by asking the same question in a different way :-)
We turned up with intentions of climbing but soon got distracted. Ended up doing a lot more climbing in Yanshuo away from temptation
The Andaman nature resort is the main climber's hangout on Ton Sai. The scene is relaxed, loads of people lounging around reading, smoking, eating watching films. Accom is basic but pleasant even if the area tends to get a little scruffy.
Some more high quality accom is popping up around Ton Sai these days. I understand Dream Valley Bungalows next door has gone from Andaman style huts to quite fetching concrete affairs.
As others have said, it might be best to stay in Ao Nang for the first night. Its only a 10 minute longtail hop from there to Ton Sai but they do stop running (or you'll have to pay for the whole boat) after sunset.
The bus from the airport used to take you on a tiki tour via Hat Nopharata Thara, but hopefully they no longer do that.
Had a few New Year's/Christmases over there. It gets busy but not in a negative sense. The general hygene goes downhill fast as too many people crowd out a small area. Rubbish piles up, smelly/loud diesol generators crank up, and there are periodic outbreaks of food poisoning amongst patrons. The general advice is to avoid too much swimming around Ton Sai as poor sanitation and overloaded sewerage systems sometime combine (I had a deeply unpleasant flight out of Krabi after a swim and lunch once).
So great place. But the pressure of tourism and the volume of people mean its not quite the idillic tropical paradise is could be.
That's dead useful David, cheers. I hadn't even thought where the sewage would go, so was expecting to snorkel off the beach during the heat of the day. Will head further afield for that kind of thing.
Has anyone been to any of the more outlying crags more recently developed?
Ton Sai is a bit of a crap beach to snorkel to be honest. It's rocky and muddy and the sandy beach is rough and strewn with a fair bit of non-bio degradable crap.
But you can easily walk to the next bay along, Rai Leh and Prah Nang, which are good/excellent. Obviously the accommodation based on them turns to resort style for nearly a grand a night accordingly so the scene changes a bit, but not in a tacky way.
I might be over-stating the sewerage issue, but its typical Thailand: all beautiful and smiles on the surface but if you scratch away a bit things can sometimes turn out dire underneath. There have been ongoing reports of sanitation issues for years, but this isn't unusual for rustic tropical areas, be it Tahiti or Thailand. The heat, moisture, diet and bugs mean any cuts and grazes or illnesses can go south quickly.
There is easy to reach DWS not far from the beach. Not sure what grade you are climbing, but the must do's that spring to mind are the multi-pitch Humanality (up to F6b I think) over the right hand side of the beach (when facing the shore). Ao Nang Tower is one of the big karst formations you motor past on your longtail ride from Ton Sai and has a great multi-pitch on it (F6c+ if I recall). Various 7a/b multi-pitches lie on the Rai Leh side.
Lots of people are rating Laoliang and the newly developed areas. You could even try Ko Phi Phi for something different.
The snorkelling is hardly stellar around the beach but day trip dive boats go out to reefs further out which can be pleasant and will take snorkellers for a discount. Vis can be variable though so pick your day.
Snorkelling: there's a daily snorkelling boat from Railay West - gets you to some good spots plus there's a sunset meal and beers on an island beach. You can see some good stuff depending on where they take you (e.g. first time I went I saw a cuttlefish, sea snake, as well as the run of the mill fishy fish fish. Second time it was just fish. Third time it was just raining and grey).
Not v cheap, so choose a nice bright day to get your ha'penny worth.
Have emailed you.
> Has anyone been to any of the more outlying crags more recently developed?
Yes, and they are good. Check out Chong Pli (AKA Spirit Mountain). it is about a 10 minute moped ride from Ao Nang, just outside Chong Pliu village.
There is also another new crag, but I think it is a no-go area at the moment due to some access issues. I was involved in some new-routing there so will look into it.
If you want an easy day there is a great little crag with about 5 routes from 6a-6c called "the Bat Cave". Not in any of the guides. Get on the road from Ao Nang to Ao Nammao (the one that turns off by the red devil bar just outside Ao Nang). head towards Ao Nammao on this road for a couple of kms until you see a yellow sign advertising a resort on the RHS. Take the road towards this resort on the right for a km or two, until you go past the resort on the left and ride down the road (it turns into a dirt track), down the hill onto the small beach. Leave the scooter here, then scramble/wade round the coast towards Railay East i.e. back int he direction you were riding on the bike.
Eventually, you will come to a great little beach in a secluded bay. HEad back in the jungle for 150m from the right side of the beach (looking in) until you see some bolts and slings on a steep wall to the right. This is bat cave. The routes are all mega steep, but covered in huge jugs. Fun place to climb and pretty much guaranteed to have it to yourself for the day. You might be glad of it when you see the crowds in Tonsai at that time!
While you are there make sure you experience the cave system that is just off the RHS of the beach. Solo up into the cave entrance, then head upwards, following the passageways and tunnels. There is some easy climbing involved, and some great chimneying up tubes inside the cave. Be ready for the eagle that nests in there when you go over the lip of the wall about half way up! I wasn't and nearly shit my pants.
Look out for the pirate dude who works a bar at the right hand side of the beach and plays in the band.... His catch frase was BOOM WHY NOT.... what a ledge.
As for craggs out there recomend getting one of the guide books and make sure you get to any of the easy craggs early otherwise the local climbing guidea and lessons will be there and there will be no space. Generally search out some locals buy them a beer and they will give you all the info you need. I found everyone really friendly and happy to advise. Generally the grading is a little soft so dont be afraid to have a go at some harder stuff.
On safty just make sure you clip the right bolt as some routes have old bolts and new titatium ones obviously the titanium ones are safe and the others are not. There are also a lot of dodgy looking threads as well but i found that although they look bad they were pretty safe if on a popular route.
feel free to PM if you want any more info.
Many thanks to all who replied. Some good local knowledge and Handy Hints, which is what I was after. Especially PeakDJ - any update on the crag with potential access issues? - and Rich 2002.
All that remains is to get on the plane, and get there and start climbing. Ace!
I'll be in touch when I get there on the 4th Dec, James Oswald.
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