Interesting timing of the article seeing the current goings on in Thailand. Lots of area's have banned commercial and recreational climbing in the National Parks due to 'unsafe' practices going on.
I have to admit, when I was out there in 2010 I hired a rope from a guy who had a stack-load of stuff in his back shed. Just left over gear that backpackers didn't want to carry on their onward travels. He basically said "don't tell the climbing shops I've got this" Fortunately for me the rope was practically brand spanking new, but he's probably still hiring it out not knowing the history of it.
The bans probably aren't much to do with these "unsafe practices." Probably more to do with officials wanting bribes etc.
As for the article, it's a good starting point, but the Krabi/Phang Nga region now has much more than just the Phra Nang peninsula. If I get a chance I'll put something together about Spirit Mountain, Koh Yao and some other new locations - all within one hour of the Phra Nang peninsula.
In addition, I think the main selling point of the climbing on the Phra Nang peninsula is the big multi-pitch stuff. The single-pitch honey pot crags are getting a little "tired," but there are few destinations that can match Phra Nang for big mutli-pitch bolted adventures. I'll remember, for a very long time, back-clipping down almost every pitch when abbing off the Monitor Wall or Thailand wall.
In reply to 1234None: I had a great couple of weeks in Tonsai a few years ago, but have heard they have since developed the beach front and the jungle between the beach and the parallel track a few hundred yards inland, and are taking the whole bay upmarket.
If so, what's the difference in atmosphere, costs, clientele etc?
> In addition, I think the main selling point of the climbing on the Phra Nang peninsula is the big multi-pitch stuff. The single-pitch honey pot crags are getting a little "tired," but there are few destinations that can match Phra Nang for big mutli-pitch bolted adventures. I'll remember, for a very long time, back-clipping down almost every pitch when abbing off the Monitor Wall or Thailand wall.
Agreed, very cool. Ever been to lopburi? 200m limestone multi pitch routes just north of bangers! We had the whole site to ourselves for 2 days. I too will remember for a very long time getting my rope stuck on nearly every cactus (or is that cacti?) on the ab off.
Actually I was chatting to one of the Thai guesthouse owners in Ton Sai about this. You're right, a large square of land has been bought up by a developer between the beach and Ton Sai's main street. And they've built a 2m tall concrete wall around much of it. But so far they haven't actually started developing that land. It's still pretty much jungle.
The lady I spoke to said that development had been stalled or postponed for some reason. I just hope it stays that way.
In reply to lex: Pretty much as Steve says above. That area in the middle of the beach has been ripe for development for years and I guess a resort had to happen at some stage. The "vibe" of the place will definitely change, but if they don't ban access for climbers to the areas outside the perimeter wall then I guess it's just inevitable change. I've heard loads of complaining about it, but perhaps it will sort out the piles of trash and general filth/poor sanitation in Tonsai bay during high season. Every cloud?
No - never been to Lopburi, but have talked to a few people who have. All said it was worth a visit so it's on the list for sure! Are the routes in the same style as those in the Tonsai/Railay area i.e. wildly overhanging, exposed and juggy? I guess if the rope was getting stuck all the time then perhaps not..
In reply to Pok: Koh Yao has loads of climbing, and it's all pretty amazing. I'd rate it as much, much more than just a break from Tonsai - definitely worthy of a week or two trip in its own right. The Mitt alone has a few days worth of routes across the grade spectrum. Add the Grateful Wall for a day or two, plus some of the other crags, DWS and some time exploring an amazing island and you've easily got a couple of weeks. If I was out there these days I'd spend more time on Koh Yao and Koh Laoliang, but that's a matter of personal preference as I'm not too big on the noise/crowds and party scene of Railay/Tonsai. I'd do day trips across to the peninsula to do some big multi-pitch stuff occasionally, but not much more than that.
A perfect trip for me would be a few days in Tonsai/Railay, then a boat to Ao Nang - pick up a moped and ride out to Spirit Mountain for a day or two. When you're tired of that ride up to Ao Thalane and go across to Koh Yao for a week or more. When you're sick of that head back to Ao Nang, drop off the bike and head down to Laoliang for a few days, before heading home.
For me, a climbing trip is also a way of experiencing the local culture. It's easy to think you're getting that in Railay or Tonsai, but in my opinion you'll experience much more of Thailand and its amazing people/culture by visiting other areas these days. Some people don't want that, however, so each to his or her own. I'd assume that if someone travels all the way to Thailand to climb, then they're also interested in either the local culture (which is all but non-existent these days in Railay or Tonsai) or getting smashed every night (readily available in Tonsai and Railay).
> No - never been to Lopburi, but have talked to a few people who have. All said it was worth a visit so it's on the list for sure! Are the routes in the same style as those in the Tonsai/Railay area i.e. wildly overhanging, exposed and juggy? I guess if the rope was getting stuck all the time then perhaps not..
Steep, somewhat juggy depending on grade, but not much overhanging past the first pitch. Absolutely incredible atmosphere though. Highly recommended
I remember that concrete wall. Didn't realise it was for a development though. There was one upmarket hotel. Guess they are adding more upmarket stuff. Like others have said - there are better places to climb now and generally speaking there are far nicely places in Thailand to visit.