Rock climbing is one of the best ways to add a high dose of adrenaline to your trip while immersing yourself in your surroundings. Every step up and every move is dictated by nature and how you interact with it. This is an outdoor activity that can be practiced all over the world, but among the most popular places to do it is Thailand.
This country has long been an international climbing destination and is still seeing new development and climbing routes every year.
Like any extreme sport, rock climbing comes with some degree of danger. But, with proper attention to safety and knowing where to climb, it can be a safe and rewarding experience.
The south of Thailand is famous for its world-class quality rock climbing, especially the beach town of Krabi. In fact, most of the best walls to climb in Thailand are located right by the beach or facing the ocean. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced climber, Krabi will challenge you with its single to multi-pitch routes. Most climbers spend their time on the famous Laem Phra Nang climb and the Railey and Tonsai beaches in Krabi. But, there are many other options in the area, and most of the locals consider them to be better than Railey and Tonsai for more experienced climbers.
In addition to Krabi, there are several climbs on islands scattered throughout Phra Nang Bay. There’s the secluded island paradise of Koh Lao Liang with its sharp cliffs and the awe-inspiring island of Koh Phi Phi, where you can find some of the best moderate multi-pitch climbing in the country as well as a few harder climbs.
But, the south is not the only place where you can climb. There are hundreds of great climbs in Central Thailand and in the north, like the tower climbs in Lopburi and the gorgeous mountains in the Chiang Mai area.
The island of Koh Phi Phi is not only a hot spot to visit, but it also has lots of great easy routes, making it ideal for beginners. Alternatively, Railay Beach in Krabi is a budget friendly place to practice too. Keep in mind, both places are often full of tourists, so your climbing experience might be a bit crowded depending on the season. On the north, you can practice around Chiang Mai.
Ao Nang, Koh Yao Noi, and Koh Lao Liang are superb climbing spots and full of challenging routes. Koh Phi Phi also has a good mix of easy and challenging routes. Railay/Tonsai also offers some of the most fantastic climbing in Thailand, but the climb that is considered to be the best in the country due to its diversity of styles and grade range is Ao Nang's Spirit Mountain.
You can climb pretty much year round, but it’s always good to be aware of the seasons to know what to expect weather wise. The country enjoys a tropical climate with three seasons. From February to May is the hot and dry season, from June to October is monsoon season, and from November to January is the cool season.
Tourism high and low seasons can also affect your climbing if you’re going “solo.” Experienced climbers shouldn’t climb solo, so it is essential to find climbing partners to do the challenging routes. This could be easy during high season (October to April), but during low season it may be hard finding a partner unless you book a tour.
Educate yourself on the climb: Know how challenging the route will be and if you are physically capable of doing it.
ALWAYS have a companion: Never go climbing alone. If you’re not hiring a guide, make sure that your companion is also an experienced climber.
Test your ropes: Ropes are one of the most important pieces of equipment when climbing. Check your life-line before the climb: It must support you and your gear in a lingering hang. Use a safety line as a backup in case of a fall
Use all your limbs: Beginners tend to concentrate their force on their arms, but the best way to not get tired while climbing is to distribute your force to all limbs. Use your legs to push you up as well.
Be patient and don't force things: Go slow and take your time while climbing; a wrong position can injure or cramp your muscles.
Know what to do in case someone gets injured: If someone gets hurt and can’t make it down the wall on their own, stop there and send two or more persons for help. Make sure they know the exact location where the injured person is and the extent of the injuries. Never leave the injured alone
Last but not least, be insured: Hopefully you won’t need it, but in the case of an accident, it’s better to be insured.
Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.
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Norbert Figueroa is an architect who hit the pause button on his career in 2011 to do a round the world trip. He's been blogging for over three years at globotreks.com, where he shares his travel experiences, budget travel tips, and a good dose of world architecture. From hiking Mount Kilimanjaro to diving with great white sharks, he is always on the search of adrenaline and adventure. Norbert is originally from Puerto Rico and he is currently based in Milan, Italy... when not roaming around the world, that is. He has traveled to more than 80 countries in 5 continents and his goal is to travel to all 193 U.N. recognized countries. Follow Norbert on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus.
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