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Heading to Thailand (Tonsai/Railay/Chiang Mai) for Jan/Feb 2017!


Original Post
Helen L · · Toronto, Canada · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 206
  • UPDATE, Jan 31: I am in Chiang Mai now! Anyone interested in climbing at Crazy Horse (or wouldn't mind me tagging along) Feb 16-18 for 2-3 days? I am heading to Mae Hong Son province for a bit but will be back on the 15th or 16th (so 17-18 are definite dates I can do, 16 is a maybe for now, and I plan to head to Jira Homestay). I have personal and cleaning gear.. don't have rope or quickdraws with me, but happy to split on rental cost if needed. I was just in Railay/Tonsai (had a blast!) and was able to lead 6a-6b (5.10a-c) there, higher on TR, but by mid Feb I will not have climbed for almost a month due to recovering from an injury, so my muscles and tendons will be rusty (but happy to belay you on whatever other routes too). I am small, so can safely belay partners up to about 160lb/70kg max.

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original message:

Is it more convenient to stay on Railay or Tonsai if I am sport climbing easier grades (5b to 6a+ - i.e. 5.9 to 5.10a, maybe some 5.10b.

Also, I am a Canadian female from Toronto who will be in the area to climb (and beach!) from January 10th for 1-2 weeks. Hoping to find partners to climb with! Happy to lead easy routes as named above (I am fairly new to sport climbing), but also happy to just tag along and toprope/clean slightly harder routes as well (5.10+s?). Would like to meet some friendly climbing folks since I will likely be heading there alone. I should also mention I am pretty light - I weigh about 105lb/47kg, so I wouldn't be comfortable to belay some heavier climbers over 150-160lb (72kg))

Will also be heading up to Chiang Mai sometime at the end of Jan if anyone will be around there then.

Please get in touch if you might be there around that time!
tshapiro1182 · · Carpinteria, CA · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 0

Both are good I'd say it depends more on how you want to spend your evenings as the commutes for climbing aren't such a big deal.

The nightlife in Tonsai is more social, especially for single climbers, as it is more of a bar scene than a resort scene. The places in Railay are cleaner/nicer but tend to be more dominated by families and groups.

The longest commute you would have would be a ~45 minute trip from Railay East to Eagle wall which isn't really a big deal if you're doing a whole day there. Traversing between Railay and Tonsai is generally pretty easy during the day, sometimes you have to wade through water at your knees for ~10m or so if the tide's high.

The challenge with climbing at those grades is that the most suitable walls tend to be dominated by guides who have priority. In early january they'll probably be busy and you'll need to work around them.

Walls to check out:

Railay East:

Diamond Wall - best concentration of climbs at your grade but used by guides daily. Might be worth going with guides for a day if you want to do these or you can go very early/late (before 9/after 4)

123 Wall/Muai Thai Wall - similar to Diamond Wall.

Railay West:
Thaiwand - amazing position, some very good climbing. Might be slightly harder than you want but would be a great place if you find a stronger partner willing to lead.

Escher World - I haven't done these but I think there are quite a few in your range that are worth doing.

Tonsai:

Cobra Wall - 3 very good 6a's all next to each other, no guides

Monkey World - some 6a's and 6b's, I haven't done them but I hear good thinks

The Nest - a few 6a's, I didn't enjoy these as much but I know others who loved them

Eagle Wall - My favorite spot for easier climbs (truly classic 6a/6a+/6b) a bit of a treck and but very very worth it if you have a group for the day, rarely crowded and very nice

It's also worth hopping on Big Wave if you have a chance/someone who feels ok leading the 6b pitches.

PM me if I can help figure out other questions

Helen L · · Toronto, Canada · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 206

Thank you! This is very helpful! I'll write again if I have any other questions.

Jenna Balinski · · Rumney, NH · Joined May 2015 · Points: 10

Where are you thinking of staying in Tonsai? I am going there for December and I'm trying to figure out where to stay/ where the cheapest bungalows are to rent

NRobl · · Hyrum, UT · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 0

Another option to consider is to stay in Krabi town and take the boat out to Tonsai/Railay each day. It's about a 45 minute boat ride each way. You'll have more cheap hostel/hotel options in Krabi town and there's a really good night market for cheap food. A lot of people (~50% or more) get sick from the food in Railay/ Tonsai because it has to be brought in on a boat and is not refrigerated.

My girlfriend and I stayed at Climb Krabi Inn which was quite nice, inexpensive, and very close to the boat dock.

Helen L · · Toronto, Canada · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 206

Thanks for the info, everyone!

Jenna, I am not sure yet where I will be staying.. debating on whether to stay in Tonsai or Railay East. If you find a good place, please share here.

I'd like to be close to the beach as well, so that's why I would prefer not to stay in Krabi. The food poisoning situation sounds bad though!

NRobl · · Hyrum, UT · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 0

That is a valid point regarding the beaches and not staying in Krabi town. Staying out there will be much more aesthetic. I got sick from a chicken satay (I was also warned, but it looked really good). Have fun and be careful!

Andrea Murta · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 0

I am planning to spend 2 weeks in Ton Sai at late December. Im not sure if it is better to try to reserve a place online of just to get there and try my luck. Any bamboo bungalow with cold showers would make me happy. And I prefer a quiet place.Tips anyone?

Helen L · · Toronto, Canada · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 206

Bumping this since I'll be there soon!
I also plan to head to Chiang Mai later in Jan if anyone wants to climb there as well.

Ryan Marsters · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 848

Hey we spent last week in Chiang Mai and we are currently in Tonsai. My wife is in bed with food poisoning...

Agreed above. Super easy to get to any crag around here with some consideration for the tide. We've climbed at Escher Wall (about 5-6 short routes at your preferred grade), fire wall and melting wall (2-3 climbs at each, close together). DWS tomorrow and maybe round it out with diamond cave/1-2-3 area, though the mentions of Eagle wall and the guide thing might change that.

Tonsai is quite loud but relaxed and less expensive than Railay. The music is normally reasonable but certain nights are very loud and I couldn't imagine trying to sleep in the bungalows with that going on. The bars are social and it seems quite easy to find partners, particularly near the Freedom Bar. There are climbers everywhere. Tonsai is somewhat bimodal - half the people are worried about the mercury retrograde and the other half has to Google why exactly the girl at the table nearby refuses to break up with her boyfriend for several more days.

SteveF · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 33

I'm also heading to Tonsai this month. Do you think the food poisoning issue is really avoidable if you stay in Krabi or perhaps Ao Nang beach? Or is everyone bound to get sick in Thailand sooner or later?

We're also going to Chiang Mai a bit later and I'm wondering if food poisoning is common issue there as well.

Ryan Marsters · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 848

My wife's current theory is that she got food poisoning in Ao Nang from a margarita. The bar might've used tap water. The guy is the bungalow next to us thinks he got it from sticking his toothbrush under the faucet. A girl on our DWS trip yesterday thinks hers was from food somewhere but she doesn't know. I don't know. In general, I've been ordering food that requires boiling the water.

The whole eat where others eat precaution doesn't help when so many people get it.

Rachel Kleiman · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 0

Hello all. I'm from the USA and I'll be living in Bangkok until August 2017. I'm interested in going on trips to climb around Thailand. I climb up to 5.10c but i'm always looking to push that limit. Unfortunately, I had to leave my gear behind because of an airport mishap, but I'll be getting gear by the end of the month. Let me know if anyone is interested in a Thailand climbing buddy!

weston bierma · · Vail, CO · Joined May 2012 · Points: 35

Flipping through the Koh Phi Phi section I noticed that its recently been closed and reopened to climbing.

Does anyone have any recent experience or contacts that can confirm this and current status?

Thanks!

See the comments section here:
mountainproject.com/v/koh-p…

Helen L · · Toronto, Canada · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 206

Rachel, I will be in Railay area in a few days (Jan 12th or a few days later), and also hope to head north to Chiang Mai sometime at the end of Jan or so. Would love to meet up at any point.

Jenna Balinski · · Rumney, NH · Joined May 2015 · Points: 10

I'll be arriving in Phuket this weekend and would be interested in climbing at Koh Phi Phi on my way to Tonsai. If anyone will be around there then and would like a partner, please send me a message!

Garrett R. · · Colorado · Joined Oct 2008 · Points: 50
SteveF wrote:I'm also heading to Tonsai this month. Do you think the food poisoning issue is really avoidable if you stay in Krabi or perhaps Ao Nang beach? Or is everyone bound to get sick in Thailand sooner or later? We're also going to Chiang Mai a bit later and I'm wondering if food poisoning is common issue there as well.
My partner and I spent a full three weeks split between Chiang Mai and Tonsai, and ate whatever we wanted, largely from street markets (including sushi and fresh veggies), and didn't get sick at all. The four other folks I know who have made recent trips didn't get sick. I know people get food poisoning somewhat regularly in Thailand, but I don't think it is an eventuality. Just have fun and don't worry about it. If you get sick you'll survive.
Helen L · · Toronto, Canada · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 206

Bumping this since I am in Tonsai now. If anyone wants to climb, let me know! I don't have rope or quick draws with me but have my other gear. Happy to split for rentals too if needed.
I will probably be here another week or so. Best to PM me as I may not always see this thread right away.

SteveF · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 33

My girlfriend just got sick within 24 hours on Tonsai, but I'm still ok. We went to the clinic on Tonsai and the doctor was helpful, but a bit pricey. He prescribed a bit more intense antibiotic pills (norfloxacin) and wanted to charge us ~$900 for intravenous fluids and an antibiotic shot if she couldn't keep the pills down.

After that we went to Ao Nang and saw Dr. Somboon which was better and far cheaper than most American doctors I've been to. He sat and explained things to us for ~30 minutes, gave her a shot to reduce nausea along with some different meds and let her lay down in the clinic while I searched for a hotel. So if you get really sick I would suggest skipping the clinics on Tonsai and Railay and go straight to Dr. Somboon in Ao Nang.

We'll probably be staying in Ao Nang and taking the boat to Tonsai/Railay for the rest of our trip. It seems that Tonsai tummy is extremely common and I don't care to get it myself.

(minor edit for clarity)

Tylerpratt · · Litchfield, Connecticut · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 35
SteveF wrote:My girlfriend just got sick within 24 hours on Tonsai, but I'm still ok. We went to the clinic on Tonsai and the doctor was helpful, but a bit pricey. He prescribed a bit more intense antibiotic pills (norfloxacin) and wanted to charge us ~$900 for intravenous fluids and an antibiotic shot if she couldn't keep the pills down. We went to Ao Nang and saw Dr. Somboon which was better and far cheaper than most American doctors I've been to. He sat and explained things to us for ~30 minutes, gave her a shot to reduce nausea along with some different meds and let her lay down in the clinic while I searched for a hotel. So if you get really sick I would suggest skipping the clinics on Tonsai and Railay and go straight to Dr. Somboon in Ao Nang. We'll probably be staying in Ao Nang and taking the boat to Tonsai/Railay for the rest of our trip. It seems that Tonsai tummy is extremely common and I don't care to get it myself.
Thats more then a bit pricey for thai healthcare...thats insane. Usually dont have to worry about these kinds of things with most Thai's but I would assume if you are going to run into this sort of thing it would be in Railay or Ko Phi Phi.
Ryan Marsters · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 848

I picked up typhoid in either Tonsai or Phuket and the symptoms didn't crop up until the plane ride home, which was fun. Highly recommended to make sure shots are up to date.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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