Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Mon June 13 2016

Opinion Home | A Cruising Couple's Column

  • A Cruising Couple | June 13, 2016 9:00 PM ET

    Rock Climbing In Railay, Thailand: An Epic Adventure

    Rock Climbing In Railay, Thailand: An Epic Adventure

    As avid rock climbers, we’re always in search of the best outdoor climbing destinations around the world. Fantastic views, quick accessibility and routes for both beginners and advanced climbers alike are just a few of the factors we look for. So when we started planning our trip to Thailand, there was no doubt that climbing the famous soaring limestone cliffs of Railay would be at the top on our itinerary.

    West Railay Rock Climbing Thailand

    Railay, Thailand is considered by many to be one of the best outdoor climbing destinations in the world. Our time in the area was brief (just a mere 36 hours), but climbers have been known to spend months here exploring the routes. Climbs in Railay range from beginner to elite; whether you've never tried on a pair of climbing shoes or you’re a climbing aficionado, there are plenty of breathtaking climbing options available in Railay.

    READ MORE: Thailand’s Islands on the Andaman Sea: A Backpacker’s Take

    How to Rock Climb in Railay

    There are many companies along the walking street in Railay that cater to guiding climbers. We opted to do a half-day of climbing with a personal guide through Railay Rock Climbing Shop. Our guide was incredibly knowledgeable, not only about climbing, but also about Railay and Thailand in general. His in-depth guidance throughout the climbing process ensured we felt incredibly safe even when suspended at the peak of the cliffs.

    A slightly more economical option is to join a group for your rock climbing adventure. Groups are limited in size and let you mingle with various travelers from around the world, many of which are giving rock climbing a go for the first time. This is an excellent option for beginner climbers who want to see what it’s like to scale the cliffs but aren’t really sure where to start.

    It's worth noting that we heard many climbing services in the area have little if any official certification. The Railay Rock Climbing Shop is run by a former rock-climbing champion of Thailand. Do your research to ensure your company is a respectful and safe one.

    Rock Climbing East Railay Beach

    It can get pretty crowded during high season, and group tours leave at set times in the morning and afternoon. We recommend calling ahead and make a reservation to be sure you secure your spot.

    If you are an experienced climber with all the gear you need, then there are tons of climbing spots and routes all along the beach that you can walk up to and climb on your own.

    Where to Rock Climb in Railay

    East Railay Rock Climbing Wall

    Several spots around Railay offer fantastic views as you make your way up the limestone cliffs. Our guide decided to take us to Railay East Beach. The climbing area was quite small at high tide and on a few occasions, we had to wait until another climber either progressed or gave up so that we could start climbing. It didn’t bother us much as we could use the rest, but for advanced climbers, this could be frustrating. There is a good mix of beginner to intermediate climbs here with fantastic views looking back over the bay as you make your way upward.

    Rock Climbing Railay Thailand

    Other favorite spots to climb include Railay West, Ton Sai Beach, and Pranang Cave Beach.

    You'll find the rock climbing at Railay West down the beach just past the high-end resorts and spas. End your day here for some of the most spectacular sunsets in all of Thailand.

    Ton Sai Beach sees the most climber traffic of all the climbing areas. The wide beach and soft sand make it a great place to hang out all day while attempting to climb the steep overhanging cliff.

    Beach climbing

    Photo via Flickr/Will McElwain

    Phra Nang Cave Beach is considered to be the most beautiful beach on the peninsula. It is a bit harder to access than the previously mentioned areas, but for those who make the trek, it is well worth it. There is also Princess Cave, a small shrine where the local fishermen go to give offerings in exchange for safe passage. It is forbidden to climb in Princess Cave — nonetheless, it’s an interesting site to see.

    Pranang Cave Beach

    Photo via Flickr/trevor.flanagan

    There are guidebooks available throughout town that describe the quality and difficulty of all the routes in the area. also has a great detailed list of routes for Railay East, West and Ton Sai Beach and Pra Nang beach so you can pick and choose your routes before you arrive.

    READ MORE: Thailand Banking on New Tourism Ideas to Stay Ahead in Southeast Asia

    Where to Stay

    Railay accommodation, especially on the west side of town, consists mostly of expensive resorts and spas. For our brief stay, we chose a hotel in the larger town of Ao Nang just a scenic 15-minute longtail boat ride away. If you’re on a backpacker budget, cheaper accommodation can be found on Ton Sai Beach and Railay East.

    Have you ever been rock climbing in Railay?

More Thailand


You may use your Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook information, including your name, photo & any other personal data you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on Click here to learn more.

A Cruising Couple A Cruising Couple's Column

A Cruising Couple Dan and Casey are the two lovebirds, world travelers and adventurers extraordinaire behind the popular travel blog A Cruising Couple - adventure travel with a dash of class. Their stories and photographs feature that special place where experiential and stylish travel meet. Find out how you can spend less money, live more adventurously and travel more luxuriously on their blog,
Experience Alaska With Holland America Line

Cruise Lines & Cruise Ships