Photo: Looking over West Railay.

Rock climbing

Our rating:

With hundreds of bolted routes leading up vertical limestone cliffs to caves and pinnacles with soaring ocean views, Railay is a dream destination for climbers.

Photo of Rock climbing

Overseen by a large group of both Thai and foreign climbing experts, safety is taken seriously and the overall rock quality is excellent. Many routes are regularly re-bolted with titanium gear. The cliffs are riddled with crags and crevices, and some have ledges and caves that can be climbed to. On the French grading scale, the easiest routes are scored at 5a while several challenging climbs reach up to 8c.

Some of the most popular cliffs include Three Wall at the south end of Railay East, the massive Thaiwand Wall at the southern side of Railay West and, for really serious climbers, Ao Nang Tower, which can only be reached by longtail and dares you to go for an extremely difficult third pitch. For something different, head to Highland Rock Climbing inland from Railay East to climb a floodlit wall at night.

Nearly a dozen climbing schools have offices on the peninsula. Two of the largest and oldest are Hot Rock (office on Railay East) and King Climbers (office near Railay West), both open since the early ‘90s. Also going strong for over two decades is Tex Climbing School with an office on Railay East, which is a good choice if you prefer a smaller outfit. German-managed Basecamp Tonsai (guess where it’s based?) is another reputable choice that claims to have been the first to offer deep water soloing.

Courses run from 600 baht for a basic beginner’s class and up to 12,000 baht for a multi-day advanced session. Climbing gear can be rented from most schools. If bringing your own, the minimum you’ll need would be 60 metres of rope, several slings and quickdraws and lots of chalk.

In 2016, a new national park chief banned rock climbing on nearby Ko Phi Phi and other parts of the Hat Noppharat Thara - Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park. As of March ’16, climbing was still allowed on Railay but authorities were cracking down on climbing schools in an apparent effort to ensure safety. Deep water soloing was completely banned and no climbing schools were offering it. (Thanks to Eric Hilberg for his help with this update.)

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