We went rock climbing in Krabi during the June holidays. From Krabi International Airport, it was a smooth 45-minute drive to Ao Nang. From there, we took a longtail boat to Railay, a climbing paradise with hundreds of different routes catering to beginners as well as experts.
The majestic limestone cliffs form part of the world’s largest coral reef, stretching from China to Papua New Guinea, offering spectacular views for climbers. My kids enjoy rock climbing and were excited to try the real thing.
At Ao Nang, we picked The L hotel mainly because of its location. It sits in the middle of Ao Nang Beach Road with the boats anchored directly across the road. There are shops and dining options flanking it, and this stretch is livelier than Nopparat Thara Beach.
|The L Hotel
We bought tickets from the booth at the beach front, which cost 100THB (approx S$4) per person. Buy your return tickets from here even if you are staying at Railay for a few days otherwise, you’ll have to haggle with the unlicensed operators when you depart.
It was low tide and the boats were unable to come close to shore so we had to wade out. We should have donned our swimwear underneath our clothes. The water level was around our waist when a wave washed up, adding to our adventure!
|Not so sure if I wanna climb..
It was a picturesque 15-minute ride from Ao Nang to Railay as we soaked in the sights of the massive limestone cliffs. Railay is only accessible by boat due to the cliffs which surround it, and there are no cars on this isolated peninsular.
We stayed at the Sand Sea Resort, and as our boatman alighted us at Railay Beach West, the resort was right in front of us. Perfect.
Checking in at reception, we were dismayed at the poor attitude of the service staff. Instead of the typical warm greetings you would expect from the Thais, they were curt and unfriendly. Perhaps Railay is getting a little too touristy.
Our rock climbing session was booked online with Krabi Rock Climbing school, and in the email, I requested to be picked up at our resort. Our instructor was punctual and it was a 5-minute stroll through the sleepy “Walking Street” to his shop for the kids to be geared up.
I didn’t expect Kate to climb as the minimum age stated in their website was 5 years old and she’s only 4, but seeing her older siblings don their harnesses, she stood in line. We were amused that they did have tiny shoes small enough to fit her as she’s rather petite.
Everyone was handed a bottle of mineral water and off we went. Don’t forget the insect repellent and sunscreen!
|Krabi Rock Climbing
It was another 10-minute walk as we were led through the middle of Railay to get to Railay Beach East. Being the start of the monsoon season, there were fewer than 20 climbers there. We were fortunate that the weather held out for us despite thunderstorm forecasts and we could enjoy Railay without peak season crowds.
He briefed the kids and #1 went first. They said that the difference between this and the artificial walls back home was that these walls were much rougher on the hands.
Our instructor gave the kids clear instructions when they were unsure which foothold to reach for next. Each route took about 10-20 minutes and he kept shouting encouraging words to motivate them to reach the top, and the girls managed to complete their climbs.
I’m glad they persevered and pushed past their limits to reach the rings where he anchored the ropes. It’s a great sport to build grit and resilience.
They took turns, resting between climbs, and progressed to the more challenging routes. The kids were exhausted but really enjoyed it. Faces flushed, beaming with a sense of achievement.
We had purchased the half day climb, which was from 2-6 pm. The morning climb starts at 9 am, which was too early for the teens. The good thing about the afternoon climb was that the sun was starting to wane and it wasn’t too hot. It costs about S$45 per person for the 4-hour climb.
The kids had no problems with the descend as they knew how to use their legs to kick off the wall, but we did see a lady who did not do it the right way and she swung around and her body hit the wall. It is best for kids to get some experience with the artificial walls before coming here.
Railay East is not a proper beach and you can’t swim nor play sand. We spotted longtail boats alighting and departing from this side as well, and unlike the West, there is a stone path which leads out to the boats, keeping you dry.
There are pros and cons of staying at either side of Railay. Railay West is nearer to the rock climbing walls, and you won’t get wet when alighting from the boats, but you would have to trek across to the other side to hang out at the beach. For us, the accessibility to the beach was the main reason we decided to stay at Railay West.
|Railay Beach East
Kate was content watching her siblings ascend and descend, but when it came to her turn and she was hooked onto the rope, she suddenly burst out crying. I asked if she wanted to climb just a little bit and she wailed, “Noooo!” We all laughed and her maiden climb ended even before it began.
I came prepared with a picnic mat, snacks and drinks which came in really handy as the kids started to get hungry after all that climbing and I didn’t want to leave them and walk to the convenience store to look for food.
The ground is uneven and the stones are very rough so you have to be careful especially with younger kids. Kate made up her own game of stepping up and down the strange looking rocks.
I brought a spade and she whiled away the hours digging around the hard sand. I was also equipped with wet wipes, extra water to wash their hands, a towel, ponchos, sunblock and mosquito repellent. It drizzled for about 10 minutes but stopped as quickly as it started.
#5 is not as adventurous as the girls but he did try his best and enjoyed the experience too. He was more curious about the limestone cliffs and just had to climb into the little ‘hole’ to check it out. Many of the routes are shaded by the other cliffs and it was a rather comfortable climb.
We returned the gear and headed back to the beach. The younger ones played in the sand while the teens had fun bopping with the waves.
I had a wonderful time doing nothing and simply enjoying the laid back paradise. Glad we came during the low season as the beach was not crowded.
The sunset was spectacular and it was surreal how the beach goers sat in silence experiencing this simple marvel together. Everyone stopped what they were doing and watched the sky dance in a myriad of colours for a good half hour.
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