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Rock Climbing in Krabi
Climbing: hanging around in Krabi
There are few more exciting places in Asia for climbing than Krabi – or Phra Nang peninsula to be exact. Since the early 1990s, Krabi has been the latest, greatest hangout for rock climbers from around the world. The towering limestone karsts shooting up from the sea keep You entertained for weeks. “It blows your mind: pocketed walls, stalactites, stalagmites, steep walls, big edges, wild overhangs and unlimited potential,” says King, author of the area’s latest route guidebook which details over 450 routes in Phra Nang and the Phi Phi Islands.
There can’t be a better place to learn. Within a day or two, beginners can find themselves dangling over clear blue seas and golden beaches fringed by palm trees, ail under the supervision of Thailand’s best climbers. The courses range from beginner to advanced. Whatever your skill level, it’s worth getting in touch with the climbing shops when you arrive: there has been extensive rebolting in the area, and they can give you all the details of the latest developments. For example, they recommend that you avoid climbing in the Phi Phi islands – the first climbing areas in southern Thailand – until an extensive rebolting project has been completed.
The best weather for climbing is from November to March, the dry, cool period. But because this is the high season, many visitors during this time have been disappointed with the crowds on the walls. For top climbers looking to enjoy Krabi’s walls at their best, there’s a window of good weather and relatively uncrowded routes from early November to mid-December – just before the big holiday crowds arrive. Alternatively, beginner climbers should consider coming in the low season, when there are fewer climbers on the wall, and accommodation can be a third of the high-season price. The only inconvenience is the chance of rain, but it mostly comes in short bursts, and the rockfaces are so hot and sheltered that they remain relatively unaffected.
Whether it had good climbing or not, Krabi’s stunning natural beauty and welcoming ambience would Put it high on any traveller’s wish list – it’s full of ‘residents’ who only came for a short break, but just couldn’t leave. With clean, simple rooms from as low as 100 baht in the low season, there’s no reason not to stay a while. Apart from climbing, Krabi offers beautiful snorkelling, spectacular camping Opportunities and a great party atmosphere every night.
One of the reasons Phra Nang has remained so unspoilt is its limited access – the mountains separating the peninsula from the mainland mean you have to arrive by boat. To get to Phra Nang from Phuket, it’s a three-hour bus ride then a short trip in a longtail boat from Ao Nang Beach (15mins) or Krabi Town (45mins). An alternative is to take the ferry from Phuket to Phi Phi and onto Krabi.
On Phuket itself, there’s limited potential for rock climbing, and few areas of any significance have been bolted. Nevertheless, there are now two climbing walls. Quest, at Laguna Phuket Resort, has a three-sided 15m wall as part of its outdoor training centre. The newest wall on Phuket – creatively entitled ‘The Wall’ – is set inland of Rawai, on the south coast. At the time of writing, owner Eric Devidal was building an 11m-high wall at the site, and said there were plans to add two more adjoining walls with overhangs. The Wall is set in a beautiful forest setting, and features an elegant restaurant, sauna and outdoor jacuzzi.