From Chiang Mai, I took a flight South to Krabi. I was more than ready for some more climbing, beautiful beaches and to find a place where I could settle for at least a month. It was fun to take a boat to Railay and remember the time in 2007 when I did that trip as a day trip from Krabi together with my sister. I didn’t quite remember HOW stunning the place was though. Arriving by longtail boat at Railay East, with blue water, blue skies and beautiful limestone cliffs on both sides, I felt very fortunate to have picked this place as my next stop.
I spent the first couple of hours checking out about 80% of the accommodation options available in Railay to find the best deal for myself. Low tourist numbers due to corona helped me to score a really good long-stay deal at Railay Princess Resort which was absolutely amazing! The room had the best views of anything that I saw in Railay, it got cleaned every day and included a breakfast buffet. Yes, I got spoiled and yes, it was hard to leave in the end. Perks included monkeys playing on my balcony every now and then and a roof-top pool. Not too bad!
But now on to the climbing, which was obviously the main reason I came to Railay. While I did have a lot of work during my time in Railay, I usually managed to get out on the rock 2-3 times / week. I would have preferred more, but that’s complaining on a high level. I met lots of amazing people and climbing partners during my 7-week-stay. I managed to climb some really cool routes, practiced my rappelling skills and watched the sunset on Railay West beach almost every day.
Some of my favourite crags/routes were:
- Thaiwand Wall – the crag with the best views
- Missing Snow 6b+ and Beauty & the Beast 6c – my favourite routes
- Humanality 6b+ – the most recommended multi-pitch, and rightly so with some beautiful pitches, a scary crux pitch and a fun rappel into Freedom Bar afterwards (with a well-deserved cold beer)
- Don’t Grab the Krabi 7a+ – one of the only 7a/+ that has ever appealed to me to project. I didn’t managed to get on it as many times as I would have needed to send it though unfortunately, but it is definitely the 7a(+) that seemed the most achievable to me so far.
Of course, there was much more to my time in Railay and these are only some of the many highlights. I would definitely like to return one day with a bit less work and more time for climbing.
After 7 weeks, I decided that it was time to move on and spend the rest of my time in Thailand on Koh Tao. I had been to Koh Tao twice already (in 2010 to do my open water and in 2013 when I was on my first round the world trip), but both times I had actually not managed to see a lot of the island. The first trip was focussed on diving and it was pouring rain the whole week with flooding. During my second time on Koh Tao, I was a bit tired from travelling and preferred to take it slow for a few days. This time I had booked a hotel for my 1 month stay on Sairee beach because I felt too lazy to walk around and compare prices. I regretted my decision afterwards as the hotel was nothing special and overpriced for what it was. But hey… you can’t always take the right decision, right!? At least Sairee beach was the perfect central location and good for sunsets.
My plan for Koh Tao was to still work a lot (unfortunately) and to go bouldering and maybe sport climbing. I had heard good things about the bouldering on Koh Tao and vague stuff about some bolted routes. If nothing would work out, I would just go scuba diving a lot. In the end, I did not go on a single dive and while I did go climbing and bouldering quite a bit, my main activities ended up being flying trapeze and aerial silks!
I had heard about the flying trapeze on Koh Tao from a climbing buddy in Railay and had thought about it more as a once-in-a-lifetime kind of activity. Never did I expect to have so much fun and I did not know they also offered aerial silks which I had wanted to try for a while. Always good to keep your plans flexible!
My highlights of Koh Tao were definitely my new skills on the trapeze and aerial silks that I acquired over the course of the month. I also really enjoyed the bouldering though. It was my first time bouldering outdoors and I loved it! Definitely something I would love to do more in the future.
The climbing was also great. First time on granite with some slabs, some chimneys and just a totally different feel than the limestone in Railay and Tonsai. My favourite crags were Big Brother Slab and Jansom Bay which I only got to visit once unfortunately as my climbing partners were more interested in other crags. The most beautiful route on the island (for me) is Grunt Force 6b, the most interesting one Leg Day 6a+ (both Jansom Bay) and I also found Bisou 7a+ at Golden View a route that would have been worth projecting. Again, I did not have enough time, I only got on it once on toprope to feel it out.
I liked that Koh Tao was a lot bigger than Railay and offered way more different activities and restaurant options. I enjoyed having my own scooter again, cruising around and exploring beaches, going for a snorkel here and there. And I loved getting into trapeze and aerial silks. Overall, a great way to finish my stay in Thailand!