Continuing on with Dave and Deb’s excellent adventures in


Directly after our spectacular two days of paddling the islands of the southern Thailand, we set off for some rock climbing in Krabi. Krabi is considered one of the best locations on earth to sport climb and we are spending the next three days with Hot Rocks Climbing School.  Railay, Ton Sai and Phra Nang are the main climbing areas of Krabi, but recently shops have started doing deep water soloing in surrounding islands which looks like a a thrill of a lifetime or a terrifying experience depending on how you look at it.

The magnificent karst formations jut out of the Andaman Sea creating the perfect location for climbers seeking thousands of bolted routes.


the beautiful Railay beach in Krabi, Thailand

It was 11 years ago that we first came to Thailand and made a b-line directly to Railay in Krabi to learn to climb.

We were hooked and took up rock climbing for a couple of years in Canada and even returned to Thailand to climb again.  With all the traveling we have done lately, we haven’t had the chance to keep it up, so a three day refresher course was exactly what we needed to get ourselves back on track.


The beautiful Ao Nang Paradise

Staying in Ao Nang at the fabulous Ao Nang Paradise, we checked into the poolside suite to relax before our day at the crag.  It was 8:30 am sharp that Sarah from Hot Rocks picked us up to send us off on our 15 minute longtail boat ride to Railay.  Hot Rocks offers free shuttle from Ao Nang to Railay when taking a climbing course.  While I would recommend staying on Railay or on the more affordable Ton Sai Beach, most people stay in the more developed Ao Nang on the mainland with more choices of accommodation and dining.

We would be starting our day at 1,2, 3  Wall.


The 1-2-3 Wall in Railay. A great place to start.

Our guide Toto has been working in Krabi for several years and spends his free time rebolting the old routes that have been here since King the Founder of King Klimbers explored the area, starting climbing and bolting routes and made Krabi famous to climbers all around the world.  They are doing a big push to rebolt the old routes around the island and fixing them with stronger titanium bolts to make climbing safer for all.


Toto from Hot Rocks was an awesome guide

We were in excellent hands.  Toto talked with us about our skills and what we were looking to get out of climbing with him. What I liked about Hot Rocks was that both Sarah and Toto made sure to get a clear picture of what we wanted out of the next three days.  We let them know that we used to climb quite a bit, but are rusty and wanted to get back into lead climbing. It was a far cry from our climbing experience in China.

The 3 Day course normally consists of:

  • refreshing your climbing skills and doing some fun climbs on day one.
  • Going over the basics of lead climbing on day two
  • And tackling a multipitch on day 3

Day 1.

We set out to the crag where Toto assessed our skills.  We already knew how to belay, climb and tie in to the rope, so it was a quick launch directly into climbing.


Toto leads on our first day to set the climbing route

We belayed Toto as he climbed effortlessly up an easy route to set up our top rope anchors. He did this a few times throughout the morning to allow us to do some fun climbs of varying degree and get back into the feel of climbing again.  The great thing about top rope climbing is you don’t have to worry about falling.  The rope is secured to an anchor at the top and all you have to do is tie yourself onto the rope, have fun and climb up the rock face.


It all came back to us on Day 1 of the Climbing Course

We spent the morning getting a feel for climbing again and working on trying to remember our technique.  It all came back, but our stamina ran out quickly. Climbing uses different muscles than you are used to and it wasn’t long until our forearms were aching.

After spending the morning climbing, we made our way to Diamond Cave Wall after lunch.  Here we went over our lead climbing skills.

What is Lead Climbing?

Lead climbing is climbing up a route with your rope attached to your harness.  As you ascend, you clip the rope into anchors spaced throughout the rockface. The climber carries quick draws that are clipped into anchors that are bolted to into the rock up the route.  He then clips the rope into the other end of the quick draw.  Bolts are spaced a few meters apart and as you carry up the climbing rope you clip it into each anchor making protection for yourself as you climb up. The person belaying at the bottom then pulls the rope tight which keeps you from falling too far.


Practicing lead climbing at Diamond Cave

It all came back to us in no time and it wasn’t long before we were doing some practice lead climbs.  The way you practice leading is to climb on top rope, while pulling up another rope to simulate lead climbing.  We climbed a few routes this way.  Dave and I would belay on the lead climbing rope while Toto belayed with the top rope.  He kept the rope very loose however so that if we did fall we would fall a couple of meters like we are on a lead rope and not a tight top rope.


Deb looking like apro practicing leading at Diamond Cave

It was a super afternoon.  By the time 6:00 came around we were ready to finish for the night. Climbing takes a lot out of you and we needed a rest for the next day. In another 14 hours, we would be back at the crag starting the day all over again.


  • A 3 day climbing course costs 6000 bought – $200 USD
  • They also offer half day and full day courses starting at 1000 baht
  • Includes gear, guide, and lessons as well as water and snacks.

Dave and Deb’s Thailand Adventure is sponsored by the Tourism Authority of Thailand and hosted by Smiling Albino. A team of travel enthusiasts offering custom built adventure travel in Asia.

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Leave a comment


    1. davendeb

      Hi Gray, it’s always safe if you have the right instructor indoors or outdoors. I Recommend starting out in a climbing gym. You will get a feel for it and see if you like it you can then move outside. Or do what we did. Just go for it. In 2000 we had never climbed before, we just knew that we wanted to try it and we gave it a go right here in Railay. We loved it and were hooked. Happy to be back in the swing of things.

  1. Ken Kaminesky

    It’s adventures like this that make me wish I didn’t have a terrible fear of heights. That looks like such a blast! Of course that pool at Ao Nang Paradise doesn’t look so bad either…. I’d be ok hanging out there, instead of plummeting to my death while rock climbing ;)

    1. davendeb

      Haha, The pool was nice. We loved being able to come back to some luxury after climbing. We are more used to heading to a beach hut and taking a cold shower. I could get used to this.

  2. Dyanne @TravelnLass

    Ah yes, Krabi and Railay beach – I once ran a tour there in the late 80′s. No rock climbing courses then (nor for that matter, many tourists.) Simply idyllic! Your post serves as great encouragement for newbie rock climbers, but… like Ken K, I’m afraid my acrophobia would keep me glued to terra firma there by the pool.

    1. davendeb

      Dyanne, I can’t imagine how beautiful Krabi was in the late 80′s. We’ve seen an enormous change just in a decade in the 80′s it must have been paradise and pristine. No worries about not wanting to climb, that pool is very inviting I have to agree:)

  3. Charu

    What an excellent adventure– and thanks for the info about lead climbing…it’s always great to associate pictures with explanations. Thailand is one place high on my list -and I’ve only scaled a rock climbing wall in Harmony atrium (with harness around my waist), so not sure if I’m prepared for such a monumental effort. Excellent photos!


    1. davendeb

      Hi Charu, that is exactly how everyone climbs…with a harness around their waist, so you are already half way there. Only free climbers and deep water solo climbers go without a rope. The free climbers are nuts. One fall and your dead. You can easily hire a guide to take you out for the day and just have fun climbs. They set up the top rope, they belay the climber and all you have to do is have fun and try to get to the top. It is a thrill.

  4. Nicole


    Hope you are enjoying it… Ate the best pineapple of my life, best food of my life in Ao Nang and along Railay. Glad to see you guys are packing your trip full!

    If you have time and inclination, consider Krabi Cooking School – Ya is lovely and brilliant!

    1. davendeb

      Hi NIcole, you are so right. We enjoyed some of the best fruit in Railay. The fruit from people selling fruit on the beach for peanuts was so sweet and delicious. Thanks for the cooking school idea. Maybe we will try it next time. We were on a limited schedule this time around, but you know we will be back. We can’t get enough!

    1. davendeb

      Thanks Candice, we try. We actually love the active part of travel. Doing adventures is our game and Dave and Deb is our name:) haha, That just popped into my mind and I had to say it. Sorry:D

    1. davendeb

      We are slowly getting there. We aren’t at our optimal fitness yet, but we are doing our best to get there:) It is a beautiful place for sure. It is difficult not to compare other places on earth to Krabi, the landscape is stunning.

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  11. elliott

    this looks great – going to TL this coming Jan ( next week ), and have never tried rock climbing. and now i want to. should i purchase anying for climbing in the states before go. i am going down to TL for my second round of dental work.

  12. Hayley Pinsent

    I would just like to thank Saralisa and her team at Hot Rock Climbing school for the best adventure of our Thailand trip! We went over with the intention to rock climb but were able to combine rock climbing with cliff jumping. None of us had ever done anything like this before and with our helpful Aussie tour guide Michael we were able to learn pretty quick! I have so far recommended all of our friends and do the same for people who are looking for a great experience with an excellent team at the Hot Rock Climbing School.. Even if you're not interested in jumping off cliffs they accommodated for others providing snorkelling, fishing and a beautiful island lunch on our own Yacht! It cost us $30.00AUS per head and we were more than looked after! Good work guys and Thank you so much =) Hayley (Australia).

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