Shouldering up to the Land of Smiles

Climbing Southern Thailand
Rock of Ages: Krabi's limestone-endowed coast (PhotoDisc)

Some of Thailand's most spectacular scenery—think massive limestone cliffs jutting from baby-blue water, palm-fringed beaches, and reefs teeming with creatures you've never imagined—stretches along the Kra Isthmus, that wispy leg of land that links Thailand with Malaysia. It is here that you'll find relief from the heat in quiet lagoons or under the waves with a diving instructor. The tsunami hit this area hard, but today you'd hardly guess it.

Krabi Province, just east of Phuket, has some of the country's most popular beaches. Ao Nang, for instance, is your jump-off point for places such as Railay Beach, a haven for climbers who scale some 500 bolted routes up overhanging limestone before cooling off in the waves below. Hole up in a beachside bungalow at the Lanta Nakara Resort (+66.75.697.123;, where you'll find 35 huts, none more than a two-minute walk from the beach. In the shoulder season, prices drop dramatically—not that they would break your wallet anyway—from $63 a night to about $32. While you're there, check out climbs like Live and Let Thai, a 5.11c. If that's too steep, Ko Phi Phi has easier routes, and signs of the tsunami have all but disappeared. Go in the shoulder season and you'll run into fewer people, many of whom learned of this area after The Beach was filmed here.

For climbing info check out, a site by climber Simon Foley that features extensive links to various aspects of climbing around Thailand.

Published: 25 May 2006 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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