paradise found in tonsai thailand

Before our state-side stopover, we spent six weeks climbing in Tonsai, Thailand, a little slice of climber paradise. With its beach-side climbing, friendly locals, and a great vibe, our visit did not disappoint. The limestone climbing was especially fun for me–it’s an area with plenty of easier climbs and lots of people to try them with!

Enjoying a big swing after sending King Cat on Cat wall, looking out over Tonsai Bay


Postcard perfect: a long tail boat docked at one of the more remote islands


Tonsai has been on the climbing map since the mid-90s, and it continues to attract visitors from everywhere. Out of all the places we’ve been, this certainly has the most eclectic international scene. Even low season had a core community of climbers.

Kiwis, Aussies, Argentinians, Europeans, Dutchmen, South Africans and Americans: some of the Tonsai crew on a day out snorkeling


Low season generally means more rain, although in the past few years, global warming has stirred things up a bit and the weather is now anything but predictable. Lucky for us we only experienced a few multi-day downpours separated by long periods of sunshine. Afternoon storms were a regular and welcome relief from the heat and humidity.

An afternoon storm prepares to unleash its fury


Aussies Nicky, Mic, and James chilling at the infamous Freedom Bar. Sea views, mango smoothies, and climbing all within easy reach


Tonsai local Kay styling on Spanish Wreck


Steve fighting through the humidity on Just Call Me Helmet at Tyrolean wall


The fluffy spectacled langur monkeys could out-climb us all


The Macaques monkeys are definitional trouble-makers. Unlike the spectacled langurs, who only eat leaves, these guys will eat anything. Though well-known banana stealers, one especially cheeky monkey took a loaf of banana bread right out of a friend’s hand!


Thailand isn’t really a camping place. Instead, we stayed in bungalows and left the cooking to the locals. Tonsai has plenty of restaurant options, although we found ourselves most often eating from one of the “Chicken Mamas”–Noi, Na, and Maya–who serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner from their tiny shacks along the main walkway. The mamas work tirelessly everyday of the week, from early morning till late at night. It’s really amazing to witness the Thai work ethic firsthand.

Crazy Chicken Mama’s sidekick, Na, with her top customer, Ben the Brit, who averaged six meals per day!


Steve on Spanish Wreck


Rainbow-colored, handmade spring rolls in production onshore at the Krabi night market


Canadian Andrew red-pointing No Have at Tyrolean


Canadian Nyle, entertaining us with his improv songs on the Freedom Bar deck


Team Singapore projecting Jai Dum


Steve on Tidal Wave, an aptly named route, as the tsunami reached exactly the level of the top anchors!


Kay treating us to some hair-raisingly strong coffee


Our Spanish friends Yoli and Vanesa, enjoying an early morning swim at Phi Phi Lei lagoon


Learning the hard way at the high tide zenith why our cliff for the day was called the Low Tide wall. Here I am putting my recently acquired ‘Nam skills to work


Steve (finally) finishing his 1999 project, Tantrum


Testing my flexibility on Beauty and the Beast


Team Tonsai back from a snorkel trip


Paradise found


You can view our full set of photos from Thailand here.

This entry was posted in climbing, southeast asia. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to paradise found in tonsai thailand

  1. Gina Heyer says:

    Wow, these are gorgeous pictures… we’re going to Tonsai in January so it definitely gives us a better idea. Where did you stay on Tonsai? Gina

  2. Yap says:

    These. pictures. are. sick.



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