This was actually the first paid trip/activity that Norm and I did in Thailand, and we were not disappointed. Tonsai and Railay have some of the best rock climbing in the world, so we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to do it.
We were fetched from Ao Nang beach at 11AM by Basecamp’s long tail boat, and set off out towards the dots in the distance that gradually enlarged into little islands. Our boat anchored alongside a wall of rock, which I initially thought would be impossible to climb! After watching a few of the others ascend the wall, I gathered the confidence to attempt it myself. I just traversed across the wall, instead of up, because I was too scared of the jump (or possibly, fall) into the water. When it got too challenging and I felt my muscles about to give up on me altogether, I jumped into the water.
We spent about 2 hours at this wall before heading to a nearby beach for lunch. Although quite full of tourists from other tours, the beach was beautiful. It had the picturesque (and clearly elusive) white sand and turquoise water that we had been searching for, so it was nice to confirm that it was in fact not a myth! I filled my belly with salty rice and watermelon for lunch, and didn’t give it any time to settle before plunging into the water for a snorkel.
The snorkelling was not amazing, but it was our first decent snorkelling experience in Thailand, so it was exciting nonetheless. I bobbed about for close to an hour, staring mostly at bland coral, but I didn’t mind because it was actually so relaxing to escape all sounds except for my noisy breathing through the snorkel.
The next wall we went to was far more daunting than the first, and I eagerly volunteered to film and photograph Norm to escape having to attempt the climbing for at least a while. When I finally mustered up the courage, I lost it as soon as I had scaled the ladder. That in itself was enough of a challenge, and I had to rest awhile before beginning the actual rock climbing. It was a lot of fun, but quickly got too high for my nerves to deal with, so I climbed down as far as possible before jumping into the deep water below.
It was a really exciting and fun experience, and the only thing I wished was that I was stronger! My muscles felt sapped of energy so quickly, in the way that takes more like a day than an hour to recover. That being said, it is totally manageable for beginners (like me), and is still exciting for more advanced climbers because there are several routes that each differ in difficulty.
The trip was worthwhile because not only did we get a good rock climbing experience, but also a scenic boat ride through the bay and a snorkelling trip all combined. We went with Basecamp Tonsai, as they had the best reviews, and they certainly lived up to them.