my travels around Thailand and Asia

TonSai in a Day

Rock climbing has always been something I wanted to try, ever since meeting an Argentinian guy named Maximo on our Everest base camp hike in 2011. This guy was a mean machine. He was one of those crazy people that took groups up to summit mountains in the Himalayas. He had some really interesting stories to tell and you could see that love for climbing was ingrained into his soul. We had told him we were planning on living in Thailand, and the first thing that came out of his mouth was, “you gotta check Krabi out, there’s some bad ass climbing down there” He preceded to tell us about this video he made climbing through his double story house and that we should definitely youtube it. It’s a pretty cool video. Well, a year later, I had heard that a friend of ours, Christina, who stays in ThungSong, had gone to an awesome bay called ‘TonSai’, which is in Krabi province and done some climbing there, so I was intrigued to find out a little more. There was a bbq and some socializing, and information began to flow about TonSai, the climbing, how beautiful it was, and how cool and genuine the people were. She had actually met a climber there and become friends, so we had a contact and possibly a guide to take us on our first climbing adventure. Krabi, famous for it’s lime stone cliffs is a climbers paradise. I have been told on numerous occasions that its one of the best places to climb in Thailand, and with it’s relaxed vibe and friendly people, it’s a popular spot for all travelers.

After all the good information, plans began taking place to bike to Krabi early Saturday morning, take a boat from Aonang to TonSai, find a bungalow, chill out on the beach, swim, snorkel, maybe climb, spend the night, spend more time on the beach, take a boat back to Aonang and then in the late afternoon bike back to ThungSong. It was going to be a busy two days! Lack of time, because we had work on the Monday, meant it was more going to be a scooping out trip. Go have a look, see if we like the place and then when we have more time, maybe head back and spend a week there, maybe two, possibly even move there (only kidding about the last part, although I wish I wasn’t). The initial biking group was only three, myself, Eugene and Christina, but after a birthday party at Collettes place on the Friday, another 3 entered the group making it six (Angela joined on, as well as Christinas friend Collette and her friend from the states Railey). Three bikes, six people and no idea where to go, meant it was going to be an interesting journey. I had downloaded a map at school, but ‘silly me’ forgot the map at the office and over a weekend the school is like a fortress, so it’s difficult to get anything out. We had a vague idea, a friend that had driven there a good few times (who was a phone call away), we spook some Thai (so asking directions wouldn’t be a problem) and then pure determination. Nothing was going to stop us from reaching paradise.

the perfect day to drive

the ‘Dream’ struggling up the hill

nearly there

a coconut monkey going for a joy ride

The drive was actually very smooth and took around 2.5 hours. It was a route we had not travelled before, which made it a lot more exciting. It was a beautiful drive. It’s so different traveling on a bike compared to a car or a bus. Visually, it’s so much more appealing, to me at least. I feel I can experience so much more on the bike. The smells, the friendly smiles, the fresh air and of course the scenery. I feel more in touch with everything around me. It’s also a nice adrenaline rush. We eventually arrived in Ao Nang after one flat tyre and a few missed turns, but that’s what makes it fun. Ao Nang is a very popular beach town for families and couples. It’s a little expensive and too overcrowded for my liking, but we needed to meet a friend for lunch and get a taxi boat to TonSai. After finding a suitable restaurant, we all tucked in to some delicious Thai food. With our stomachs filled to the max, it was time to get a 10 minute boat ride to TonSai for 100baht/person.

smiles all round 

this place had so many orchids

the food was very tasty

6 tickets to TonSai please

we had to wait a few minutes for more people to arrive before the boats would move

TonSai in all her beauty

I didn’t know what to expect, but WOW! That’s all I could think of coming in on the boat. This seemed like the place we had been looking for. A paradise for all who come through. We had been told that TonSai was like a little hippie village, a place to lose yourself, forget about life and just enjoy the experience. There was beach for those who loved the sea, jungle for those who loved nature, and rocks for those who love to climb. A little haven for each traveler passing by. Next to TonSai is the bigger, more popular Railey beach. Situated in the same bay, Railey seems to be a popular destination for many who come to Thailand. When the tide is really low you can actually walk to Railey from Tonsai. However with popularity comes more people, more boats, bigger hotels and less of an authentic Thai experience. I was happy with the smaller, cheaper more intimate TonSai village. Bungalows go for as cheap as 200 baht/night. The rooms are very simple, but it’s all you need in a place like this and they’re 2 min from the beach.

Jimmy the bartender with an afro

Angela and Eugene chatting in the transformed long tail boat

having a laugh in the old long tail boat turned into a table

a view from the boat

Railey taking a moment

Ang and Eugene discussing music I suppose

Ang trying out the slack line

Railey giving it a go

the tide all the way out

Angela found a cute cat, and fell in love even though she is allergic

playing frisbee on the beach with two Thai friends from the bar

dinner with new friends, Christina, Jonas (the rock climber), Pascal (the sailer), Railey, Colette, Eugene and some girl from Norway.

It turned out to be an amazing day filled with swimming, snorkeling, lazing about, making new friends, eating and dancing, but unfortunately no climbing. We were all pretty knackered form the bike ride and needed a day to recuperate. We had also found out that our possibly climbing connection had damaged his foot and would be out of action for a couple days. Christini had also been a bit sick, so climbing would probably be off the list this time. We actually ended up partying a little past our bed time and spending more money than we had budgeted for (leaving no money to climb), but met some interesting charactors. One guy being from Belgian, had sailed his single mast yacht all the way to Thailand, but because the mediterranean was so dangerous and filled with pirates he had to put his yacht on a bigger boat in Phuket and have it shipped home. Anyway, like I said, we would use this short trip to test the waters and then when we had some more time, get back and do all the climbing we wanted. The Sunday was all about relaxing and doing absolutely nothing. We found a cool spot called Sabai Sabai cafe and we never left, until we had to of course.

our little resort with simple bungalows and a jungle feel

the cute little bungalow for a few hundred baht

everything you need: a bed, mosquito net and a fan

going for a walk

saw a few climbers doing their thang. looks rather difficult!

just hanging around hey

a little trek into the jungle found us an awesome organic restaurant

saw the sign and couldn’t resist

the backyard organic cafe had some good cheese and bread

back to the beach

Sabai Sabai cafe

eggs, toast and iced coffee

hammock time!

sabai sabai cafe

view from sabai sabai cafe where we spent most of Sunday

our favorite Thai beer

We totally fell in love with TonSai. The people were amazing and truly genuine. I felt so comfortable there, at ease if you know what I mean. We even left some clothes and snorkels at the chill out bar the night before and in the morning Ang went back to see if we could salvage something. We got everything back. They were so happy to help! I would say some of the kindest people I’ve met in Thailand.

It was way too short to really experience what TonSai has to offer, but we’ll be heading back very soon. The place is like a magnet drawing me there every minute of the day. I even made friends with one of the Thai barmen there, and offered for him to come and stay with us in ThungSong. He will be coming to ThungSong on the 16 March and then we’ll be heading to his hometown in HatYai the next day to watch JoB 2 Do. Should be fun!

time to go

met some cool peeps on the trip back to Ao Nang

he’s a serious fella

goodbye TonSai!

Indian in Ao Nang before biking home


2 responses

  1. Conor

    WE also spent a few days at Tonsai, if we do a return trip to Thailand it’s definately on the cards. You can also rent a boat and go deep water solo’ing, which is basicaly free climbing the cliffs that rise outtta the sea and jumping back into the water once you’ve reached your limit. Awesome spot. Good review

    March 6, 2012 at 2:17 am

    • Yeah, I did hear about the solo’ing trips. Sounds pretty intense. I suppose you need a lot of experience to be doing that type of climbing. I’m only a beginner, so I need to get lots more practice. I loved TonSai, just didn’t have enough time there. Will hopefully be going back soon and spending at least a week. Any recommendations about bungalows. Did you stay in the jungle or on the beach? Any other spots you really enjoyed? It’s always good to hear peoples opinions.

      March 6, 2012 at 2:27 am

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