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ken4ord

Thailand Beta Request...Help

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So last minute travel plans have come up and we are going to Bangkok this next weekend. We are going to be in Bangkok for a few days, that should be easy to figure out what to do, but then we have 5 days free. I obviously want to get to where the climbing is. So those of you who have traveled to Thailand put up some suggestions where to go and what to see.

 

Things we need help with:

 

* How to get where the diving and climbing is?

* Where are the cool places to stay, that are nice and kid friendly? We are not on a tight budget, but we are not loaded.

* Where is there good climbing in 5.9-5.11 range?

* Where is there good diving?

* Any other cool fun activities we should do while we are there?

 

* Rob how do I stay away from Denge fever?

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Ken - The most well-known spot is Railey/Ton Sai which are located on Pra-Nang, a peninsula in southen Thailand. You can fly to Phuket or Krabi Town and then take a boat or taxi/boat combination to Railay West or East, the beaches where you will find your acommodation in the form of many many villas. Limestone drips from the walls in all directions. I've heard the best diving is in Phuket but can't confirm that myself. Enjoy!

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Railay, for sure. Ton-sai is sort of the defacto climbing hangout there, but there are other good areas too. Pick up a climbing guide at King Climbers at Railay when you get there. You can rent a rope there, too -- so you don't have to lug your rope and bother getting it fucked by the salt and UV.

 

Check out Groove Tube (6a). Great fun. Most climbs are in the 10a range or higher, it seems. I managed to find some 9s. It's all in the french rating system so it's retarded anyway.

 

Bring old sections of rope to replace tattered threads (some climbs are protected with rope/cord threaded through natural holes in the limestone, but the salt and UV degrades these pretty quickly. I broke one with body-weight).

 

Bolts: Try to pick climbs retro-bolted with new titanium glue-ins. You can tell because they are U-bolts, and they use a kind of pink-glue. Or, pick climbs protected with threads, and plan on replacing some of them, or at least re-tieing the bullshit knots some euro-sportie used (I saw one loop made with a square knot!)

 

You can get digs at Tonsai, or in the Highlands there are some cheap bungalows. There are resorts on Railay East and West which are VERY nice and actually not too expensive, if you've got some money.

 

While you're in Railay, check out the Stone Bar (there is a wicked night life at the bars in Railay). Also, if you're looking for something to smoke, ask the bartender at the Gecko bar. He'll hook you up. Or, you can ask any of the million Thai bob marley look-a-likes. Despite what you've heard, don't expect quality. Oh, and don't fuck with that shit in Bangkok. For real. You'll go to jail for, like, ever.

 

Bangkok: Don't bother with khao San road unless you don't want to see Bangkok and only want to see rich European tourists with fake dreads and too much money. Get a room at Suk 11 hostel, or at Phranakorn-nornlen instead. You can find their contact on the web. Phranakorn-nornlen is much nicer, but Suk 11 is kind of more central (I found). They're both fucking nice, and cheap. Take my advise.

 

Also, check out the Grand Palace while you're there. If you really want to find something to smoke in Bangkok, check out the raggae bars on Trok Mayom road, near Khao San road. But be careful.

 

Taxis in Bangkok: Make sure your driver agrees to use the meter. He'll almost always try to negotiate some fixed price. Don't -- it will almost always be higher than the metered price. Many drivers will refuse to use the meter. Let them leave. Another driver will take his place, and you'll find one who will use the meter. But if you're there for a few days, you might just get a sky-train pass. It's more convenient for long treks in the city.

 

When buying trinkets and stuff from street vendors or at the flea markets, ALWAYS negotiate. It's expected. However, in western-style shops (like the mall) you don't. Stay away from the fucking malls anyway. WTF?

 

When in Bangkok, check out the Chatuchak Market -- it's only on weekends, but it's FUCKING CRAZY HUGE and you can find anything. Don't forget to negotiate. I usually just cut their price in half and start there. They'll laugh at you, but they expect it. Also, strangely, you can just say "Best Price?" and they'll come down quite a bit.

 

Also, you can check out the night bazaar (Suan Lum?). It's pretty cool.

 

If you have extra time, take a flight up to Sukothai. There are ~thousand-year-old ruins of the ancient Thai capital and old temples, and it's fucking amazing.

 

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Railay/Tonsai has some of the best sport climbing you'll ever come across. Imagine doing an incredible 4 pitch route that is all smiles and then rappeling right into the bar that is on the beach.

 

Most of the info you will ever need for climbing there (and getting there) is the Mountaineers Book "Thailand: A Climbing Guide". Definitely get one and you'll be happy.

 

http://www.rei.com/product/734472

 

When at Tonsai, it is very kid friendly. Plenty of climbers walking around with infants, toddlers and some kids.

 

Stay at Krabi Mountain View Resort at Tonsai (it's in the book). It is very nice (particularly compared to a lot of the sh*tholes at Tonsai). We spent about $500 Baht ($16) a night, and we were very happy with the place (the place and property is very nice and clean plus it has a shower, and a toilet that flushes which can be hard to come by in Tonsai)

 

There is plenty of diving in the area also. It won't be hard to find a dive shop on the fly...

 

Tod

Edited by Tod

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Getting to the climbing area is pretty easy by travel standards. If you're short on time you'll want to fly from BKK to Krabi. You might be able book online through either Thai airlines or 123Go (http://www.fly12go.com) but when we tried this (in 06) it was double the price. We got to BKK and then bought RT tix to Krabi for $200. You can buy them in the airport. If you have extra time you can take a train from BKK to someplace near Krabi which is cool (I did this as a kid and loved it!).

 

You'll have to spend at least 1 night either end in BKK. As of '06 there was only 1 hotel near the airport and it was spendy ($100/night) - however you can walk to it. The city is a good 45 minutes away. BKK is a pretty intense city so in my opinion it's worth staying in the city and spending a day checking it out. If you stay in BKK with kids do not stay in Khao San (drunk frat boy place to stay) or on Sukhumvit anywhere between Soi 10 and Soi 40 (the domain of middle aged fat men with young Thai prostitutes). Chinatown is a fun place to stay but you're away from the touristy stuff - whereas Khao San is close to all the stuff. The temple tours in BKK are worthwhile - for kids check out the Dusit Zoo.

 

Once in Krabi go to the port (10 minute taxi ride) and guys will be waiting to take you to Railey. Just show up with a backpack and they'll know where you want to go.

 

As for climbing - go to Railey / Ton Sai. Railey is more touristy - which means more development (the beaches in Railey are better). Ton Sai you can still dirtbag it for $2 / night. The areas are 15 minutes apart (or 5 minutes by boat) and both have good climbing. With kids you might prefer Railey b/c the beach is awesome whereas it's rocky over at Tonsai. if you do stay at Tonsai stay as far away from the water as possible as raves can go on all night and be very loud down by the water.

 

There are ample climbs in the 5.9 - 5.11 range; enough to keep you occupied for months! Half of them start off the beach so they're very kid friendly. There are also a number of moderates that are kid friendly.

 

As for diving... you can take boats out of Railey and they'll take you to the diving spots. I can't tell you what it's like but I've heard that many areas are still recovering from the tsunami.

 

Have fun - it's an awesome place!

 

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I was in Suk 11 with two young children, it was very chill. YMMV

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Early in the morning you can get from downtown to BKK in ~20 minutes. Tell the driver "GO FAST!" I've little advice for staying in Bangkok except "don't"

 

Nice diving off of Koh Tao, and relaxing island. Take a ferry from Surat Thani on the mainland.

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Getting to and finding great climbs in Tonsai is pretty easy. But if you want to see a better part of Thailand with incredible climbing. I would check out Lao Liang Island. It is a little hidden gem, gorgeous island and has the best climb I've done in Thailand. Try googling Lao Liang Island and Golden. It was featured in Urban Climber.

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Sweet thanks for all the information so far. So in Bangkok we got our lodging covered by work, but I have a feeling it not so fun of an area, it is supposedly in the embassy district or something like that at the Marriot. I am sure we'll be able to get out of there with taxis. I'll need to find a map of the city so I can find these other places you guys talked about. We'll be there for five days and really looking forward to that especially since I miss being in a city and good food.

 

wfinely and Rob thanks for all the info on the city. Half of our trip will be in the city due to work obligations, but from the sounds of it is a pretty fun place to expore. What were some of your favorite sights that you went too?

 

It sounds like Railay will be the one stop shopping place for us with climbing, diving and lodging all right there and daycare if we need it. I here it is quite touristy, but we'll be there low season, so it shouldn't be too bad. Rob thanks for the rope tip, I was trying to decide if I should bring one. I am assuming they are in decent shape? We were thinking of hiring a guide for climbing so that one of us could watch Simone while other climbs and trade off. How did you do it with the kids? Simone is only 20 months so still a little too young to let her wander off on her own.

 

Again thanks for all the info.

 

 

 

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The embassy district is lower Sukhumvit - which means you're pretty centrally located; it's a good place to stay.

 

I grew up in Bangkok so I have pretty fond memories of it; thus when we visited a couple years ago we spent some extra time in the city and toured / visited friends.

 

As mentioned - the Kings palace and surrounding temples are a great site. You can easily spend 5-6 hrs touring them. All the usual tourist stuff is neat - the floating market, the crocodile farm (where you see freaky stuff like dogs in a tiger pen). As I mentioned the zoo is good -- they have an impressive komodo dragon and python collection. Take a water taxi down the river -- and when you get on/off be sure to spend some time poking around in the food bins where you'll see things like baby turtles and squirming piles of eels. Another fun thing to do is go out to eat in Chinatown. Spend a couple hours wandering around before you eat to see the wild food and aphrodisiac's in store windows; if you go for dinner it's quite crazy with thousands of people hanging out on the street eating seafood and bird nest soup.

 

The malls might be lame - but if you're not from a big city the metropolitan aspect is intriguing and fun to experience. The are some very swanky stores you can walk around in if you're into it.

 

A interesting thing to do near and after dark is wander Sukumvit from Soi 10-20 or so where you'll run a gauntlet of street hawkers, beggers and entertainers and be propositioned with everything from sex to switchblades and bootlegs to boots.

 

Have fun!

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I guess one other question I have is any safety issues in Bangkok. I know how to handle my self in tough cities and have had no problem when I am in Nairobi or Johanesburg which are supposedly some of the most dangerous cities out there.

 

I imagine Railay being the destination that it is, that it quite safe there. I am far from being paranoid or anything like that I just like to know what to watch out for.

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Ken, the ropes were in fine shape.

 

And, if you want a guide, you'll have no trouble finding one. They're everywhere, like locusts. You'll have to swipe them off yr shoulders as you climb. But, you'll have no trouble hooking up with a partner in tonsai if you'd rather not pay for a guide. I found a partner in like, 5 seconds.

 

If you don't go anyplace obviosuly seedy in Bangkok, you'll be fine. I didn't think it felt any different than New York in terms of safety. If you're street smart, the same rules apply. I was there with kids, too.

 

In Bangkok, if you're there for the weekend, definitely check out the chatuchak market. It's INSANE. Or, if you're not there for the weekend, check out the night bizaar. I never got to see the floating market, but it's supposed to be cool.

 

Check out the grand palace while you're in Bangkok. But they have a strict dress code there -- no shorts, no tank tops, no exposed feet (wear shoes, or if you wear sandals, you must wear socks.)

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About all I'd add is: if you meet an overtly friendly Thai who loves chatting and giving advice, chance are you're about to be scammed. That said - if you do fall for a Thai scam about the worst that would happen to you is you'd end up buying a new suit. Another favorite is guys hanging outside the temples telling you they're "closed".

 

And Rob's comment about locusts is right on... if you don't watch them they'll un-clip your draws and clip them to their rope while you're going up!

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Ken, someone my correct me on this, but I think the ticket for the taxi ride from BKK is to tell them to take the "express way", a few worth extra bucks.

Don't know if they fly to Krabi (tiny airprot) but Asia airlines has super deals you can get online.

I find that the boat ride to Tonsai/Railey is better from

Ao Nang than Krabi, and it is about the same time from the airport. Taxi drive from Krabi airport might seem expensive relative to other things. You can sahre w. others and the prices are actually set, not a rip off.

If you decide to take your gear, there is consigment at BKK airpot but give yourself an extra 15 or so.

Spendig a liitle more for a nicer place will be well spent but the selection for that in Tonsai is a lot slimmer.

I did go diving and the options are tons. Some cool spots, some murkier w. big schools of fish. Bring LOTS of sunscreen. Not the most amazing diving ever...but fun day checking out some small islands. (You might consider just climbing more, going diving in Hawai some other time...)

Can't remmember the name but there is an area in Pra Nang with a small gorge like spot with some sweet moderate climbs that are longer than average and less crowded, with a good approach for kids.

If any of your stuff gets wet, dry/air it right away, lots of people have mold problems (I haven't!)

Also my AT&T cell worked great and its cheap if you text.

Don't forget to get some cheap massage...

Sawatdeetka!

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Again thanks thanks and thanks. It has been sort of hectic putting this trip together at the last minute, but not too bad considering half of the trip is paid for and already planned. It looks like we are going to splurge while we are in Thailand and stay at the Railay Spa & Resort, especially considering that it is one of the nicer places but still reasonable at $65 a night.

 

So Rob the chatuchak market happen on Sunday, cause that will be the only day we will be able to make it? Also where is it? I sure I could probably ask anyone there and they will though. The floating market is another place I want to go for sure as well. Thanks for the dress code info on the Grand Palace, I wanted to go there originally I wasn't planning on bringing anything but flip-flops and shorts, I guess I will throw in a pair of pants and shoes.

 

I definitely want to spend more time climbing than diving. I am not a diver at all, I thought I might try it though, but I probably won't, Misti is the one that is into diving and actually learned to dive there quite while ago.

 

Got any suggestions on where to go for some bouldering when Misti is diving? I will have Simone with me so it would need to be some place where she can play without getting into too much trouble. Hey ckplanet is PraNang within walking of Railay or do you need to get there by boat?

 

Anyone know what mozzies are? I am asuming mosquitos, but never heard them called that. I have seen several posts that they are out feircely at night.

 

So it sounds like the usual stuff to watch out for. Living in Africa for the last three years I have become aware many different types of scams and thievery, so it sounds like it will be no problem.

 

I can't wait to pack my bags.

 

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PraNang is just another walking path from Raley, and the best beach. Only one FANCY resort there and where the climbing started, but the bolts where taken out (only on the beach climbs) when the money came. There is a cave to check out and such.

The diving will take all day, the boats go to other areas even if just to snorkle...

Find other partners! Unless you want to traverse the cliffs if not to crowded, can't really think of much to boulder.

Mozzies are new to me too, but you might have any kind of insect roommate even at the nicer place :)

Just be normally travel safe, thais are good people.

Have a great trip!

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PraNang is definitely the best beach. There is good climbing there, too. If you walk to the end of pranang beach, there are a bunch of routes. I forget what they call that section. I think it's basically the other side of the Thaiwand.

 

Anyway, it's in the book. Good routes, too -- 9s to 12s IIRC. It's at the end of the beach, on the other end away from the penis cave (yes, it's full of penises). There is a trail wandering through the trees up to the cliffs that are obvious from the beach. You can't miss it, just walk towards the end of the beach until you run out of beach and see the trails leading through the trees to the cliffs above you.

 

OH! I forgot to mention. MONKEYS. Those little fuckers will actually open your pack and steal your shit if you don't lash everything closed.

 

And watch for snakes, especially if your little one is wandering.

 

One more tip: On the trail from Railey East to PraNang, you will notice a little trail/scramble on your left. Follow that shit. It's not kid safe, as you'll have to use a bunch of old hemp handlines to scramble up the slick mud/clay/dirt, and hand-rappel down some small rock bands, but anyway, the trail leads to this hidden cove, accessible only by this trail. SUPER FUCKING COOL. Bring a little something-something and enjoy the scenery.

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Ha ha, Rob I was going to say about the many penises & monkeys...but figured I'd let him discover that!

 

The climbng in PraNang is definately the other side of the Thaiwand wall. It even has a cave you can go into from PraNang and rap down out on the other side (not with the kid as the trail back to the beach is steep & slippery I think)Lots of bats.

 

The gorge like spot I said earlier though I think was in the side of PraNang next to the cave towards the walkway. Watch the tide if you go there, but it was great.

The food ROCKS!

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Sweet thanks again. I heard about the penis cave, sounds funny. Good to know about the monkeys, Simone will be on the look out for sure. She is for some reason terrified of monkeys. The other day we were at a resturant that has a monkey and she didn't want to get near it at all. It was like carrying a cat above water, the claws were dug in deep.

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Just got back, i'll post some pictures later once I get them on the computer. So I just thought I would add some other stuff to all of the good information that was put on this thread.

 

Bangkok:

 

Getting around.

Taxi's are cheap, definitely have to request the use of the meter. I found the taxis were also cheaper to get around especially with multipule people than tuk-tuks, boats and rail. Public non-aircon buses were the cheapest.

 

Sights.

The Palace was pretty damn cool. There is a changing room there so you don't have to wear long sleaves and long pants all day long.

 

The temples were also very cool too, very ornate and beautiful. Very neat architecture.

 

The Thai history museum was interesting and super cheap.

 

Chatuchak market was cool too, not as interesting and lively as the african markets, but way more interesting things to buy.

 

The Night Bizare was similar to Chatuchak market in case you are not there during the weekend. Open every night at 7pm. A little more expensive though.

 

Khoa San road is somewhat like Rob described. If I was young dumb and full of cum, I guess it would be fun, lots of backpackers, the rich were more in the area I was staying at.

 

In Sukhumvit, where I was staying is where there are some crazy large malls. I found it somewhat interesting, they were just so fucking huge, it was crazy.

 

Good food can be found everywhere. Good street food even in the nicest parts of town.

 

Safety

Probably way safer than most US cities. There are police and security everywhere. I never saw single person being stopped or arrested by police or security at any point during my trip.

 

Flight to Krabi:

It cost us $300 for both of us and little Simone round trip on Asia Air.

 

Krabi to Railay.

You can get to Railay for easily under 400 Baht if you do it cheap. We arranged it through our hotel and the transfer cost us 1500 Baht. Somewhat expensive, but that was both of us, we got the guy out there with the sign, aircon van with bottled water and boat to Railay.

 

Railay/Tonsai.

We stayed at the Raily Beach resort, nice not too expesive. Most climbers are at Tonsai and cheap places could be found there I met some guys who were living off of 300 Baht a day for meals, lodging and beer (off-season). Checking out the penisula, I think it would be pretty easy to dirt bag is there and find a place to camp in the forest or in a cave.

 

The little climbing I did was a lot of fun, not as polished as I thought it would be. I wouldn't get a guide if at all possible, most that I saw were more interested in talking with their buddies than helping their clients get on/up routes. Plenty of people to hook up with even in low season.

 

The lagoon was super cool, I ended up spending about 3 hours in there chillin'.

 

Thanks, everybody.

Edited by ken4ord

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