“What a disappointment. Tonsai Beach is a construction site! The whole beach is torn up; there is one resort on the beach and the rest is just pits and sand piles. The concrete wall around the construction site hides the rest of the village and seems like the only place open is my hostel. Should not have come here…”
This is what I wrote in my journal when I first arrived at Tonsai Beach in the Andaman Coast of Thailand in by a longtail boat, but I ended up liking the place.
I heard about Tonsai beach from my dad who had been climbing on the limestone cliffs while staying at Railay. Tonsai is a laid back and a bit run down village next to the more touristy and luxurious Railay Beach. At first, I struggled to figure out how things rolled on Tonsai.
“There are some climbers in my hostel, but they are not paying for the climbing guides. But I’m not that good of a climber, I don’t even have any gear with me!”
So, I paid for a guide for one afternoon (private guide for a group price since no one else showed up). Having learned to climb with friends and other students, it felt strange to pay for someone to climb with me. The next day I was brave enough to chat with people and headed out with a group of climbers with mixed experience. I hired shoes and a harness and borrowed a pair of leggings as I had noticed the day before that my shorts were not appropriate for climbing…
“The routes we wanted to climb were busy with climbing schools from Railay side, but we found a quiet corner with some 6a+ and 6b climbs. After a late lunch in a restaurant, where we were by far the muddiest and dirtiest guests they had served for a while, we wanted to do one more climb before the swift darkness fell over the cliffs. Vita and I climbed a neat 6a, but we were tired and slow, and I had to lead the last bit in the dark. Definitely a good day!”
I climbed with the same people a few more times and we had a great time. I extended my stay with a few days but many stayed on Tonsai for weeks. The hostel where I stayed had a great atmosphere as all the guests were backpackers who wanted to pay little and get little. But the Tonsai lifestyle is not for everyone. Very relaxed atmosphere comes with limited hours of electricity, so-so showers, and shared bungalows where the travellers behind the mosquito nets change often.
“Little fire show by the local guys on my last night here. I’m glad to move on even though I like this little place. I need to go somewhere where I can dry my clothes.”
Cover photo credit to Vita Raad