Climbing and Kayaking in Thailand
The limestone karats that pepper south Thailand's Andaman coast make idea playgrounds for rock-climbers, and the sport has really taken off here in the last decade. Most climbing is centres round East Railay and Ton Sai beaches on Laem Phra Nang in Krabi province, where there are dozens of routes within easy walking distance of tourist bungalows, restaurants and beaches.
Several climbing schools have already established centres here. Providing instruction, guides and all the necessary equipment. Half-day introductory courses at East Railay and Ton Sai cost in 800 Baht, a full day's guided climbing is 1,500 Baht and a three day courses 5,000 Baht. Equipment rental is charged at about 1,000 Baht per day for 2 people. Ko Phi Phi also offer few interesting routes and couple of climbing school. There are also less developed climbing areas near Chiang Mai and Ko Tao, as well as in Lopburi and Phetchaburi.
For further details about climbing courses, visit the rock-climbing school's website on www.thaiclimb.com. For an instruction to climbing in Thailand, plus advice on where to climb and what equipment to bring, as well as reviews of climb shops and a climber's forum, see www.simonfolely.com/climbing .
Sea-kayaking and whitewater-rafting
Sea-kayaking is also centres around Thailand's Andaman coast, whose limestone outcrops, sea caves, hongs (hidden lagoons), mangrove swamps and picturesque shorelines all make for rewarding padding.
The longest-established sea-kayaking operator in Thailand is trailblazing John Gray Sea canoe (www.seacanoe.com), which always seems to get good reviews. They run day-trips out of Phuket, Phang Nga and Ao Nang, which cost 1400-3500 Baht per person (children aged 4-12 half-price), and also offer three-six day kayaking expeditions.
In typical Thai style, John Gray Sea canoe's success has spawned a lot of copycat operations, most of which are based in Krabi, Ao Nang and Phuket, averaging 2700 Baht for a full day or about 900 Baht for half day. Some of these operators also rent out kayaks from about 100 Baht per hour, as does one outfit on Ko Phi Phi. Phuket-based Paddle asia (www.paddleasia.com) also offer week long sea-kayaking trips around the Trang islands and the Tarutao National Marine Park island at 100-150 US$ per person per day. There are a handful of kayaking operators over on Ko Samui, who organize trips around the picturesque islands of the Ang Thong National Marine Park.
You can go river-kayaking and whitewater-rafting on several rivers in north, west and south Thailand. Some stretches of these rivers can run quiet fast, particularly during the rainy season from July to November, but there are plenty of options for novices, too.
The best time is from October through February; during the hot season (March-June), many rivers run too low. The most popular whitewater-rafting rivers include the Umphang and Mae Khong rivers near Umphang and the Pai River near Pai.
Gentler rafting excursions take place on the River Kwai and its tributaries near Kanchanaburi and on the Sok River in Khao Sok National Park. Southwest of Chiang Mai, rafts can be rented from the adjacent national park headquarters for trips in Ob Luang Gorge.