For me, it feels as though any location that is surrounded by cliffs and mountains positive energy is felt in abundance, even when spending time on your own. I believe a big contributing factor to this is that where there is cliffs and mountains there is an abundance of adventure sports options. The people who participate in these activities are usually outgoing free spirits who bring fresh energy from their own corners of the world, as well as the parts of the world they have traveled through. Tonsai goes further then allowing visitors and locals to participate in a host of adventure activities, it cuts off those who have no interest. If you are not interested in roughing it a little, being next to someone rolling a joint and constantly blazing up then throwing on a harness and walking off into the jungle, then I guess you just don’t go to Tonsai.
Tonsai is located about 30 minutes in a long tail boat from Ao Nang beach, which is near Krabi town. There is no road into Tonsai. Apparently you can walk there from Ao Nang and Krabi, but it is no easy walk. It’s a trek through the jungle and over mountains. Even to walk there from the next closest beach Railay West is a bit of a mission and requires some mountain goat skills. Unless it is low tide, at this time you can skip the mountain goat trail across sharp rocks and mud near the water. Still a decent mission. I did this in the dark with a small head lamp one night while on a mission to a cash dispenser. The fact there is no easy trails, roads or way to get there is a huge part of what makes Tonsai so awesome. When you cross over to Railay West you instantly notice a difference in people. On this beach there is nice resorts that would cost significantly more then Tonsai. This beach attracts more couples and families. Glad I wasn’t staying in Railay. (Though I am told it still has amazing climbing here also)
When I left Ao Nang the boat operators kept stuffing me around and had people cut me in line to get onto boats, this drove me nuts. They didn’t care as they had my cash. Then they ended up putting me on a boat to Railay, not Tonsai. Getting on this boat was one of the most epic parts of my trip in Thailand. With my big bag that had my cameras, climbing gear and everything else on my back, and my back pack on my front with my phone and other valuables, nothing in water proof bags, I had to navigate my way through about 40 meters of shallow water over uneven ground and sharp rocks and other random crap in the water to the boat. The water came up past my pockets so it was lucky I took my phone out. I have a hybrid bag with wheels and shoulder straps. This bag is so worth having from this mission alone. When I got off the boat I had made friends to help me on the other end, when I found I was at the wrong beach. I then had to get my own boat to get to Tonsai. I had no one to help me, even the driver was off doing something else as I walked through about 10 meters of water and into the boat. I climbed in, and still with both bags on me I stepped on a wooden beam in the boat that just snapped under my weight. I fell into the boat onto the wood, got completely snapped, twisted my leg between the other beams, cut my leg and bruised my body. It inflicted pain on my injuries from Ao nang as well as created new ones. 24 hours in Thailand and I was all ready fairly banged up. Just sucked it up though, carried on and was thankful I had antiseptic with me to rub into all my wounds!
Tonsai is one of the best rock climbing destinations in the world. The climbing here is amazing. World class. It has climbs that beginners can try, and pros can struggle on. Though as the really good climbers struggle, monkeys can be seen effortlessly cruising up the same route. Each day you will see people walking around with harnesses on, ropes over their shoulders with water and climbing shoes clipped onto their harness. Sitting in your bungalow you can hear climbers calling out to their partners off in the distance. On my first day in Tonsai I walked down to the beach with my climbing gear and just walked a long and found a group of people and asked if there was any one that wanted to climb with me. This tactic works much easier if you have your own gear, especially rope or you’re an attractive female. The first group I asked had someone who was keen to climb with me. Though, just as we were discussing this idea my buddy from work walked along the beach right to where I was with a rad crew I ended up chilling with and climbing with a lot for the time I was at the beach. Unfortunately I didn’t warm up well and I pulled something in my bicep on my second climb and my arm was sore for the rest of my trip in Thailand. I still did more climbing while I was here but kept it to the easy grades, this didn’t matter though, the rock here is so nice to climb and the crew was fun to hang with.
I made the decision that because my arm needed to heal that hangovers wont matter and that I should drink. Tonsai bars are awesome. They are decorated cool with all sorts of random crap, but they all have comfy cushion to lay on as well as hammocks and more importantly, slack lines! I try to not do things that may injure me when I am drunk over seas, because if I get hurt than travel insurance may not cover me ( read my article on travel insurance here) . But in Tonsai slack lining is addictive. When I arrived I could not even stand on the end of the slack line next to the tree it was fixed to. By the time I left I could make it almost half way. I know I have balance issues and it has been something I have been working on lately, so I was surprised I could make it this far. Watching the locals on it is amazing. They can juggle fire and all sorts of crazy shit while laying on their backs or standing on one foot.
I have noticed in Thailand people are so much loving and nicer to animals then other parts of Asia I have been to. The cats here are awesome. They will just come and chill with you and play with you. I even had one that would run with me like a dog down a pathway. Never seen a cat act like that before. Also there is a dog that boots around Tonsai and Railay that is possibly the happiest animal out. He does the rounds. I think he has a little routine he does on his turf checking everything out.
If you have read my article on Free Fall Body Suspension than you would have heard the story on how I met the Russian BASE jumper and body suspension expert working in a bar . This was the night I agreed to jump out of a tree with only body piercings in my back to stop me. The jump was suppose to be the day after I met him. Then I got sick. I mean next level sick. I assumed it was food poisoning at the time but later found out it was a bug going around the island. This was one of the worst experiences I had overseas. I have no idea how my body once held this quantity of contents, but this night it exploded out of my body from all directions, AT THE SAME TIME! The sickness hit me around 11pm at night and I was on my own thinking about my jump the next day. Now this was bad enough. I don’t want to go to graphic, but there was no toilet paper, only the Asian style hose spray thing and the toilet blocked. Not only did it block but it blocked when I flushed it so the contents were close to the top of the toilet, and I only had the spray. Next at around 1am THE WATER GOT TURNED OFF! In Tonsai most places don’t have power through the day. I now learnt that where I was staying, the water goes off in the night. I had a blocked toilet, only a spray thing and no water. When the water went off I lost my shit and started yelling “ what the fuck is happening “. I was in such a fragile state I felt as if someone had planned this and soon my bungalow would be stormed by people wanting to steal everything. I go on about pushing my comfort zone, this certainly did. I also wigged out because when I got given a vodka lemonade at the bar it looked as if it had a pill or something dissolving in it. No idea what it was. It looked like it was dissolving for half an hour or so. I had only had one sip of the drink, but in my fragile state felt as if this was a plot to make me sick so I couldn’t get pierced and bungee jump in the jungle. No idea what made the drink do that, but pretty confident it wasn’t a tablet or anything in there that made me sick.
The people you find at Tonsai are mostly backpackers, climbers and hippies. Free spirit sorts. You can easily go up to any one on the beach and have a chat. The place is super friendly and super chilled. I think everyone that goes there leaves a little bit more hippie then they were on arrival. I certainly did. Lots of people, including locals are constantly blazing, I lost how many times I said “ no thanks I don’t smoke “.
I highly recommend people visit Tonsai, just don’t plan dates you want to leave because everyone always says they are leaving the next day and stay. I know I said I was leaving many times and kept getting road blocked. When it came to leaving I was stuck for 2 days because the people doing my washing couldn’t get it to dry yet. Good way to make me pay for more accommodation. Suggestion if you do go, I checked out a few places and found Green Valley to be nice bungalows.
Another thing I noticed with Tonsai is everyone gets some graze, cut, sickness or something during there stay. I did not meet any one that didn’t have some minor issue while there. It’s just the nature of the place.
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Hi, I’m Ian and I have made it my life mission to travel and experience everything this world has to offer. Follow me on my quest to live outside the boundaries of conventional society and see the world through the eyes of all our fellow inhabitants. I hope to inspire and motivate you to make your own path in life and push your own limits.