6 Rock Climbing Hot Spots in Southeast Asia

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By J. E. Hinners, MD MPH

climberTraveling to Southeast Asia?

Looking to get in some cardiovascular, toning, and strength training a little bit more adventurously than at the local gym?

Southeast Asia is home to numerous limestone cliffs among spectacular scenery and is worth exploring if you’re a climber at heart. The general consensus on best timing for climbing these sites seems to be somewhere between December and February, as all these sites are in similar geographical regions with rather similar climate patterns.

Depending on where you’re headed, here are 6 world-famous sites that deserve some attention for checking out further and perhaps adding to your bucket list:

1. Krabi, Thailand

krabiOne of the most popular climbing sites in Southeast Asia is near Railay beach in Krabi, Thailand. White sand beaches and limestone cliffs set against turquoise waters make it hard to beat the scenery here.

Several local climbing schools make it easy for beginners and advanced climbers alike–by offering courses, climbing guides, and rental equipment.

Some have noted, however, that both beginners and advanced climbers may need to take special caution if they choose to visit this site. Bolts that are not made of titanium may be more susceptible to erosion from sea spray and unsafe to climb. Even advanced climbers may face risks from neighboring climbers who may not know what they’re doing.

Best time to go: December-March, the dry season

More information: Here, here & here

Climber reviews: Here

2. Chiang Mai & Chiang Rai, Thailand

Chiang RaiA bit more away from crowds and tourists are Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai in Northern Thailand, which host several scenic climbing routes for both beginners as well as those with more experience. Crazy Horse Buttress is one of the more well-known climbing destinations in Northern Thailand.

Best time to go: December through February, the dry and cool season

More information & reviews: Here & here

3. Vang Vieng & Luang Prabang, Laos

laosBeautiful mountain scenery and climbs for beginners and routes through 6a’s and 8a’s are available at these sites.

Best time to go: November through February, dry season

More information & reviews: Vang Vieng & Luang Prabang

4. Halong Bay & Cat Ba National Park, Vietnam

halongSpectacular emerald green seascapes line these coastal climbing sites in Vietnam. Deep water soloing is also available for more advanced climbers.

Best time to go: May-June & September-December

More information & reviews: Here & here

5. Yangshuo, China

yangshuoSurely you’ve seen the beautiful and unusual sharp-peaked hills near this region in photos and in artwork before. Climbing routes here range from beginner (5.6) to advanced (5.13 and 5.14b–set by famous climbers Todd Skinner and Chris Sharma).

Best time to go: April & October

More information & reviews: Here & here

6. Taipan’s Wall, Victoria, Australia

Taipan WallTaipan’s wall is really a climbing destination for the most advanced climbers. While other climbing sites in Victoria offer easier climbs, Taipan wall’s easiest route up the main wall is said to be a 5.12a climb. But for some, the challenge of this wall is precisely the appeal.

Best time to go: January & October

More information & reviews: Here

Have you climbed any of these sites or do you have other places in Southeast Asia you recommend for climbing? Let us know!