With the abundance of strange and interesting rock formations, there are plenty of places in Southeast Asia that can act as destinations for a rock-climbing trip.
In Vietnam, Ha Long Bay and nearby cat Ba Island have long drawn visitors for its natural beauty and magnificent limestone formations jutting out of the sea. It didn’t take long for the area to become renowned among rock-climbers worldwide. Most routes in the area range from Intermediate to Expert, and it’s perhaps the best place in the world to engage in deep water soloing, since essentially all the climbing routes are over water.
Climbing the spectacular rock formations of Ha Long Bay is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The second premier rock-climbing destination in Vietnam is also located in the north, but this time inland. Huu Lung features breath-taking karst formations set amidst a peaceful valley 110 kilometres from Hanoi. Compared to the busy routes in Ha Long and Cat Ba, Huu Lung is practically devoid of visitors, and as such is a great spot for some off-the-beaten-track climbing. Routes here range from 6a to 7c.
Once famous for wild parties and tubing down the Mekong River, drink in hand, Vang Vieng has since reinvented itself as the adventure capital of Laos. It should come as no surprise then that this is a great spot for any rock-climbing itinerary. With routes appropriate for anyone from beginners to experts, it’s a great spot to factor in if your travel group contains a range of experience levels, letting you feel secure that everyone gets to take part in the fun.
One of the many climbing walls in Vang Vieng.
The most frequently visited destination for climbers in Thailand is Krabi. Featuring more than 700 routes, ranging from climbs appropriate for absolute beginners to seasoned climbers, Krabi is unparalleled when it comes to sheer quantity of routes available.
If you’re looking for a less crowded and touristic destination for your rock climbing tour, the trekking capital of the country, Chiang Mai, is a good place to go. Sporting a cooler climate, and thus more forgiving climbing, most rock-climbing here is centred on the Crazy Horse rock formation. While the amount of routes can’t compete with Krabi, it still has something available for all experience levels, with the cliffs ranging from 15 to 90 metres tall. The climbing here is also focused on sustainable tourism, and programs like REFILL (which provides refill stations for water along the climbing routes) help ensure that the mountains remain unspoiled by the increased tourist activity brought by the climbing.
The Thai islands offer climbing opportunities right on the beach.
If you’re looking for that off-the-beaten-track climbing experience, but plan on staying in Southern Thailand, consider adding Koh Yao Noi to your tour itinerary. This rarely visited island has some great climbs, and is a great escape from the more crowded routes of Krabi and other southern islands.
Due to its relative flatness, Cambodia may not seem like a great place to go for rock-climbing at first glance. However, in the elephant mountains near Kampot there are fantastic routes for all experience levels. What makes this location stand out from many other rock-climbing destinations is that you get to scale both the side of the mountain, but also the interior walls of a giant cave, something your guests are sure to find exciting and fresh.
Climbing is great fun, both for beginners and experts.
Another great Cambodian destination for rock-climbing is Kampong Chan. Since the area is also the most pristine natural area of the country, your guests will get to enjoy some truly spectacular views of the Tonle Sap basin as they scale the cliffs.
Southeast Asia has grown to become one of the best regions in the world for rock climbers due to its wide variety of rock formations and stunning mountains. The destinations mentioned here are the ones we consider to be the top rock climbing destinations in South East Asia, and while there are many other options for your rock-climbing itinerary, these feature the best combination of variety in challenge, route quantity and stunning natural beauty.