rock climbing in Asia
The rock climbing south Asia is great. The whole Asian region is one of the most divers and beautiful regions in the world. The climbing and its rocks are equally beautiful. However it’s sports climbing does not get the same recognition and attention as some other regions in the world. This said, this leaves a lot of room for those who choose to venture here. There are countless opportunities to discover new places, make first ascents, and make new routes. Also if you are novice climber/intermediate there are endless possibilities to choose from. Though the most important aspect of climbing is not the level of difficult we can climb. What is important is our love for the outdoors, being part of a unique community, discovering new places and to challenging ourselves to reach new levels.
In Asia you can find everything from bouldering until high altitude alpine climbing in central Asia. Most of the climbing is on limestone, but there is also sedimentary rock and plenty of granite to be found. In this page we will look at the sports climbing in SE Asia mainly.
I often see these lists on the web like the” 7 best climbing areas in Asia”. Im not a big fan of lists, have these people actually been to all spots in Asia. These lists just seem like copies of other similar blogs. The title should read the 7 most know or popular climbing areas according to someone.
climbing areas in ASIA
When one thinks of sports climbing in Asia, one of the first places that comes to mind is the Pha-Nang peninsula or Railay Beach, as many people know it. It is in South Thailand and it is not an island as some blogs write, it is a peninsula cut off from the mainland by 300m high towering mountains with impressive limestone carst walls. For most people it is like an island because they can only reach it by boat. Though it is possible to follow the shore line at low tide from the south, or climb over the ridge at 2 places.
This is known by some as the “mecca” of sports climbing in Asia, here you will find over 1000 bolted routes, all within walking distance. You can deep-water solo here and go on multi pitch climbs. Another reason it is so popular is the relaxed vibe there, no cars or motorbikes, great food, parties at night, and all kinds of bungalows to fit your budget. I have also seen people camp on the beach here. Many people stay here for a few month. Here is also Thailand’s hardest route. This is “Greed” a 8c/5.14b, a difficult 30m bouldery climb with only finger pockets.
Apart from this iconic place there are many other climbing areas in Thailand. In South Thailand there is also Phi Phi island, Koh Tao, Koh Yao Noi, Koh Lao Liang, and the Krabi area. In central and northern Thailand you can find climbing in Lopburi province, Phanburi province, Phetchaburi province, and of course the famous Crazy horse Buttress near Chiang Mai. One of the newer areas in Thailand is Nam Pha Pa Yai in Saraburi. Amazing limestone cliffs next to a river in the country side. There are lots of climbs here for beginners, but also plenty for the experienced. Some amazing mutli-pitch climbs and a yet to be red-pointed project 8b/5.13d climb.
the rest of Asia
The areas with the most sports climbs are China, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, and Thailand. All of which have a couple of thousand climbs each. China has the most, with almost 3000 climbs to date. Other destinations like Laos, Vietnam, India, Indonesia, and Malaysia all only have 2-600 bolted climbs each.
In Indonesia the climbing crags are mostly in Java. Most blogs talk about Lake Toba and Bukit Lawang, there is some climbing there, but the best is in Java. A notable place is Siung Beach, locate in Wates Villages Purwodadi, Kecamatan Tepus, Yogyakarta. An awesome crag located next to the sea on a tranquil beach. There are over 40 climbs here. In general information in scarce for this region, your best source of info are the locals.
There are also a few good climbing areas in Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines. In Malaysia the most iconic climbs are near Batu Cave and at Mt.Kinnabalu on Borneo. The latter has the one of the hardest climbs in SE Asia. This is Tinipi, a 9a+/15.5a set on amazing granite monoliths towering over the jungle. There are a few long muti-pitch big wall routes here too, but too climb here you need special permits.
Climbing in Vietnam is in the Halong Bay region, which is similar to that of Thailand. They also have great deep-water solo possibilities here. Though if you are in this region the best climbing would probably be in Laos. In an area called Thakhek. There are almost 300 climbs here, ranging from 4 until 8a+/5.13c.
China is quickly becoming one of the best areas to climb in this part of the world. It also has gotten a lot of attention from the international community. The petzl rock tour took Chris Sharma and many other stars here a few years back to promote the region.This is located in the valley of Getu in Guizhou. There are around 300 climbs from beginner until the one of the hardest routs in Asia. “Coup de Bambou” a challenging 30m 9a/5.14d. Also they have some amazingly difficult multi-pitch routs inside this gigantic archway here, know as ‘the Great Arch”.
The most developed climbing area in China is Yanshuo, which has over 700 climbs spread out over 25 crags. Some of which are also 9a/5.14d. Another developing region is in the Yunnan province. These places are Kunming and Shigu with almost 500 climbs to date.
In later blogs we will talk about individual countries and climbing areas, so please stay tuned…..
Below is a map from Begin MOUNTAIN Project, this is a great resource to finding climbs in the destination your are going to.