Tonsai: Hidden Gem of Krabi Peninsula

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Tonsai: Hidden Gem of Krabi Peninsula

The Krabi Peninsula is no secret. It is another picturesque location on Thailands Andaman Coast. It is also quick and easy to get to from Phuket which is where many package tourists fly into and spend much of their time. However most people who do make the journey end of staying in Railay or Railay West. Well, just a short walk from Railay West is the quirky yet very much undeveloped Tonsai. This, of course, is where I chose to spend my time.

Tonsai, and all of the Krabi Peninsula, is very popular among rock climbers. In fact I heard there were quite a few professional climbers from Europe and all over the world who were in Tonsai training for the winter. It is similar to Ko Chang in that respect. There is a long term population who comes back year after year, so there is a nice community feeling to it. Many of them are also hippies and artists so it definitely has kind of a quirky vibe.

rock climbing in Tonsai


Getting to Tonsai

Getting there is actually quite easy. Even easier if you know you want to go to Tonsai in the first place, which I did not.

I took a bus to Krabi town. There are many options on when and from where you will come. From the bus station I took a shared taxi into town for a little over $1. Once you are in town you just need to walk to the pier and catch a long tail boat to Railay. They leave as soon as they have 8 people on the boat, so you shouldn’t have to wait long. Even though the peninsula is not an island there are no roads because of the cliffs so a boat is still the only way to get there unless you want to spend a full day hiking out. Even so I’m not sure its possible.

However, I decided to stay in Krabi for the night since I enjoy the small local towns which usually have cheap accommodations and food. I took walk around town and figured out what I would have to do in the morning to catch a boat. Then I went to see a temple called Wat Kaew which has nice view of Krabi town from the top. Followed by some relaxing and a little work on the computer at the guesthouse.

Wat Kaew

view from Wat Kaew

Krabi also has a nice night market where you can get a cheap seafood dinner. The further south I have been getting and specifically when I got to Krabi I noticed a lot more Muslim influence, even hear the call to prayer several times a day. So a lot of the food was starting to change also with the Muslim influence. No more pork.

The next morning I caught the boat to Railay. It was only after I arrived that I realized most of the budget accommodation was in Tonsai and that was where I wanted to be. Of course Tonsai is a grueling hour long hike over the mountain with 40 lbs of luggage on my back. If you are going to Tonsai what you need to do is get a bus or taxi to Ao Nang beach and take the boat from there which will take you right to Tonsai in only 15 minutes. This is what I did on my way back.

Once in Tonsai there are many options for places to stay and eat while sticking to your budget. There is also plenty to do. You can rent a kayak or go for a hike. And of course you can participate in the most popular activity of them all which is of course rock climbing. Unfortunately it was out of my budget this time, but I really wish I could have done it. It will cost you about $50 for a half day intro course.

After spending some time on Tonsai beach watching the climbers I went for a short hike over to Railay West since I heard the beach there was a little nicer. It sure was. The water was clear and there was no rocky bottom like Tonsai, just nice soft sand. Its a short walk so definitely still worth staying at Tonsai.


Tonsai Beach


Railay West Beach




I am traveling the world focusing on adventure and photography.


  • Mom

    Indescribably incredible!! No wonder Krabi earned a place in the book Heaven on Earth!!! I love that you love quirky and love the undeveloped areas!!

    The Muslim call to prayer is very similar to our Catholic Liturgy of the Hours prayers. Prayer and gratitude and praise throughout our everyday!!

    So so thrilled you’re having such a fantastic experience!!!

    January 21, 2016 at 8:35 pm
  • Kaely

    You should’ve stayed in the Hogwarts Krabi Hostel! Next time!

    January 22, 2016 at 9:24 am
  • Cara

    I think every post is my favorite until I see the next one! LOL. I love the cliffs on the beautiful beach!

    January 22, 2016 at 4:32 pm
  • Castaway with Crystal

    Ahhhhh yes…. I stayed on Tonsai beach a couple of years ago. Golly gosh that’s an amazing part of the world! Easily my favourite part of Thailand 😀

    Crystal recently posted… How to Kill a Man with Your Bare Hands

    March 28, 2016 at 2:00 am
  • Sarah Y.

    I ventured to Thailand a couple years ago and after exploring Bangkok, I headed to the tiny island of Koh Tao. It was one of the most beautiful places I had ever seen, I only wished I had more time to explore other islands like Krabi. Thanks for sharing your experience and such stunning photos!

    April 24, 2016 at 1:01 am
  • Sher

    ooh i wanted to try climbing in krabi! great photos!


    April 25, 2016 at 11:37 am
  • Rachel Taylor

    I keep thinking about going to Thailand to have a go at climbing and this article has persuaded me!

    April 25, 2016 at 12:30 pm
  • Dani

    Gorgeous Pictures! I didn0t visit this place but you convinced me to put it on my bucket list, thanks!

    April 25, 2016 at 4:20 pm
  • Dani

    Gorgeous Pictures! I didn’t visit this place but you convinced me to put it on my bucket list, thanks!

    April 25, 2016 at 4:21 pm
  • travelling chingrita

    Tonsai beach looks incredible, I hope that if I ever get to this incredible destination that I would be able to try the rock climbing! It looks intense!

    April 25, 2016 at 10:06 pm
  • Jade

    I’ve done a fair bit of Thailand but not Tonsai, so thanks for sharing! It’s definitely on my list for next time. Both Tonsai and Railay beach look gorgeous

    April 26, 2016 at 8:03 am
  • sarah t

    Wow- I went to Tonsai years ago and I;ve got seriously nostalgic reading this- so completerly jealous x

    April 26, 2016 at 8:21 am

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