Dos and Don’ts for Climbing Thailand

August 20, 2015

by David Sandel
Dos and Don’ts for Climbing Thailand

As with most new situations, you’ll adapt to Thai culture through trial (lots) and error (hopefully a decreasing percentage). After 8 weeks of climbing in this incredible country, an Active Junky writer illuminates some “dos and don’ts” that he learned the hard way.


Eat the street food

Street food stalls and night restaurants (temporary, after-dark pop-up diners in parking lots and other open spaces) are the cheapest way to eat. Try meat on a stick for $0.28 or an entire meal for $1.15. Real restaurants are only slightly more expensive but you’ll miss mingling with local Thais  -- along with the chance to practice your survival words. Hello, Thank You, More Beer and whatever else you dig out of your dictionary.


A smile and a nod get you far here; Thailand is known as The Land of Smiles after all. Say “Wai,” (thank you) and place your palms together in front of you, bow shallowly and move on.

Ask for directions

Lost and need directions? Approach someone on the street that appears amenable as you smile and say hello (preferably in Thai). Then ask your question in English. If they understand, they’ll be thrilled to practice their English. If not, thank them and move on.

Check-in at Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventures

The only climbing shop in Chiang Mai is one of only two companies offering guiding to Crazyhorse Buttress. Warm up in their small bouldering gym and employ the bulletin board to find a climbing partner. I climbed with people from China, South Korea, Australia, Czech Republic, Mexico, Thailand, and the U.S. through CMRCA.

Even if you don’t take a guided trip, reserve a spot on their daily taxi to the crag. It’s 300 baht ($8.54) round-trip and includes lunch prepared by a local restaurant on the way out of town. Know that the local climbing community loves meeting and talking about international climbing destinations as much as you do.


Take the 20 baht tuk tuk offer

In Bangkok, tuk tuk drivers take you anywhere in the city for only 20 baht. Likely,  you’ll end up at one or more of their “partner stores.” They get a cut for every customer dropped at the store; be prepared to be hawked expensive suits and worthless gemstones.

Get stuck talking to Thai people that approach you unsolicited

Thai people are typically reserved unless they have a reason to talk. Your server, cook, or the shop’s owner? Chat away, have a blast and make their day.

However, if you are walking down the road and someone approaches you with fervor, anticipate aggressive selling or a scam. Keep walking and politely decline.

Eat American Food

Ranking reasons to visit Thailand, I’d put climbing #1, closely followed by the beaches and beguiling food that’s available 24/7. No need to hit Starbucks or McDonald’s. Though this peanut butter, Nutella and banana crepe -- though not a Thai delicacy -- did hit the spot. 


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