Tonsai Beach is known for two things. Firstly for the breath-taking cliffs surrounding the beach, in places right next to the water’s edge, which are a pilgrimage destination for all climbing enthusiasts. Secondly, further inland there is a backpacker colony offering cheap accommodation and with bars with a hippy-like atmosphere where there are wild parties every night. More recently two classier, more traditional hotel complexes have opened near to the beach, meaning that parties now very rarely take place directly at the beach. However, the name of Tonsai Beach still stands for climbing, partying and accommodation for the community of the long-distance backpackers.
Tonsai Beach - Natural bay with breath-taking cliff
Tonsai Beach is one of the four beaches on the Railay peninsula in the Krabi region. You can only reach the peninsula by boat, as there are no roads or paths leading here. To reach Tonsai Beach you can either take a long-tail boat (water-taxis for holidaymakers) directly from Ao Nang, or you can walk from the neighbouring Railay Beach West. From there two paths lead to Tonsai Beach, one across the peninsula through the forest and a shorter one without signposting leads from the right edge of Railay Beach over the rocks.
Tonsai Beach is surrounded on each side by enormous cliffs and in the background you can see the lush greenery of the forest of Railay. The beach gets wider in the north and at the southern end the cliff-face is so near to the water’s edge that at high tide only a narrow strip of a few metres of sand is visible. Here you can see about half of the people who come to the beach, either climbing the cliffs safely secured and supervised by the local climbing school, or just watching the climbers pursuing their strenuous and exciting hobby. Many holidaymakers come to Tonsai Beach just for the rock-climbing, staying for several days or even longer, as conditions for this activity are ideal here.
Tonsai Beach is also good for swimming as there are hardly any stones on the way into the water and you can reach the deeper parts quite quickly. Although there are no designated swimming areas, the motorised long-tail boats are concentrated in just two places which you can easily avoid. The noise of the boats is not that disturbing, as there are considerably fewer boats arriving here than, for example, at the neighbouring Railay Beach West. If you are not into climbing, there are other sporting activities available and you can hire kayaks directly at the beach and there is also a volleyball net here.You can get food, drinks and snacks at a beach restaurant, at one of the hotel restaurants and at a beach bar, which also has a pool table and a nice terrace with comfortable seat-cushions from where you can enjoy the great views of the sea and one of the cliffs used for climbing. Just a few hundred metres inland you will find a backpacker colony where you can get basic and cheap accommodation in huts and where there are several small shops and some bars with a completely crazy hippy atmosphere. Here there are loud and boisterous parties every night and roughly once a week there is also a party directly at the beach. Many backpackers come here for several nights and go climbing during the day and partying at night. A little further away from the action are two more expensive hotel complexes where it is quieter and more family-friendly.