Return to Paradise: Lao Liang Island

Trip Start Mar 21, 2012
Trip End Mar 25, 2013

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Lao Liang Island Resort

Flag of Thailand  ,
Tuesday, January 29, 2013

It seems the secret's more than “out” about Thailand being THE destination for adventure-seekers and lazy “beach-goers” alike. Places that used to be quiet or off the tourist circuit are now packed and impossible to find accommodations. Places like Ton Sai and Railay that are known destinations (especially to climbers) are busier now, at the end of high season, than they used to be at the peak of high season. Why? We think it's because people continue to try Thailand for the first time, while return customers (like us) are staying longer and longer.

This max-capacity destination traveling has its shortcomings. Bungalow and room rates are still high and it's next to impossible to barter for deals, if you can even find a room that is. Beaches and climbs are clogged, detracting from the magical feeling of this place. Littering and waste management continue to be a growing problem. Noise pollution also zaps away that “tranquil getaway” feeling.

But there's one place that thankfully hasn't lost its charm. One place remains magical, romantic, relaxing. That place is Koh Lao Liang (Lao Liang Island).

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For those who have known us for a while, you may have seen an article on our blog of Lao Liang from New Year's 2010.

Frankly, it's worth writing about again.

This all-inclusive, resort island in a national park is only 600 meters long, meaning no more than 60 people can share this space, hence no overcrowding. No motorbikes, and really, very little walking. Yes, if you're lazy, this is THE place to be. If you're ambitious, this is the place that will make you lazy!

With Sara and Per as our guests, more or less, on this part of our trip, we had to show them Lao Liang. And yes, being climbers, we had to take advantage of the island's wonderful routes!

Per and Lindsey get prepped for another fun climb while Ben takes off ahead on one of the rope ladders

Lindsey pulls the bouldery start of Liger, a beautiful 5.11d climb that was Ben's project last time, no more!

Ben spies a filming opportunity, or as some say from the peanut gallery, Ben's preparing for his next career as a birds' nest collector for birds' nest soup!

Lindsey climbs a spectacular Thailand classic, called Golden Triangle (grade 5.11a), during a day we called "Golden Girls" when her and two other ladies on the island gave the climb a go


Fun stalagtites make for interesting climbs right off the beach


Per climbs up an excellent, steep grade 5.11b climb on the beach called Bangkok Coconut Mafia

There is even a classic multipitch to climb that leads to the top of the island!


Per starts off the first pitch of a fun multipitch on Red Wall, accessed via ladder systems


Ben makes it to the first anchor of the multipitch

Per eyes the next pitch

Lindsey scopes out the final sequence leading "Team Kunz" up the second pitch

Lindsey belays Ben up the second pitch


Our new friend, Vince Poulin, about the enter the cave at the top of pitch 2

Per squeezes out through a sharp hole after surmounting a unique "chandelier" formation inside the cave

One of the nice things about the island being so small and having so few people on it is you get a chance to really get to know some of the others staying in the “luxury tent” accommodations.

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We met a few awesome characters, and got to know others we've met earlier on the trip a bit better, including: “French” David, “Muscular” or “English” Dave and his “Natty,” Vince, Judith,  Doug, and Nikky. And our friend (and the managing director of the island), Mike Wietzman, showed up as well! Mike was largely responsible for the 50 or so routes that were put up in Lao Liang, along with his friends. Ben created a video of Mike on one of the routes they put up on the Easter Wall called “The Viper Goes Free.” Check out the short vid below:

We later learned that when they were putting up this route, there was much contention about what to do with the viper that was found on route. The men wanted to kill it for their own safety while the women wanted it to live. In the end, the women won the battle, and “the viper goes free.”

Lao Liang is also a fun place to go snorkeling on a clear day or take one of the kayaks out to paddle around the island or over to the sister island. We took a kayak to the other island on the morning of our last day, and shot a bit of footage for others to see what the landscape is like:

Alas, all good things must come to an end, so our friend, Sara, headed back a couple days earlier than the rest of us, back to America (Seattle). And about a week and a half later, we said goodbye, for now, to our Swedish friend, Per. It was so wonderful to share a truly unspoilt place with dear friends!


More pics from Lao Liang available online.
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David Yount on

You've got a quality vid! Nice job.

I don't know if this crusty alpine trad climber will ever visit Thailand for the climbing.... but..... it sure does look magical.

Max on

...and then Per headed back to SFU for some impromptu training with their new wrestling coaches; Graham Nasadyk and gold medal winner Daniel Igali and then back with his brother Lars to Vashon Island. CLANSMEN!

Mike H. on

Love reading about your travels! You're really making me want to go to Thailand now! I'll have to pick your brains about Australia and New Zealand when I get a chance!


ann on

nice@lao liang island man

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