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One might think learning to rock climb would be enough accomplishment for a week in Railay. But if you know me you know that if there is an adventure to be had, I’m going to have it. Unless said adventure involved eating bugs. In that case, I’ll meet you at the after party.

But deep water soloing? There’s something I could get involved in.

Deep Water Solo Thailand

I know what you’re thinking — deep water whating? DWS is a form of rock climbing in which no harnesses, ropes, or anchors are used. Instead, it is practiced on sea cliffs backed by deep water, which protects climbers from both intentional jumps and unintentional falls. This is a relatively new sport but is already much buzzed about as a must-try on the famed Southeast Asia backpacker circuit.

And it’s hard to imagine a more idyllic setting for it than Railay.

Deep Water Solo Railay

Deep Water Solo Thailand

Our climbing school, Basecamp Tonsai, advertised full day 5-6 hour DWS trips for 700 baht ($25). We met with our group at the shop in the morning, then set off on the boat for a day of adrenaline-shooting fun. When we arrived at the first stop the mute guide (who I would later realize spoke no English whatsoever) handed us a laminated photo of the rock wall with MS-paint style drawings of the different climbing routes layered over it.

Let’s do this thing!

Deep Water Solo Railay

Deep Water Solo ThailandSee me jumping?

DWS
DWS

We spent the morning on that wall, tackling harder climbs for each pass. The feeling off climbing with no harnesses or safety equipment was a pretty big adrenaline rush in itself… and then when you reached the top, it was time to jump! I couldn’t complete the most challenging climbs but I did jump from the highest spot. I loved it!

At lunch time we parked our longtail in a quiet bay where we could snorkel, kayak, or snooze. I chose the latter. One thing I really liked about Basecamp was that they bucked the Southeast Asia Styrofoam trend and went for reusable containers for our lunches. I always make a point to thank companies who do this!

Longtail Boat in Bay

Takeaway Lunch Thailand

For the afternoon, we headed to a new sea cliff — and this one was much bigger and more intimidating. I decided to relax on the boat and watch a few others go first. There were many strong climbers in the group and a few of them made it to the highest point with ease. I’m horrible at estimation but I would think it was at least 100 feet. We waited on pins and needles for ages for one of them to get the courage to jump, and finally a German girl stood up and flung herself off. She hit the water awkwardly and I knew something was wrong immediately. When she came up for air she was crying out in pain and the guide kayaked over to her and quickly helped her on.

After that I was pretty much done with the deep water soloing.

DWS
DWS

Deep Water Soloing Railay

I did play around on the ropes a bit but once someone gets hurt, that suspension of reality is broken and it was just too much. I emailed with the girl later and she told me while she was in pain for a few days, she did eventually make a full recovery. That aside, I had a great day and I would recommend others to do the same trip, but just remember to be true to their own comfort level.

Deep Water Solo Thailand

Have you ever tried Deep Water Soloing? Would you?

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44 Comments...
  • Skúli
    April 25 2013

    Great post!
    I did this while in Railay, what a rush looking down and letting yourself go!
    Skúli recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      April 26 2013

      Yeah, I have to admit that rappelling back down was basically my favorite part of rock climbing… so no wonder jumping was my favorite part of this!

  • Jade
    April 25 2013

    You can tell revision isn’t going well when you are only the second person to comment on a just posted blog…
    I’ve never heard if this before but it sounds amazing. Not sure how brave I am with throwing myself off things though!
    Absolutely love the last photo as well!
    Jade recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      April 26 2013

      Hey, someone has to be the first to comment 🙂 Thanks for chiming in!

  • Frank
    April 25 2013

    I LOVE jumping off of things into water! When I was a kid in Hawaii we used to hike up to waterfalls and do that all the time…it’s so much fun! I did it in Costa Rica and I’ve GOT to try this out in Thailand. It sucks that girl got hurt, glad to hear it wasn’t worse.

    • Meihoukai
      April 26 2013

      Ah, Hawaii! I really wanted to go on the secret commando hike in Maui (I’m sure you know what I’m talking about!) but never got a chance. I heard there was a crazy scary jump involved!

  • memographer
    April 25 2013

    I see you jumping, Meihoukai!!! Yeaaaaaaaaaaay!!!
    Beautiful scenery!
    I am in love with the last photo, Meihoukai!
    memographer recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      April 26 2013

      Me too! It’s one of my favorite photos from this current Southeast Asia trip!

  • The Guy
    April 25 2013

    I’ve not heard of this either but it does indeed sound interesting although I’m not totally convinced as to how safe it is.

    Good to hear that the German girl is better.
    The Guy recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      April 26 2013

      Agreed, this is definitely a risky and new sport. Adrenaline junkies only need apply 🙂

  • Nadia
    April 25 2013

    I once loved jumping off of things too… until the unfortunate incident at the Pont du Gard where I hit the water awkwardly and my leg swelled to twice the size, I could barely walk,could not wear pants, and every vein in my leg turned black. Fortunately I recovered, well mostly. I found it difficult to jump 10′ off a tiny ledge in Hawaii after so perhaps my psyche never quite healed.

    • Meihoukai
      April 26 2013

      Oh my god! That sounds… awful. I’ve had some good times jumping off things that made people raise some serious eyebrow. Maybe I should quit now while I’m ahead!

  • Kristen Noelle
    April 25 2013

    First of all I just wanna say that EVERY PICTURE IN THIS POST is jawdropping/gorgeous/adventuresome and I love them very much; the bookends especially make me smile.
    DWS looks like fun! I jumped off of a mini-cliff in Jamaica once, nothing nearly as high as that though. Yikes, I’m glad the girl ended up being ok! Always a good idea to watch others do the daring things before testing it out yourself I see..

    • Meihoukai
      April 26 2013

      Thanks Kristen! The scenery alone pretty much made the trip a five star day! Cliff jumping in Jamaica sounds pretty dreamy…

  • Julie
    April 25 2013

    I got chills just reading this post. I can’t decide if I’m dying to try this or should run away very fast. I definitely think I’m going to add Railay to my list for Thailand.
    Julie recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      April 26 2013

      It made me a little nervous too… and I liked that! Good to push the comfort zones sometimes, though of course also to listen to your intuition when it says “too far!”

  • Rika | Cubicle Throwdown
    April 25 2013

    You’re a brave soldier Meihoukai – you would never catch me jumping like that! Awesome that you tried it but scary about the girl who got hurt…glad she was okay in the end. What was in your lunch? Looks delish!
    Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      April 26 2013

      It was just a basic chicken fried rice… but so delicious! Sigh, I miss Thai food over here.

  • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)
    April 25 2013

    I have no problem jumping off of things into the water, but getting up there would probably be a problem for me. I have no upper body strength whatsoever… and yes, I know you said you’re supposed to rely on your legs, but I feel like having spaghetti noodle arms wouldn’t help in this endeavor!

    Sounds like you made a smart move sitting out the last climb. I am all for pushing one’s boundaries, but if your gut is telling you that something is not safe or well past your abilities, that is worth listening to!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      April 26 2013

      Steph I know how you feel… my legs are pretty strong and my arms fairly week and yet I could NOT figure out how to rely on my bottom half while climbing!

  • aftri
    April 25 2013

    Hi Meihoukai!

    I don’t fancy this kind of extreme sport. You are really brave! I have two best friends whom I went travelling with, they are the ones doing all the extreme sports. I use to be the photographer 😆

    This blog is in my bookmark folder now 😉
    aftri recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      April 26 2013

      It’s definitely not for everyone 🙂 Sometimes it is fun to just be a spectator and a photog!

  • Lena
    April 26 2013

    I would totally do it! Even though that experience with a German girl would scare me to death..

    • Meihoukai
      April 26 2013

      Yeah, it was definitely a sobering moment. Glad I at least conquered the morning walls before that went down 🙂

  • Melanie Fontaine
    April 27 2013

    Okay, I definitely wouldn’t have the guts to do this! Jumping from something into waters is one of those things I’m really scared off and have therefore never enjoyed… But I can see why someone who isn’t suffering from the same fear 😉 would love to this! 🙂

    xx
    Melanie
    Melanie Fontaine recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      April 28 2013

      Luckily Railay has a lot more to offer than just this! I think rock climbing aside it is still a bucket-list worthy destination 🙂

  • Sam
    April 27 2013

    AHHH This looks amazing! I love the bottom photo, too. This is definitely being added to my list of things to do. I swear some of that cliff looks like it is ready to crumble off, though.

    • Meihoukai
      April 28 2013

      Thanks! You may have noticed that one is currently my Facebook cover photo 🙂 I love a little Bond girl action in my life…

  • Erika
    April 27 2013

    Wow!! I have never heard of that before but it definitely sounds adventurous!!! I’m glad you have your blog so I can experience these things vicariously because I don’t think that’s something I’d ever do!!! haha, I’m more of a “couch” adventurer. But it looks so beautiful!

    • Meihoukai
      April 28 2013

      Nothing wrong with a little vicarious living, Erika 🙂 Happy to share!

  • THIS. IS. AWESOME.

    I’d love to try this sometime! Just for the scenery alone!

    Ugh.. when I grow up, I wanna be you Meihoukai.
    Maki | Moon River Travels recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      April 28 2013

      Hahaha, you are too sweet! I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, though! 🙂

  • Dad
    April 29 2013

    I see you jumping in the picture!!!!

  • Drew Tracy
    May 3 2013

    Looks so amazing there. The ocean is such a playground but challenges like deep water solos keep us in check. Kudos for taking the plunge!

    • Meihoukai
      May 3 2013

      Thanks Drew. I love to think of the ocean as one big playground 🙂

  • TammyOnTheMove
    May 9 2013

    That looks a bit scary but also exilirating. I loove the scenery. Ralay seems really stunning!
    TammyOnTheMove recently posted..

  • Janice Stringer
    May 9 2014

    This looks fun. Not something I would try. Although my Hubby and I are going to give coasteering a go in Devon, in the next couple of months. A little similar but not quite so high or in an exotic location! 🙂
    Janice Stringer recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      May 11 2014

      Sounds awesome, Janice! Be brave and good luck! 🙂

  • Meihoukai
    June 11 2014

    Im going there too in a few weeks. Going to karabi for about 2-3 days. Would that be enough to cover deep water soloing? If im planning to do more than 1 location? Also, any specific names that the climbing spots have or you’d recommend?

    Cant wait to go there!! 🙂

    • Meihoukai
      June 11 2014

      Hey Meihoukai, unfortunately I don’t have names of any of the climbing walls, but the deep water soloing is done as a half day or full day trip so you’ll definitely be able to fit it in 🙂 Enjoy!

  • Michael
    February 20 2016

    Hey Meihoukai,
    nice site congratulation.
    I am from Germnany and I like also to join this wonderful Sport.
    Hope to see you soon and hear from you.
    Also my youngest daughter like to do it she is 14 years old and she like to have this wonderful exprience.

    • Meihoukai
      March 2 2016

      Hey Michael! I’d check with local tour operators what their policy is on bringing children — there weren’t any on my tour so I’m not sure, but 14 sounds like it wouldn’t be a problem. Good luck and enjoy!

      • Michael
        March 13 2016

        Dear Meihoukai,
        thanks for your reply.
        Could you give me please, if possible, the data base of your local tour Operator.
        I don’t know how I can book this Kind of Sport. Many thanks for your help and God bless you.
        Michael

        • Meihoukai
          March 14 2016

          Hey Michael! Just Google Basecamp Tonsai. You’ll find them! Enjoy!