Our Favorite Climbing Hostels, From Those Who’ve Been There

You’re planning a big climbing trip. It’s going to be great fun! But you want don’t want to totally hoof it, some modern creature comforts would be nice.

Perhaps like a bed, or hot showers. A kitchen with full-sized utensils, or a fully-stocked bar.

Where to go? Does modern convenience and climbing work outside of #vanlife? (#jokes)

You’re darn tooting! They are called climbing hostels, my friend. And thanks to our climbing community friends, we are sharing some of our favorite hostels and primo climbing destinations from around the world, with you. To enjoy. And to visit. Venga!

ASIA

CHINA:

The Stone Drum House, and Lucy, the pup, of course. Photo courtesy of Jojo Yee.

Location: Shigu, Yunnan, China
Camp/Hostel: Stone Drum House
Facilities: Small dorm, private rooms, yoga room, communal kitchen, food to order
Nearby Crags: Shigu (easy walking from the hostel), Water & Diamond Wall (4km taxi ride followed by a 5 minute walk to Diamond Wall, or a 20-25 min. walk)
Best Time to Climb: Dry season is from October to May. The best time for climbing is in the winter from November to February.

Review: Situated at the base of towering limestone mountains, Stone Drum House is a family run hostel that embraces climbers as part of their pack.

Lucy, the resident pup, was the first to bless me with greetings. This uniquely restored Naxi-style house is equipped with hot showers, filtered water, washing machines, a yoga room, wifi, and natural sitting toilets where you toss in wood chips to allow for nature to take care of your big business.

The home cooked meals were definitely one of the things I looked forward to at the end of a long climbing day. Everyone sits around a table where a family style meal is served. After we devoured the food that was presented to us, we shared our daily adventures be it climbing, market day, or hiking. A projector is also available in the same area and we made good use of it during our stay. 

We rented a four-bed dorm room and each of the beds was equipped with a heating pad for cooler nights and a nice thick duvet to add to the homeliness of the hostel. We each had our own pull out storage box under the bed where we could keep our goodies nice and tidy.

The family who runs this hostel consists of Reuben, Ling, and Ashley. Reuben is the guy you thank for helping set up the beautifully bolted climbs here. You may need to start the conversation with him, but he’s a walking plethora of knowledge about climbing in general. Ling is the matron of the hostel who is a great cook and a very welcoming host. Their son, Ashley, is solely responsible for blowing kisses and bidding us a good night every night. 

You can read Jojo’s trip report, with plenty of useful information, here.

Written by, Jojo Yee: “Currently based in Bangkok, Thailand, I travel the world to meet great friends and explore awesome crags.” | @jojoyees

LAOS:

Location: Thakhek, Laos
Camp/Hostel: Green Climbers Home
Facilities: Camping, bungalows, dorm, restaurants 
Nearby Crags: Pha Tam Kam (easy walk from the campground) 
Best Time to Climb: The climbing season runs from October to May, with December and January being the very best. The rainy season runs from June to September (when the Green Climbers Home is closed).

Review: “It’s next to Thailand, right? And you’re sure there’s climbing there?”

Before traveling to South East Asia, I knew next to nothing about Laos. I asked my travel and climbing partner and he assured me he had heard of a place with lots of sport climbing and some cool hut-things to stay in, so I agreed to give it a chance. Little did I know those bamboo bungalows would become like a second home to me, and the limestone walls surrounding them would hold my favorite climbing thus far in my travels.

As many people would agree, Green Climbers Home is very difficult to describe. When your tuk-tuk driver turns down the dirt road you are really entering a different world; a little climbers’ bubble in the middle of Laos. I first went to Green Climbers Home in March 2018 and instantly fell in love. The relaxed and welcoming atmosphere of the camp, paired with the beauty of the area and the tremendous volume of climbing within a few minutes walk made me feel like I was seriously living the dream. Those two weeks flew by, and I knew I had to go back as soon as I could.

I very strategically began asking Uli and Tanja about working there in the future, and the next thing I knew I was booking flights and making plans to return the following season as a volunteer. 

The two months I spent working at GCH was easily one of the best experiences of my life. I think I could have happily stayed for the whole season, still feeling like I had only scratched the surface of the climbing there. With nearly 400 routes and seemingly endless potential, this area has so much to offer. I mean where else can you find a legit roof!? It is worth it for every climber to test their heel hook and knee bar skills at The Roof, and try not to get completely turned around in there. A trip to GCH also isn’t complete without a shot of Laos Whiskey at the top of the multi-pitch, best enjoyed at sunrise. And after a long day of climbing (let’s be honest, mostly sweating), you mosey into the restaurant, order the dinner special (hopefully it’s schnitzel night), pass around some climbOn, and cheers your big Beer Laos to all the sends of the day!

Uli and Tanja have built (and rebuilt after a few fires) something truly special in Thakhek, and I am so grateful to have had a small part in its story. Until next time!

Written by, Nicki Simon: “Born and raised in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, I have spent my whole life loving the outdoors and telling super cheesy jokes.” | @nickisimon

THAILAND:

Pasak River Wall. Photo courtesy of Zuza Kania.

Location: Kaeng Khoi, Thailand
Camp/Hostel: Nam Pha Pa Yai Camp
Facilities: Camping, speciality housing (earthen houses, tree houses, bamboo house), restaurant, cooking area, equipment rental
Nearby Crags: Nam Pha Pa Yai: Pasak River Wall, School Wall, Bat Cave Wall (15 minutes walk)
Best Time to Climb: November to early April. Rainy season is from May to October, but many routes are underneath a roof and remain dry.

Review: This small climber’s hostel is nestled in the countryside 3 hours north of Bangkok by train (and 2 hour north of Dong Mueng).

It is one of my favourite climbing homes. I have both stayed in my own tent and in the bungalows, while other options include earthen and tree houses. Each day our “transport” to the limestone crag took 5 minutes including an invigorating zip-line across the peaceful river. Although the river wall is most popular, there’s a few other areas like the Bat Cave and Kayak Wall (accessible by a paddle).

In the evenings we were spoilt for food with epic buffets to feed us after a well earned day. It’s here I’ve eaten some of the best food in Thailand, hands down! To top off the gluttony, Joy makes the best bread available in the country: Fresh rye-walnut-sourdough. What I love about the place is how eco-friendly it is, from the mud houses to veggie gardens that supply much of the kitchen.

Our days would consist of warming up at the well stocked outdoor gym and yoga area, and playing on the slacklines under shady trees. On rest days we would go in to town for some of the best massages I’ve ever had and buy fruit, or just laze in hammocks at camp, hike up the hill or swim in the river. The area and number of climbs are not the biggest on the SE Asia circuit, but the rock and route quality is superb with routes mostly from from 6A to 8A, so there’s enough to happily spend two weeks there. The chilled vibes and beautiful area make it hard to actually leave, and easy to come back!

Note: The vibe is pretty chill. During the week there is crowd is of traveling rock climbers, about half a dozen on average. The weekends bring the crew from Bangkok, so it gets busy and high energy and psych is all about.

Written by, Zuza Kania: “I’m just ye average climber, lover of travel, exploring nature and adventure.” | @wonderlustfox

NEW ZEALAND:

Golden Bay. Photo courtesy of Hangdog Camp.

Location: Takaka Golden Bay, New Zealand
Camp/Hostel: Hangdog Camp
Facilities: Camping, bunkhouse, kitchen (for guests of bunkhouse)
Nearby Crags: Paines Ford (quick walk), Pohara (10 minutes by car)
Best Time to Climb: Year-round. Rain can be streaky.

Review: Rough-and-ready-climbing-community-built-from-scratch-and-opened-to-the-world. That’s Hangdog.

Some people may look at it and think it’s a bit beat up, grubby, and rough around the edges. Because it is. It is absolutely all of those things. And that’s exactly why people love it. But if you’re traveling solo and fancy a climb, be sure to hit it up.

Like it says on the website, you go for a day and stay for a month. It’s pretty cheap at NZD$14 per night for a pitch, but there’s also a bunkhouse (that wasn’t available when I was there) that offers a bit more ‘luxury’ at 20 bucks. Regardless of which you go for, anyone who visits will fall in love with Hangdog’s super chilled out, welcoming nature. It’s also perfectly situated for climbers and lovers of alternative lifestyles. After all, Takaka is the best of bases to live ‘the hippy life’! The surrounding nature and landscapes are pretty epic to explore too.

More importantly for climbers, Hangdog gives you near instant access to some of the top climbing spots in the country. For instance, just across the road you duck through some bushes and enter the most picturesque of river-oases. Crystal clear waters are lined by limestone slabs. It’s bouldering paradise. There are ropes to climb up, rocks to jump off, and a sweet overhanging ceiling to get the forearms working. Get tired? Cool off in the water. 

Be aware that it can close in winter time (like, southern hemisphere winter time, from June to September…ish). Head there for summer for the best vibes.

Written by, Danny Newman: “Danny’s a 26-year-old digital nomad who is currently writing and traveling his way around the world.” | What’s Danny Doing?

TAIWAN:

Inside The Bivy. Photo courtesy of Kelly Khiew.

Location: Long Dong, New Taipei City, Taiwan
Camp/Hostel: The Bivy
Facilities: Small dorm, private rooms, lounge area
Nearby Crags: Long Dong (less than 5 minutes driving), Bitou (walking distance from Long Dong)
Best Time to Climb: It’s a rainy area (140in/370cm per year). Spring and fall can have streaks of rain. Winter can be cold and occasionally perfect. Summer is dry, minus the typhoons, but very hot

Review: The Bivy is the first accommodation around Long Dong that is designed for climbers, and is what I have called my home for the last 4 years. My husband, Qx, and I are Singaporean rock climbing guides based out of The Bivy, located less than 5 minutes drive from Long Dong (Dragon’s Cave), the biggest and best rock climbing in Taiwan.  

On May 6, 2015 The Bivy opened its doors to its first group of guests. Since then, we are pleased to meet and host climbers and foster friendships from all over the world. The Bivy is where climbers gather, exchange beta to get around independently and safely, and share climbing stories over beer, whiskey or sake.

Living in a quaint little fishing village, we get to enjoy nature, serenity, clean air, good spring water, small catches of fresh local seafood and seaweed. Other than climbing at Long Dong, we enjoy bouldering at Bitou Boulders and taking a walk around Bitou Cape, an underrated hike that offers a breath-taking spectacle of the Northeastern coastline of Taiwan against the backdrop of glistening waters of the Pacific Ocean.

Written by, Kelly Khiew: “Rock climbing guides and couple based in a fishing village in Taiwan with their lovely doggie, Chongchong”| @qxadventures

Kezban’s and friends. Photo courtesy of Jojo Yee.

TURKEY:

Location: Geyikbayiri Village, Antalya, Turkey
Camp/Hostel: Kezban’s Guest House and Camping
Facilities: Bungalows, posh bungalows, camping, communal kitchen, restaurant, tent rental
Nearby Crags: Geyikbayiri (2-25 minutes walking, depending on the wall)
Best Time to Climb: Beginning of September until the end of May

Review: This place is nestled in a valley of limestone cliffs with 360 degrees of amazing views, and approaches can be as short as a 5 minute walk.

The vibe at the camp is really chill. There is a fully equipped communal kitchen where we cooked most of our meals and there was usually a campfire at night where climbers gather. There are fruit trees plants in the camping area, so you get to sample pomegranate or mulberries while you walk back to your tent, which hovers over a wooden platform and [comes] fully equipped with a mattress, blanket, pillows, and sheets. You may also choose to set up your own tent. 

Kezban’s is owned by a local Turkish gentleman named, Senol. He picked us up from the airport and we stopped at a grocery store along the way to pick up food. It was near the end of the season for climbing–April–so no one was available to cook for us.

There is also a mysterious turtle that may bless you with a siting and give you some good luck for your send day. Please give your love to the Black and White pupper here who will definitely accompany you all day at the crag.

You can read Jojo’s full trip report here

Written by, Jojo Yee: “Currently based in Bangkok, Thailand, I travel the world to meet great friends and explore awesome crags.” | @jojoyees

Alternatively: If you’re looking for a smaller option with less of a party atmosphere, consider The Flying Goat, which I reviewed here.

EUROPE

ITALY:

The Nannai family. Photo courtesy of Sofie Van Looy.

Location: Ulassai, Sardinia, Italy
Camp/Hostel: Nannai Climbing Home
Facilities:  Private rooms, apartment, dorms, cabins, communal kitchen, café
Nearby Crags: The Canyon (minutes by foot), Jerzu (10 minutes by car), Baunei (50 minutes by car)

Review: You find this cosy home for Climbers and outdoor lovers in the heart of Ulassai. This small mountain village in Sardinia welcomes you with the warmth of a true family. 

This life project started over a cold beer between 6 friends: Dreaming about changing lifestyle, [being] closer to nature and [having] a home to share all this rock and beauty became a reality after hard work and dedication.

Nannai means “grandmother” in the local dialect. And that is exactly what you get. A cosy place, great company and a family vibe. This international team with Belgians, Italians, English and even Canadian hosts create an easy going flow which make you instantly feel at home.

[Here] you will find plenty of climbing partners, tips about the best lines and sectors and an update of the freshly bolted lines by our team (now featuring over 700 routes!). The hosts can show the best hikes and beaches around and where to find the best local products

The first weekend of June, the village transforms in a true outdoor festival. Highliners, yogini’s climbers and bikers all melt together in a 3-day festival with classes, shows, workshops and a legendary party.

Written by, Sofie Van Looy: “Belgian born and community-formed, I care about welcoming people into our home and connecting them with all that Sardinia has to offer. Glad to have left the big city, with family in tow, to be closer to nature!” | @nannai_climbing_home

SPAIN:

Siurana. Photo courtesy of Stephen Le.

Location: Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain
Camp/Hostel: Camping Siurana
Facilities: Campground, dorms, cabins, restaurant, café
Nearby Crags: Siurana (walking or light driving), Montsant (1 hour), Montserrat (2 hours), Margalef (1 hour)
Best Time to Climb: Best in late fall to early spring, though because of its mild Mediterranean climate it can be climbed year round.

Review: A quick 2.5 hour drive from Barcelona, the mountaintop village of Siurana perches high above a majestic valley enshrined in limestone walls and lush greenery. Complete with a castle and café, [you’ll find] spectacular vistas which will haunt your memories for many a year. This town is home to some of the best climbing in Taragona, and of course, one of my favorite crag camps! 

We didn’t exactly dirt bag it, as we (four dudes from Cali) rented a permanently parked mobile home for €70 per night. As of June 2019, camping is €7 per night and dorms are €12 per night.  The mobile home came complete with a full kitchen, bathroom with shower, a master bedroom and a bunk room. While not spacious, it was plenty big for 4 people and gear. With potable water from the tap, plenty of hot water for showers, clean sheets and plenty of parking, I would gladly recommend this option to those willing to spend the cash. 

The goods: Plenty of excellent climbing within walking distance at the village crags, delicious espresso, the camp’s paella is one of the best I’ve had in Spain (you have to order the night before), tasty house wine and lots of potential partners if you are traveling solo. 

Notables: The bakery in Cornudella is amazing – it’s the only bakery in the town before Siurana. The bartender at the camp’s café/kitchen bolts at Montsant and has the freshest beta. Many of the eateries in both Siurana and Cornudella are closed after 10PM. Buses take lots to tourists to visit the village on the weekends so the parking and eateries near the castle can be overwhelmed.

Written by, Stephen Le: “Travel to climb; climb to explore; explore to learn.” | @rockraft

NORTH AMERICA

MEXICO:

Just hanging out at Chichid’ho. Photo by the author.

Location: Bernal, Querétaro, Mexico
Camp/Hostel: Chichid’ho
Facilities: Camping, dorm, cabins, communal kitchen
Nearby Crags: La Peña de Bernal (5-10 minutes walk), boulders (1-15 minutes walking)
Best Time to Climb: Summer is rainy season (though it only averages ~28 in.). Winter stays warm (high desert) so really, any season.

Review: La Peña de Bernal in Mexico is full of myth and questionable legend. What is undisputed is its stellar bouldering, fun multi-pitches, and excellent hostel.

The volcanic plug is the second (or third, or tenth?) largest monolith on earth, depending on which source you trust, and stands like a sentry over the Pueblo Mágico of Bernal. It’s aura is bewitching, as are the facts: It is considered one of the 13 Wonders of Mexico, the geographic center of the meandering country (again, disputed), and one of the earliest climbing hotspot for Los Mexicanos, dating back to the ’60s.

With that said, the climbing is great: Make your way to the top of the Porphyrytic steeple via one of the 20+ multi-pitch lines or enjoy over 100 boulder problems from V0-V12.

Soak it all in from your homebase at Chichid’ho, which offers an oasis-like reprieve from Mexico City (or wherever else you’re venturing from). Weekends fill up, if you’re looking for potential partners, and the quiet workdays make it a prime place for remote workers.

If the idea of lesser-trafficked multi-pitches and climbing on some of the most classic Mexican boulders sounds appealing, be sure to visit La Peña de Bernal and let it cast its spell over you.

Written by the author: “Traveler-ish, climber-ish, writer-ish.” | @aarongerry

Campground at night. Photo courtesy of Rancho El Sendero.

Location: El Potrero Chico, Hidalgo, Nuevo Leon, Mexico
Camp/Hostel: Rancho El Sendero
Facilities: Camping, dorm, private rooms, cabins, communal kitchen, restaurant, pool
Nearby Crags: El Potrero Chico (15 minutes walk)
Best Time to Climb: Winter is best, from November to March. Shoulder months include October and April.

Review: Rancho el Sendero is the perfect site for climbers of all budgets looking to stay walking distance from El Potrero Chico but away from the party crowds.  

I spent about a week with friends in the Casa Grande and a few nights in the private room with my boyfriend. The Casa was great for a group (we were a group of five) and included two bedrooms (room 1: One king bed, room 2: One king & one twin bed), a private bathroom & full-sized kitchen area (including a refrigerator, oven, 4-burner stove top and sink). My only complaint was that we didn’t mingle with everyone else as much as we would have if we used the communal kitchen.   

The reasons I loved and am recommending Rancho el Sendero: 

  1. The host went above and beyond for our comfort. I fell sick while in EPC and she drove me into town and helped me find a doctor (which was a challenge since most the clinics were closed due to a local holiday). 
  2. Thanksgiving dinner – the host cooked a surprise dinner for everyone (FOR FREE)! And occasionally made other special dishes.  
  3. Perfect location for solo travelers/travelers looking to make new friends: Everyone was friendly and inviting. If you went to the main communal kitchen you were bound to find other climbers to climb or do rest day activities with. On a rainy rest day my group of five were able to join ~6 others for a day trip to the hot springs!

Written by, Radhika Patel: “I have been a rock climber from ~9yrs & I believe climbing is one of the BEST ways to travel and make lasting connections around the world.” | @radhiworldtour

U.S.A:

Climber’s Home. Photo courtesy of Sandra Samman.

Location: Stanton, Kentucky
Camp/Hostel: Climber’s Home Hostel
Facilities: Private room, kitchen, climbing gym
Nearby Crags: Red River Gorge (15 minutes by car)
Best Time to Climb: Spring and fall are best, though winter on a sunny day can work too.

Review: Staying at the Climber’s Home hostel is like staying at your moms house.

Sunny Yang, who has been a climber for most of his life, is an amazing host. In 2014, he encountered a horrible tragedy [when he] was paralyzed in a hit-and-run. Since then he has over come many odds and is an inspiration to all who know him.

With the love of his wife and family, and the support of the climbing community, he regained his ability to walk, and climb. Now, he represents the USA on the National Paraclimbing Team. By creating the Climber’s Home Hostel, he is giving a gift back to the community.

The climbers home Hostel is equipped with everything you would need and is extremely clean and comfortable. Whether you are cooking or eating out, staying at Climber’s Home makes the culinary logistics of your trip very easy. Stanton hosts one of the few supermarkets in the area, and the hostel is located less than a mile from the local Kroger. No trip to the Red would be complete without at least one meal at Miguel’s Pizza or Red River Rockhouse, and these restaurants are conveniently located on the way to and from the majority of crags.

Written by, Sandra Samman: “Climber of 15 years and mom to a famous adventure climbing cat, Denali Gato.” | @denaligato

SOUTH AMERICA

COLOMBIA:

View of Refugio la Roca. Photo courtesy of Diana Dolensky.

Location: Santander, Colombia
Camp/Hostel: Refugio la Roca
Facilities: Private rooms, bungalows, dorm, kitchen, restaurant
Nearby Crags: La Mojarra (easy walking from the hostel)
Best Time to Climb: Climbing can be had year-round, since the weather is fairly consistent being near the equator. December to February is considered the dry season.

Review: In June of 2019, I visited a climber’s dream destination: Refugio de la Roca. This ecological hostel is located in the Colombian Altiplano Mountains, and energised every inch of my body and soul. And as an environmentalist, I highly appreciated the Refugio using rain water, solar water heaters and biodegradable products.

Refugio de la Roca is known to rock addicts for it’s amazing orange sandstone climbing, La Mojarra. There are 200+ routes of satisfying cliffhangers for all climbing abilities.

As a newbie, the spacious covered outdoor area with restaurant and bar, the yoga room or hammock chill lounge was my spot to meet new friends. Here we drank healthy smoothies in the mornings or munched on gourmet style french toast, vegetable omelets and granola with organic fruits, while waiting for the sun to leave the rock face just after noon.

Warning: Watch out for the small cheeky monkey, Jacinto. He stole a lot of homemade bread buns and cigarettes packages off our tables.

Written by, Diana Dolensky: “Originally from Germany, I moved to Auckland, New Zealand in 2011 for a lifestyle change. I enjoy climbing, horse riding and travelling” | @didiana1981

PERU:

Bouldering wall at Monkeywasi. Photo courtesy of Ryan Siacci.

Location: Huaraz, Peru
Camp/Hostel: Monkeywasi (Monkey Wasi)
Facilities: Private rooms, dorm, kitchen, equipment rental, bouldering wall 
Nearby Crags: Hatun Machay (1:20h by car), Cordillera Blanca (1:30h by car)
Best Time to Climb: May-September. Rainy season begins in November

Review: Nestled in the lap of the mighty Cordillera Blanca is the compact but bustling town of Huaraz… not to be confused with Juarez, which is quite a different destination! The cityscape marches up the hills, and in the upper reaches of the town one can find an inviting climbing hostel by the name of Monkey Wasi.

Reasonably priced and run by incredibly friendly folks, Monkey Wasi is everything the discerning dirtbag climber could ask for… the beds are comfortable, the common areas are fantastic, and most importantly, the showers are hot! The mezzanine level offers a perfect venue to plan your next alpine mission, whether it’s a popular route like the French Direct on Alpamayo, or a rarely repeated test-piece like the West Face of Cayesh. There’s an excellent pizza restaurant below to refuel after a big climb, and an amazing bouldering wall to keep those fingers strong for the incredible alpine granite on La Esfinge.

Huaraz offers an incredible diversity of climbing, including bouldering, sport, trad, big wall, mountaineering and alpine climbing. Monkey Wasi is a perfect hub to meet likeminded climbers in each of these disciplines, so if you’ve come to Peru on your lonesome and hoping to hook up with partners, you could do a lot worse. Here in the “Empire of the Sun”, the bluebird days seem to go on forever, so climb hard and rest easy at Monkey Wasi.

You can read Ryan’s trip report for the 1985 route here.

Written by, Ryan Siacci, Esq.: “When Ryan isn’t swearing his way up off-widths or sobbing quietly on an under-protected multi-pitch route, he is writing for his blog.” | zenandtheartofclimbing.com

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