There is a saying out there that goes: life’s a climb but the view is great. And whether that view is from two or two hundred feet up, climbing to see it is one of the many amazing ways to experience an adventure. Rock climbing (both indoor and outdoor) tests your patience, endurance, and balance, trusting your life to a piece of rope or metal hook in quite exhilarating. Thailand is quite known for its outdoor rock climbing, with great places like Crazy Horse in Chang Mai or Ton Sai or Railey Island in Krabi. Although an outdoor experience is highly recommended, many of us don’t always have the time to travel like that, so experiencing an indoor facility is a great alternative. We decided to hit Urban Playground and see what it’s like to scale some indoor rock walls.
Urban Playground in Bangkok, is located in a sports club and features over 7000 square feet of high-quality climbing space, ranging from a bouldering cave to a 12-meter top-rope climb area. Their ‘playground’ caters to all levels of ability from first-time climbers to professionals. When you first enter the facility, you are taken back by the vast height of the walls, covered with unique, colored handholds.
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Urban Playground Equipment: We Swear, These Aren’t Ballerina Shoes
We have never been rock climbing before so we were unsure of how the whole process works. The certified crew welcomed us warmly and were delighted to show us around. We first signed a digital waiver that covered all risks when climbing. After that, we received our harnesses and climbing shoes.
Urban Playground allows you to bring your own harness and shoes or else you can rent them for the entire day (shoes cost 100 THB and the harness 50 THB). Now just a head’s up, if you have never been rock climbing before, the shoes you wear are a close fit, containing little padding. The toes need to grip the handholds so they will be uncomfortable on purpose. The team showed us how to wear the harness showcasing the famous figure 8 knot that is fundamental when climbing with rope.
Scared of Heights? Well, Good Luck!
After the gear was all on we got a quick safety lesson on rock climbing. This included rechecking the knots, buckles, and learning where to climb. The art behind sport climbing is really about selecting a route. Think of the climbing wall as a canvas and the handholds as the paints. We quickly learned that it isn’t so much about getting to the top but HOW you do it to inspire, challenge and help yourself progress as a climber.
Urban Playground uses a climbing grade system that includes over 10,000 handholds and counting. This means that there are over 70 routes to choose from on any given day. There are also four types of climbing to choose from depending on the expertise level: belay service (where someone supports you), auto-belay (where a mechanical device does it instead), lead climbing and bouldering (ropeless climbing). We tried belay and auto-belay for the higher walls then embraced gravity and fell on our butts for bouldering.
Choose Your Terrain
For us, it was more about the experience and really getting a “grip” on things. Urban Playground has a variety of climbing terrain options that really focus on diversity, safety, and fun.
Option #1 – Rock Terrain
One of the more popular walls at Urban Playground and our favorite features a rock-like surface that includes edges for support and large cracks in the rock for specialized crack climbers. This gave us the best sensation of really climbing along a cliff wall.
Option #2 – Sport Climbing
This terrain is more advanced with anchors for sport climbers to clip on for protection. There are more handholds and routes to select from, with horizontal walls and a dangerously, huge fall if the climber isn’t experienced. More for professionals. Maybe next time.
Option #3 – Bouldering Walls and Caves
This fantastic area allowed us to climb unroped from a 10-foot height which is protected by a crash mat in case we fell (which we did…a lot). Incredibly there are different routes that follow a V-grade difficulty system that can even guide the climber to the ceiling like Spiderman.
Option #4 – Training Zone
For climbers training their body and physique, there is a training area with dumb bells, wooden, climbing walls and safety mats. We even thought it was great for general fitness and cardio.
We tried the belay first with an instructor. This required some level of trust and guidance but after a few minutes, we were gripping the wall for our lives. The first time up wasn’t too bad, especially when we could pick and choose the route on our own. But when we were told to only use a certain color, then the strange yoga poses, pulled muscles, and arm stings came out. After a few climbs, we realized that this activity requires a great deal of practice. But we left with big smiles on our faces and sore toes.
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Getting to Urban Playground
Urban Playground is open from Monday to Friday at 13:00 to 22:00 and 10:00 to 22:00 on Saturday and Sunday. The location is a bit off of the typical BTS line. If you are going to Google directions, it is best searching for the Racquet Club located on 8 Soi Sukhumvit 49, between Phrom Phong.
Take BTS Phrom Pong station and get off exit 3. If you decide to walk you will need to weave in and out of the sois taking about 30 minutes so we recommend a quick 5-minute motorbike ride instead. Look for the Urban Playground sign and when you go inside, it is actually a member’s area for the club. But the team will take you to the climbing area just up the next floor.
Urban Playground Prices and the Verdict
Overall, our experience in Urban Playground was awesome! It was so good to know that there are places within the city of Bangkok for us to have fun and monkey around. The entire place was equipped for people to have a good time. Indoor rock climbing was a lot of fun and was a good introduction to the sport. A visit here while in Bangkok is definitely recommended.
The price scheme follows the Racquet Club’s membership rates that provide access to all facilities ranging from Urban Playground, a fitness center, yoga classes, badminton courses, a tennis court and swimming pool. Full day access rates are 475 THB for a nonmember pass on weekdays and 575 THB on weekends. For youths below 18 years of age or seniors above 65, the rate is 375 THB and 475 THB.
For up to date prices and information, head on over to the website of Amped Thailand