Many of you had heard that Tonsai is about to change, the rumours were out many years ago but never anything really substantial happened. Well, now it does. Having visited Tonsai multiple times between the years 2000 and 2006 I can tell you that the change is quite dramatic on first sight. No beach bars (except Freedom bar) and no beach restaurants anymore, in fact everything between the beach and the “road” has been destroyed and flattened.
A 2m-high concrete wall has been built along the road fencing off the area from unwanted intruders, offering a cold-war Berlin wall feeling to all Tonsai visitors.
On the other side of the road (and the wall) business is as usual even though it is obvious that the capacity for tourists in terms of bungalows and restaurants has been reduced quite dramatically. We were not here during high-season but I wonder where everyone will stay and eat during the next one… On second sight maybe it is not all that bad. OK, the wall is awful and a construction site in preparation is never nice to see but maybe it was time to change something; Tonsai was overcrowded during high-season, rubbish wasn’t handled correctly, waste and fresh water were an issue, infections were the norm, noisy generators were everywhere, many of the business owners and some boat men became arrogant or outright rude as anything was accepted by the endless stream of backpackers - the typical curse of so many backpacker destinations. Now power is coming from the mainland, the generators are gone, let’s see if they will also get a handle on the other issues, we can at least hope they will.
The climbing is still great and so far not affected by any of the work. Rebolting with titanium bolts has been finished in most sectors and some new sectors were developed. There is more and more to climb on the mainland, on Ko Yao Noi and on other islands - sure, Tonsai and the way you experience it will change but I certainly don’t agree with the “paradise destroyed” lamentation that you can also find on the web, the place is simply too beautiful to be affected by the development of a resort.