As a popular hotspot for travellers, Thailand has it all. From colourful festivals to all-night parties plus a sturdy mix of culture and grand traditions, this country is both diverse and exciting. But, what you really need to know before you venture over to the Land of Smiles is where to go, and what to do. Truth be told, in Thailand, you can enjoy almost any experience. And this is where the magic comes in.
If you’re game for new adventures, then keep reading to learn about the best active adventures you can find in Thailand.
Trek through the jungle
This isn’t your average walk in the park. In Thailand, you can venture inland to the dense jungle and quickly work up a sweat while observing the region’s unique wildlife including bears, boars, tapirs, wild elephants or a tiger from afar. Anyone who has experienced a jungle trek or hike will know there’s something magical about wandering through endless shades of green and animal-spotting. Channel your best Indiana Jones persona, and make sure to add a short (or long) trek to your itinerary.
If you’re on the hunt for the ultimate wildlife viewing experience, the best time to explore jungle terrain at Khao Sok National Park, for example, is from December to April in the dry season. Between June to October it becomes part of the monsoon season and trails get slippery or even worse – the leeches might appear.
- Chiang Mai – the largest city in northern Thailand.
- Umphang – a remote and traditional village where elephants are a common sight.
- Khao Sok National Park – home to rare species such as the giant parasitic Rafflesia flower, hornbill birds, gibbons and tigers.
The reason we were in the jungle in Thailand was to visit Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. They have an elephant sanctuary that rescues abused elephants from riding camps and gives them a second, happier life. So that was definitely my favorite part of our jungle trekking experience. The ability to walk with and interact with elephants in their natural environment was absolutely incredible. We were also able to bathe them, feed them, and learn more about these amazing and emotional animals. It was a really special day.
I would say to definitely do a lot of research online before booking with a company. There are a lot of elephant sanctuaries in Thailand that are actually not sanctuaries and they do abuse the animals. So make sure to only visit and support the legitimate ones. Also, wear good sneakers, wear dark clothes (the mud stains!) and bring lots of bug spray. The bugs can be ruthless in Thai jungles. – Michelle, Maps & Muses
Go snorkelling and see diverse underwater wildlife
Thailand’s beauty is no secret, but many travellers would say the best part of Thailand can be found below the surface when snorkelling. If you’re new to the concept of this popular adventure activity, Thailand is the perfect place to get acquainted with the world below. Make friends with hundreds of fish, reef sharks and sea turtles as you splash your way through the shallow reefs of Thailand.
It’s an active adventure not at all dissimilar to jungle trekking – you never know what you’ll see, and when you do, you’ll be treated to an upfront and personal experience with flora and fauna.
- Koh Tao – famed for its stellar marine life.
- Maya Bay – made famous by the film “The Beach” featuring Leonardo Di Caprio.
- Koh Lanta – known for its limestone outcrops and mangroves.
Fun fact: We know more about space than we do about our oceans, so there is still so much to explore.
Wake up in nature
Have you ever slept on a lake inside a floating bungalow? Or woken up in a tree house in the middle of the jungle? In Thailand, you can do exactly that. Whatever your itinerary looks like, it’s worth adding a unique and active stay in one of the many different styles of accommodation. An absolute must-do when in Thailand is to spend the night stay in a beachside bungalow. Hitting the sack to the sound of waves, with the beach at your door is as close to paradise as you’re likely to get – unless you take a page out of The Beach and camp overnight at Maya Bay.
- Khao Sok Jungle Tree Houses – an eco-friendly experience.
- Khao Sok Floating Bungalows – surround yourself with green and lush rainforests.
Take a yoga class
People of all ages swear by the physical and spiritual benefits of yoga. During your trip to Thailand, be sure to try your best pose (downward dog, anyone?) and experience a yoga class. The mind-body-soul connection is a memorable experience. You’ll be surprised to find how much you enjoy yoga, and it’s highly possible that you will soon be converted to a serious yoga-lover.
The best part of my yoga experience was that teachers were very knowledgeable, patient and supportive which mattered a lot to me since I’m a beginner. The program was also flexible so I can pretty much set my own schedule. I love that the other students were coming from all over the world which gave a great international vibe. All of this was amazing seeing that it was located in Koh Samui and very affordably priced – I even got a Thai massage as a bonus!
Since there’s an abundance of yoga retreats in Thailand, I would recommend starting by checking the group size and details about the classes. You probably want to also check if the accommodation has a swimming pool or a beach nearby a relax and unwind after your yoga sessions. Also, though most yoga retreats offer vegetarian food be sure to check in advance if you’re a vegetarian. – Lystia, Book Yoga Retreats
Kayaking puts you in the driver’s seat when it comes to exploring Thailand’s pristine lakes, tropical islands, hidden caves, and limestone mountains. While kayaking, without realising it, you’ll be giving your arms, shoulders, and core a workout as you cruise past the breathtaking scenery that Thailand is famous for.
The star of the show, of course, is Khao Sok National Park in the Surat Thani Province. Containing the oldest evergreen rainforest in the world and a picture-perfect lake, this stunning reserve in Southern Thailand is where wildlife such as tigers and elephants call home – all of which might be seen from a kayak. If you’re lucky, you might witness monkeys swinging from branch-to-branch and snakes such as the king cobra (watch out!) resting on the many tree branches.
- Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island – marvel at the huge limestone karsts.
- Angthong Marine Park – featuring 42 tropical Thai islands
Move like a local
The streets of Thailand may be overwhelming at first, but there’s nothing more thrilling than dodging traffic while riding a rickshaw or bike. While this might not seem like your typical active adventure, you will no doubt break a sweat while moving through the bustling streets of Thailand. And trust us, it’s easier than it looks – you’ll have the confidence of a local in no time!
Try Muay Thai
If you’re not familiar with Thailand’s national sport, it’s time to get acquainted with the art of eight limbs. Muay Thai is a style of kickboxing which makes use of fists, elbows, knees, shins, and legs. But rest assured, you don’t have to be a warrior to enjoy Muay Thai. The traditional sport is open to all new-comers, especially those who want to learn self-defence and increase their fitness. Hitting and kicking the heavy bag is a fun, adrenaline-inducing workout, and in Thailand, you can take classes from locals who have grown up living and breathing the sport of Muay Thai. They’ll teach you how to combine cardio, strength conditioning, and power.
- Kobra Muay Thai, Koh Phangan – group or one-on-one training available.
- Sor Vorapin, Bangkok – going strong since 1977.
- Tiger Muay Thai, Phuket – a world-renowned location.
See Also: 8 Things to Do in Thailand for Under $8
See Also: 8 Things to Do in Thailand for Under $8
Thailand is a place where yoga aficionados can rub shoulders with Muay Thai kickboxers and where party animals will discover a deep-rooted love for hiking and nature.
Make no mistake about it, the country’s diversity is electrifying and undisputedly mesmerizing.