From the mountains in the north to the rainforests of the south, a variety of adventures allow visitors to trek, crawl and be carried through Thailand’s jungles. Monkeys and birds inhabit the canopy, while elephants and mahouts part the brush with their tourist cargo.
Western Thailand is a scenic landscape of dragon-scaled limestone mountains bejewelled with silvery waterfalls and rushing rivers. Kayak the famous River Kwai, explore the forest aboard an elephant, or soak away your aches in nearby hot springs.
2) Chiang Mai
No other urban centre in Thailand is so close to so many outdoor adventures as Chiang Mai. Mountain-bike down Doi Suthep, bike to hill-tribe villages, visit an elephant sanctuary, or rappel down a thundering waterfall.
3) Chiang Rai
Loads of trekking companies will haul you off to hill-tribe villages but few provide as much economic benefit to these communities as the eco-minded companies in Chiang Rai.
4) Mae Hong Son Province
So far northwest, this province is nearly in Myanmar, and the remoteness is more obvious after the gruelling bus ride through altitude-climbing switchbacks. Treks plunge into the wilderness to visit subsisting hill-tribe villages and white-water trips brave the rapids.
5) Khao Yai National Park
A vast monsoon forest blankets Khao Yai (literally ‘big mountain’) and beyond, catapulting this park into World Heritage status. Nature is all its glory is the primary draw but the show stealers are the day-trip-ping Thais.
6) Kaho Sok National Park
A deep and dark jungle hugs the midsection of southern Thailand. This ancient rainforest is filled with long sweaty hikes, postcard views and riverside camping.
7) Elephant Centres & Mahout Training
Thailand’s beloved pachyderm is no longer an unemployed beast of burden. Centres in Lampang, Pattaya and Chiang Mai teach tourists how to mahouts, and the Elephant Nature Park, outside Chiang Mai, allows domesticated elephants to return to the herd.