What Can Thailand Offer Adventure Travellers
If you’re looking for excitement and adventure on your gap year, Thailand is a fantastic place to go. While it’s best known for its stunning paradise beaches and vibrant, cultural cities, there are plenty of adrenalin-pumping activities on offer all over the country. Here are just a few things you might want to try if you’re planning adventure travel in Thailand:
I touched on the paradise beaches earlier, but what I didn’t mention was the stunning underwater life you can find all around Thailand’s coast and islands. If you’re new to diving, head to Koh Tao, as it’s a great place for beginners thanks to the warm waters and relatively current-free dive sites.
That said, once you’ve got some experience there are still some top dives to enjoy here. A personal favourite of mine is Sail Rock, where you drop down through a hole in the pinnacle that starts at around 6 m and ends at 18 m – seriously cool.
If you’re into marine life, you should also make some time to go diving around Phi Phi and the Similan Islands, as the reefs here are widely considered to be the best in the country. If you’re lucky (and you’ve timed your visit between February and May) you might even get to spot something big like a whale shark or manta ray on your dive.
Thailand is home to many rivers and that means there are plenty of opportunities to go rafting – or kayaking if you prefer something a little gentler. As a general rule, the north of Thailand is the best place to go if you’re looking for a white water adventure, with the rainy season (mid-May to mid-October) providing the most exhilarating rides.
It’s not all about thrill-seeking, though, as in between tackling the rapids you’ll drift past beautiful stretches of unspoilt Thai jungle and you might even pass the odd waterfall, depending on the river and route you decide to follow.
While not necessarily producing an adrenalin rush, trekking through remote swathes of Thai jungle is an adventurous activity to try – especially if you have to cross any rickety-looking bridges over streams (I pretend I’m Indiana Jones and it makes the whole process more exciting and marginally less scary).
Again, northern Thailand comes out on top in terms of trekking, largely due to its mountainous scenery and vast areas of forest where you really can believe you’re the only people to have set foot here in a long time. The Maetang River area is a popular place to go for a hike, mostly because it’s only one hour away from Chiang Mai. For something a little wilder and further off the beaten track, try walking in the Umphang wildlife sanctuary, which is in the Tak province about halfway between Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
Hot Air Balloon Rides
For a totally different perspective on Thailand’s beautiful landscape, it’s worth taking a hot air balloon ride. Floating high above the ground is an incredibly sedate experience and particularly stunning if you book an early morning flight. Chiang Mai is an excellent location in which to take to the skies, as you’ll be able to marvel at the city and its glorious temples from above, before drifting over the jungles and mountains that surround it.