Favorite Adventure Destinations in Thailand

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Thailand is still a mecca for all types of travelers – perhaps one of the top destinations in the world. From packaged tourists to high-end five-star gold packaged tours to the low-end cheap ass beer-drinking backpackers, Thailand caters to just about everyone – even the adventure traveler.

So you are seeking a little adventure in Thailand? Want to have a little bit of fun and get away from the lying on the beach? Here are the top destinations we recommend.

You are probably shocked that we listed Bangkok as one of the top adventure destinations in Thailand, but once you see this huge, massive, sprawling polluted city, you will realize that Bangkok is full of adventure. It’s called an urban jungle. With chaos and cars going in every direction, beggars, thieves, prostitutes, and sleazy tour operators, it’s easy to get your heart pumping and to have a good time in Bangkok. Head to the Red light district, Patta Pong and check out the more than 100 bars and the “adult entertainment,” where ping pong balls and a myriad of other objects are used as props in their show. This is city adventure at its finest.

Rai Lay is a very small peninsula on the Andaman Sea in Southern Thailand, completely isolated from the mainland and without motor vehicles, only accessible by boat. Rai Lay is home to huge limestone formations, excellent for rock climbing. It has some of the gnarliest stallactites that you have to climb on and around. There are also some great giant caves. Afterwards, the beach is only a few steps away.

Hoards of travelers go to Chiang Mai, Thailand’s second largest city, and use it as a base for hiking to visit some of the northern hill tribes, which as non-ethnic Thai. Many ethical travelers now say this part of Thailand has too many tourists and, as a result, is changing the way traditional people of Thailand live. You are charged entrance before you come into any of these villages and many of the people are visibly tired of having their pictures taken. If you aren’t a snap happy tourists looking to show your friends a picture of “traditional life” the region has some good exploring and culture, if you can manage to get off the beaten path. Take a mountain bike to this region and do some ride between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. You have a untouristed, rural routes where you can truly see the culture and everyday life in remote villages.

Some travelers say that Khao Sok National Park is one of Thailand’s best kept secrets, that is, if any secrets are left. Located in southern Thailand, the park is one of the largest protected areas and is covered by the oldest evergreen rainforest in the world, which is said to be 160 million years old. It’s home to one of Asia’s last habitats for animals such as the elephants and the tiger. Throughout the park are mountains, valleys, caves, rivers and lakes. If you are into jungle trekking or are a naturalist, this would be the park to visit.

Bamboo rafting down the Mae Kok River can be a nice two or three day adventure, kind of like Huckleberry Finn. It doesn’t have the adrenaline rush as typical rafting, but is a great way to breathe in the fresh air and pay attention to the subtle things around you. For adrenaline junkies, check out Mae Jaem or Prachin Buri.

It’s kind of difficult to imagine ANY Thailand beach without loads of tourists, but for those who are interested in sea kayaking to tropical islands, with REAL secluded beaches and NO mass tourism, then the Trang Province is for you. Sea kayaking between the islands is no more than six nautical miles, making it about perfect for a novice paddler.

This Thailand province is located on the west side of the Malay Peninsula, and includes many islands in the Andaman Sea. Phang NGA isn’t too far from Pucket, but is a breath of fresh air from its mass tourism. For sea kayakers, there are loads of mangrove forests, many uninhabited islands, and many cliffs and caves. beckon. At low tide, you can cruise into many of the caves that are waiting to be explored.

This place is almost too good to be true, and we caution you to tell all your friends and family. The Nan Valley is amazingly isolated from the zillions of Thailand tourists. Nan Valley is situated between Chiang Rai and Phrae provinces to the west, and Laos to the east. If you want real trekking with real culture and to see true hill tribes that still have their culture and traditions and don’t wear American t-shirts, this is the best place to explore. Shh, don’t tell everyone.

This is kind of place you would want to have adventurist Robert Pelton with you – and maybe posse of bad ass looking friends. Mae Sot is kind of a seedy town on the border of Myanmar where business gets done – although not always legal and a little bit shady. You can buy all sorts of illegal and legal items in this town, not tourist crap, but diamonds, guns and drugs. Keep your wits about you.

Have an adventure you want to submit? Email donovan at Bootsnall dot com

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