Things to do in Thailand
Thailand offers an amazing choice of outdoors adventure activities, including the following. . .
Trekking – The hills of northern Thailand offer a wide range of trekking adventures that not only provide stunning mountain and rainforest vistas but also lead to close encounters with hospitable ethnic hill tribes.
From Chiang Mai, the centre for trekking in northern Thailand, hike into the undulating hills and valleys northwest of the city to meet Lisu, Yao and Akha hill tribe people, witnessing their traditional way of life.
The town of Nan on the border of Laos and Mae Hong Son on the border of Myanmar also offer hill tribe village treks. Stay overnight and learn some of the unique customs, traditions and lifestyle of each tribe.
Combine this with a thrilling long-tail boat ride down the river or a white-water rafting experience or admire scenic panoramas from atop a swaying elephant.
Scuba diving – Head to the Andaman Sea for exceptional diving opportunities around Phuket Island, including nearby Racha Yai and Racha Noi islands, the distant Similan Islands and the Burma Banks.
Further south in Krabi Province lie numerous dive sites located around Rai Leh, Ko Phi Phi and Ko Lanta, which include Hin Daeng (Red Rock) – Thailand’s deepest wall dive at more than 60m. Dive centres are located in Phuket’s Chalong Bay, Ko Phi Phi and Krabi’s Ao Nang Bay.
For beginners, Phuket offers great dive training areas right off the beach in Kata, while those at Patong Bay, Freedom Beach, Paradise Beach and Bang Tao Beach offer easy diving in shallow 5m-deep water close to shore. Read more about diving in the clear waters around Phuket . . .
Across the Thai Peninsula, Koh Tao is one of the best dive spots in the Gulf of Thailand, followed by Ko Lak Ngam; both islands are located within the Chumphon Marine National Park.
Elephant trekking – Discover the jungles of northern Thailand from atop a swaying elephant or explore the countryside around Phuket on a half-day elephant safari – great fun for the whole family!
White-water rafting – Head to the northern Thai town of Pai for some of the country’s best white-water rafting adventures. Shoot rapids, paddle nature reserves and glide past canyon walls encrusted with fossils. Or try the Mae Khlong and Umphang rivers in central Thailand for serious rafting thrills.
Snorkelling – The waters around the islands of the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand are perfect for snorkelling. Almost every beach resort can give advice on the best local snorkelling spots and many dive centres allow snorkellers to tag along for a fraction of the cost of scuba diving.
Sea kayaking – Paddle a kayak around Krabi’s Phang Nga Bay, exploring jagged isles riddled with caves, limestone cliffs and stunning beaches. Head over to Ko Phi Phi and the east side of Ko Lanta for more sea kayak adventures.
Game fishing – Hook up a charter from Phuket, available year round, and chase marlin, sailfish, queenfish, sea bass, barracuda, giant trevally and mangrove jack. Local charter boat captains are familiar with the best waters for catching migratory species and can also help you land king mackerel, yellowfin tuna and wahoo. Or head across the peninsula to the island of Koh Tao and fish the Gulf of Thailand.
Rock climbing – The limestone karsts that lie scattered along southern Thailand's Andaman Coast are ideal for rock climbers. Head to east Rai Leh and Ton Sai beaches in the Krabi Province for the most challenging climbs. Local climbing schools offer tuition for beginners and provide all the necessary gear. Ko Phi Phi and Ko Yao Noi also offer interesting climbs.
Mountain biking – Northern Thailand offers biking adventures from Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son, where you can explore the surrounding hills and forest, bike to isolated hilltop villages and meet friendly hill tribe people.
Eco-hiking tour – Experience the wild side of Thailand’s interior with a guided trek through some of the country’s finest national parks. Look out for Brahminy kites and white-bellied sea eagles on a hike through the pristine landscape of Phuket’s Sirinat National Park or try to spot some of the more than 184 bird species and 48 species of animal that live in the evergreen forests and grassland of Khao Yai National Park.
Read more about an eco safari though Khao Sok National Park . . .
Hot-air ballooning – Lift off for a pre-dawn flight over emerald rice paddies and spy distant, mist-covered mountain ranges on a ballooning adventure from Chiang Mai.
Thai cooking classes – You too can discover the art of Thai cooking – just choose your favourite region and spend an afternoon or a week learning to cook some of Thailand’s tastiest dishes. Chiang Mai is especially renowned for its choice of excellent Thai cooking schools.
Thai long-tail speedboat – Discover unspoiled coves, pristine beaches and soaring limestone cliffs from a long-tail speedboat on a day trip from Phuket to Koh Phi Phi. Don’t miss Maya Bay – the snorkelling here is excellent. Or head to the klongs (canals) of Thonburi in Bangkok to get a different perspective of Thai life.
Shopping – Best buys include Thai silk in lengths or ready made clothes, imitation designer fashion, silver, bronze, nielloware, jewellery, plates, bowls, ornaments, temple bells, wood carvings and antiques (but beware of exquisitely-made fakes).