Hiking in Thailand

by Ankit

The market for hiking in Thailand is growing. With beautiful trails running along the coastline, around the islands and through the mountains and forests in the north, it’s unsurprising. Not only is the scenery spectacular, there is much culture to enjoy along the way, particularly in the north where it is possible to walk through small hill tribe villages and learn about rural life in Thailand. Trekking in Thailand is best done between October and March when the skies are lovely and clear and there is little rain. Outside this time, it may be hard to find a guide and the heavy tropical rains make hiking a lot more challenging.

Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son

This long trek takes you from the city of Chiang Mai , the capital of the north, to the Mae Hong Son, a province located right next to Myanmar. The length of the journey means it best to book with a reputable company and not attempt the trek alone. Over 8 days, hike through the hills carpeted with sun-tropical rainforests, through fertile valleys, across rivers and small traditional villages. You’ll see very few other hikers attempting this challenging walk.  

Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai

karen-woman-hill-tribe-trek

Hill Tribe Treks are popular in Thailand, that take one through jungles to the homes of tribes in Thailand.

The city of Chiang Rai sits considerably further north of Chiang Mai. It’s less challenging than the trek to Mae Hong Son, but at around 10 days depending on speed, you’ll need plenty of time to complete it. Camping isn’t particularly comfortable in Thailand due to the humidity, so this trek will take walkers from village to village staying in local homes. This offers a deeper understanding on rural Thai Northern culture. Trek through the Do Luang National Park and through the hill tribe villages spotting plenty of wildlife along the way. The trek ends in the beautiful city of Chiang Mai.

Pang Mapha

This popular northern trek takes walkers on a trail that passes rural villages, paddy fields and forest. It’s particularly interesting to stay with the Lahu community where guests learn about their way of life. The whole trek takes around five days or so, and starts and ends in the northern city of Chiang Mai. It is possible to do part of the trek on board a handmade bamboo raft along the Nam Lang River, offering a little more adventure.

Ban Ruammit

The trekking around Ban Ruammit starts and finishes in Chiang Rai. Few known about the wonderful hiking opportunities through mountain forests, rushing rivers, tumbling cascades and hill village communities – even fewer actually do the trek. In the heart of Ban Ruammit, and a must-do during the trek is a visit to the Ruammit Elephant Camp where guests have the opportunity to feed and look after these gentle giants.

Kew Mae Pan

mountains-doi-inthanon-thailand-sky

Mountains in Doi Inthanon National Park.

The Doi Inthanon National Park sits west of Chiang Mai City and is popular for tourists. It offers some of the most spectacular trails that wind their way up the hills carpeted with lush green forest. The Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail is particularly scenic and passes towering cascades and picturesque viewpoints. The trek takes just a few hours to complete make it perfect for a day trip from Chiang Mai. A US $6 fee is payable before entering the trail, but includes a guide.

jungle-thailand-nature-forest

Beautiful and dense jungles in Thailand where plenty of treks can be done.

Doi Chiang Chao

There are several trails that led up to Doi Chiang Chao, the summit of the highest mountain in Thailand siting at over 7,000 feet above sea level. The challenging day trek should be done with the help of a qualified guide and passes waterfalls and forests blanketed in colourful orchids. Much wildlife including mountain birdlife can be seen along the way, and the stop has spectacular 360 degree views down over Chiang Mai province. It’s easily reachable from the city of Chiang Mai.

Phu Kradueng National Park

The Phu Kradueng National Park is located in the Issan province of Loei, an area in the north east of Thailand. There are numerous trails that work their way up to a high plateau that sits at over 3,500 feet above sea level. It’s a challenging hike is simply beautiful and offers spectacular views down over the rest of the park from the top.

Mae Sa Valley

The Mae Sa Valley is close to the northern city of Chiang Mai and is made up from rolling farmland, rice paddy terraces and lush forests. It’s not often visited by tourists who prefer the better known national parks, but those who do visit are treated to an are teeming with natural beauty. The hiking trails are well signposted and can be done without a guide by just booking a taxi out to the valley. The trails can also be done in a day trip, through camping overnight or staying in one of the small villages is recommended.

Kaeng Krachan National Park

Kaeng Krachan National Park sits south west of Bangkok near the border of Myanmar and is the largest park in the country. Wildlife lovers should head straight to the park, often overlooked by tourists. Here much fauna can be seen including bears, wild elephants and colourful birds. The highlight of the park is the Pranburi Waterfall which cascades down over multiple tiers and is surrounded by thick tropical rainforest. You must be accompanied by a ranger to trek in the park, but this is inexpensive.

Kanchanaburi jungle treks

huay-mae-khamin-waterfall

Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall at Kanchanaburi.

West of Bangkok is the province of Kanchanaburi. Here, hikers can take a two-day trail that winds its way around the jungles, past tribal villages including Karen. These welcoming villages will invite you to stay at a local homestay where you can understand the rural way of the life in this part of Thailand. Part of the trek involves a bamboo raft journey downstream and then boarding the Death Railway train which crosses the River Kwai.

Khao Yai National Park

Khao Yai National Park sits north east of Bangkok and is easily reached by train or bus. Wildlife lovers come from around the world to hike the trails of Khao Yai in search of birdlife. The most famous route is Trail 8, however Trail 11 is most more challenging. All the routes can be completed within day before taking the three-hour journey back to the capital. It’s the third largest national park in the world.

Sri Phang Nga National Park

thailand-river-canoe

Trekking can be combined with canoe journeys.

The Sri Phang Nga National Park is located on Khao Lak, one of the Thailand’s biggest parks. The pristine forest trails pass towering waterfalls and across rivers where walkers can take refreshing dips. Treks can be done on your own without a guide, a usually take around half a day. The park is located along the coast in the south-west of the country and is best combined on the way to Phuket Island. Khao Chong Wildlife Park is not far away, close to Trang City and offers even more hiking opportunities with plenty of rare wildlife to see.

Khao Pom

Khao Pom is located on Koh Samui, the second largest island in Thailand. There is plenty to explore here including the hilly rolling forests and mangroves as the highest viewpoint in on the island at 650 metres up. These spectacular views look down over the beaches and ocean below. Many tourists trek the trails, so it’s unlikely you’ll have the place to yourself, as you would with some of the other treks on this list, but it is beautiful nonetheless.

You may like to read about the best hiking shoes and 101 guide to trekking . Perhaps trekking Kilimanjaro , Everest and Peru will also capture your interest.

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