When people think of Thailand, the first thing that springs to mind is the bustle of Bangkok, and the soft sand of beaches in the southern islands. While Thailand is all of that, you shouldn't forget the breathtaking treks.
Most of the outdoor adventures to be had are in the north of the country. Here are a few of the most highly recommended treks broken down by region as well as a few good tips to keep in mind for the smart trekker.
The most well-known region of the north of Thailand is Chiang Mai. Home to one of the biggest cities in the north, it has become a major point of entry for those just arriving to the area.
It has plenty of lodgings for travelers of all budgets and an active nightlife for those looking to cut loose after their treks. There are tracks for trekkers of all levels. Of the many trekking options out of Chiang Mai, there are two treks that offer some of the richness of Chiang Mai.
The first is a two-day and one night trek called Chiang Dao. The trek that starts out of Chiang Mai takes trekkers up into the Chiang Dao mountain range for an unforgettable nature experience. The trek also provides for a cultural tour of the area with the possibility to visit Hill tribe villages as well as Buddhist shrines. For those that are interested in additional activities, there is bamboo rafting down the Ping River and elephant parks in the area.
The second trek is a bit longer and meant for more experienced trekkers. While still in the same area of the Chiang Dao Mountains, this trail takes you on routes that lead through the Chiang Dao range and descend in to the valley of the Maetang River. This trail will lead you along Hill tribe villages that are higher up the mountain where you can better enjoy the views.
The next area to visit is Mae Hong Son. These treks leave out of Mae Sarieng and end in Ban Mae Sam Lab. These treks can take up to about seven days.
This trail traverses a number of the Hill tribe villages providing for cultural interaction with the villagers. With the exception of a boat ride at the end along the Salawin River, all travel along the trail can be done on foot. These treks also include lessons on jungle life and survival by the local guides. The main highlights of these treks are the mountain beauty and wildlife along the way.
In the Mae Sot region, there is a trek that normally takes four days to complete that runs through the Umphang valley. This trail will take you along the Mae Khlong River, through wildlife reserves and to villages of the people of the Karen tribes.
Among the highlights of this trek is the Tee Losu waterfall and bamboo raft rides down the Mae Khlong. As with the other treks in the north, there are elephant experiences for those that wish.
Before you head out to enjoy your trek, there are a few things to remember to do and bring with you.
Before having left your home country, you should have received a number of general shots to immunize you against a number of basic diseases. If you're planning on going trekking, tell your health provider.
There are a number of shots that are specific to travelers who are out in the bush that aren't part of the standard travel package. Don't risk ruining your vacation because you forgot to get your shots!
There are a few crucial things that every trekker should bring with them when heading out on the trail.
Firstly, extra socks, you don't want to be walking in wet socks. You'll be out near water and you don't want to end up with blisters because your feet were wet.
Don't forget that while Thailand is mostly warm and pleasant all year round, it can still get pretty chilly up in the mountains. Dress accordingly!
Bug spray/netting can mean the difference between you enjoying your trek in peace and spending the whole time suffering from bug bites.
Check the weather! Certain treks are seasonal because of the weather. Don't show up to find that your trek is closed for another six months.
This is just a brief guide to some of the “must do treks.” While many of the treks offer similar options, each has its own character of the region you trek. Once you've had a feel for Thai trekking, it's something that you'll want to come back for again and again. There's a whole world of amazing treks out there for you to explore.
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