Top 5 Thai Adventures
Featured destinations: Thailand
Published 30 March 2016
Bored of the beach? Templed out? Or just looking for something a little bit different? Thailand’s white sand coastline is undoubtedly gorgeous, and for many the main reason to visit this remarkable country, closely followed by its sumptuous temples. But when beach lounging gets too much, and the temples blur into a mass of glittering Buddhas, check out our top 5 suggestions for injecting a dash of adventure into your holiday.
Thailand’s dramatic karst pinnacles and limestone cliffs make it one of the world’s best rock climbing destinations. Everyone from complete beginners to experienced climbers can find a route or two to tackle, and there are plenty of climbing schools around. The climbing mecca of Krabi is a good place to start, with Chiang Mai also offering plenty of opportunities to learn the ropes. For further fun-filled adventures hop on a boat to Railay Beach, inaccessible by land, for over 700 bolted routes from beginner to expert level, and some gorgeous coastal scenery to boot.
Beneath the rolling hills and rice paddies of Thailand’s interior lies an intricate labyrinth of caverns and grottos, just waiting to be discovered. Some are used as temples or filled with Buddhist shrines, some are adorned with ancient cave paintings and some are remote sea caves reachable only by boat. For something out of the ordinary try Nam Talu cave in Khao Sok National Park, where spelunkers of all abilities are in for an exhilarating treat. Be prepared to get wet as you explore the vast chasm on foot, trekking under stalactites and wading through an invigorating underground river. Look out for the weird and wonderful cave creatures, mostly of the eight-legged variety, that share the darkness with you.
If you think of safaris and picture zebras and giraffes on the Serengeti plains, then think again! Believe it or not, many of Thailand’s national parks offer myriad opportunities for a more unconventional wildlife spotting adventure. Less than 150km from Bangkok, Khao Yai National Park is a mountainous land of evergreen forests home to wild elephants, gibbons, deer and macaques as well as 320 bird species. Jump in a jeep, take a boat or hike the jungle, it’s up to you. For an extra thrill, try safariing after dark, when nocturnal creatures such as the slow loris and civet cat come out to play.
Peaceful Pai in Thailand’s northern hills is a great spot to watch a Thai boxing match, or if you’re feeling braver, sign up for a class or two of this much-loved national sport. Bangkok too hosts a number of competitions, with the best places to stand ringside being the two main stadiums of Rajdamnoen and Lumphini. As much a spiritual experience as a physical one, Muay Thai is wrapped up in history and legend, forming an inherent part of Thai culture.
Explore twisted mangroves and stunning tidal lagoons on a relaxing sea kayaking excursion. No prior experience is required as you’ll be shown how to paddle your way across the warm blue waters to the lush coastal caves of the Andaman Sea. But while sea kayaking to a deserted beach and back is all the rage, what about adding a further twist by taking to the waves after dark? The perfect place to try this is Phuket, where you can explore the sea caves by day then, as night falls, see the surf light up as the bioluminescent plankton sparkle in the moonlight.