Take a hike – today is International Mountain Day! Established in 1911 by the United Nations, International Mountain Day was created to help encourage the protection and sustainability of our planet’s many magnificent mountains. This International National Mountain Day, we’ll take a tour of some of the top mountain hikes of Thailand. From beginner to expert, these meaningful journeys will introduce you to temples, forests, and many curious animals along the way.
Northern Thailand, or Lanna, is a mountainous region of Thailand dotted with various mountain ranges and rivers. Its mild tropical climate makes Northern Thailand ideal for hikers looking to push themselves physically and spiritually year-round.
Kew Mae Pan Trail
Deemed the best hike in Thailand by Lonely Planet, Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail is located in the Doi Inthanon National Park, outside of Chiang Mai. Though short in length at just over 2 miles, the Kew Mae Pan mountain hike is not short on adventure. Hikers can expect to walk wooden planks nestled among mossy trees and vibrant rhododendrons which grow along the trails. During the ascent of the mountain, voyagers will find stunning twin royal pagodas built in 1987 and 1992 to commemorate HM King Bhumibol and HM Queen Sirikit’s 60th birthdays.
An excellent beginner hike, this short trek offers awe-inspiring views of Thailand that you won’t see anywhere else. Doi Inthanon National Park is also one of the most popular places to camp in northern Thailand.
The Southern region of Thailand, or Tambralinga, is home to many mountain ranges, high coastal cliffs, and rainforests. It is also home to several mountain ranges that grace the stunning landscape.
Tiger Cave Temple
Tiger Cave Temple, or Wat Tham Suea, is located in Krabi, in the southern Region of Thailand. A trek to Tiger Cave Temple will take you up a satisfying 912 feet above the town of Krabi, where views of the city and nearby mountains will take your breath away.
The final destination for those interested is the Buddhist Temple, which is reachable by climbing 1,260 stairs to the peak of the mountain. (Please note: the climb to the temple requires moderate to advanced fitness levels, and you’ll want to keep any loose items protected as there are playful monkeys along the path.) The temple itself gets its name from the belief that tigers once inhabited the nearby caves, though none are present today. Tiger Cave Temple is not just a mountain hike but a lesson in history and Thai culture.
One of the lesser visited regions of Thailand, Northeast Thailand still has many breathtaking sights to offer hikers and adventurers looking for a more peaceful visit to the Land of Smiles. Characterized by plateaus and plains, Northeast Thailand is home to 26 National Parks and many diverse cultures that inhabit the land.
Phu Luang Mountain
A 3.5-mile trail, Phu Luang Mountain is located in the Northeast Region of Thailand, in the Loei Province. Phu Luang means a large mountain, or “Mountain of the King.” Phu Luang is the highest mountain in the region, registering at nearly a mile high. The main trail along Phu Luang is a relatively short trip; the 3.5-mile trek takes under two hours to complete and is perfect for beginners.
Visitors to Phu Luang Mountain can expect a cool climate within the mountain-jungle plateau. The area itself is very remote, complete with an abundance of flora and fauna such as elephants, the Phu Luang cliff frog, and wild orchids everywhere you look. The atmosphere alone truly makes for a top mountain hike in Thailand
26 provinces make up central Thailand, with Bangkok as its center. This region covers the broad alluvial plain of the Chao Phraya River, separated from northeast Thailand by the Phetchabun mountain range. The Tenasserim Hills separate it from Myanmar to the west.
Khao Chang Phueak
Thong Pha Phum National Park’s highest mountain is known as Khao Chang Phueak. It sits at a height of 1,249 meters above sea level. This mountain is topped by a breathtaking ridgeline with grades so steep on either side that it’s known in Thai as Sun Kom Meed, or “Knife Blade’s Edge.” Those hikers who are up for a challenge are ultimately treated to one of Thailand’s most photogenic hikes.
The trail itself is 5.0 miles long and takes approximately 5 hours to complete. Visitors who intend to hike the trail must first register with Thong Pha Phum National Park officials, and the number of visitors to Khao Chang Phueak is limited to 60 persons per day. Please note that this mountain hike is recommended for more experienced hikers.
Bordering Cambodia, Eastern Thailand’s economy consists mainly of tourism and fruit production. The area’s geography comprises short mountain ranges and rivers flowing to the Gulf of Thailand. Home to eight popular national parks, hikers and nature lovers will indeed find challenging and memorable hikes.
Khao Khitchakut National Park
Khao Khitchakut National Park is a small national park in the Chanthaburi Province of eastern Thailand. The park covers a rich, verdant forestland of some 58 square km, where many herbal plants and wildlife are found. The park is located within the Soi Dao Mountains, which is the Thai portion of the much larger Cardamom Mountains and is home to various waterfalls and forests throughout.
Perhaps the most famed feature of the park, however, is the Khao Phra Bat mountaintop. There lies a Buddha Footprint of great religious significance to Thai Buddhists. During the Buddhist holiday of Makha Bucha (February or March), large numbers of visitors make the pilgrimage to the site to worship the rocks at the summit as it is believed that it will bring them great prosperity. The trek up the mountain itself is considered a very spiritual practice, and the trail is only open to hikers two months out of the year.
Also found on Khao Phra Bat’s peak are rock formations in the shape of a pagoda, a monk’s alms bowl, a turtle, and an elephant. The park’s largest of all waterfalls is Krathing, which features 13 separate levels that intersect the various nature trails throughout the park. These falls are fed by the Chanthaburi River. Animal species found within the park include gaur, sambar, barking deer, and serow.
No matter how you choose to enjoy the variety of mountain ranges in the five regions of Thailand, there is truly something for everyone and every skill level. From biking to hiking to taxi rides and group tours, the mountains of Thailand are the perfect addition to any vacation here.