A trip to the Land of Smiles is not your ordinary vacation. With Amazing Thailand’s beautiful beaches, breathtaking temples, and stunning mountains, there is no shortage of things to do and see. To celebrate National Play Outside Day, we’re highlighting some of Thailand’s unique outdoor experiences you must try on your next visit!
Khao Sok National Park
Khao Sok National Park is one of Thailand’s most stunning natural wonders, covered by the world’s oldest evergreen rainforest. The park includes Cheow Lan Lake, a stunning blue lake surrounded by lush green forests, mountains, and fascinating rock formations. Here you can hike, kayak, and swim in the lake.
You can even stay directly on this beautiful lake, with many floating bungalow hotels available to book. These cottages range from basic to luxurious and offer short walks to attractions like hiking trails and bird watching. Serene and secluded – staying in a floating bungalow might be the best way to commune with the bountiful nature that surrounds this scenic area. This magical accommodation is truly one of Thailand’s unique outdoor experiences.
The Bua Tong Waterfall
Located in Si Lanna National Park, the Bua Tong Waterfall is like nothing you’ve ever seen. With its smooth, climbable rocks and refreshing cascades of water, this spot is popular with visitors looking to cool off in a unique outdoor setting. Bua Tong Waterfall owes its easy climbability to its limestone formations. High calcium levels in the water prevent algae growth, so the rocks do not get slippery; this causes the rocks to be easier to grip as you climb.
These rocks have earned Bua Tong Waterfall the nickname “the sticky waterfall” because you almost stick to the rocks as you climb. Some have likened the feel of the stones to that of dry sponges. Bua Tong Waterfall is undoubtedly a unique outdoor experience you don’t want to miss if you’re in the Chiang Mai area of Thailand.
San Kamphaeng Hot Springs
Set amidst green, verdant mountains and perfectly manicured gardens, San Kamphaeng Hot Springs is a unique outdoor experience in Thailand and a relaxing wellness destination. A simple day trip from Chiang Mai (40km), these famous hot springs are the perfect antidote to anything that ails you! The baths are filled naturally with mineral water from the hot springs, which provide numerous health benefits, from skin detoxification to muscle ache relief.
Beyond relaxing, another popular activity to enjoy at the springs is boiling eggs (yes, eggs!). The scalding water from the twin geysers is piped into a designated concrete pool. Here, visitors can boil fresh eggs (usually quail) that are available for purchase from vendors inside the park. Visitors can use baskets to immerse the eggs in the 105-degree Celsius water (221 degrees Fahrenheit!) without the risk of overcooking. There’s even a sign that advises how long to leave your eggs immersed:
- three minutes for a soft boil
- five minutes for a half-boil
- 10-15 minutes for fully hard-boiled
Talk about unique experiences!
From 1350 to 1757, the Kingdom of Ayutthaya was one of Southeast Asia’s most important outposts. Though Ayutthaya is no longer an outpost, the famed Kingdom is a popular spot for tourists to visit the once-mighty city’s many ruins, statues, and temples.
One of the best ways to tour Ayutthaya is via bicycle. While it would be difficult to see the entire ruins in one day, bicycling through some of the more popular sites is a quick, safe, and easy way to see quite a few in one day. (And did we mention spectacular?)
Some of the most famous ruins to check out in Ayutthaya include Wat Mahathat and Wat Ratchaburana, which are situated right across the street from each other, Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Wat Na Phra Meru Rachikaram, and Wat Phra Ram. Still, with 41 temples in Ayutthaya, you’ll have no shortage of choices, especially on bicycles.
Bicycles are available to rent in areas outside of the Kingdom and are often available for guests of hotels and hostels for a daily fee.
Tea Plantation Experience
If you love your tea like Thais love their tea, visiting the tea plantations of Thailand will be a must-do outdoor excursion on your next visit to the Land of Smiles. Above all else, Thailand’s tea plantations are known for their high quality rather than the various types of tea plants they grow. Going firsthand to the source to see the complete life cycle of how tea is grown, processed, and brewed is an unmatched unique outdoor experience you won’t soon forget.
Thanks to a more mountainous landscape and cooler climates, Northern Thailand is the ideal destination for growing tea plants. Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, and Chiang Mai all have their own famed tea plantations. Some include the Choui Fong plantation and Wawee Tea Plantation in Chiang Rai, Baan Rak Thai in Mae Hong Son, Wang Put Tan Tea in Doi Mae Salong, and 2000 Tea Plantation in Chiang Mai. Many of these famed, award-winning plantations offer cafes on-site to taste the product at the source.
At Araksa Tea Garden, outside Chiang Mai, this smaller tea plantation focuses more on tea education, workshops, tea tasting, and tours.
Touring Baan Dam Museum
The Baan Dam Museum is located in Chiang Rai in northern Thailand. It is not a traditional indoor museum, as many might think, but an outdoor collective of buildings designed by Thawan Duchenee. Known to foreigners as the Black House Museum, the houses range in architectural style from contemporary to completely unique, and each has its own theme and title.
There are 41 buildings in the Baan Dam Museum to explore, and visitors can walk from building to building and tour the grounds as they take in the beauty surrounding them. This unique outdoor excursion is meant to evoke the visitors’ own interpretation, as there are no signboards or English descriptions on display.
Hiking Dragon Crest Mountain
Dragon Crest Mountain, or Khao Ngon Nak, is a breathtaking 3.7-mile-long hike that runs through Krabi. The hike lasts about one to two hours and is of moderate difficulty physically. The hike to Dragon Crest Mountain leads you up the mountain through dense jungle terrain. Your reward for this hard work is a view unlike anything else you may have seen. Dragon Crest Mountain is surrounded by lush greenery and sparkling blue water for as far as the eye can see. Rock formations dot the skyline and the mountain top, making it a perfect place for photo opportunities.
While hikes can be self-guided, they are also available through tour groups. You can even take an ATV tour which includes not just hiking but driving an ATV and kayaking at a nearby lagoon.
Swimming Emerald Cave at Koh Mook
Tucked away in the Trang Islands is the stunning Emerald Cave, a natural rock formation that legend says in years past has been used for pirates to stash loot. When you first swim into the cave, you are greeted by emerald green waters as clear as glass. As you swim, the cave becomes darker until you break through to the other side, where you’ll see the ethereal glow of the outdoor sky and a pure white sandy beach surrounded by tall limestone cliffs.
This popular tourist attraction is closed from June to September but is available by tour boat for the remainder of the year.
Pai River Tubing
A stay along the Pai River isn’t complete without a tubing adventure! Ride an inflatable tube through this slow meandering river and take in the local sites as you float along peacefully. Pai River tubing takes about one to two hours, depending on the time of year you embark on the adventure, as some seasons have higher water levels than others. Pai River Tubing is a fun, easy (and refreshing) excursion that your hotel can easily arrange.
It begins with a ride a few miles upriver in a songthaew or tuk-tuk. You are then dropped off with your tube and ride back to town in the peaceful river, where you can admire the beautiful scenery along the shore and the many wild animals that dot the banks.
Su Tong Pae Bridge
Though it was only built in 2012, the Su Tong Pae bridge is a marvel to experience. This bridge was designed to connect monks to a nearby village by routing them over the rice fields so that they could easily collect alms (food) from the villagers each morning. Be sure to note: this bridge is best experienced after the rainy season, around harvest time, when it’s at its most lush and green.
The Su Tong Pae Bridge is a simple bamboo bridge that offers the most spectacular sunset and sunrise views. The entire walk from the temples to the end of the bridge is about an hour each way. The Su Tong Pae Bridge is the longest bamboo bridge in all of Thailand.
As you can see, there are many unique outdoor activities to enjoy when you visit Thailand. From hiking to biking, swimming, and kayaking, there is truly something for everyone. So the next time you visit us here in Thailand, take some time to go outdoors and experience the natural wonders and stunning vistas of this beautiful country.