TREKKING

Trekking is one of the most popular outdoor activities enjoyed by visitors of all ages. While trekking you can soothe your mind and spirit in the fresh air and stunning scenery of Thailand's undiscovered wilds, and get a comprehensive aerobic workout at the same time. Treks can range from a single day light excursion to physically challenging adventures of a week or more.

TAK
Trails are found in Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary and the western portion of Thung Yai Naresuan, which together with the adjoining Huai Kha Kaeng Wildlife Sanctuary has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Campsites are provided but you must bring your own tent and camping gear. Permits are required for entry into the wildlife sanctuary. These can be obtained at the Umphang Eco-tourism Club in Umphang. Pack light for a jungle trek and bring insect repellent. Most who visit Mae Sot in Tak are determined to see the spectacular Ti Lo Su Waterfall. Tour operators usually offer mountain biking, elephant-back rides, or rafting for part of the long trek, but most of it is done on foot.
shifting cultivation. Trekking is one way to learn about their lifestyles and traditions.

CHIANG MAI : Hilltribe treks are a popular variety of trekking in and around Chiang Mai. These cinsist of stretches trekked on foot, on elephant back, and by mountain bike, bamboo raft and rubber Kayak. Popular programmes include stops and overnight stays at ethnic villages : Karen, Lahu, and Shan.

CHIANG RAI : Hilltribe treks at Chiang Rai also combine hiking, elephant back rides and rafting, and include stops or overnight stays at hilltribe villages.

MAE HONG SON : One of the best hiking trails in Mae Hong Son is Doi Mae Ukor, in Khun Yuam District. This centres around the Mae Surin Waterfall. The trails here wind through Waterfalls and a vast field of wild sunflowers that bloom in November.

Relax in tribal settings
Royally-sponsored projects in the northern provinces of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai offer a good opportunity to understand the lifestyles of hilltribe minorities.


NONG KHIEW DEVELOPMENT CENTRE : Located at Ban Rin Luang of Chiang Dao district, Chiang Mai, visitors can watch hilltribe villagers work on farms, weave fabrics, make knives, sing and dance for you. Side attractions include visiting caves and hot springs. To get to Nong Khiew, take a bus from Chiang Mai bound for Fang. Get off at kilometre marker 32. The centre is about five kilometers from the marker.

HUAI LUEK DEVELOPMENT CENTRE : Located on Highway 107 about 95 kilometres from Chiang Mai. Apart from watching village lifestyle, there are nurseries featuring orchids and chrysanthemum, potted plants and vegetable gardens. The centre has two houses where visitors can stay for the night.

MOK CHAM DEVELOPMENT CENTRE : Close to Ban Tha Ton, to reach there get off at Baan Huai Sala in Mae Ai district of Chiang Mai. Besides visiting ethnic minorities, a gem-cutting factory, hot springs, saa paper making factory are the other attractions. In addition, visitors can enjoy rafting on the Mae Kok River all the way to Chiang Rai.
For more details, call 0 5345 1463

SA-NGAO DEVELOPMENT CENTRE : Located in Sri Donmun sub-district of Chiang Saen district in Chiang Rai, about six kilometres off Highway 1290. It's home to Ahka hilltribe people. For more details, see www.doikham.com
Captivating Khao Yai


Active travellers who like to explore deep into the forest can choose one of the 13 trails at Khao Yai. Note that some trekking route should be guided by experienced forestry officials.
 

1. KONG KAEW • HEO SUWAT

  The eight kilometre trail starts from the back of the visitor centre. Cross Lam Ta Khong and follow the red paint markers on the trees. Gibbons can be observed. A trail off to the right goes to Pha Kluai Mai, and one on the left to Pong Chang. A guide is needed.

2. KONH KAEW • PONH CHANG II

  The six kilometre hike takes four to five hours. Follow Trail 1 to the turnoff for Pong Chang, then follow the blue markers on the trees. Sometimes the sings can be confusing. A guide is needed.

3. ONG KAEW • PHA KLUAI MAI

  The six kilometer hike takes three to four hours. Follow Trail 1 to the turnoff, then follow the yellow markers on the trees. If strating from Pha Kluai Mai, the entrance to the trail is on the left of the road to Heo Suwat, 300 metres from the campsite.

4. PHA KLUAI MAI • HEO SUWAT

  The three kilometre trail takes about 90 minutes. From Pha Kluai Mai, look for the sign to Hao Suwat. From Heo Suwat, the trail starts near the toilet.

5. HEAW SUWAT • THUNG YA KHAO LAEM

  Go upstream along Lam Ta Khong until the bridge and proceed to Thung Ya Khao Laem. The trail is three kilometress long and requires at least two hours. This trail should be guided.

6. PARK OFFICE • NONG PHAK CHI

  Start opposite the food stalls and follow the signs along the four kilometre trail to Nong Phak Chi. From here, follow the dirt road for one kilometre to a paved road and walk two kilometres back to the park office. This trail is very popular.

7. PARK OFFICE • WANG CHAM PEE

  Follow Trail 6 to the first turnoff, go right and then go right again at the next turn. Continue until you reach the highway at Km 36. It is one kilometre to the park office. The circular route takes a few hours.

8. KONG KAEW •GOLF COURSE ROAD

  Start at the back of the visitor centre and stay parallel to Lam Ta Khong stream. The easy 1.5 kilometre walk is ideal for early - morning bird • watching.

9. PARK OFFICE • MOR SING TOH

  Follow Trail 6 and turn left at the first crossroads. The trail leads to an open meadow and a reservoir at Mor Sing Toh. Allow two hours.

10. PARK OFFICE • FORMER TAT RESTAYRANT

  Follow Trail 6 and turn right at the first crossroads. At the second cross-roads, turn left. This six kilometer trail requires a guide.

11. OLD TAT RESTAURANT • TAT TA PHU WATERFALL

  The trail follows the stream to the waterfall, with the return trip taking a full day. A guide is required.

12. DAN CHANG • BUENG PHAI

  Start at Km 32 and proceed for 1.5 kilometres.

13. NONG PHAK CHI • KHLONG EE-THAO

  This four • kilometre hike sets off from the Nong Phak Chi wildlife observation tower


WHITEWATER RAFTING

Rafting is fast gaining popularity among the young and young at heart. The mountainous regions of the North are the natural venue for whitewater rafting, especially after the rains from June to October when the rivers swell with floodwater. But first-class rafting is also to be found in the northern reaches of the central region.

TAK
This mountainous province south of Chiang Mai is an increasingly popular adventure destination. The hub of activities is Umphang District on the border with Myanmar which is now accessible via a winding mountain route from Mae Sot, the centre of border trade. The forests of Umphang are the source of many rivers, the most important being the Huai Mae Klong, a popular rafting route with its many rapids and scenic backdrops of jungle. There’s also a rafting route from the breathtaking Thi Lo Su Waterfall which takes three to four hours.

MAE HONG SON

There are five levels of expertise, and all require experienced guides to lead them. Mae Hong Song’sPai River is perhaps the most famous venue, as it smashes its angry path towards Myanmar. A raft trip starts at Ban Nam Kong, 65 km from Pai and continues through virgin forests, waterfalls and 15 sets of rapids, a journey time of about five hours.

CHIANG RAI
One of the oldest rafting destinations in the country, Chiang Rai continues to draw adventure seekers from all over the globe. In Chiang Rai, bamboo rafts and inflatable boats are available for the journey down the Mae Kok, the province’s major artery.

CHIANG MAI
Rafting down the Mae Chaem through Ob Luang George in inflatable boats is available through Mae Sot Travel. Another challenging route is the Mae Tuen in Omkoi District, where the river rushes through virgin forests to end at the Pha Dam Waterfall. No rubber raft is available at the site, so it’s best to book a trip with a tour agen in Chiang Mai.

NAN
Nam Wa stream in Nan is recognised as an ultimate rafting adventure. During rainy season the stream is swollen and rates 3 – 5 on the difficulty scale. Local rafting operators are offering soft adventure tour for rafting buffs wanting to test out their skills. The three – day tour features rafting through a series of rapids, such as Sop Huai Duea and Phi Pa, on specially – designed rubber rafts. Visitors can also use the opportunity to explore the cool jungle setting of Doi Phu Kha and Mae Charim mountains

PRACHINBURI
At Khao Yai National Park, the Kaeng Hin Phoeng in Nadi district of Prachin Buri is a stretch of river noted for its wild beauty. The water is very vigorous During the rainy months (June – October), and some stretches are designated Level 5 , the uppermost limit to whitewater rafting.

KANCHANABURI
On the western border, Kanchanaburi is a popular adventure destination thanks to its mountainous terrain, covered with forests and crisscrossed with a network of rivers. Jungle rafting can be arranged from a mountain pass to the stunning Lawa Cave, a two-hour journey. Bamboo and inflatable rafts are also available for a trip down the Songkalia in Sangkhlaburi.

PHETCHABURI
The headwater of Phetchaburi River, the province’s major artery, lies within Kaeng Krachan National Park. The river offers good rafting; a trip through its rapids and small tributaries takes about six hours.

NAKHON NAYOK
As a rule, canoeing and kayaking is available at the destinations that provide rafting. Nakhon Nayok, a small province to the north of Bangkok, is a new destination for adventure tourism. Its rivers originate in the Khao Yai range and flow down to meet the arterial Bang Pakong River, which empties into Gulf of Thailand.
Nakhon Nayok has several waterfalls, the most popular being Wang Takhrai. Canoeing here is relatively new. The best time to visit is June – October. Starting point for a canoe journey is the stretch of Wang Takhrai canal where it flows through a coffee plantation. The waterway is quite narrow and therefore unsuitable able for larger vessels. The route has on difficult rapids, but its many twists and turns more than make up for it.

Rafting trip on the NAM KEG River at Phitsanulok
The Khek river has its water source in the Phetchabun Mountain Range in Khao Kho county. It flows past Thung salaeng Luang National Park and forms the famous Sri Dit and Kaeng Sopha waterfalls of Phitsanulok. The water course passing Wang Thong county before joining the Nan river at Bang Krathum county is also called the Wang Thong river.

The level of difficulty of the current depends on the volume of water flow. In the rainy season, the river becomes swifter.

Keg River is the good place for rafting as it provides exciting routes for tourists for Ban PakYang, Sapraiwan sub-district, Wang Thong district to Kang Song waterfall which lasts 8 kms. Altogether. You can travel along this route within 3 hours, depending on the water level. You will experience the water speed at level 1-2 and gradually in crease the intensity to level 4-5 in the end. This allows you to practice your skill in rafting along the way.

Some cataracts last hundred meters. Travelling to Keg River is considered convenients as the river is near the road. After you get off a car you can get on a raft promptly, and when you get out of a raft you can get on a car or bus conveniently as well. No need to walk like going to other places.

Rafting on Kaeng Hin Phoeng
This is another stretch of river in Khao Yai National Park noted for its wild beauty. The water is especially challenging in the rainy season months of June to October, and it is a favourite place for whitewater rafting. The passage along this stretch of the river will take three hours or more.


River grading


LEVELS OF DIFFICULTY

Level 1 : Simple, easy rapids.
Level 2 : Simple rapids, but requiring some skill in manoeuvring the raft around obstacles and rocks.
Level 3 : Moderate rapids where rafting becomes exciting. It is necessary to hold on at times to stay in control of the raft.
Level 4 : Difficult rapids with continuous need to manoeuvre and control raft al all times. Very exciting rafting.
Level 5 : This level of whitewater is the uppermost limit to rafting. The river is wild, with a rapid current and difficult rapids, usually very steep.
Level 6 : Extremely difficult rapids, dangerous for rafting. 


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