We’ve rounded up a selection of the finest ways for you to explore Thailand’s tropical jungles
Trekking in Thailand’s tropical forests is an ideal way to get close to nature
In addition to their sublime beaches and enticing seas, the tropical interiors of Thailand’s most famous islands, like Phuket and Koh Samui, are ripe with opportunities for exploration. In addition to the abundance of flora, island jungles are home to an array of intriguing species, from striking colourful birds of paradise to adorable gibbons.
Visitors keen to delve deeper into Thailand’s fascinating forests have a choice of exploration options, ranging from exhilarating ATV (all terrain vehicle) tours to thrilling canopy adventures.
Of course, the array of activities available will depend largely on where you’re based. Koh Samui and Phuket both offer a plethora of superb, unspoilt landscapes to explore.
We take a look at the best options for visitors that want a walk on the wild side.
Off-road jeep tours are sure to get your adrenaline pumping
Ever wondered why so many people take boat taxis around islands like Koh Samui and Phuket, rather than simply taking a ‘short cut’ across through the forested interiors? If you are keen to find out, book onto a jeep tour. These white-knuckle rides show visitors a different side to the islands – one that’s a world away from the beaches and high-end resorts. It’s likely that an interior tour will take you off-road, far from the beaten track, in order to take in hidden pockets of tropical forest. As your vehicle heads through the jungle and up jaw-droppingly steep inclines, you’ll begin to understand why it’s not possible for a normal car to tackle this kind of terrain. Between climbs up rocky, mountainside paths, you’ll be treated to incredible views of the forest and ocean beyond. It is possible to hire a four-wheel drive vehicle and explore independently, but if you’re going off-road it’s always advisable to have a guide present, or a driver that knows their way around.
Fun on two wheels
A cycling tour of Phuket or Koh Samui will give you a chance to get off the beaten track
Just as kayaking is an eco-friendly way of exploring Thailand’s seas, cycling offers a green way of exploring inland treasures. Bicycle tours are an excellent choice for those who want to stay active whilst on holiday and combat the effect of too many creamy curries. Perhaps the main attraction of a cycling tour, however, is that you get to discover Thailand’s islands from a whole new perspective. A typical cycling route through Phuket or Koh Samui will take in an array of diverse landscapes, from emerald green forests to palm plantations and quaint local villages, many untouched by tourism. While a bicycle tour is unlikely to take you deep into the jungle, where the terrain would simply be too fierce to tackle with an unmotorized vehicle, you’ll certainly get a stunning taste of the lush interior landscape and fascinating habitats. Tours will also wind past endless shimmering ocean vistas, so make sure you have a camera in your backpack.
Wind in your hair
Zoom through Thailand’s tropical forest on the back of an ATV
If you like four-wheel drive tours but would rather drive yourself, then an ATV ride through the jungle could be a thrilling alternative adventure. You can zoom off road along bumpy jungle tracks, across rivers and through coconut plantations. Phuket and Koh Samui offer a selection of ATV centres, and in addition to navigating jungle terrain, your tour is also likely to whip through Thai villages, far from the beaten tourist track. Your guide will definitely give you the opportunity to stop from time to time, in order to grab action shots of your ATV adventure. X-Squad and Quadrophenia ATV are two places to go on Koh Samui, or head to Phuket ATV Company if you’re staying on Phuket. These centres typically offer a choice of different ATV models, depending on the speed you like to travel.
Don’t look down
Soar through the forest canopy to see things from a different perspective
A canopy adventure on Phuket or Koh Samui offers a stunning snapshot of life from a bird’s point of view – providing you’re not afraid of heights. Both islands boast their own treetop jungle expeditions, either at Canopy Adventures on Samui or the Flying Hanuman Centre in Phuket. At each of these centres you have the chance to sample what life is like for the creatures that inhabit the jungle treetops. The courses comprise an array of wooden slat bridges and treetop platforms, all of which are inter-connected by long ziplines – perfect for those in search of an adrenaline-charged thrill. Exploring Thailand’s spectacular forests in this way also offers the chance to interact with the wildlife from a completely different perspective. If you’re lucky, you might be able to spot a tropical bird or even a monkey from your lofty vantage point.
Samui’s Hin Lad waterfall is within a tranquil forest temple complex
If you’re exploring the lush green forests of Koh Samui, it’s worth checking out the two Namuang waterfalls. The falls boast impressive drops of 20m and 80m, and are situated approximately 12km from Nathon Bay. For more of a secluded, peaceful waterfall experience, head to Hin Lad Waterfall Temple. Both are marvellous spots to absorb Koh Samui’s natural beauty, although you should make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes if you plan on making the journey up to the impressive torrents. Over in Phuket, Bang Pae is one of the most popular cascades. Nestled within the Khao Phra Thaeo National Park just north of Phuket Town, Bang Pae is a popular spot with locals keen to take a refreshing dip in the water.
If you’re heading on a trek to one of Thailand’s glorious jungle waterfalls, follow our tips:
- Make sure you’ve got a full bottle of water handy if you’re heading on a jungle hike. It’s easy to get dehydrated due to the physical exertion of the trek.
- Invest in some decent hiking shoes if you’re going to be facing the uneven jungle terrain on a trek. Don’t try to tackle a jungle trek in flip flops.
- In addition to some water and snacks, pack a towel and spare change of clothes in your backpack. You’ll want some dry clothes to change into if you decide to take a dip in one of the refreshing waterfall rock pools.