With around 30% of forested area, more than 150 National Parks and a lot of spectacular mountains, Thailand is an amazing destination for trekking enthusiasts. With endless options, from easy walks to multi-day treks, everyone should go hiking in Thailand.
The climate of Thailand is generally hot and humid, something that initially is not ideal for practicing outdoor sports. But in reality, many of the best areas for trekking are in mountainous regions of a certain altitude, where the heat is much more moderate and can even get quite cool. It is not uncommon for tourists who visit Doi Inthanon National Park, where the highest peak in Thailand is located, to end up catching a cold!
The main mountainous region of Thailand is the north, from where the mountains extend south along the western border with Myanmar to the Malay Peninsula. Treks in these mountainous regions offer spectacular mountain landscapes, trails through jungles with lush tropical vegetation, bamboo forests, mountain rice fields, rivers, caves and waterfalls.
One of the most rewarding experiences of hiking in Thailand, specially in the mountains of the north, goes much beyond the natural environment. It is the opportunity to meet people from the ethnic minorities that inhabit the mountain villages. Nothing better than a multi-day trek, sleeping in a local house and sharing time with the locals -even if only for a few hours- to learn a little about their traditional lifestyle.
But hiking in Thailand is not exlusive to the north of the country: all over Thailand there are hundreds of protected natural areas where you can do everything from short and easy hikes to demanding multi-day treks. And although many travelers are unaware of it, as we will tell you later, even within Bangkok it is possible to hike in a green environment!
Here we propose our selection of 10 of the best trekkings in Thailand. Among the infinite existing options, our choice is based on having appropriate options for the maximum number of travelers. For this reason, these 8 treks are geographically distributed in all the areas that most travelers include on their route through Thailand (as well as some more remote ones), and include options of all levels of difficulty. From easy walks on flat terrain that can hardly be described as treks, to difficult ascents (that do not require climbing) to some of the main peaks of Thailand. Whatever you choose, don’t miss hiking in Thailand.
During your trip to Thailand, do not miss the opportunity to put on some good hiking boots and explore one of its many areas of overflowing nature.
Trekking in Chiang Rai: Ban Ruam Mit
The region on the north bank of the Kok River about 20 km northwest of Chiang Rai city offers one of the best trekking opportunities in northern Thailand. The treks in that region offer few open landscapes, but instead they are an excellent option to walk through authentic jungle and visit hilltribe villages of the Akha, Lisu and Lahu without having to travel to remote regions. To do this 2-day trek you need to be accompanied by a local guide. In addition, this trekking has the added virtue of being organized by the local hilltribe communities, so that the benefit of the activity reverts directly to them. You can book this trek with us, just get in touch.
- Distance: varies depending on the route.
- Duration: 2 days, adaptable walking time.
- Difficulty: medium-low.
Hiking in Chiang Mai: to the Top of Doi Suthep
Mount Doi Suthep rises immediately to the west of Chiang Mai city, and on top of it there is one of the most revered monasteries in northern Thailand, the beautiful Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, which every traveler to northern Thailand should visit. And which better way to reach it than by following the mountain trails that pilgrims traditionally used to get to the monastery? The trail starts near Chiang Mai Zoo, passes the peaceful Wat Pha Lat temple, next to which there is a small waterfall, and continues up a path (sometimes quite steep but easy) through the forest. At the end of the hike the traveler is rewarded with a splendid monastery full of Buddhist statues and monuments, with a beautiful central cloister and a viewpoint overlooking all of Chiang Mai and its surroundings.
- Distance: 6 km
- Duration: 2-3 hours
- Difficulty: easy
Trekking in Northern Thailand: Doi Luang Chiang Dao
Doi Luang Chiang Dao trek is one of the most beautiful hikes that can be done in Thailand, through the Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary, an area of spectacular limestone mountains covered with dense tropical vegetation. In this sanctuary is the third highest peak in Thailand, Doi Chiang Dao (2,225 m), which literally means “mountain of the city of stars.” The best time to do this trek, which must be done with a local guide, is from November to February. At this time there is no rain and the terrain is dry, so the hike can be done in a single day if you start early in the morning and are in reasonably good shape.
- Distance: 10.5 km
- Duration: 8 hours
- Difficulty: medium
Trekking in Doi Inthanon: Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail
This circular trail, at about 2,200 meters above sea level, is one of the highest altitude walks that can be done in Thailand. It is located just a few hundred meters from the highest peak in Thailand: Mount Doi Inthanon (2,565 m), within the National Park of the same name. On clear days Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail offers some of the best panoramic mountain views to be seen in Thailand. The hike has three sections. The first is a dense and humid evergreen forest, the second goes across the mountainside through an open meadow with spectacular views, and the third goes back into the forest. This trail is only open from November to May, and it is mandatory to hire an accompanying guide.
- Distance: 3 km
- Duration: 2 hours
- Difficulty: easy
Hiking to the top of Phu Kradueng (Loei)
The ascent of Phu Kradueng plateau, with a maximum altitude of 1,316 meters, is one of the most popular mountain experiences among Thais, but little known to foreigners. Phu Kradueng National Park is located in Loei province, relatively close to the Laos border. Despite being very steep, bringing a guide is completely unnecessary, since the right path is impossible to miss. The climb is completed in about 3 hours, but the summit should not be the final goal of this hike. The plateau covers an area of over 60 km2, and it is well worth extending the walk (or renting a bike) to explore the spectacular views from the surrounding cliffs, especially Lom Sak cliff. Virtually everyone chooses to spend at least one night sleeping in the camping area (there are bungalows and tents) at the top of the plateau.
- Distance: 9.5 km
- Duration: 5-6 hours round trip to the top
- Difficulty: medium
Hiking near Bangkok: Khao Yai National Park
Khao Yai National Park, just 3 hours northeast of Bangkok, was the first national park in Thailand and is the third largest in the country. In its mountainous jungle terrain, furrowed by rivers and waterfalls, there are more than 3,000 species of plants and trees, and a great variety of wild animals, including elephants. One of the best ways to get to know Khao Yai is by walking some of its dozen authorized hiking trails, which have different levels of difficulty and durations. From short walks of less than an hour on flat terrain to hikes on steep trails within the jungle that can last a whole day. Thus, it offers a great variety of alternatives for all audiences.
- Distance: from 1 km to 8, or more
- Duration: 45 minutes to a whole day
- Difficulty: different options: easy / medium / difficult
Blue plunge pools in Erawan National Park (Kanchanaburi)
The Erawan National Park in Kanchanaburi is one of the most touristic in the country thanks to the beauty of its natural pools. There are 7 levels of water pools where we can swim. From the beginning, at level 1, to the end, level 7, there are about 2 km. To go through them, better wear comfortable shoes that can get wet. At the last level we find the largest waterfall, the Erawan waterfall.
- Distance: 2 km
- Duration: 1 hours
- Difficulty: low
Hiking in Hua Hin in Search of a Cave
To the south of Hua Hin, inside the Sam Rot Yod park, we find a magical, spectacular place, where many international tourists do not usually go. This is the great Phraya Nakhon cave that has a small altar illuminated by a large hole in the ceiling of the cave. The hole allows light to enter, illuminating the altar and allowing the photosynthesis of the vegetation that grows on it. In addition, the beach from which the cave is accessed is one of the best in that province: Laem Sala Beach. To get to the cave you can park your car on Bang Pu beach and from there you have about 3 km to the cave.
- Distance: 3 km
- Duration: 1 hour
- Difficulty: low-medium
Tab Kak Hang Nak Hill Loop on Koh Chang Island
Koh Chang Island is one of the largest and most mountainous in Thailand. It is located to the east of Bangkok, near the border with Cambodia, and has many beautiful beaches and a mountainous center of with peaks of up to 743 meters. This makes the interior of the island practically virgin. Thus the Koh Chang jungle is ideal for hiking and contains a great flora and fauna. One of the best hikes there is the Tab Kak Hang Nak Hill Loop. Better hire a guide like MR TAN (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you want to have it easier.
- Distance: 10 km
- Duration: 6 hours
- Difficulty: medium
Hiking to the top of Krabi: Dragon Crest
The starting point of this hike, which can be done on your own, is immediately north of Tub Kaek Beach, about 16 km (half an hour) northwest of Ao Nang (Krabi). The path to the top is well marked, and despite having a medium-high level of difficulty, especially due to the steepness of the middle section, and because it requires a bit of climbing, it is affordable for anyone in good shape. Both the viewpoints along the way and on the mountaintop, at around 500 meters altitude, offer truly spectacular views of the Andaman Sea, Phang Nga Bay and the surrounding jungle-covered limestone mountains. Have a look at our article about the Dragon Crest hike in Krabi.
- Distance: 7 km
- Duration: 4 hours
- Difficulty: medium-high
📋 What to bring for your trek in Thailand
- Good footwear. Footwear is the most important element of the trekking equipment. The most fundamental aspect is having a very good grip to avoid slipping, especially during the rainy season, since the combination of a muddy soil and abundant leaves make the ground especially slippery.
- Water. You should carry a generous amount of water, much more than in other latitudes. The physical effort of trekking, combined with the heat and humidity of the Thai climate, make it essential to hydrate often while hiking in Thailand.
- Food. In addition to bringing food for your meals, it is not a bad idea to carry snacks such as nuts, fresh fruit or energy bars.
- Protection against the sun. Even on cloudy days the tropical sun hits hard, so it is highly recommended to use sunscreen and wear a hat and sunglasses while hiking in Thailand.
- Raincoat. A must during the rainy season, which in most of Thailand is mostly between May and October.
- Insect repellent. You can buy it in any of the 7Eleven you’ll find in every corner through all the towns and cities of Thailand.
- Protection against leeches. Although they are quite unpredictable, in the rainy season it is very common to find leeches in the mountains … or rather that they find you! Do not worry much about it, since they neither hurt nor transmit diseases, but it is not a bad idea to wear long anti-leech socks.
- Trekking poles. They are always a good help when hiking in Thailand, although it is not essential to bring them, and less considering that any local guide in Thailand, will machete out a walking stick of the first bamboo cane he finds along the way.
- Appropriate clothing. In general, it is best to wear light cotton clothing for hiking in Thailand, with long sleeves and long pants for greater protection against insect bites.
- First aid kit. It is a good idea to carry a kit with the basic equipment to deal with the most common mishaps, such as cuts, bruises or sprains.
- Mobile phone. Nowadays, perhaps it would not even be necessary to mention it, since few people even go to the bathroom without it, but carrying a mobile phone offers a lot of benefits during trekking. Besides taking photos, it mainly allows you to see your current location on a map -ideal so as not to get lost- and to be able to call for help in an emergency.
- Flashlight. Essential for multi-day treks in which you sleep in the middle of nature or in a local village, or if you visit a cave during the route.
- Travel insurance. If you plan to do a real trek, with a certain level of difficulty and therefore a certain risk, it is advisable to have a travel insurance. But make sure it covers adventure activities, since many insurances do not.