Thailand is one of my favourite countries. It’s one of those very few places where I feel different in a very good way. I feel more at home, excited, curious and engaged. Whenever I get the very common question, “Kristen, where I should I travel?” Thailand is almost always mentioned (of course there are many deciding factors that go into answering that question for each individual). For many travellers I’ve met, learning about a “touristy destination” is a good enough reason for them to never visit a place. While Thailand is one of the most visited destinations in the world, it’s still as magical as ever; and you still can get off the beaten path if you choose too.
For me, Thailand is one of the very few places I can see myself living one day and for a long period of time. The people are incredibly hospitable with their inviting smiles and loving demeanour. The food will kick your tastebuds into overdrive with the intense flavours and textures. The landscapes will look like paintings of places that only exist in your dreams. I could go on…
One of the other great things about Thailand, is it caters to every budget. You can stay in a very simple beach front hut for $2 a night or a luxurious ocean view villa for $300 a night. Both are excellent options which I have experienced. What you choose will depend on the type of experience you want and budget you have to work with. Thailand is also an incredible travel destination for every kind of traveller. Whether you are the eater, relaxr, partier or active one, this South East Asian country can offer you the type of experience you’re looking for.
In collaboration with GoPro, Adidas and Tourism Thailand, myself and 3 other YouTube creators spent ten days in the north and south of Thailand experiencing the most incredible activities Thailand has to offer for the #ThaiFitChallenge. In the above video and photos below, I share the most amazing active adventures you can have in the country for those wanting a combination of adventure, fitness and culture.
10. Spend the Day at Patara Elephant Farm
Elephant tourism in Thailand is a huge problem. Where there are so many places that do no treat the elephants well, the are few organizations in the country doing food for abused or injured elephants. Patara Elephant Farm is one of the places that believe in the 4 R’s: Rescue, Recovery, Reproduction and Reintroduction. Here, you can spend the day learning about the elephants as well as feed, bathe and walk with them.
*Note: When you go to the Patara website, your first concern may be of the photos of people riding the elephants. Keep in mind that you can choose to ride the elephants if you wish, but it’s only a small part of the “spend the day with an elephant” program. Also, you would be riding the elephant bareback in a way that does not hurt them. Many places in Thailand where you can ride the elephants use these wooden or metal cages strapped to the back of the elephant which is very uncomfortable for them. Also, the Mahout’s at Patara only guide the elephants by verbally commanding them and do not use any weapons that I’ve seen other places use.
9. Go Zip-lining in Chiang Mai
If you want to fly like a bird over Chiang Mai, zip-lining may be the closest way to do it. It’s also a great way to cool off on a typical hot day in Thailand.
8. Get Wet Rafting
Even when the water level is low, rafting in Chiang Mai is fun. The rapids may not be crazy enough to through you out of the boat but the kids who will splash you along the way will make up for it.
7. Hike on Hong Island
While I wouldn’t really consider this 5 minute intense incline up a steep cliff too much of a hike, the view is incredibly rewarding regardless.
6. Kick Butt at Muay Thai
Muay Thai is the national sport and cultural Marital Art of Thailand dating back to several hundreds of years. Referred to as “The Art of Eight Limbs,” using eight points of contact, the body mimics weapons of war. I got a lesson in this combat sport at K.Y.N Gym on Koh Yao Noi by a ten times boxing and Muay Thai Champion, along with his team of experts. This kick ass experience cannot be missed when you’re on your active adventure in Thailand.
5. Learn How to Cook Thai Food
If you really want to bring home a souvenir your friends and family that they won’t stop talking about, make them a traditional Thai meal that you learned to make in Thailand. You can learn how to make delicious Thai food with Chef Yao at Ani Villas Resort on the island of Koh Yao Noi.
4. Explore by Bike
A great way to explore a new place is by bike. Not only do you get a workout, but it gives you a much more connected experience to the places your exploring than say a car would. You can also pull over easily at any time to enjoy a view or find your way down paths that motorized vehicles wouldn’t allow you. You can find bike rental places around Thailand or even see if where you’re staying offers bikes to guests. Luckily, while staying at Avi Villas on Koh Yao Noi, the resort had bikes for guests to use.
3. Snorkel off of Tachai Island
Mainland Thailand is pretty spectacular, but there’s also a whole underwater world you have to explore. There are countless top areas to go snorkelling in the south of Thailand. One of those places is just off of Tachai Island. You can either hire a boat for a couple of hours or make it part of a day tour. The best time to go is in the early morning or during lunch hours as this will better your chances for being the only snorkeler in the area. This means more chances of seeing fish and less chances of bumping into a pair of flippers that belong to other travellers.
2. Experience Rock-Climbing at Railay Beach
If you want to test your limits and really get your fitness on, rock climbing on Railay Beach is a must! I had never gone rock climbing outdoors before, but after climbing with King Climbers I’m hooked and can’t wait to do it again.
1. Swim Through the Emerald Cave
I’ve always wanted to discover one of those hidden rooms that are located behind a book shelf in an old mansion. But, instead what if you discovered a cave that led to a hidden beach surrounded by turquoise water and lush plants and trees? Well, this is possible my friends, and it’s possible near Koh Mook (close to Trang). This hidden paradise is called the Emerald Cave.
Which of these active adventures do you want to try the most?
Kristen Sarah is a full-time traveller, tiny home owner and adventure junkie. She has one of the leading YouTube travel channels and is the head honcha of award-winning travel and lifestyle website, Hopscotch the Globe.