Thailand is best known for its southern beaches and nightlife, and many visitors spend their days lazing on the beach before hitting the bars and discos. But those seeking more exciting pastimes are also well catered for, with a wide variety of adventure activities ranging from trekking and bamboo rafting to more heart stopping wild water rafting or even bungee jumping.
Away from the beaches, the southern islands offer sea kayaking and game fishing. Koh Samui, Krabi and Phuket are ideal bases for organizing sea canoeing or kayaking trips, with lots of operators offering tours lasting from one to several days. Highlights include caves only reachable by sea and hidden lagoons where you can swim and camp overnight.
Those who want to put their hunting skills to the test can do worse than going game fishing in the Andaman Sea off Phuket. Here you can catch a wide variety of fish, including sailfish, tooth tuna and swordfish. Day outings, night fishing or trips lasting many days can easily be organized from here. Be aware that all catchments must be released back into the sea immediately.
Land rats are advised to head north, where the city of Chiang Mai is a prime base for embarking on adventure trips. Trekking is the most popular choice here and tourists have enjoyed more or less arduous treks to hill tribe villages for several decades now.
Treks can last from one day to a week, and the most important factor when deciding on which company to choose is to ask fellow travelers who have just returned from a trek. Most tours involve a few hours of walking a day, and elephant riding, bamboo rafting and overnight stays in mountain villages are the main highlights.
Splashing fun can be found on the many rivers in the north, where river rafting in inflatable boats is becoming increasingly popular. The Pai River in Mae Hong Son Province offers abundant birdlife and swimming monkeys. The Nam Wa near Nan has welcomed rafters longer than any other waterway in Thailand and boasts some of the wildest rapids. Near Chiang Mai is the Mae Cham River, perfect for day outings. The best time for rafting is from mid-June to end of January, when the water levels are not too high or too low.
Do not miss out on caving, one of the highlights in the northern provinces. Pang Mapha district between Pai and Mae Hong Son offers some of Asia's most spectacular cave networks. Many of these were first explored by the Australian owner of Cave Lodge, the ideal base for spelunking. Here you can hire experienced guides to lead you through the less known caves, or just get a map and set off on your own to explore on of the many caves easily explored without a guide.
If you want to really mix it up, the Mae Sa Valley is an adventurer's paradise. Just 20kms outside of Chiang Mai, bungee jumping, paint-balling, archery, ATV riding and archery are all available here within a few kilometers of each other. There is no shortage of adventure for fun seekers in Thailand.