A Walk on the Wild Side

Adventure Travel, Leisure

Lazing on a beach or relaxing with feet up in a resort is most people’s idea of an ideal holiday, but for those who prefer to walk on the wild side, here’s a selection of some of Thailand’s most adrenalin-pumping active adventures

The High Life

Thailand looks beautiful from the air, behind the safety of an airliner window. But how about looking at it from 13,000 feet while plunging 120 miles per hour in a wind-whipped exhilarating freefall? That’s what Thai Sky Adventures near Pattaya offers brave customers who flock there to experience one of life’s most memorable thrills.

The easiest and safest way to make the big leap is by Tandem Skydive; strapped to a highly-experienced instructor in a dual harness parachute designed for two. Safety is paramount and there’s pre-flight instruction on equipment, aircraft exit, body position, canopy and landing techniques.

The adventure begins with a 20-minute flight before the heart-stopping leap – followed by screamingly-exciting and grin-inducing freefall, parachute opening and a wonderfully scenic ride above Pattaya and the Gulf of Thailand of up to seven minutes, before landing back on terra firma.

There’s a variety of cost packages with options for photo and video souvenirs of your experience, as well as transport and accommodation. And if that taste of the high life leaves you gasping for more, Thai Sky Adventures also provides courses for solo jumpers to gain United States Parachute Association licences.

thaiskyadventures.com

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On Two Wheels

Exploring the highways and byways of rural Thailand gets up close and personal with Phuket-based Siam Bike Tours.

Their choice of tours across some of the country’s most spectacular landscapes takes riders to the heart of Thailand’s culture – with healthy cycling exercise all the way.

Wherever the location, each tour involves experiencing Thai culture, sightseeing, and meeting local people.

The tours are planned by experienced cyclist Martin Brot and his Siam Bike Tours team to traverse smooth routes through rich and diverse tropical landscapes. Daily stages are achievable for fit cyclists of any age – although anyone feeling tired can finish the stage in the tour minibus.

Each tour is for up to 30 riders, with speeds and breaks decided by the group. Most participants are cyclists who bring their own bike and riding gear, but these can be rented – and everyone gets an eye-catching Siam Bike Tours cycling jersey.

Tour choices include Bangkok to Phuket in 10 days along the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea; and Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son and back in 11 days, through jungles and mountain passes to the top of Doi Inthanon, Thailand’s highest mountain.

siambiketours.com

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Taking the Waters

White-water rafting on northern Thailand’s Pai River is a white-knuckle, back-to-nature challenge on roaring, tumbling rapids surrounded by wild jungle.

Thai Adventure Rafting organises rafting expeditions on a rocky stretch of this river, deep in the inaccessible jungle of the Himalayan foothills, a short flight from Chiang Mai.

With as many as 60 challenging rapids along this stretch, it’s one of the most exciting rafting locations in the world.

Expeditions start from Pai, a village nestled in a peaceful valley, and end nearly 70 miles away at Mae Hong Son, the romantic Shan city close to the Burmese border and famous Karen Long Necks villages.

Adventurers stay overnight in a jungle camp – and there’s more harmony with nature through opportunities to discover hot springs, swim in gorges, shower under waterfalls, and see colourful birds and other wild animals in their natural environment.

Thai Adventure Rafting was the first rafting company in Thailand and has 30 years of experience in staging these thrilling adventures in its sturdy rubber boats, controlled by English-speaking captains trained to international safety levels.

As a bonus, these local captains are delighted to share their knowledge of fascinating Mae Hong Son province.

thairafting.com

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Sea-Borne Eco Adventures

John Gray Sea Canoe is legendary for its ecologically-sound kayaking adventures in the stunning island-studded waters and lagoons of Phang Nga Bay to the east of Phuket.

Led by the charismatic John Gray, it offers a smorgasbord of kayaking expeditions, all one-of-a-kind and backed by eco credentials.

There are jaw-dropping adventures inside the limestone karst outcrops that loom out of the Bay – exploring their cathedral-like interiors by kayak, even at night.

Or experience an overnight stay on a secluded island, with only fellow travellers, tour guides, glowing plankton and an amazing star-filled sky for company. These adventures can extend into the nearby Khao Sok and Tarutao National Parks, to broaden the close encounters with nature in all its glory.

Respect for nature and health awareness is a big part of the meals provided on expeditions, which all feature chemical-free vegetables, free-range chicken and net-caught fish.

Literally a feast for both the senses and the appetite, these sea-borne expeditions are a must-do for anyone with a yen to explore and appreciate an aspect of Thailand that’s far off the beaten track, but with a real relevance to modern life.

johngray-seacanoe.com

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Jungle Fever

Lush jungles, mountain landscapes and remote hill tribes are waiting to be explored in northern Thailand – a wild region that’s pure heaven for adventure-seekers.

Active Thailand has years of experience in organising tailor-made explorations here, with Chiang Mai the perfect starting-point for its portfolio of fascinating trekking trips into the jungles and mountain landscapes.

Led by experienced English-speaking guides, these treks focus on discovering the natural beauty of the wilderness, and can also involve overnight stays with hill tribe communities for an authentic and unforgettable experience of this glorious region.

Areas to be explored here include forested and scenic Mae Tang Valley and Chiang Dao, Doi Inthanon National Park, and the rugged Umphang valley. There’s also trekking choices further afield in Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son.

And if all that whets the appetite for more energetic discoveries in the wilds of northern or central Thailand, there’s also Active Thailand’s off-road cycling, river rafting and kayaking adventures.

activethailand.com

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