Some of the best nature spots in the world can be found in Thailand. While most tourists visit this country for access to pristine beaches, some jaw-dropping jungle hikes can be found throughout the country.
We’ll highlight the best beach hikes, jungle hikes, and cultural hikes found in Thailand. There are a wide array of options available for adventure-bound tourists – whether they prefer the most popular treks, off-the-grid hikes in isolation, or easy marches to gorgeous viewpoints.
While the most popular trails in Thailand are found in the Northern half of the country (near Chiang Mai), there’s no shortage of outdoor adventure to be had in the country’s Southern half. No matter what area you’re visiting in Thailand, this list will cover a few hikes near you.
Tab Kak Hang Nak Nature Trail
Ao Nang and Krabi are known for beautiful karst formations that jet out of an otherwise flat landscape. The Tab Kak Hang Nak overview only takes 2 hours to reach and offers a sight unparalleled to any other in a region filled with great lots of great overviews.
The name literally translates to Dragon’s Crest. Railay Beach, Princess Cave, and Tiger Temple are all nearby nature attractions that attract visitors. Hang Nak offers a giant vista that demonstrates just how expansive this area truly is. In one view, you can see a huge swath of the Andaman sea, mountains, and acres of rubber/coconut plantations.
This part of Ao Nang is known for intense heat and humidity so expect to pour buckets by the time you reach the summit. It’s a cruel twist of fate that you’ll take a picture in front of this vista while your sweat makes you look like you just jumped into a pool. This seems like a good opportunity to mention that you should absolutely bring water (2 liters per person).
There are guards at the entrance of this hike. You will need to write your name and time of entry on an official sign-in sheet. This is a safety precaution to ensure that everybody who embarks upon the hike comes back down successfully. Justifiably so – this is not a good hike for children or pregnant women.
The hike to reach this viewpoint is said to be of medium-hard difficulty so expect a challenge. You’ll notice a few charming waterfalls on your trek up the mountain. The 2.3-mile hike involves a steep gradient halfway through the expedition however, the rest is easily manageable. The breathtaking view from the highest point of the mountain will certainly justify your journey.
Doi Chiang Dao
Doi Chiang Dao offers the prettiest views in all of Thailand. This trek is not for the faint of heart and it’s recommended that new hikers hire a local guide to avoid getting lost. This mountain range lies North of Chiang Mai and East of Pai.
Whether you hitchhike, grab a songthaew, or ride your own motorbike to reach the trailhead, be prepared for roads that aren’t very well maintained. The park’s office is a short drive from the town of Chiang Dao – this is where you can inquire about the journey and, pay park fees, etc. When you arrive, you’ll have a short walk to a temple that houses especially friendly monks who double as great conversationalists.
The hike itself is something of a scramble. After all, it is the third tallest peak in Thailand. If you start early in the day and are an experienced hiker, you should be able to complete the journey before the sun sets. Those who wish to take their time can camp overnight here. Make sure to pack food and water.
The trail can get quite muddy during the wet season. Wear hiking shoes to traverse this unmanaged trail. The rock formations at the top are quite a steep scramble but the views from the peak are unparalleled. Many outdoorsmen boast that despite only being third in terms of height, this mountain range surely offers the best views.
Kew Mae Pan
If you’re near Chiang Mai and want to get outdoors, this is the perfect place to do so. Also known as ‘The Roof of Thailand’, this viewpoint shows off the country’s rolling green hillsides beneath the mist of the clouds. It’s only a few football fields shorter than the highest mountain in Thailand.
The difference between Kew Mae Pan and the tallest mountain in Thailand are worlds apart. This hike is quite simple and geared towards hikers of all ages and sizes. The path to reach the lookout point is an easy 1.6-mile loop. There are plenty of spots along the way that will command your attention and make you stop in your tracks – so that 1.6mile loop comes with a lot of stops.
The most commonly loved feature of this hike has to be the clouds. As you reach the top, you’ll become inundated with clouds around you. While at the top, you’ll be lucky if you can see the ground beneath the thick layering of clouds. Be careful during this point as this happens to coincide with the narrow part of the path on the ridge of the mountain.
Kew Mae Pan is located about an hour and a half from Chiang Mai. It’s located near The Great Holy Relics Pagoda. Locals call this ‘Nabhapolbhumisiri’ which is a very easy and simple word to pronounce. It’s only you to blame if you can’t pronounce it after your first attempt.
The hike is filled with informative signs along the way. These markings do a great job explaining some of the features, local fauna, and natural happenings in the area. They’re available in multiple languages and a feature that not many other parks in Thailand offer.
This hike is consistently ranked as one of the most memorable outdoor attractions by the few visitors that explore this region. This city is positioned almost exactly between Bangkok and Chiang Mai. The trek to the top of this mountain will be a highlight of your trip but most tourists are blown away by the animals that live here.
If you’ve been in Thailand for a few weeks, you’ve likely seen your fair share of monkeys. You’re probably accustomed to the behavioral rules one should follow when in close proximity to these sneaky little devils. At first sight, you’ll be wow’ing and aww’ing – then when you get too close, they attack you or steal whatever is in your hands.
At Khao No, there are thousands of monkeys that reside at the foot of this limestone, karst mountain. The baby monkeys are adorable and people are selling baskets of chopped bananas for tourists to disperse to these crowds of macaques. You’ll convince yourself it’s safe to play with them – maybe things will go differently for you?
These monkeys are actually somewhat trained by locals so their behavior is certainly more polite than other monkeys found in tourist-prone areas. If you’ve taken a rental car to this city, be careful. The monkeys have a tendency to jump on the cars and leave scratches that will surely cause Hertz to fine you.
This small cluster of mountains is still a remote destination in Thailand. Very few people seek this destination out exclusively. If you do pass by Nakhon Sawan on your route to Chiang Mai, you must spend a night here. There’s an event that occurs here every night akin to a National Geographic feature.
Every night at dawn and an hour before sunset, millions of bats pour out of the Khao No caves in what seems like a giant stream of ribbon flowing with the wind. This nightly ritual will leave you speechless if seen from the top of this oddly shaped mountain. The bats are a regional tourist highlight in what is otherwise exclusively farmland for miles and miles.
The Khao No hike itself is an odd combination of terrifying and simple. Most people are scared of the steep climb. The stairway that leads you to the peak doesn’t leave a lot of room for error. Don’t fret if you’re not in the best shape as there are plenty of rest stops along the way. A metal ladder at the top will take you to the best viewpoints.
If you’re scared of heights, we recommend you sit this one out. We recommend embarking on this journey in the early morning. As the temperatures rise, the stair’s handrail can become painfully hot. If the handrail is too hot to touch, you’re in for a troublesome journey.
Khao No is a small and spectacular mountain range in what it otherwise flat farmland. We highly recommend you try this if you’re in the area, especially because there isn’t a ton else for tourists to do in this region of Thailand.
Khao Jang Phoeak
Khao Jang Phoeak sits on the Western border near Myanmar. It is one of Thailand’s more challenging hikes. The name of this mountain is extremely fitting and translates loosely to ‘sharp mountain ridge’.
This name might instill a small sense of fear and justifiably so. In 2017, a woman fell off the narrow ridge portion of this hike and landed 60 feet below. The local government closed the park for a long period of time after the incident. It is advised to avoid this hike during periods of rain as the mud can make the endeavor quite dangerous.
For those who appreciate the intensity of a harder and more dangerous hike, this is definitely the spot for you. They limit the number of people who can embark on this journey so it’s crucial that you reserve your place before driving to this rural part of Thailand.
You can climb to the top of this mountain but will find a small trail that takes you to the very peak. The vistas aren’t drastically different so if you’re nervous about going the last leg of the journey, don’t feel guilty about saying ‘no’ to a steep and narrow climb.
The view from the top is stunning. It’s well worth the $6 entry fee and a 6-hour drive from Bangkok. We highly recommend this adventure near the Burmese border. It’s challenging, fulfilling, and even downright scary at points.
Khao Daeng Viewpoint
If you’re staying in Hua Hin, this is a perfect jungle getaway from the oh so tiring beach life. It only takes an hour to reach the viewpoint. This shows a more humbling view of the karst landscape that sits behind a stretch of rough Thai beach.
There are a lot of rice terraces below this small mountain. In this distance, you’ll be able to see shrimp farms near the gulf. We recommend renting a scooter to zip around this pretty area. It only costs around $6 USD to enter the park.
Hua Hin and the surrounding area act as a vacation retreat for many of Thai’s upper-middle class. This region is quite authentically Thai and rather untouched by tourism like many other parts of this country. It’s a treat to experience a vista like this without the large crowd.
This area is often referred to as one of the most remote destinations in Thailand. Halfway between Chiang Mai and Bangkok, most people only venture to these parts for a bathroom break on a long drive. They’re incredibly wrong for doing so as this valley offers one of the most interesting cultures alive and thriving today.
Umphang is a popular destination for Thai people but most foreign tourists skip this area. We recommend staying in the region for a few days. Take an overnight trek to the Thi Lo Su waterfalls and reach a place where your cell phone surely won’t work.
We highly recommend reaching the nearby Karen village. The women of the Karen tribe wear gold rings (brass coils) around their necks to elongate their length over time. As these women age, they add to the number of rings they wear.
Much speculation exists about the reasoning and rationale behind this cultural oddity. It’s been theorized that the rings protected women from becoming slaves, as other invading tribes would find them to be less attractive. Others have theorized that this protects from tiger bites and hold mainly symbolic meaning.
There have also been beliefs regarding the intentional exaggeration of differences between men and women. If men in the community find slender necks to be a sign of beauty, then they push for a culture that incentivizes longer necks. The woman with the longest neck would then be seen as the prettiest in the community.
The real answer to this question can only be found by asking these women. Most Karen women say that their purpose lies in cultural identity and their beliefs about beauty.
It’s quite a hike to reach these remote villages. The area around the Karen community is gorgeous, green, and filled with great places to explore. The area is not well-marked so it’s recommended you try to find a group outing.
Only serious hikers should take interest in climbing Mount Mokoju. This is one of Thailand’s tallest mountains and certainly requires multiple days to scale. It’s located about an hour West of Khao No.
There are several camps set up along the way. The more nights you wish to stay, the more you’ll be able to access the nearby sights and waterfalls that would otherwise go unseen. The peak is just shy of 2000 meters tall and is located about 23 miles from Mae Wong National Park’s headquarters.
Most thrill seekers who embark on this trek require a 5 day round trip hiking expedition. Most of these travelers hire a park ranger to accompany them as weather conditions can make it challenging to reach the peak. Rangers often cost around $450 for the trek. If that seems pricey to you, remember that you’re hiring someone to go into the jungle with your group for 5 days!
Most people say that the months between November and February are the best times to see fields of clouds below the mountain’s peak. If you make it to the top, kudos to you. You’re in an elite group of hikers.
No matter which of the hikes you select, you can guarantee the incredible views will make all your friends back home envious (and confused about what you’re doing in a Thai jungle). If you forget to bring Tiger Balm or a similar bug repellant, you’re in for an awful time. Be safe out there!
What are the best beaches in Thailand?
The best beaches in Thailand are in the Southern half of the country. The Andaman Sea houses several of these gorgeous beaches like Railay Beach, Ao Nang, and the Phi Phi Islands. Further North off the coast of Surat Thani, some of the best beaches include Koh Samui and Koh Pha-ngan.
Where should I visit in Thailand if I like hiking?
Chiang Mai is the most popular city for those who wish to hike. It’s proximity to a number of stunning waterfalls, vistas, and trails will make it an ideal location for those who wish to spend their vacation outdoors. Chiang Mai is less than 1-2 hours away from countless viewpoints that require a hike.