Thailand’s main trekking destination is found among its northern forests and mountains, focused around Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, known for their wildlife and ethnic communities such as the Karen, Sham, Lisu, Palaung, Lahu, Mien, Hmong and Akha peoples, and indeed treks can often include insightful homestays with one or more of these minorities.

Treks can last from short day long excursions to several days, and can often feature additional elements such as rafting, elephant riding, wildlife spotting and bird watching.

The National Parks of Doi Inthanon, swathed around Thailand’s highest mountain of the same name, Doi Luang, and the remote Doi Phu Kha and its caves, all offer numerous trails to explore the natural world with some fine walks.

In the central west of Thailand, Um Phang is a less touristy area of dramatic and beautiful waterfalls, including Tee Lor Su waterfalls, Karen villages and elephant trails, with some hard walking required to see the best of its worthwhile features.

A little way futher south, Sangkhlaburi, is Mon and Karen territory and features the National Parks of Sai Yok and Khao Laem, both tucked against the Myanmar border, a scenic area of lakes, waterfalls, with elephant rides and rafting additionally available.  

On the other side of the country, the UNESCO World heritage Khao Yai National Park, to the northeast of Bangkok, is a great place to combine trekking with wildlife spotting. With numerous birds, such as Trogons, Barbets and Hornbills, and animals such as Elephants, Deer, Macaques, Gibbons and even the occasional Tiger, if you love nature, trekking in this area is a joy.

On the Peninsula south of Surat Thani, Khao Luang National Park is another fine trekking destination with some steep climbs among wild orchids, of which there are over 300 species, where you can enjoy the trek to the South’s highest peak, enjoying the company of macaques and, if you’re lucky, Tapirs, Clouded Leopards and Tigers.