One of Thailand’s last significant surviving area of Monsoon Rainforest is Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai forest complex, a UNESCO World Heritage site stretching from a little way east of Bangkok to the Cambodian border, an area teeming with plant and birdlife.  

A haven for several endangered species, Tigers, Leopards, Bears, Gibbons and Elephants are amongst the rarest of some 800 animal species wandering through the protected area, within which four interlocking National Parks are located.

Of these, Khao Yai is both the oldest and most visited, with over 50km of hiking trails providing for short walks and treks of up to four days, including the trail to the Dinosaur Footprint. The park has several notable waterfalls, the largest of which are the 150 metre three-tiered Haew Narok and the 80 metre Heo Narok falls. A popular draw is Heo Suwat falls, which memorably featured in the waterfall jump scene of the film ‘The Beach’. Among the activities on offer are rafting, kayaking and cycling.

The other parks within the Dong Phayayen Forest are also worthwhile to visit. Thap Lan National Park containing the Pa Lan Fan palm forest and the 50 metre Huay Yai Waterfall. Pang Sida National Park is famed for its 400 butterfly species, and several trails, lasting up to a week, lead to some of the area’s many waterfalls. Ta Phraya National Park is interesting for the trails to combine wildlife spotting with visiting Khmer ruins.

On the western side of the country, close to the border with the Karen lands of Myanmar, another UNESCO Natural World Heritage site at Thungai-Huai Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries hides beneath its leafy canopy the hopeful futures of many of the regions most endangered species such as Asian Black Bears, Clouded Leopards, Marbled Cats, Fishing Cats, and Tigers, along with several species of Macaque.

In the north, close to Chiang Mai, Doi Ithanon National Park is an area of evergreen cloud forest and coffee plantations, inhabited by various Hill Tribes and surrounds the mountain of the same name, Thailand’s highest at 2,565 m (8,415 ft). Although many locations can be reached by vehicle, with over 360 recorded bird species to keep you company, there are also some worthwhile walking trails leading to several waterfalls, the highest of which is Mae Ya at 260 metres.

Elsewhere in Thailand, on the southern Peninsula, Kaeng Krachan National Park, near Hua Hin, envelops an area around a reservoir and is best regarded for its 461 bird species and over 300 species of butterfly. There are also 57 mammal species including Black and Sun Bears, Sambar Deer, Elephants, Clouded Leopards, Tigers and Black Giant Squirrels. Several trails through the wilderness areas lead to bird watching spots and various waterfalls.

Khao Sok National Park, nestled inland to the north of Phang Nha Bay, is a surviving parcel of truly ancient forest, other examples of which can be seen further down the peninsula in Malaysia and, like those areas, home to the famous Rafflesia flower as well as some of the region’s most iconic endangered animals. Activities include searching out the wildlife on the jungle trails, visiting the sculptural Cheow Larn Lake, and canoeing, tubing and bamboo rafting the Sok River.