If you’ve come to Thailand in search of adventure - you know, the mountain, jungle, river and reservoir kind of adventure - then the impending journey northwards to Chiang Mai will not have been planned in vain. Its name denotes both a province and a city, harmoniously linked by a lush and distinctive beauty that has come to define each of them in some way. Here, far removed from the bustle of Bangkok and throngs of western tourists along most of the southern beaches, travelers will find Thailand’s natural world at its most engaging. Want to raft some rapids? You got it. Take in the view from the highest mountain in the country? No problem. Tackle some world-class rock climbing or downhill mountain biking? Crazy, but OK. But before we go asking then subsequently answering all your hypothetical questions, let’s take a closer look at what an adventurous appetite will find in this scenic, rugged northern territory.
Though Doi Suthep-Pui (those hard-to-miss mountains located immediately to the west of the city) may be known primarily for housing the popular Wat Phra That, their appeal is far from strictly religious/cultural. Waterfalls, hiking paths and some incredible mountain biking trails are at your disposal here, complete with plenty of days’ worth of exploratory potential. For those who would rather check out the view from above, ziplining has blossomed into major industry for thrill seekers in Chiang Mai, with plenty of reputable organizations vying for the opportunity to swing you through the beautiful jungle canopies in several of the surrounding districts. You can also gain some serious altitude at Doi Inthanon, Thailand’s highest peak, or atop Crazy Horse Buttress (after a pretty strenuous climb, that is).
Should your excursions around the area take you further north, consider a ride on the Class III/IV rapids of the Mae Taeng River, one of Chiang Mai’s most exciting aquatic attractions. There are plenty of dry options around as well, including great hikes within the relatively unexplored Si Lanna and Haui Nam Dang National Parks. Feel like really going off the map? Why not take in a sunrise atop Phu Chi Fa near the Thai-Laotian border. Sure it’s a little bit out of the way, but sometimes the most memorable adventures are. The bottom line is, you don’t have to look hard to satisfy your craving for adventure in northern Thailand. Just remember to leave the flip-flops at the hotel.