Thailand is a country that has seen a surge in popularity in recent years, with most gap year travellers regarding it as a definite stop on their round-the-world itineraries. The appeal of Thailand is obvious: golden beaches, delicious food, reasonable prices and the infamous full moon parties. However, Thailand is not just for a dose of hedonism; it is also full of natural beauty. One of the best ways to immerse yourself in this aspect of the country is to register for a mountain trek.
There are numerous mountain treks in Thailand, but the most popular areas to trek are Northern Thailand and, to a lesser extent, Central Thailand. Chiang Mai, a city located 700km north of Bangkok, is an excellent place to base yourself before going on a trek of Northern Thailand, as there are literally hundreds of trips to choose from, which means that you can pick the one that suits you best.
Treks can vary from a single day up to seven days, with the majority being 3-5 day treks. You have to be reasonably fit to enroll on one, as there is a lot of walking involved. Some of the treks involve camping, and in some you stay in small cabins, depending on your preference and budget.
A mountain trek really is one of the best ways to get to know Thailand. There are many possible activities, but usually they involve trekking through the jungle, where you may see wild animals and learn about the plant life around you. Most treks make a visit to one of the many hill tribe villages in Northern Thailand, where you will see how these tribes live and interact with them.
Depending on which trip you choose, you may make a visit to an elephant camp, where you can view these beautiful creatures in the wild, and you might get to take a ride on one. Some trips will take you to the Golden Triangle (the point where Myannmar, Thailand and Laos meet) or you may even cross the border to go to the Burmese border market.
There is so much to see on mountain treks in Thailand and it is a great way to get to know more about the country as all of these tours have guides and most of them are extremely knowledgeable. To ensure you get a great guide, it is a good idea to shop around or to take a recommendation from someone who has already been on a trek.
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If you plan to visit the place I recommend using Booking.com - sort by reviews of the hotels. If you get into 9.0+ hotel - you know it's going to be an enjoyable trip. 8.0+ is also very good. If staying in hotels with score of less than 7.9 - read the reviews!