Nature has blessed. Thailand with many natural treasures guarded in national parks that extend across the Kingdom. They are the habitat of a great profusion of wildlife, and plants ranging in size from tiny forest floor flowers to towering trees.
From the fertile Central Plains watered by the Chao Phraya River, the land rises to the northeastern plateau, then north to the forested mountains of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son. Along the southeastern coastline and the long southern peninsula, rain forests and coastal mangroves predominate. Below the central hills, wetlands extend to the Gulf of Thailand on the western side and the Andaman Sea to the east.Â
Deciduous trees shed their leaves during the six-month dry season in the North. On high hills there are pine and
maple forests; in the South, there are evergreens, freshwater swamps, rubber trees, fruit trees, palms of all kinds and tropical hardwoods.
Northern Thailand is characterised by forested hills and deep valleys that are an invitation to adventures: rafting along fast-flowing rivers, trekking along jungle paths, or discovering waterfalls cascading down cliff faces, like the Ti Lo Su falls in remote Umphang.Â Â
Chiang Mai, Thailandâ€™s second city, was once the capital of the ancient Lanna kingdom. In the countryside around it there are elephant camps where you can see these much loved creatures at work and play, and hire one with a mahout to take you on a trek. There is much to see when trekking in the North, like the orchid farms and botanical gardens along the Mae Sa Valley, the towering splendour of Doi Inthanon, Thailandâ€™s highest mountain, the villages of the hill people and the
handicraft centres of Sankhamphaeng where village artisans work in silk, cotton, wood and silver.
Further North, Chiang Rai is the home of many ethnic hill people in distinctive costumes, and they are proud
to show visitors their age-old customs and traditions. Doi Tung is a mountain that has been transformed into a garden of flowers and fruit plantations.
Thailandâ€™s national parks are usually accessible by road, and the most popular of these, Khao Yai, is just a three-hour drive from Bangkok. Khao Yai attracts a large number of visitors with its scenic beauty and abundant plant and animal life. It covers four vegetation zones: evergreen rainforest, semi-evergreen, mixed deciduous, and hill evergreen forest, at altitudes from 100 metres to 1,400 metres. Kaeng Krachan is Thailandâ€™s largest park with 3,000 square kilometres of
evergreen and mixed deciduous forests.
It is recommended for its long-distance hiking trails, though few hikers and campers have ventured into the interior where the wildlife is most abundant.Â In the northeastern province of Loei by the border with Laos, Phu Kradung National Park is famous for its pine forests and mountain views. Â A nine-kilometre trail leads to the flat summit of a mountain where tents can
be rented for the night. Chaiyaphumâ€™s Nam Nao National Park has dry forest, bamboo groves, and rolling sandstone hills, and it adjoins Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary.
In the South, Thale Ban National Park is nearly 200 square kilometres of rainforest along the Malaysian border. Hiking trails lead you through spectacular limestone formations and the forest abounds with birds, macaques, and gibbons. Khao Sok National Park in western Surat Thani is connected to the Khlong Saen Wildlife Sanctuary and together they form the largest tract of virgin forest in southern Thailand, with trails to scenic caves and waterfalls.
Travelling in green Thailand is an experience like no other, and the exciting diversity of the countryâ€™s natural heritage will guarantee a perfect adventure holiday.