Although it’s a step in the right direction, downing a couple chicken salads and Instagramming your meal prep every Sunday isn’t exactly what we would call a balanced lifestyle. Bangkok’s blaring traffic whistles, whizzing motorcycles and crowded streets take a toll on your body that a healthy diet doesn’t necessarily fix. The odd escape from metropolis madness is a must, but that doesn’t mean drowning yourself in Leo and bar snacks while on an island retreat. Instead, get some fresh air in your lungs and see the best natural wonders Thailand has to offer at any one of these amazing, activity-focused destinations.
Hiking up Doi Chiang Dao
Doi Chiang Dao is arguably Thailand’s most spectacular summit. The 2,175-meter mountain is impossible to miss on the road to Chiang Mai and has become the go-to place for Thailand hikers keen to get their nature fix and collect some Instagram ammunition once they reach the top. It’s not the highest mountain in the country, but thanks to its lush greenery, eye-opening views and range of nearby attractions, Doi Chiang Dao is definitely our choice for the best hiking spot in the North. There’s a decent selection of stores and coffee shops at the mountain’s base if you need to fuel up pre-journey (highly recommended since there are no tourist facilities once you get started). Also, do spend some time exploring the trademark Chiang Dao caves near the base of the mountain. You can search the passages on your own (B40), but will need a guided lantern tour (from B200) if you want to examine the relics deeper inside.
Where to stay: Hotels in Chiang Mai (from B400/night)
Get to Doi Chiang: Bus (B40), air-con minivan (B150) or private van (B400/day)
Extras: Chiang Dao National Park Pass is required (B200)
Rock Climbing in Krabi
Krabi’s plethora of beautiful limestone karsts make it Thailand’s most popular destination for both foreign and local rock climbing (and cliff jumping) enthusiasts. Unlike hiking, rock climbing leans towards the “extreme” side of things and that means you need to be in at least moderate physical condition to give this a shot. Your actual experience with the sport matters less, as the area is home to a host of internationally certified training centers with beginner classes (from B1,000) and day trips to some of the region’s most popular rock climbing spots (B1,000-3,000). You don’t have to leave the mainland to give this a try, either. Krabi’s Railay Beach has been one of the world’s top rock-climbing destinations for decades thanks to its craggy limestone cliffs boasting more than 600 challenging climbing routes. Other popular climbing spots include the cliffs on Phranang Beach and those bordering Ton Sai Bay.
Where to stay: Railay, Ao Nang or Krabi town (from B600/night)
Get to the cliffs: Most tour companies offer complimentary pick-up on request. Local transportation runs B50-150 depending on destination
Cycling in Kanchanaburi
The vast rocky areas of Central Thailand’s Kanchanaburi province make it one of the country’s premier destinations for cycling tours. If you’ve ever wanted to dirty up that fancy mountain bike, this is your spot. There are countless developed bike paths with varying degrees of length and elevation to suit your level of experience and physical conditioning. If you’re particularly savvy and adventurous you can cycle your way around Kanchanaburi without a guided tour, but it will take a bit of work to find must-see spots like Kao Poon cave, Death Railway Museum, picturesque Erawan waterfall and the bridge over the River Kwai. For cycling newbies, we recommend trying one of the area’s many bike tours (single day from B1,500 and all-inclusive multi-day adventures from around B15,000) that delve deep into the region’s beautiful scenery, local culture and WWII history.
Where to stay: Hotels in Kanchanaburi town (from B500/night) or resorts close to River Kwai (from B3,000/night)
Bumrungrad International is the first Asian Joint Commission International accredited, multi-specialty hospital located in the heart of Bangkok, Thailand. Founded in 1980, it is one of the largest private hospitals in Southeast Asia, with 580 beds and over 39 specialty centers. Bumrungrad International offers state-of-the-art diagnostic, therapeutic and intensive care facilities in a one-stop medical center. www.bumrungrad.com
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