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A Nature Lover's Bucket List to Thailand

Visiting a country that has so much to offer in terms of food, scenery and culture, it’s a challenge (but a very fun one), to squeeze everything on a single trip. While the country offers a variety of attractions, this post focuses on places (as you can already tell from the title :P) that will interest travellers with a penchant for nature at a relax pace.  

Here’s a list of places to get you and I started in exploring this beautiful Southeast Asian neighbour of ours, Thailand. 

If you have tips to share, please leave a comment or connect with me on my social media channels listed below. :)

Where to stay? Fortunately, travellers visiting to Thailand have a wide variety of options  on where to stay. From backpacker types to luxury Thai Homes, it's easy to find one that fits your budget.

Hike to Thailand’s Roof 
view from Kew Mae Pan trail (Photo from Douglas Perkins)
At a height of 2,565 meters, Doi Inthanon is the country’s highest mountain located within Doi Inthanon National Park, in the province of Chiang Mai. Though the only way up to the summit is by a hired vehicle or motorbike passing a concrete road, followed by a short walk to a signage that says “The Highest Spot in Thailand”, those who crave for a closer interaction with nature can explore the waterfalls and hiking trails in the area.  For a  rewarding hike passing a beautiful mossy forest and scenic cliff views, Kew Mae Pan trail is recommended. The trail is nearly 3 KM long and requires a local guide that can be hired onsite. Another hike is the Ang Ka Luang, a shorter boardwalk trail popular to birdwatchers. 

Apart from hiking trails, other must see attractions in the park are the temples, Twin Royal stupas and its surrounding gardens . It can also be combined with a side trip to The Royal Agricultural Station, a research centre supporting the livelihood of tribes men. 

Check out my other hikes here.

Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden
A visual treat to plant lovers is Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden in the Mae Rim district of Chiang Mai. Sprawling 1,000 hectares at the foothills of Doi Suthep-Pui National Park,  it is Thailand’s first international standard botanic garden. Here, visitors are introduced to curated gardens showcasing the country’s flora as well as plants from overseas, arboretum trails and ornamental gardens.
Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden (Photo by Amada 44)
An exciting attraction onsite is  Canopy Walkway. Suspended over a lush forest, it allows visitors to stroll over tree tops. There’s also a 30-45 minute trail passing Mae Sa Noi waterfalls to ornamental flowers and the Thai Wild Orchid Nursery. The waterfalls has 10 levels and can be visited on a separate trip.

Visit an elephant sanctuary in Chang Mai
Thailand’s national animal is a hit among travellers, with elephant riding as one of the top activities, but have you heard about how these pachyderms are tortured to do tricks and give rides? This post from PETA explains in detail, Why You Should Turn Down Elephant Rides.
Elephant Nature Park (Photo by Elemanxx)
Elephant Nature Park is one of the reputable animal sanctuaries in Thailand, allowing its visitors to meet its rescued elephants and volunteer. Aside from these pachyderms, dogs, cats and other animals are also in the centre.Guests must book through their website before visiting.  

Travellers however must be wary of places masking itself as a sanctuary. Do your research - ask around, read reviews online before booking a tour.  

Wat Khao Hua Jook 
This temple with a big Buddha is on the northern side of Chaweng lake in Koh Samui island. Sitting on a 90 meter hill, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of Chaweng lake,  nearby islands and watch airplanes take off from Koh Samui airport. In the afternoon, it is a good spot to catch the sunset.

Not commonly part of tours, visitors can take a motorbike to get here or take an arduous walk on a steep hill. From Chaweng beach, the wat is about 1.9 KM away, on the road leading to Q Bar Samui.
Chaweng Beach in Koh Samui (Photo : Jacques.samui)
A more popular temple, thus attracting crowds, in the northeast side of Koh Samui is Wat Phra Yai or commonly referred to as Big Buddha. It  also has a view deck, albeit less scenic, offering views of the water and the structures around it. 

Hin Ta & Hin Yai Rocks
A section of Hin Ta & Hin Yai (Photo by Dirk Enthoven)
Also in Koh Samui, in a rocky coastline about 1.8 KM from Lamai beach,  this popular attraction features wildly interesting rock formations, in the shape of male and female genitals. Its name translates to Ta for grandpa and Yai for grandma, the subjects of a tragic Koh Samui folklore. According to the story, a couple, Ta Kreng and Yai Riem had a son who had just entered the right age to marry. To formally ask the daughter of Ta Monglai in marriage, the couple traveled by sea. Unfortunately, they encountered a storm, capsizing their boat. The couple did not survive and turned into rock formation, the shape of which serves as proof of their intention. 

Nai Harn Beach
Phuket's Nai Harn Beach (Photo : ADwarf)
Developed but not congested with tourists, this beach near the southern tip of Phuket is charming.  While there is no shortage of places to stay or eat, with restaurants offering a wide variety of International and Thai dishes,  visitors are able to enjoy the beach in peace.  It is however, not isolated. Ao Sane is only about 5 minutes away , a small beach with a good snorkelling spot. Patong, the most famous beach in Phuket and where you can find the crowd is only about 18.3 KM away. Other worthwhile places to visit include Promthep Cape for sunset viewing and Kata View point, a hilltop with a view of Kata Not, Kata, Karon and Koh Pu islands. 

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