Trekking in Thailand
Over the last two decades trekking has become an additional attraction for tourists who travel to Thailand on vacation. The trekking in the Thailand's national parks is truly a great experience, a way to enjoy nature and discover the most genuine charm of this country. The hiking on foot or in bike, the rafting with inflatable boats or bamboo rafts offer unique and unforgettable emotions. The various Thai parks offer a wide choice of paths, some are easy like the paths reaching the Hill Tribe villages on the northern regions, others are more challenging hiking trails that allow you to reach the highest peaks, waterfalls and hidden caves, and others cross the thickest vegetation and allow observing the wildlife. The rafting along the rivers between the mountains and the valleys with jumps of waterfalls or rapids will be able to excite you. The choice of places where you can trek is very wide. Thailand is distinguished by the presence of numerous national parks. Protected areas cover about 14% of the land and ocean surface in the country, one of the highest rates in the world.
At present days, Thailand has over 150 Terrestrial National Parks, 20 Marine National Parks, 50 Wildlife Sanctuaries, 36 Protected Forests, as well as about a thousand areas where it is forbidden to hunt, nature reserves, botanical gardens and arboreal. For outings into parks you can rely on your ability and the information that you can easily get to the HQ or Rangers. For excursions on the most challenging trails it is better to rely on a good local guide, or take part of a group organized by specialized agencies or by the Rangers. Whether you do hiking alone or with groups, it is essential to be in good physical shape to tackle long trips along the mountain slopes and valleys. The sub-tropical climate and the soil often moist by frequent rains are added difficulties. For more information see our page dedicated to National Parks in Thailand, or visit the website of Thai Tourism Authority, TAT, www.tourismthailand.org, Eco Tourism in Thailand, TEATA, www.teata.or.th, or the Thai Government Website on National Parks, www.dnp.go.th/parkreserve.
Tips & rules
Headquarters & Rangers: Each National Park in Thailand has at least a Park Headquarters with Thai Rangers, usually close to the park's entrance or campsite, and often other Ranger Stations close to the park's most popular attractions. These are your point of reference and source of any kind of information necessary or help. To Rangers you can ask about on flora and fauna, hiking trails or on camping areas authorized, and any limitation or rule to be observed. First aid is available at all parks headquarters, for severe cases will care Rangers to warn the health authorities more close, or they themselves will provide to your transfer.
Camping Areas: Almost all National Parks offer overnight accommodations, usually bungalows or tents within equipped campsites. Often located near to the headquarters or close to the most popular attractions, they has essential facilities, including sanitation services, restaurants and grocery shops where you can buy food, drinks and kinds of first necessity. While tents can be rented at the visitor centers in HQ areas, reservations of bungalow style accommodation within all Thai National Parks can ONLY be made using Thai Government website www.dnp.go.th/parkreserve/reservation. For camping outside camp grounds provided, in the case of long hiking trails, check possible prohibitions, however avoid camping too close to rivers or waterfalls, sudden rains could cause flooding, and are also dangerous because this are the favourite destinations of wild animals for drinking.
Hiking Trails: In the National Parks there are all kinds of hiking trails, from the easiest to suit everyone to those more challenging. The various trails are usually marked with paint on the plants, to headquarters are, sometimes, available the maps or any information, if you exit from the usual paths or if you venture on long distances, especially if they require more than a day of walking, reported to the Rangers the path you wish to make. For all hiking made during the night you need to inform, and have permission, from the headquarters, night hikes to observe wildlife are usually organized by the Rangers themselves.
Hill Tribe: One of the excursions most practiced by tourists on holiday in Northern Thailand is a visit to the villages of the colourful ethnic minorities known as Hill Tribe. The Hill Tribe, ชาว เขา in Thai, is a term used to describe the various tribal peoples who live in the Northern Provinces, in both sides of the border between Thailand, Burma and Laos, a mountainous area known to be rich in dense forests. The six main tribal people in Thailand are the Akha, Lahu, Karen, Miao or Hmong, Mien or Yao and Lisu, each with a distinct language and culture, but all with a way of life untouched by the influences of the world modern. There are numerous Hill Tribe villages near Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son, and there are, therefore, also many agencies that organize excursions and hiking tours. Many tours are excellent; others are disrespectful towards the local people. Customs and traditions of the village must be strictly observed, and only a good local guide really knows every village and its rules. If you want to visit a real village of Hill Tribe looking for a tour operator that follows the basic rules of Eco Tourism in Thailand, TEATA, www.teata.or.th. A reputable tour operator follows the rules of eco-trekking culture and organizes small groups of six or ten people and no more, with visits to villages not invasive to the natives, in respect for their culture and customs. The villages of Hill Tribe are many and offer to these tour operators a great choice of destinations, thus visiting the village usually not more than one or two times week. Some operators, unfortunately, organize groups of 30, sometimes 50 or more, visitors with an impact very invasive which has negative consequences for the local population, and then for the tourists themselves.
Weather: In Thailand there are three climate seasons: Hot season from February to June; Rainy season from June to October/November; Cool months from November to February. Jungle hiking can be done any month of the year, whether hiking trails are in good condition, but clearly in the rainy season the trails are slippery and require more attention.
Fitness: Whether you do hiking alone or aggregated into groups, it is essential to be in good physical shape to tackle long trips along the mountain slopes and valleys. Always remember to bring spare water to rehydrate, the hot clime, often stuffy, it is an added burden.
Plants, flowers and wild animal: It is strictly forbidden to remove plants and flowers or catch the butterflies and other animal specimens from the National Parks, this rule is also apply to fish and coral from the Marine National Parks. The observation of the animals must respect the animals themselves, maintain a safe distance to avoid being too invasive, and avoid attacks by wild animals.
Fire: Prohibition signs to light fires are posted in some areas, but extra attention must be taken anywhere in the Parks to prevent fires especially during these hot and dry months, as fires caused by cooking fires or cigarettes not extinguished.
Water washing & garbage:Waters of natural rivers and lakes must not be contaminated with washing water, soaps or plastic packages, pour the washing water onto the ground at a reasonable distance from natural water sources. Every visitor has to use plastic bags for store the garbage, bottles, tin cans, paper and food waste, and bring with them to the nearest disposal areas.
Dress & Shoes: For a good hiking are recommended a good pair of sturdy walking shoes, with good gripping power, recommended but not essential a good sandal waterproof, useful if you have to ford a small stream or near the waterfalls. The clothing should not be mandatory technical, useful only in the paths more challenging, but still practical and natural fabrics. During the day they are recommended long pants and a long-sleeved cotton shirt, good to avoid scratches and cuts from jungle foliage and insect bites. In Northern Thailand, even in the hot season, the nights can be cool at higher elevations, a light sweater or jacket is useful. During the cool season, when temperatures in Northern Thailand may plummet to near freezing, a thick jacket and heavy sweaters are indispensable.
Equipment: In your excursions you'll appreciate a good backpack to store a minimum of essential items, including: first aid kit; articles for personal hygiene, toilet paper, 20 meters of strong rope, a small knife, a compass, maps, small binoculars, water container, flash light and batteries, matches, container for water, kitchen utensils basic, plastic containers for food, plastic sheeting and mantel for rain. In several National Parks there are tents for rent, but unfortunately are often not enough for many hikers, especially in the high season it is best to call to find out availability. Good idea is to bring your tent reliable from home, if you are lacking can looking in sports shops to large shopping malls Thai, there is always a section dedicated to trekking. The tent camp should be easy to assemble but still strong and have good resistance to heavy tropical rains, additional plastic sheeting are recommended, as a mosquito net if the tent is not provided. Do not forget a good mat to isolate from ground moisture, and a sleeping bag to protect yourself from the cold nights of Northern Thailand.
Medical kit: If you are going to stray far from headquarters, multi-day trips, its good idea carry a first aid kit. In this should not miss: packs of salt minerals, mosquito repellents, antiseptic, bandages, anti-diarrhea medicines, anti-histamine cream, sun block, cotton wool and disinfectant.
Health risk: Malaria in Thailand is non-existent, except for a few cases reported in remote areas of the border with Myanmar, have been reported sporadic cases of Dengue, several cases of Chikungunya. These viruses are contracted as a result of the bite of infected mosquitoes and manifest with similar symptoms, fever, muscle and bone pain, headache, fatigue, nausea and vomiting. Usually people believe that taking anti-malaria medication before heading to the jungle gives them the security of not taking malaria, unfortunately this is not true. Even if you take anti-malaria beforehand, you can get malaria; indeed often it will make the disease more resistant to the drugs, and find malaria in the blood sample becomes more difficult. The only precaution to take is to use a good cream or spray insect repellent, good for any insect bite. Pay attention to insect bites, especially if you are at risk of allergies, as scorpions, bees, wasps and hornets, centipedes, spiders, ticks and leeches as well as contact with jellyfish in the Marine Parks. It is advised to check your tent before go inside for sleeping, and check your shoes thoroughly before you put them on. Ticks are blood suckers which cause, in addition to an annoying itching, dangerous infections. If you are bitten by one tick apply some balm, menthol or Tiger Balm, on the creature so it will withdraw its fangs from your skin. This is the right time to remove the tick without it leaving the head inside your skin; exactly its head is the cause of the infections. Poisonous snakes abound in the natural parks, as throughout Thailand, among the most venomous species are the cobras and vipers. No need to worry too much about poisonous snakes, sightings are rare because these reptiles stay far from beaten paths, and for both there are effective anti-venom in the headquarters of the parks or to all public hospitals. In case of snake bite immobilize the bitten area, to slow the spread of venom, reassure the victim and seek medical assistance as soon as possible. If the victim can not be achieved by medical care in 30 minutes, make a tight bandage two to four inches above the bite, for slow the circulation of the venom, but must not cut off blood flow from a vein or artery for long time. A suction device, often included in the kit of snake bites, can be placed over the bite to suck the venom out of the wound, but without making further cuts with knives; if you do not own a suction device absolutely do not use your mouth to avoid being infected in your time. Traveler's diarrhea its causes can be many facts: bacteria, viruses, parasites, but also the stress of travel, change of food or climate. To reduce the risk of contracting pay attention to food hygiene, eat well-cooked foods, drink only bottled water and soft drinks without adding ice if not in public establishments that provide guarantees of hygiene, while the most important therapeutic measure to be put in place in case of diarrhea, is the restoration of the loss water and electrolytes by drinking liquids, not alcohol. Sunburn are quite frequent, always use protective creams even on a cloudy day, the sun's rays, especially at this latitude, they are strong and can cause burns very quickly.Read More
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