Best places to go white water rafting in Thailand
NORTH OF THAILAND
🚣 White Water Rafting in Chiang Mai – Mae Taeng River
Mae Taeng River is surely the most popular rafting area in all of Thailand, since overall it has very good characteristics: it is close to Chiang Mai, it is surrounded by a beautiful wooded landscape and it allows rafting of different difficulty levels, suitable for both beginners and experts. The highlights of rafting on Mae Tang River are the twenty islets that must be dodged during the tour.
The total rafting distance is about 10 km, and the complete tour, which lasts about 2 and a half hours, can be divided into 3 stages. The first stage is the easiest, and perfect for acclimatization, with level 2-3 rapids. The second is the most difficult, with a difficulty level 4-5 and 8 islets to avoid, while the third and last stage is level 3-4.
- When to go: all year
- Difficulty: 2-5
- Duration: up to 2.5 hours
🚣 White Water Rafting in Mae Hong Son – Pai River
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The stretch of the Pai River that lies within ‘Namtok Mae Surin’ National Park is the northernmost rafting area in the country, in a mountainous region with a really beautiful jungle environment. It is located about 10 km north of the Mae Hong Son‘s provincial capital, about 100 km from Pai and about 225 from Chiang Mai. Pai River offers options for both beginners and experts alike, and since Pai is a major adventure travel destination there are a good number of experienced companies operating rafting tours.
The total rafting distance is about 50 km. It begins at the small Huay San Nok River, a tributary of Pai River, which features some gentle rapids and allows to make a stop to visit Susa waterfall. Upon reaching Pai River, there is a succession of up to 15 areas of rapids that reach a level of difficulty 3-4. The most spectacular is Kaeng Pai Kit rapid, in a narrow channel surrounded by cliffs that gets strong currents. There is a riverside hot springs area that offers a well-deserved relaxation at the end of the trip.
- When to go: all year round (best time: July-November)
- Difficulty: 3-4
- Duration: up to 6 hours
🚣 White Water Rafting in Nan – Nam Wa River
An excellent option for the more experienced, Wa River runs through Mae Jarim National Park, in a province (Nan) rarely visited by tourism and close to the Laotian border. In addition to the tranquility and the beautiful landscapes, it is a long river that, with its length of almost 100 km, allows rafting trips of up to 3 days. This option is the most remote that we suggest on this list, about 350 km east of Chiang Mai and 275 km southeast of Chiang Rai, but we include it since it is undoubtedly one of the best.
Wa River has 3 different sections. The upper section is about 35 km long, and is better during the cool season (December-February), when the water level drops and some rocks protrude, with rapids of level 3-4 -and even some 5-. The most exciting part of this section is in the last stretch, with a succession of 10 rapids in a row. The middle section of the river is good from October to February, but it is the most difficult and only advisable for the very experienced. In its length of about 50 km there are a hundred rapids up to Level 5, with strong currents, waves, eddies and small waterfalls. The lower section of the river is the shortest (about 12 km), and usually takes about 3 hours to complete. It is the easiest section -lower than level 3, so it is suitable for all audiences- and can be done throughout the year.
- When to go: May to February
- Difficulty: 3-5 (Jun-Oct), 3-4 (Nov-Feb), 2-3 (Mar-May)
- Duration: 3 hours to 3 days
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CENTER OF THAILAND
🚣 White Water Rafting in Khao Yai National Park – Sai Yai River
Beautiful Khao Yai National Park is located about 3 hours northeast of Bangkok. If you visit during rainy season, in addition to enjoying its lush landscapes and abundant wildlife, you can go rafting on Sai Yai River. And in fact it is not only a good place to go rafting during the rainy season, but every July there is even a whitewater rafting festival, ‘Kaeng Hin Phoeng White Water Festival’.
To get to the starting point of the rafting you must walk about 45 minutes along a path through the jungle. The rafting length is about 4.5 km, with a total of 7 rapids of difficulty 3-4, and is completed in approximately 2 hours. The rapids are varied and present different obstacles in the form of rocks, eddies, currents and waves.
- When to go: June to October
- Difficulty: 3-5
- Duration: 2 hours
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SOUTH OF THAILAND
🚣 White Water Rafting in Phang Nga – Khlong Song Phraek River
It is the most popular rafting area for those staying in one of the two main tourist towns on the Andaman Sea: Phuket (80 km away) and Krabi (100 km away). The Khlong Song Praek River is within the ‘Ton Pariwat Wildlife Sanctuary’. The rafting route, flanked by lush vegetation, is about 5 km long and takes about 45 minutes to complete. At the starting point there is a dam that regulates the water level of the river, and allows rafting throughout the year.
It is a good option as a short activity for those staying in the Phuket or Krabi area, and is a nice day trip when combined with other activities in the area. It can be a good option for beginners, but it will easily disappoint seasoned rafters looking for something more serious.
- When to go: all year
- Difficulty: 2-4
- Duration: 1 hour