Thailand is one of my favorite travel destinations. The country has it all; Beautiful beaches, diverse rainforest and buzzing big city life. I have been sharing some of my favorite destinations in Thailand lately, this time I will share a story from the jungles in Thailand – The umphang district. To find previous stories on Thailand click here.
How to get to the Umphang jungle?
The easiest way to get to the jungle is to buy a guided trek in the jungle. You can find plenty of these type of treks on google. We bought this one though, which was amazing!
From Bangkok to Umphang
To get from Thailand’s capital to it’s jungle, we had to take a bus to the small town of Mae Sot. This one was a night bus. When driving with the tourist busses in Thailand, it is quite important to remember warm clothes. The busses have air conditions and are definitely not afraid to use it! It is always super cold inside the busses.
In Mae Sot we got the opportunity to sleep a couple of hours, before we drove to the market near the Moi river. The market has a bit of everything, but is not too interesting. Later we went on to drive into the jungle in a songthaew.
The trip from the market to Umphang takes about 4 hours and is very beautiful! If you tend to suffer from motion sickness, like I do, you should take some medicine against it, because the drive is terrible! There is more than 1,000 bends along the way. I had forgotten to bring any medicine and I got SO sick.
Arriving to the hostel at night was quite a relief! I was feeling awful after the ride, but on the other hand I was beyond excited to start the actual trek the next morning. From the hostel you could hear the sound of all the animals in the jungle, which was pretty amazing, even though some people had trouble sleeping because of it.
Day 1: The jungle in Thailand
After a good night of sleep, I was ready to start the trek.
The first part of the trek was rafting along the Mae Klong river. It was very nice to sit in the boat and enjoy the beauty of the nature in the area. From the boat we even saw monkeys jumping from the trees at one side of the river to the other. Experiencing the nature like this was absolutely fantastic.
Later that day we had lunch at the brink of the river. Our guides had brought chicken and rice in banana leaves. The leaves were used as plates, which is apparently quite a typical way to bring food away from home in Thailand. I thought it was really cool to have lunch like this.
Then we moved back to the boats and sailed the last part of the trip until we reached the point, where we had to start the actual hiking. The hike on the first day was though! It was uphill for about 4 hours in a damp and warm jungle. Pheww!
Never had the promise of an ice cold coke when we reached the camp been so motivating!
Our guide was very fun, his trekking company did a collaboration with a danish travel agency, why he had been to Denmark and learned a few Danish words and phrases. He had even gotten himself a Danish name. Anyway, he was really great!
When we finally reached the camp, we raised our tents, got something to eat and basically just passed out. You do sleep very well, when you have been active like this.
Day 2 in the jungle in Thailand
The next day started out with breakfast, before we walked to the impressive Tee Loi Su waterfall, which is the largest in South-Eastern Asia. The water was cold, but some of us insisted on going for a swim, while others jumped in the water from the cliffs. Very refreshing way to start the day!
After a refreshing swim, we went on with our hike through the jungle. We had to walk to a village in the middle of the jungle through the beautiful landscape. In this village lives a tribe, who has their own language as well as their own culture. Most of them did not even speak Thai. The tribe lived in wooden stilt houses build from bamboo from the nearby fields.
We were shown around in the village and shown what their everyday life there looked like. It was kind of fun to see how this tribe lived so far from “normal” civilization and did a lot of things very differently, yet still had televisions (no clue how they had electricity here!). We borrowed a house from them, where we slept until next morning.
Day 3: Riding on the back of an elephant (and why you shouldn’t do the same!)
When we woke up the next morning, we were having breakfast, when elephants came into the village. It was an amazing to experience these wonderful animals up close. To me elephants are not only my favorite animal, but they are also magically magnificent.
Why I regret riding elephants (the hard truth about jungles in Thailand)
We were going to ride these wonderful animals through the jungle for the final part of our trek. Looking back, I really do regret supporting that industry. To tame the elephants, they have to be very brutal against them, which is not OK. Like most tourist, I didn’t realize that at the time, but I would definitely never do it again. They are lovely creatures and I wish the utmost best for them.
If you want to experience activities involving elephants while you are in Thailand, I will suggest you volunteer in one of the elephant sanctuaries instead. We need to protect elephants and not capitalize from them. They are magnificent creatures and a world without them would be a sad world.
The trip to Chiang Mai
Nonetheless, we rode through the last part of the jungle, where we were picked up by a car, which drove us back to the hostel from where we started our trek. We relaxed for a while before we headed back to Mae Sot. Instead of going ‘home’ to Bangkok, Mr Bosman and I decided to head up to Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand. A decision I’ll never regret as Chiang Mai is an amazing and cozy city! Read my story about Chiang Mai here.