extreme vacation thailand


Spice Up Your Family Vacation With These Lesser Known Attractions In Koh Samui

If your idea of a beach paradise involves endless stretches of pale, soft sand,  tropical jungle and clear warm waters teeming with tropical fish, Koh Samui is likely to be your dream destination. In fact, this super-alluring Thai island is many a traveler’s idea of a tropical idyll, and it’s become one of the most visited vacation destinations in the region. But while there’s no denying the island’s popularity with everybody from backpackers to the luxury travel brigade, a family visit to Koh Samui doesn’t have to mean English-language menus and jostling others out of the way for a decent spot on the beach. It’s surprisingly easy to escape the madding crowds and find under-the-radar experiences where you’re more likely to meet animal inhabitants than other humans. And the good news is, families are never too far away from ‘civilisation’  – the easy access to ATMs, pharmacies, large stores and other modern amenities can take some of the stress out of your Thai island adventure with the kids.

Cool off in secluded waterfalls

When it comes to Koh Samui and bodies of water, most people make a dash straight for those famous beaches. But for a day’s crowd-free splashing around and cooling down, it’s hard to beat the island’s waterfalls and natural pools. There are several to choose from, and with most of them requiring at least a little legwork to reach (nothing too strenuous, but bring plenty of strong insect repellent), tourists rarely make the trek. The best known (but still pleasingly isolated) of Koh Samui’s falls are at Na Muang, some 12km  from Nathon town. A short, jungly walk leads to the first of two breathtakingly beautiful pool, while those who carry on for an extra half hour are well rewarded with a spot that feels even more blissfully isolated. Families who fancy exploring a little bit of wild nature also have the option to hike around the well-marked trails in the surrounding Namuang Safari Park.  

Visit a Secret Buddha Garden

Put on your comfiest walking shoes and get set to head high up into the hills to visit one of the most magical spots on the island. It’s a steep climb to reach the Secret Buddha Garden via a clearly-marked trail (it’s possible to make much of the journey by off-road vehicle if little legs aren’t up to it…), but well worth the effort. The tropical gardens are a treasure trove of hidden statues – depicting animals, deities and, of course, Buddha – as well as streams and small natural pools. There are even footprints said to have been made by the Buddha himself. A viewpoint looking out over the island is the perfect place to rest the legs and enjoy a picnic and watch birds and butterflies ? flutter by. The garden is less ‘secret’ than its name suggests, but while most locals and visitors have heard of it, few make the effort to actually visit, so kids will have plenty of opportunity to race around to their heart’s content.

Take a Snorkeling Side Trip

There’s no denying the beauty of Koh Samui and its beaches, but for serenity, snorkeling and scuba diving, families can take a side trip to Koh Phangan, which is served by regular ferries – the trip takes around four hours and is a pretty ride in itself, but it’s worth considering spending the night in one of the island’s cheap and cheerful guest houses. It can be busy with tourists and the Full Moon Party set during high season, but with 30 beaches on the island, a little walking is all it takes to leave the crowds behind and discover blissfully quiet spots with some of the best diving and snorkeling imaginable. Bring sturdy walking shoes and a heck of a lot of repellent, pack water and a picnic and you can while away entire days on the sand before heading back to civilisation and catching the sunset from a beach bar.

?Tip: To avoid the crowds coming to Koh Phangan for the full moon parties, try to schedule your trip to dates few days after the moon is full.

Eat here: Peak Eye View Restaurant

Families in Koh Samui can work up a heck of an appetite making the ascent to this hidden restaurant (it’s along the same route as the Secret Buddha Garden, and makes a good pitstop on the way back) which has a magnificent vantage point 600 meters above sea level. Kids love the chilled fruit smoothies, and the traditional Thai dishes taste all the better when eaten outside taking in those jaw-dropping views over the entire island. Peak Eye View Restaurant is still a well-kept secret – for now – so visitors can feel rightly smug about discovering a genuine hidden gem on Koh Samui.

A trip to Thailand is packed with opportunities for high-adrenaline fun, and there’s no need to miss out on the white-knuckle adventures just because you’ve got the kids in tow. Some extreme activities in Thailand are suitable for all ages, while others are only for adults, teens and older kids, but younger travelers are sure to get a rush from seeing their parents braving these challenging experiences. So get ready to embrace the fear factor and have some extreme fun in Thailand.

 Fly Like A Gibbon Through the Jungle

Ever seen a gibbon fly? Me neither, but they do swing impressively through the jungle, and you will too on Southeast Asia’s longest zipline, known as The Flight of the Gibbon. This all-ages activity takes place in rainforest around one hour’s drive from Chiang Mai involves a total of 28 zip-lines, totaling 800 meters, with 53 treetop platforms. The experience also includes four abseils, the highest of which is 50 meters, and you can challenge your head for heights on four dizzying sky bridges, and the vertigo-inducing spiral staircases of the ‘Zigzag Way’.

You Got This: The Flight of the Gibbon might be terrifying for anybody with a fear of heights, but it’s a safe activity that’s suitable for kids aged five and up.  Do you really want to wimp out in  front of the kids? Family packages with Treetop Asia offer a four-for-the-price-of-three deal (approximately $125 USD per person before discount), and the eco-tourism company works with jungle conservation projects. 

 Be a Human Slingshot in Pattaya

Wheeeeeee! Being catapulted through the air at 150 kilometers per hour is a thing in Thailand or, more specifically, at the adventure-sports haven that is Pattaya (more about Pattaya bungee jumping later). Flying along like a human Angry Bird is both exhilarating and, let’s face it, freakin’ terrifying, as you experience 4G forces and go from 0-150 kilometers/hour in less than a second. Bigger travelers take note, though: there’s a maximum weight limit of 100 kilograms. Prices from around $35 USD, with discounts for second flights, should you care to repeat the experience.

Mind the Fear Factor: Although there’s no stated minimum age, this one is a bit too hair-raising for younger kids and is best suited to those aged 16 and over. Younger members of the party can look on and laugh as their parents are willingly flung through the air at great speed.

 Learn to Skydive in Style

Thrill-seeking families in Thailand can check into an “extreme aviation” resort: Birds Paradise in the northeastern region of Isan. The center is cultivating new skydivers, but guests can also learn to fly ultralights, scramble over obstacle courses, and take on some pretty tricky mountain biking courses. This is one of very few United States Parachute Association schools in Thailand, and with jumps at a minimum of 12,000 feet, the views are incredible. The temperate climate here is in divers’ favor too, and jumps take place pretty much every day of the year.

Need More Convincing? With a spa, restaurants and comfy lodgings, this is the comfortable way to learn to dive. And for those who just want a one-off experience, tandem dives (no experience necessary) are the way to go.

 Extreme Bungee Jumping in Pattaya

The east-coast beach town of Pattaya is as famous for its extreme sports as it is for its gorgeous beaches, and no adventurous traveler worth their salt will want to come here without taking the highest bungee jump in Thailand. This is one for older teens and parents, but younger kids can admire their parents’ and siblings’ bravery. After going through the necessary safety procedures, daredevils will be lifted to a cage at nearly 60 meters (try to enjoy the view if you can) before leaping into the abyss. Once it’s over, bungee-ers can sip a drink at the bar and watch the whole thing back on a big screen.

Safety First: Before jumping, you’ll have to sign a waiver to state that you don’t have any medical conditions, and that you’re not intoxicated (pre-loading and jumping do not mix). Bigger brave souls will also need to step on the scales (there’s a max limit of 150 kilograms). Prices start around $30 USD with Pattaya Bungy.

 Roll Along the World’s Largest Water Zorbing Course

Get ready to channel your inner hamster! The Rollerball experience in Patong, Phuket, involves two people clambering inside a giant water-filled ball, before they are pushed off the top of a hill to go rolling along a 200-meter custom-built course.  Kids aged six and up can join in with this one, and it’s dizzyingly-good fun. The hilltop location makes for some terrific views, and a bar serving cocktails and soft drinks is a perfect place to admire the vista once you’ve done your rolling for the day (don’t drink and roll, it’s unlikely to end well). The experience costs around $20 USD per person, including local area hotel pickup.

Extreme Planking: Rolling around in a giant ball not extreme enough? Try Rollerball planking: essentially lying on the ground, flat out, while two people roll over you in a ball. Just think of it as a rather unusual massage.

Maybe you will also enjoy our special route for nature-loving families traveling to Thailand.