River rafting is a growing sport in Thailand, and there are a number of venues and tour operators available for freshwater kayaking, whitewater rafting, and traditional bamboo rafting. Most of the rapids are mid-level and suitable for beginner to intermediate skill levels.

Depending on the length of the tour, lunch may be included in the package or offered at additional cost. A more laid-back approach to the river involves taking a bamboo skiff out for an hour or two, and activity that is popularly included on trekking adventures.

  • Best in: Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and Kanchanaburi Provinces.
  • Best time: dry season (Feb-Apr) is best for bamboo rafting, while rainy season (May–Oct) features raging rapids from monsoon rains; October through January is the sweet spot for whitewater rafting and river kayaking.

  • wa-river: (Nan) - The Wa River rushes through stretches of Nan province and hosts the best white water rafting in Thailand. Knowledgeable guides lead groups of rafters or kayakers, and the rapids grade between classes three and five during the rainy season (June to August).

  • mae-tang-river: (Chiang Mai) - Mae Tang River in Chiang Mai province is nearly as ferocious as the Wa River though the rapids don’t usually surpass class four. Siam Rivers is the main tour provider here, with a few smaller companies at work.

  • pai-river: (Mae Hong Son) - The Pai River flows through Mae Hong Son province and is well-serviced with adventure sport operators. Pai is popular for trekking, and rafting is often bundled into a four-day trekking tour. Low-key bamboo rafting is also offered.

  • mae-klong-river: (Tak) - The Mae Klong River has the best rapids in Tak province. The ride lasts four hours and passes through a rich ecosystem with plenty of wildlife viewing possibilities. A visit to the Telorla Falls can also be worked into this outing.

  • kek-river: (Phitsanulok) - It’s hard to predict what the conditions will be like on this river in Phitsanulok. On the best days, the rapids are almost unbroken, giving passengers two hours of solid action. The difficulty depends on current conditions so it’s wise to be cautious if unsure of your abilities.

  • kaeng-hin-pheng-river: (Nakhon Ratchasima) - This river flows through Khao Yai National Park and a four-mile stretch is open to rafting. The first set of rapids is the best, though there’s plenty more to keep passengers entertained for the remaining 90 minutes. Tours usually aren’t available outside of the rainy season.

  • klong-pong-nam-river: (Chantaburi) - This six-mile course is moderately challenging and suitable for any reasonably fit person. A dozen or more rapids are found here depending on the season, topping out at 30 during the peak rainy season (July and August).

  • song-gaila-river: (Sangklaburi) - In Sangklaburi, this river offers a 12-mile stretch of intermittent rapids that begin with a fast-paced five-tier descent. Tour operators are sure to stop midway to give passengers a chance to enjoy the area’s waterfall.

  • petch-river: (Petchaburi) - In Petchaburi, this river is ideal for children or novice rafters. There aren’t any rapids, but the scenery here in Kraeng Kachang National Park is great. Tours are short and may include visits to a few waterfalls.

  • kaeng-bok-fai-river: (Chumphon) - This seven-mile stretch of river in Chumphon province enjoys easy access by car, making it ideal for travelers trying to make an evening engagement. There are seven sets of mid-level rapids dotted with boulders, and the journey takes around three hours.

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  • Siam River Adventures: 17 Ratchawitee Rd, Chiang Mai • Tel: 66(0)81-473-6839

    30 rapids along 10 kilometers of the Mae Taeng River. Opportunities for homestays in a Karen Village combined with trekking and elephant riding as well.

  • Thai Adventure Rafting: Rangsiyanun Rd, Pai District, Mae Hong Son • Tel: 66(0)53-699-111 • www.thairafting.com

  • Stonewater Ltd.: Amara Court, #306, 645/44 Petchburi Rd, Bangkok • Tel: 66(0)2-653-9712 • www.stevevanbeek.com

    With 20 years of intimate experience in the region, Stonewater offers 5 to 15 day adventures including food and lodging. Book well in advance.

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