BANGKOK, 10 February 2021: There are plenty of arguments and possibly excuses for not going camping – lack of home comforts, the do-it-yourself dining, and even the weather come to mind – and one excellent reason to go camping. It takes us back to nature and radiates a perception of adventure.
Understandably, sleeping under the stars protected only by a flimsy tent is not for everybody, when there are plenty of luxury options at bargain prices at Thailand’s boutique resorts that offer equally stunning views of the sea or mist-covered mountains. But nothing quite matches the fun and frustration of fumbling with the tent fly zip to hurriedly scramble barefoot from your tiny canvas haven to Instagram a spectacular sunrise.
Enthusiasts argue that the fun of camping starts with the preparation from choosing a campsite to preparing essential items, including camping gear, cooking equipment, and proper clothing and shoes. There are many lists of things to think about, including having enough groceries, rice, snacks event a supply of drinking water. The camp master has to create fun activities, songs, and creepy night-time stories to round off the camp experience. Rain, bugs, ants, slugs, leeches, mosquitos, outdoor shower blocks, noisy neighbours, are often cited as reasons why pitching a tent in the woods might not be a good idea.
Start with the right mood
Camping under the stars comes with a simple requirement. It is all about leaving your worries behind and taking a break from daily routines. Those who have discovered camping say dwelling in the forest even for a short spell say it will heal your mood, allow you to chill out and blow away stress.
Camping trips require a team effort to ensure safety, especially when engaging in adventure travel activities. Take a guide to show you forest trails rather than wandering off alone. Rain forests enthral us with the majestic beauty and profusion of colour, but they can also surprise us as they are also home to wildlife that might object to our presence. Experienced national park guides can ensure you return safely to the campsite while benefiting from local wisdom that unlocks the mysteries of the forest.
Getting close to nature, enjoying a different type of holiday to luxury resort living is now trending, and camping is catching on here in Thailand. The craze started with university students and couples with young children looking for a different kind of vacation experience during long school holidays. The demand for camping led to specialised shops opening in Bangkok and online stores offering the latest camping gear and gimmicks.
But for international travellers, the camping option is limited to resorts in national parks that offer campsites experience and all you need to do drive there for the camping experience to begin. More tour operators are now looking at how they can package a camping holiday and supply all the gear even including guides for national park treks. They may even provide a camp cook to rustle up the food for the group. It makes the logistics of camping easy for the traveller and saves the investment in camp gear that you might only use a couple of times.
Seeking an ideal campsite is a good start but ensure the site is authorised with support facilities and there are experts close-by. Pitching a tent in a national park outside of designated zones is not a good idea. It might sound adventurous, but there are risks that your presence is unknown to rangers and park officials. It is important that park officials know where you are and can monitor campers from time-to-time to ensure their safety.
Of the 155 Natural Parks in Thailand, many offer excellent camping sites with facilities that include electricity, tap water, bathrooms, shops selling food provisions and security. There are rules at the campsite that have been tightened recently, such as limiting night-time party hours to ensure everyone enjoys a peaceful sleep and a ban on consuming alcoholic beverages. Campers must also take their rubbish home with them rather than leaving it at the campsite.
Under a blanket of stars – Doi Samur Dao
Doi Samur Dao in Nan province in North Thailand is one of the best spots to enjoy magnificent views of mountain ranges in Sri Nan National Park. The campsite stands on an open grassy area on the tip of a mountain ridge. This offers overnight camping under the stars while you wake up to witness a beautiful sea mist and sunrise scenery, stretching to the horizon. Sunset views are also spectacular from Hua Sing Cliff. Doi Samur Dao enjoys cool weather all year round. The most favourite time for campers to visit Doi Samur Dao is between October to February, when winter breeze blow and overnight temperatures dip to around 5 to 8 degrees centigrade.
Panoramic sunset scenery – Pha Keb Tawan
The name literary means a cliff that holds the sun. The spot offers a campsite where you can enjoy twilight visas over Thap Lan National Park. Located in Wang Nam Khiew, Nakhon Ratchasima, Thap Lan National Park is known as the second largest National Park in Thailand. Visitors can enjoy a reforestation activity such as shooting plant seeds with a slingshot into the undergrowth. In September visitors can spot Fan Palms in full bloom.
Morning mist over the lake – Pang Ung
Pang Ung offers picturesque spots, surrounded by pine forests, where campers can enjoy winter morning mist that settles over the park’s reservoir. Pang Ung is home to the Royal Forest Project at Pang Tong 2 in Mae Hong Son. There are two main campsites for visitors which include a campground located within the area of the royal project and the site which is supervised by The Tham Pla – Namtok Pha Suea National Park. Due to limited capacity, campers are advised to contact visitor centres for reservation in advance. In Pang Ung, visitors can enjoy bamboo rafting, trekking, birdwatching, or visiting Ban Ruam Thai village.
Relaxing waterfall sound – Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall
Located in the Srinakarin Dam National Park, Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall is considered as one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Kanchanaburi. The seven-level waterfalls offer campsite facilities at level four, named Chat Kaew, which is recognised as the best spot to enjoy the charm of Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall. From the camping area, visitors can enjoy a panoramic view over Srinakarin Dam.
Sunrise over the mountain range – Mon Son Viewpoint
Mon Son Viewpoint, Doi Angkhang, Chiang Mai, is an ideal spot for those who appreciate beautiful sunrise views. From the hillside campsite, 1,787 metres above sea level, campers enjoy a 180-degree view of the mountain ranges at sunrise from the vantage point overlooking the forested hilly slopes of Doi Pha Hom Pok National Park. Visitors can also enjoy camping facilities such as restaurants, coffee shops, and souvenir shops near the viewpoint. Places to visit during the trip include Doi Ang Khang Royal Project, strawberry and tea plantations.
Dramatic limestone islands – Samet Nangshe Viewpoint
Located in a privately owned property, Samet Nangshe Viewpoint, in Phang Nga province in southern Thailand, offers a spot where visitors can camp and wake up to stunning panoramic views over Phang Nga Bay and its limestone karsts and islets rising from the sea. Besides the campsite, the property also offers tourist accommodation and a restaurant where visitors can also enjoy fresh seafood. Activities include a boat trip to explore limestone islands, caves, and mangrove forest, paddling a canoe, or visiting Ban Hin Rom fisherman village.