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Paddle through paradise in Thailand

Experience an unforgettable adventure in Thailand by kayak. There is endless sightseeing to do by boat – whether you are paddling for yourselves or taking a guide, you will be fully immersed in Thailand's natural beauty and wildlife. There is no better way to explore the emerald bays, karst (limestone) islands, sheer cliffs, and hongs (hidden lagoons.

There are many opportunities for kayaking and hiking tours of Thailand's most loved nature spots. Seeing this tropical landscape from the open waters is a perfect option for those in search of pure, raw nature and adventure. Take a jungle kayak tour through the famous Khao Sok National Park where you can see many otters, monkeys, gibbons, langurs, tapirs, wild pigs and elephants right from the boat. The birdlife is spectacular. Besides at least 8 species of hornbills, kingfishers and other colorful tropical birds will surprise you as you paddle.

Phang-Nga Bay, part of Ao Phang Nga National Park in Southern Thailand, is undoubtedly one of the most popular sea kayaking destinations in the country. From tidal sea caves, dozens of deserted lagoons and islands, limestone cliffs, and plentiful wildlife sightings, there is plenty to explore. Enjoy the sights by day or take an unforgettable “hong by starlight” journey. If you have a chance to stay and camp, take a night-time swim in the warm sea for a spectacular view of the stars! Phang Nga Bay boasts over 88 species of birds and more than 82 species of fish. Leave your kayak for a swim and float above a rich array of coral reefs, sea urchins, sting ray, giant clams, and anemone.

You will kayak through areas of majestic mangrove and thai kratom plants and pass under stalactite rocks. Along the way, look out for monkeys climbing the rocks and swinging from the vines and vertical vegetation. The type of monkey in this park is called the Crab-Eating Macaque, due to their diet of crabs and oysters in their island environment. The park is absolutely teeming with wildlife. Brightly colored fiddler crabs, giant monitor lizards and mudskippers are common in these waters and special to the mangrove forest eco-system.

The Islands of Trang are another destination in southeast Thailand that draws kayakers who want to dip their paddles into the crystal clear waters, relax on stunning white sand beaches, and enjoy lush hills, waterfalls and limestone caves. The coastline stretches 120 miles from the Andaman Sea to the Straits of Malacca and encompasses 46 larger and smaller islands. This area is protected as a national parkland and sees less visitors than other areas of the country.

The main reason to paddle through the waters around the Islands of Trang is to have up-close encounters with the marine wildlife. The waters are just teeming with fish. You can snorkel, and at low tide, even walk out onto the coral reefs. Paddlers who venture here have the very special experience of seeing the herbivorous marine mammal and Trang Province's state icon, the dugong, or “lady of the sea.” Dugongs are most closely related to the manatee and the elephant, and are now endangered.

Visitors can strike out into the open waters and paddle from island to island. Ko Muk is the most well known of the islands because of a special rock formation, Tham Morakot, or 'Emerald Cave.' Accessible only during low tide with a guide, you can swim through a hidden tunnel to reach it and then emerge into a breathtakingly green lagoon surrounded by white sands, limestone cliffs and blue sky. Ko Libong is Trang's largest island and has the best variety of local and migratory birds. Ko Sukorn, Ko Hai and some of the other smaller islands are excellent choices for a quiet swim, snorkel, or look around the hidden reefs.

Some of the best-known kayaking takes place in Krabi. Explore the dramatic scenery, caves, canyons and waters, as well as the local villages. Ao Thalane, or Thalane Bay, is the most beautiful mangrove forest in the country, brimming with animal activity. You will see different things at any time of day that you go, and no two trips are the same. During high tide there are many channels that you can easily paddle through to see the many caves and lagoons. Viewing the intricate root systems, all the fish that live in the mud, the kingfishers, herons and all the birds that feed off of them, is best during low tide. The beautiful karst mountains form a magical backdrop for Krabi's amazing coastline and rich ecosystem.