Chiang Mai Outdoors

Crag in Lamphang, Thailand Picture this - a lake surrounded by 25-meter walls complete with slits, crags, footholds, and ledges. Yes, you guessed it, rock climbing. A one-hour car ride to the sleepy town of Lamphang and you'll find one of the best amateur rock climbing sites in Thailand.

Big emphasis on the word amateur there. You certainly won't find yourself dangling by your fingertips without a harness, wishing you'd spent the day munching cheesecake at Starbucks.

Microlite Flying Over Chiang Mai

Microlite flying above Chiang Mai, Thailand In case you didn't know, a micro light is a motorized airplane that looks like a hang glider. It has a driver at the front and a trembling passenger behind. A two-person mini airplane if you like.

For all those who aren't scared of heights then this is probably the most spectacular way to take in Chiang Mai's impressive geography.

The lack of a plane-like shell gives the rider a feeling of complete freedom - it really feels like you're up there with the clouds.

Mountain Biking in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai Trail Riders Club

If you're a mountain bike enthusiast wanting to taste some of the best local trails then simply hook up with the Chiang Mai Trail Riders Club.

Everyone is welcome and it's free, which is pretty good value since these guys are experts on the local mountain trail scene. However, they only venture out on Sundays and you'll need to organize your own bike.They meet at the Boat Bakery at the top of Huay Kaew road.

Contact the club for any questions about renting a decent bike or other general enquiries.

Offroad Quads Near Chiang Mai

Offroad Quads Off-road quad biking takes place in the Mae Sa Valley, which is also the home of waterfalls with bathing pools, elephant training camps, heaps of mountain bungalow resorts and the highly-rated king cobra show, among other things.

Quad bikes are what some people call beach buggies, basically a motorbike with four very rugged looking wheels. While being far from dangerous, hitting the trails on a quad bike is not recommended for the faint-hearted. Know your own limitations.

The original quad bike tour company is the IMAC ATV Quad Bike Tour. (There are probably more since it doesn't take long for a good idea to be copied in Thailand.)

Your first ten kilometers from the departure point are spent motoring along a paved road toward the Mae Sa valley; this is designed to get you acquainted with the vehicle and its machinations - not that they're all that difficult to handle.

The route gets progressively challenging once you branch off onto a dirt trail and venture deeper into the valley.

Chiang Mai White Water Rafting

Rubber Boat Rafting on Mae Tang River in Chiang Mai, Thailand White Water Yes, that's right. The real white water deal is available in Chiang Mai. But the real excitement only happens if you are around during the rainy season.

Mae Tang River

Starting in Burma, the Mae Taeng flows, not surprisingly, through the Mae Tang Valley and into the Ping River (the Ping river is the one that runs through the center of Chiang Mai). Photo courtesy Mae Tang Tour

Ride the Samoeng Loop

Honda Motorcycle If you have some free time and fancy a one-day motorbike loop ride then the Samoeng loop is the obvious choice. The loop is easily accessible from Chiang Mai and  will take you through the well-forested backwaters of Doi Suthep/Doi Pui national park.

Here's how to do it

First you'll need a Honda scooter, which can be rented all over Chiang Mai. Chances are you'll be required to leave your passport as a deposit, which is common practice in Chiang Mai. You can rent the one in the photo at Tony's Big Bikes

Note: There's a whole load of 1 and 2-day loop trips around Chiang Mai to enjoy. Some of them far nicer than the Samoeng loop.

Bungee Jump

Probably the most radical of all Chiang Mai's adventure pursuits has to be the bungee jump .. a 50-meter drop over a puddle with an elastic band around your ankles.

The whole thing is run by a Kiwi guy called Ian and safety standards are of the highest order. Two thousand baht a go for anyone brave / foolish enough.

Ian's bungee jump in situated on the famous Samoeng Loop Road and is well signposted.

Note: If you have a bad heart or an easily displaced ethereal body then don't try this.

Hot Air Balloon Rides

A company called Oriental Balloon Flights Co. will happily take you sailing into the clouds for a few hours .. for a price.

Would make a nice "once in a lifetime" excursion.

Their head office is about 10 km outside Chiang Mai on the Chiang Mai - Doi Saket Road.

Or you can visit their web site at www.orientalballoonflights.com