Trail Running is Hot in Thailand: Where to Run?
Where are the best running trails? Thailand is not a small country and has many diverse opportunities to get away from the crowded cities. As the popularity of trail running increases, more new and interesting venues are discovered.
Benefits of Trail Running
Experienced runners agree that the most enjoyable elements of trail running are the scenery and the sensuality of new surroundings, climate and vegetation. Trail running is an excellent way to enjoy a new location close-up while reaping the benefits of a healthy workout.
Runners should be aware of weather conditions and exercise extreme caution when running in warmer climates. Because of the proximity to the equator, temperatures in Thailand do not vary significantly from season to season. The warmest, most humid months are March through August, with the rainiest season occurring during May to September. Rainfall drops off significantly from November to March.
Temperatures do vary based on elevation and proximity to the sea. Bangkok's average high temperatures is 33°C (plus or minus 2°C) throughout the year. Phuket, 835km south and cooled by ocean breezes, enjoys an average high temperature range of 26-29°C.
Exciting Running Trails Throughout Thailand
Nong Chok at Korean International School – 7km – moderate
Located 40km northeast of Bangkok at the Korean School, the trail circles the 3km Fishing Lake. This is generally a flat course, mostly on dirt roads, through meadows and open countryside, passing rice paddies and water buffalo. The roads can become very muddy during the rainy season, so be prepared. This route is the site of the popular Bangkok Ultra Trail 50km Festival.
Ko Samet Running Trail – 14.75km – moderate
Ko Samet, famed for its beautiful beaches, exotic coral and clear blue water is a tiny island near the south coast across from the village of Rayong, about 190km from Bangkok. The island is accessible by ferry or hired speedboat. This course loops from the beach uphill into the coastal highlands and back. During your run, you will be among trees and various island plants and animals, though you will almost never lose sight of the ocean. You may also visit the Rayong Aquatic Animal Husbandry Station before or after your crossing.
Pattaya- Khao Mai Keao Reservation Park – 10.7km – easy
The Reservation Park is near Pattaya, approximately 130km due south from Bangkok along the coast of the Gulf of Thailand. The route is part of the Columbia Trail Masters Race Series held each year in January at distances of 50, 25 and 10km. Cash prizes are awarded for the Top 5 finishers in each category. This course meanders through lush tropical forests on both soft and hard surfaces.
Si Khaeo, Si Sa Ket Rice Paddy Loop – 4.5km – easy
If your travels should find you in the very eastern part of Thailand near Si Khaeo, try this triangular route around the rice paddies very near the Vietnam border. From the dirt track you will see very few trees and a lot of flat topography. But you will experience a truly rural environment, very much as it existed centuries ago. Si Sa Ket, a small village, is only about 60km from Ubon Ratchathani, a bustling city with nightlife, a university and an airport. You can see other remote running venues at http://www.walkjogrun.net/running-routes/Thailand/
Phuket, Kalim Hill – Patong Beach – 15km – difficult
Phuket is proclaimed by many to be the running capital of Thailand. Several trails start near the seafront at the south end of the town and proceed up the beach. The most difficult challenge is the round trip to conquer Kalim Hill, inland to the northeast and to an elevation of 532m (1732 ft.). While the view overlooking the town and beach are spectacular, don't forget to take plenty of water.
Phuket, Patong Beach – 5.6km easy
A more conservative adventure at Patong is to remain entirely on the beach. Start early in the morning and travel north or south from any point and enjoy the ocean and the seafront of the town. You can stop at the end of your route for a local pastry and juice or coffee, as you wish. This is a great way to get a feel for the seafront area.
Phuket, Patong Headland – 10km – moderate
Alternatively, you should start at the very tip of the peninsula at the south end of the village and follow the trail up to the headlands that parallel the beach. The trail is quite hilly and steep in places as it traverses the higher elevations. The trail will end at the north end of town.
River Kwai Resort on Khwai Yai – 21km – moderate
Running for 30 years, the River Kwai International Half Marathon is one the oldest trail races in Thailand. This most scenic trail begins and ends at the River Kwai Resort. Nearby is the locale of the famed "Death Railway", the 258 mile train route from Rangoon to Bangkok, aptly named because of the 90,000 Asian locals and the 12,399 Allied POW's who perished while building the railway. This is the location of the famous Bridge on the River Kwai. The museum is a must-see.
Khao Yai National Park, Pak Chjong District – various trails
This National Park is part of the venue for North Face 100, a spectacular route through pineapple and manioc groves in the picturesque district of Amphoe Pakchong. The Park is approximately 200km northeast of Bangkok. There are many adventurous trails to choose from, mostly dirt.
Bangkok – Lumpini Park – 7.75km – moderate
Finally, if you are unable to leave the capital city or are finishing your journey here, Lumpini Park stands as an oasis amid the chaos of Bangkok. An early morning run, before the real heat sets in, is a wondrous way to start your day. As you run, you will pass exotic trees and flowers, as well as dance classes, Tai Chi and Yoga participants.
The Park has a peaceful and lovely environment, truly representative of the Thai culture and a wonderful way to start the day, or end your trip.
Enjoy Your Run in Thailand
Thailand offers a wonderful contrast to our normal running venues. As soon as you finish your first run, the lush natural scenery will provoke you to anticipate your next. Have you run in any of the trails or races in Thailand? Share with us your experience!