Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Flying Through the Trees at Phuket Tree Adventure

Reaching new heights at Phuket Tree Adventure
(Dear grandma, he's wearing a safety harness.)

My announcement that we were going to Phuket, Thailand was met with a total lack of enthusiasm from the kids. We'd been away from Penang for 6 weeks, and all they wanted to do was hang out in their tropical island home, not on a different tropical island. (It's a very hard life we lead.) So, I took my own advice and included them in the trip planning hoping to stir up a little interest. That's how we found ourselves high up in the trees at Phuket Tree Adventure, a.k.a. Xtrem Aventures, a recreational ropes course with plenty of high elements. My oldest boy loved climbing oak trees back in Austin, and the tall, skinny palm trees of Malaysia have proven to be very difficult to scale. This was his big chance to spend the morning in the treetops. It was suited for his younger siblings, too.

The session began with outfitting my son and hubby with safety helmets, gloves and harnesses. No helmets were big enough to fit hubby's cranium which is large even by Western standards. He just perched the largest one on top, strapped it on,  and hoped for the best. A quick training session just a meter off the ground showed them the ropes. (Sorry, couldn't help myself. I had to get that joke in here somewhere.) They were supposed to use the two carabiners clipped in opposite directions on the safety rope and never have both unhooked at the same time. When my younger two kids saw them zipline a few feet off the ground, they really wanted to give it a try, too. But I had other things in store for them.

This zip-line is just his mama's speed.

Phuket Tree Adventure isn't just ziplining, though. It's a ropes course requiring upper body strength, balance, and plenty of courage. If you've stayed up all night partying, perhaps you should stay away.

Hubby's height helped out when climbing up a tree using handholds or stepping from disk to disk to get to the next platform. My son's size, however, was better suited to scampering through the hamster tunnels between the trees. My boy took great joy turning around every now and then to tell his dad, "You're going to love this one. Ha ha ha!"

Not just another walk in the park

Four different courses are rated from Easy to Difficult to Challenging. Although kids as young as 6-years-old are allowed on the course with a continuous belay system, my hubby was glad all the kids didn't come along. For one thing, there's no way I would have gone, so he'd be single-parenting in the treetops. They younger one could have done the two easy courses but even my taller than average 9-year-old would have had trouble reaching with his arms and legs on the difficult course.

Swinging from tree to tree

Side stepping

Hubby said he wasn't afraid until the last element on the Challenging course. Being in a tree 40 meters (120 feet) above the ground isn't for the faint of heart. All he needed to do was zipline across, climb down, and check it all off as D-O-N-E. But fate had other plans. He whacked into the tree at the far side, bounced back, and came to rest suspended by the ropes and harnesses 20 feet from the platform. After a few minutes pulling himself along hand-over-hand, he  reached his destination. Whew!

What were the younger kids and I doing these couple of hours? We were hanging out in the Accro Spider — 21 easy stations similar to the ones the big guys were doing but with a safety net underneath instead of a belay system. One parent there even managed to do this course carrying an iPad to take photos! I felt sorry for a youngster in another family who watched us longingly from the ground because all she got to do was stand next to mum on the trail who was taking pictures of others on the ropes course.

Younger tykes can have fun without giving mama a heart attack.

Reaching from piece to piece was a little hard for my daughter, and she was scared to drop down from the flying fox to the platform a little way below her dangling feet. My heart warmed when I saw her brother reach up from the net to help her get across. He was quite good at the course and had me time him as he raced around and around. Or he'd just lay down with his arms crossed behind his head on the swaying net as if it was the world's biggest hammock and declare, "This is the life."


Even I got into the act. As I was walking toe-to-heel across a rope, hanging on to the two support ropes on either side of me at hip level, I jinxed myself by saying, "I'm not cut out to be a tightrope walker." Boom! Next thing I knew, my feet slipped off, and I was suddenly straddling the rope.

This place turned out to be great fun for everyone. I would definitely say it rescued our trip from being "Bleh" in the kids' eyes to "Yeah!"

If You Go:
Xtrem Aventures Phuket (also called Phuket Tree Adventure)
Located on the southern part of Phuket, near the Big Buddha

Open 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. with last start at 3:00 p.m.
Closed during heavy rains and storms (because they're not lunatics)
Will pick up from hotel for a 10:00 a.m. or 1:00 p.m. playtime

Tree Adventure courses: Adults 1,900 baht and Kids 6-12 years 1,200 baht
Accro Spider Kids Zone: Adults 600 baht and Kids 4-12 years 400 baht

Related Posts:
R&R in Phuket, Thailand
Snorkeling at Thailand's Racha Yai Island

This post is part of Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox and Friday Daydreamin' at R We There Yet Mom? Check them out for more around-the-world travel inspiration.


  1. What fun! Everyone seemed to be having the time of their life. It's so good to be able to find activities like this to do and be able to introduce them to different adventures. What's next?

  2. This looks so cool and fun! I'm not sure about the challenging course and kudos to your hubby and son for doing that. I felt tired just looking at it and reading what they had to do. I'm there with you on the easy stations. Really sweet sibling love picture. Looks like another wonderful family adventure.

  3. Wow that looks like so much fun. You sound like us when we are in Penang - there's so many places we want to visit and it's so cheap to get there (darn those AirAsia sales) that we're never stopped for more than a few weeks at a time. Our children go so sick of it. Involving them in the planning sounds like a good compromise. I usually get them involved once we are there ... but doing it beforehand I think would be much better. I wonder what else they picked.

  4. Just the sort of place my kids would have enjoyed when they were younger. Gosh, Penang sounds a wonderful place to live. I backpacked there in 1983. Bet it's changed since then :)

    1. My friend who's been here for 16 years was remarking on how much has changed since she arrived. Lots more tall buildings and big malls.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Lisa, I didn't mean to remove this, and I now I don't know how to get it back. So, so sorry! Thank you so much for commenting.

    2. I found Lisa's original comment that I accidentally removed:

      "That first pic - wow that is high off the ground! It looks like fun but this is one adventure that I could never be talked into - I'm just too afraid of heights! The course for the younger kids? - maybe! Glad to hear that you all had such a good time. "

  6. You are a brave family! I don't know if I could do any of this, but keep thinking that I should give challenge myself. Even though you fell -- you did it. Well done!

  7. This looks like great fun. Very smart of you to involve kids. I think that always makes the activities go more smoothly.

  8. That's something to put on my list of things to do!!

  9. This looks like so much fun! I love to be outside.

  10. How AMAZING!!!! Not much like this around here!! Thanks for sharing it with us!!

    I'm sorry I'm just now getting over to visit - I was out of commission the past 2 days! Thanks for linking up!!


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