Five off-beat destinations in Thailand that one can’t miss!
Thailand is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. At pre-covid levels, around 40 million international tourists travel thousands of miles to visit Thailand every year. Be it Pattaya, Phuket, Hua Hin, Koh Samui, or Koh Phangan. It is no surprise that the popular destinations in Thailand are already famous and well-traversed.
The seasoned traveler who has visited Thailand multiple times is sure to wonder; What other hidden gems are there in Thailand? This article will tell you just that: We will explore five off-beat destinations in Thailand that one cannot miss!
Nan, The Mountain Valley in the North
When one thinks about Thailand, beaches are one of the things that instantly come to mind. But did you know that Thailand has one of the most beautiful mountain valleys in the world, that can compete with the valleys of Europe? That is Nan province; a mountainous region in north Thailand.
Nan province is a valley around 700km north of Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand. The biggest city, also named Nan, has a population of less than 25,000 people spread across a large rural area.
Within the Nan province, one could go for a drive along the mountainside. There exists very well built roads that go along the curves of the mountains, making for some unforgettable driving scenery. Upon reaching a high viewpoint, one could take a rest at the many mountain cafes, taking in the breathtaking views while sipping your favorite drink.
Other highlights in Nan include the world-famous Wat Phumin Temple, alongside the Wat Phrathat Temple and Wat Phra That Temple. Renting a motorcycle and going on a guided tour is also highly recommended.
Sam Phan Bok, Thailand’s Grand Canyon
We have all heard of the Grand Canyon. Located in North Arizona, USA it is one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World. But did you know that Thailand also has its very own Grand Canyon?
Located in the northeastern region of Sam Phan Bok, this natural rock formation lies on the Mekong River. The formation of the curves of the canyons is a natural process of millions of years of water erosion from rainfall flowing through the canyons into the Mekong River. There are an estimated 3,000 holes that are naturally formed by the rain in the canyon area, with mini rivers flowing through each of them.
We recommend going for a morning stroll as at night the place could potentially be dangerous as it is easy to slip on the rocks. In the morning, before noon time is usually the best as the sun has not risen to its highest point yet, making it not too hot. Wearing hiking shoes and making sure you have enough water or energy drinks to keep you hydrated is also vital.
Lipe Island, The Unexplored Island
Located on the southern reach of Thailand, Koh Lipe also known as Lipe Island is gaining popularity that may soon rival that of Phuket and Pattaya. It is located in the province of Satun, fairly close to the border between Thailand and Malaysia.
With its white sandy beaches that look like a powder, in combination with the turquoise clear water, it is considered to be one of Thailand’s most beautiful beaches.
As the usual tourist beaches and islands are very popular, hidden places such as Lipe Island are more attractive if you are looking for somewhere less crowded. There may not be as much shopping or nightlife as the other beaches, but peaceful isolation is the motto here.
Activities on Lipe Island include snorkeling, diving, and kayaking. As only a limited number of motorboats are allowed to board Lipe Island in a day, the coral reefs and natural seabeds remain largely untouched and well preserved. This adds to its elegant natural beauty and also protects organisms such as small fishes that live there.
Other attractions include Tarutao National Park. A national reserve area with lots of trees that will make for a perfect place to go jogging. With plenty of natural shade, resting under the trees with a packed lunch is a very good idea. Viewpoints are also numerous, so make sure to go exploring. You may find a hidden gem of your own!
Kanchanaburi, Community on the River Kwai
Kanchanaburi is the perfect place for environment and culture enthusiasts. It is where the River Kwai is situated, made famous in the 1957 war-drama movie ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’.
The bridge was constructed by Thai and Burmese POWs (prisoners of war) from the Allied Forces during World War II.
Unfortunately, lots of people died during the process of construction, gaining the bridge its notorious name the ‘Death Railway’.
The bridge on River Kwai is not the only attraction in Kanchanaburi. Recently locals have flocked to Kanchanaburi to enjoy the traditional wooden accommodation that is built alongside River Kwai.
Over here, you can find lots of hotels and restaurants serving freshly caught delicacies from the river such as river prawns and fishes. The serene atmosphere next to the river makes it a perfect place for couples to enjoy a nice getaway from the hustling bustling city life.
Other attractions include the Erawan National Park which contains the Erawan Falls inside. In the reserve, you can find a picturesque waterfall that cascades down from the mountains which is all surrounded by lush vegetation and limestone. Enjoy the scenic hike up and down the falls and if you’re feeling hot, why not take a dip in the natural turquoise pools?
Sukhothai, Thailand’s Old Capital
A long time before Bangkok existed, Thailand’s first capital since the country was founded was Sukhothai. It is located around 430km north of Bangkok while connecting to each other with the Chao Phraya River. Sukhothai is interesting because it is the location of numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites including ruins that have stood for thousands of years.
Surrounding the ruins, you are able to find local villages, peaceful streams, and green paddies full of vegetation. The recommended mode of transport is a bicycle. There are daily bicycling tours where you can join a group of 5-7 cyclists, led by a local, on a guided view of Sukhothai. Cycling not only protects the surrounding ruins and towns from pollution but it could also be an opportunity to give your legs a nice workout.
Other attractions in Sukhothai include the Boon Lott Elephant Sanctuary. Here you can go on a ride on the back of an elephant while taking in the scenic views of the ruins and the jungle path. The sanctuary also provides education on how elephants are housed and cared for while creating a sustainable environment that promotes wildlife and nature preservation. So make sure you visit Sukhothai to take in the diverse offerings available!
In this list, we have explored five off-beat destinations in Thailand that one can’t miss. Be it the mountainous region of Nan, the unique Grand Canyon of Thailand in Sam Phan Bok, the untouched island of Lipe, the culturally rich Kanchanaburi and River Kwai, or the ancient capital of Sukhothai. There is more to Thailand than the major tourist cities and beaches. These are the five hidden gems throughout Thailand that are worth traveling to!