Thailand. It’s a country that conjures up instant images of paradisiacal islands, turquoise blue waters and golden sands; rugged mountainous rainforest; and an enchanting culture that captures the heart quite like no other. The drawback? It’s changing, fast.
From Bangkok’s hedonistic nightlife to Chiang Mai’s nonchalantly mysterious aura, Thailand rightly has a reputation as one of the best tourist destinations on earth. It’s no wonder that the country now hosts over 30million travellers per year.
But with such a large volume of people coming in, the challenges to find untouched slices of beauty is becoming increasingly difficult in Siam. And given Thailand’s world class reputation for hospitality, new discoveries generally don’t remain secret for long.
Thailand is rapidly changing, but these 5 off-the-beaten-path destinations remain authentic in culture, stunning in beauty, and as welcoming as anywhere else in the Kingdom for a magical stay. Explore them before they too open the doors to mass tourism.
Idyllic beaches without swarms of tourists; local culture undiluted; and world class Thai cuisine alongside a growing coffee and cafe culture. Chanthaburi is a hidden gem within the Kingdom, just like its booming jewel trade that drives the city’s economy.
Considering it’s just a 2-hour drive south of tourist-haven Pattaya, it’s a wonder that Chanthaburi remains untouched by foreigners. It’s close proximity to Koh Chang also make it a potentially ideal stop-off en route to one of Thailand’s most underrated islands.
Chanthaburi is not the most vibrant city in Thailand by any means, but for Buddhist festivals like Loi Krathong it stirs up a magical atmosphere and raw authenticity you’ll be hard pressed to find elsewhere in the country.
2. Chiang Rai
While Chiang Mai swallows up most tourists heading North, it is its sleepy neighbour that has a more impressive history.
Chiang Rai’s glistening temples, delectable Northern cuisine and geographical position on the border of both Myanmar and Laos make it a destination not to be overlooked. A short motorbike ride away allows you to explore the historical Golden Triangle, while adventurers can embark on some of the countries most stunning hiking trails closer to town.
3. Khao Sok National Park
Most tourists heading South either end up in Phuket or Krabi’s surrounding islands, but it is the relatively unvisited province of Surat Thani that provides arguably the most memorable experience.
Hosting the worlds oldest evergreen rainforest, Khao Sok, this national park is home to mind-blowing limestone cliffs, breathtaking lakes, and some of the countries most diverse and beautiful wildlife.
Stay in the parks mesmerising tranquil lakes for the best experience, and use it as a base for jungle expeditions into the wild. Alternatively, just put your feet up in a hammock, take in the gorgeous scenery and serenade yourself in its blissful atmosphere.
This huge area of land covers the Eastern side of Thailand, and is by far the least visited region in the Land of Smiles. But this is all the more reason to visit.
Vast swathes of Isaan are remote farmland, but there’s a very strong argument to be made that it is here where you’ll find the strongest sense of culture in the whole of the country. And while the provinces are heavily influenced by both Khmer and Laotian culture, its sense of community and “Sabai Sabai” laid-backness make Isaan an irresistible destination.
Isaan is also the home of sumptuous Som Tam’s (Spicy Papaya Salad) and countless other famous Thai dishes. If you’re looking for anything and everything with spice, this is the part of Thailand you need to visit!
A 3-hour drive North West of Bangkok, Kanchanaburi’s charmingly peaceful location on the River Kwai makes it the perfect weekend getaway from the freneticism of the City of Angels.
This tiny town punches well above its weight for history and also can kick it with the best of Thailand’s natural scenery.
In Kanchanaburi, you can bathe in the natural waterfalls of Erawan, stay in a bungalow on the River Kwai, and visit the horrors of World War 2’s Death Railway for a poignant travel experience. By the time your stay is over, it’s impossible not to be swooned by this diminutive towns attractions!