For most travelers, Thailand means white sand beaches, azure blue waters, tropical islands, luxury resorts and bustling nightlife. It’s no surprise then that most of these people end up going to tourist hotspots like Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket and Koh Samui.
If you are one of those travelers who is tired of these commercial destinations, Thailand has enough places to surprise and delight you. Some of these jewels are close to the touristy places while some are hidden in the farthest corners of the country. Nonetheless, they all provide rich and unique experiences.
Check out these 10 offbeat places which are a welcome change from mainstream Thailand tourism.
The backpacker paradise of northeast Thailand, Pai is where you are most likely to meet hippies sporting dreadlock hairstyles. It’s a village tucked away in the mountains – full of lush greenery, waterfalls and rivers. The ideal place to be if all you want to hear is the sound of nature.
There’s more to listen though – there are quite a few riverside bars and pubs playing western music. The best way of soaking up this place would be to just explore its many natural wonders on a bike.
How to get there: Take a flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. A 3-hour bus ride from Chiang Mai takes you to Pai
The coolest thing to do here: Day trip to Tham Lod caves, an impressive cave with a river flowing through it.
Koh Tao is one of the best diving destinations in Thailand. Well, it also happens to be the cheapest. The waters here are a sparkling blue, the marine life is diverse and the corals are a splash of colors. The icing on the cake is a chance to swim along massive whale sharks.
If you’re not keen on diving, there is still plenty to do here. Its secluded white sand beaches, slow lifestyle and insane parties are sure to make you stay longer than you planned.
How to get there: Take a flight from Bangkok to Surat Thani. A 4 hour ferry from there takes you to Koh Tao.
Coolest thing to do here: Scuba diving, hands down!
If you are looking for a blend of culture, mountains, lip-smacking street food, friendly people, then Chiang Mai is your best bet. It’s one of those well-developed places which has managed to escape the touristy crowd.
Its natural surroundings and close proximity to national parks make it a hiker’s paradise. Just walking around the city will open your eyes to a wealth of local experiences – be it learning how to cook delicious Thai food, learning a martial art like Muay Thai or becoming an elephant trainer for a day.
How to get there: Take a flight directly from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Coolest thing to do here: Ziplining through the rainforest and spotting wild Gibbons.
Koh Phangan is an island with a dual personality. On most days of the month, it’s as idyllic as it gets here. Travelers either laze on the beaches, hike in the jungles, dive into its turquoise waters or chill at its bars.
On the night of full moon though, the island transforms into a frenzied party place. Haad Rin beach – the venue for the crazy carnival is packed with 30000 partygoers from across the world. The night is marked by bucket loads of booze, deafening music, drunken dancing and insane fire stunts. The madness on that night is just off the charts.
How to get there: Take a flight directly from Bangkok to Surat Thani. A 2 hour ferry from there takes you to Koh Phangan
Coolest thing to do here: Din’t you read? The Full Moon party!!!!
Dream of owning an island without paying a penny? Then Koh Lipe is the answer to that dream. Well you can’t really own the island, but you are certain to have the island to yourself. Koh Lipe is one of those islands completely untouched by tourism.
Its beaches are a milky white and its waters are a stunning green. No wonder then that Koh Lipe has some of the most spectacular dive sites in Thailand. The waters here invite some unique species like dugongs, sperm whales and minke whales.
How to get there: Take a flight directly from Bangkok to Hat Yai. It’s a 4.5 hour journey from there by van and ferry.
Coolest thing to do here: Its offers one of the best scuba diving experiences in Thailand.
Kanchanaburi is a place history buffs would love. Its ticket to fame is a bridge over River Kwai, made popular by a movie of the same name. The bridge was built by Allied POW’S (prisoner of war) as a part of the Thai-Burmese railway, also called the “Death Railway”.
These landmarks and its wartime memorials make it worth a visit. And it’s not just about revisiting history lessons here. There are dense jungles, scenic national parks, beautiful waterfalls and charming riverside villages.
How to get there: It’s a 2-3 hours away from Bangkok by bus or train.
Coolest thing to do here: Trek in the Erawan national park and marvel at the stunning seven tiered waterfall
Koh Lanta is the perfect island paradise – a cocktail of untouched beaches, unbelievably clear waters and a relaxed ambience. It is one of those places where you arrive, but never leave.
Travelers here just lounge on the beaches, gape in awe at the sunsets and chill at beach side bars. If you are looking to dive, then there are some world class dive locations here. The adventurous can hike through tropical forests, kayak through dense mangroves and explore hidden caves.
How to get there: 4 – 5 hours from Bangkok by flight & ferry
Coolest thing to do here: With some world class dive sites, scuba diving here is a must!
Sukhothai is Thailand’s first ancient capital and now home to many UNESCO world heritage structures. Located in the lower north of Thailand, it sees fewer visitors than its more popular cousin – Ayutthaya.
Sukhothai has close to 200 historical sites and temple ruins – all inside the Sukhothai Historical Park. These splendid ruins are set amidst trees, ponds, paddies and villages. The best way to get around these ruins is on cycle. Apart from the architecture, Sukothai’s old world charm and rural lifestyle is sure to draw you in.
How to get there: 7 – 8 hours from Bangkok by bus or train
Coolest thing to do here: Cycling around the ruins of Sukhothai historical park
Koh Chang is an unheard off island located in Eastern Thailand. The island is infested with jungles with some even bordering the picture perfect white sand beaches. Following the jungle trail leads to hidden waterfalls with the bluest pools you could see.
Being a part of the Mu Ko Chang National Marine Park, there are innumerable islands to be explored. Goes without saying, scuba diving in these sparkling waters would be a spectacular experience. The nightlife in Koh Chang is pretty lively with everything from chill out cafes to wild beach bars.
How to get there: It takes 7.5 hours from Bangkok by bus and ferry
Coolest thing to do here: Jungle trekking and discovering hidden waterfalls
Khao Lak is ideal for those who are looking for a quiet beach location but don’t want to sacrifice on comfort. It has an endless stretch of wide golden sand beaches with lush tropical jungles and waterfalls nearby.
Khao Lak is close to some of the most beautiful national parks in Thailand. It’s serves as the base for the world class dive sites of Similan and Surin islands. The nightlife here is mellow with charming cafes, bars and clubs.
How to get there: It takes 7.5 hours from Bangkok by bus and ferry
Coolest thing to do here: Scuba diving in Similan islands is considered to be one of the best in the world!!!