Off the beaten path destinations in Thailand

Most tourists who’ve visited Thailand will say that this is one country that has been done and explored to death. There’s really nothing offbeat about Thailand, they say. Well, we’re sorry to pop your bubble, but there’s more to Thailand than you may know! Offbeat destinations in Thailand may not appear in mainstream travel guides or may not have the glamour often associated with cities such as Bangkok, Pattaya or Phuket.

What they lack in modern infrastructure, they make up for in the plethora of experiences that few popular destinations can offer. They give you an opportunity to immerse yourself in the food and culture, and maybe even live like a local for a truly authentic experience. Here are a few of our favorite hidden gems that you could visit in Thailand on your next trip.

Enjoy the great outdoors with a small-town vibe in Pai

Tucked away in Northern Thailand, surrounded by lush green mountains, Pai is the quintessential small-town often featured on postcards. Located just a 3-hour drive away from Chiang Mai, Pai will be a welcome addition to your Thailand itinerary if you want to slow down for a while. Indulge in adventure activities like bamboo rafting and white-water rafting or hike your way up one of the mountains for some of the most picturesque views.

©Patty Ho/Flickr

Pai is also known for its natural hot springs and waterfalls around the town, perfect for truly getting away from the chaos. After a day of walking around town, find yourself in one of the many artsy cafes that Pai has come to be known for and end your day admiring the Thai countryside.

Become a history buff in Kanchanaburi

Located three hours to the west of Bangkok, Kanchanaburi is a place of historical importance. If you have watched the movie Bridge over the River Kwai, you may have gotten a glimpse of that gruesome history behind the construction of the bridge that goes by the same name. While Kanchanaburi has come to be associated with this infamous bridge and the Death Railway that runs through it, there is more to the town than what meets the eye.

©Jim Maurer/Flickr

Visiting the ruins of the Khmer temples is a unique experience for the history buffs, while Kanchanaburi’s famed gemstone village is where you could indulge in some retail therapy. The Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi is another place of interest you may want to explore. It began as a wildlife temple and sanctuary for wild animals, especially the Indonesian Tiger. But over the last decade or so, the temple authorities have been accused of animal rights violations and mistreatment of animals so use your discretion and do plenty of research if you plan to visit them.

Relax on Thailand’s most beautiful beaches in Koh Muk/Mook

Thailand’s islands need no further introduction, but the dreamy Koh Muk may just be a class apart! Home to the wildly famous Emerald cave, the island is best known for its idyllic beaches and laid-back vibe. The way to the Emerald cave is an adventure in itself which requires you to swim and then walk through shallow water in the cave in order to reach the other side opening up to a stunning little beach. With plenty of adventures in store, delicious food and drinks in the island’s homely cafes run by friendly locals, and easy ferry access from Koh Lanta and Koh Lipe, this off-the-grid island is truly a hidden gem.

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Pro tip: Carry enough cash in local currency as there are no ATMs on Koh Muk.

Enjoy some solitude in Koh Chang

Koh Chang may be Thailand’s third-largest island, but its rustic infrastructure means that very few tourists visit. This may not necessarily be such a bad thing – imagine having some of the island’s best beaches to yourself, a rare possibility on Thailand’s busier islands like Phuket or Koh Samui. Although Koh Chang may not be one of the most popular islands to visit in the Gulf of Thailand, it is surprisingly easy to get here from Bangkok.

©John Lockwood/Flickr

Koh Chang offers a good mix of experiences for all kinds of travelers. If you are the kind that lives off thrill-seeking activities, there’s jungle trekking and cliff jumping for you. If you want to play a little safer, try snorkeling in the surrounding water teeming with colorful corals. With almost three-quarters of the island covered in thick rainforest, Koh Chang is the perfect destination for a laidback holiday for those of you wanting to get away from it all.

Discover the undiscovered in Pang Oung in the Mae Hong Son province

One of the most beautiful destinations in Thailand, Pang Oung is located in the mountains near the Myanmar border. Often said to be one of Thailand’s most romantic destinations, Pang Oung was built around a lake surrounded by a pine forest. Plan for an overnight camping trip to this obscure, almost untouched town and enjoy the unmatched tranquillity offered by this place.

©Tinnaphop Chawatin/Flickr

Although remote, it is possible to get to Mae Hong Son from either Chiang Mai, Bangkok or Pai. Once you reach Mae Hong Son, you can rent a local taxi to drive you to Pang Oung, just 40 kms away.

Get spiritual in Sukhothai

A UNESCO World Heritage Site and a town teeming with history, Sukhothai is a wonderful destination to explore the roots of Thai art, architecture, and language. Sukhothai was the capital city of the Sukhothai kingdom and is now home to a large number of temple ruins and historical sites, one of the most famous being the Wat Mahathat or the spiritual center of the erstwhile kingdom. While you’re at it, don’t forget to relish the delicious local food available at most of the food stalls in the town.

©Mike Behnken/Flickr

Sukhothai is also famous for Sangkhalok which is a local style of crafts and jewelry made out of gold and silver. The Hat Sao textile village adjacent to this town is a great place to pick up local souvenirs in the form of embellished fabrics to take back home.

Sukhothai can be easily reached by flight, bus or car from Bangkok as well as Chiang Mai.

There is a different kind of thrill in traveling to places that are less frequented by tourists. Don’t get us wrong – we love the hustle and bustle of a big city, but once in a while, we also don’t mind getting away. We highly recommend you pick at least one out of our list of favorites and pay a visit the next time you’re in Thailand. Some of these offbeat destinations may not appeal to everyone, but we absolutely love them because of the close cultural encounters and untamed natural beauty they offer.

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