Thailand seems to have it all: incredible food, delightful people, pristine beaches, untarnished mountains, and bustling cities.
Of course this means that tourists flock to the country in their droves and most of the country’s most popular destinations are overrun by tourists almost all-year round. Fortunately, if you’re not a fan of big crowds, there are still hidden gems in Thailand.
While the nearby Phi-Phi Island is a popular tourist destination, Koh Lanta offers all of the natural beauty and diving options, but with far calmer atmosphere and a more authentic feel. Unlike other Thai islands, Koh Lanta is relatively flat making it easy to explore the area on bicycle or motorbike and the east coast of the island offers lush green plains and a culture experience which should not be missed.
Described by locals as Thailand’s last remaining paradise, Lampang is characterised by its mountains and untouched natural beauty. An absolute highlight of this northern province are its national parks, including Chae Son National Park where hikers can experience swimming at the base of waterfalls or in hot springs. The elephant sanctuary is also a good destination as they are known for taking better care of their elephants than the majority of Thailand.
Sukhothai was the country’s capital during the 13th and 14th centuries, during Thailand’s Golden Age, and the ruins of Sukhothai offer an incredible look at Thailand’s history. The Sukhothai Historical Park is made up of 45 square kilometres of partially re-constructed ruins and while it is a popular tourist destination – almost as popular as bingo Australia – the park is so expansive that one can easily find a secluded spot to explore without interruption.
Located on the far eastern side of the Gulf of Thailand close to Cambodia, Koh Mak is a small and largely unknown oasis characterised by its natural beauty. The owners of the island are determined to not allow too many hotels and entertainment venues from spoiling its calm atmosphere, but there is still plenty to keep you busy. Koh Mak is located within the National Marine Park which means that some of the best diving in the country can be found here. If diving isn’t really your thing, then you can enjoy windsurfing, kayaking, day trips to nearby islands, or an afternoon at the local museum instead.
The northern cities of Chiang Mai and Pai are incredibly popular, so many tourists don’t visit Chiang Rai – which is good news for us! If you’re looking for the small town charm sorely lacking in other Thai cities, then Chiang Rai is your dream destination. There is plenty of nearby trekking to enjoy and we recommend taking a trip down the Mae Kok River to enjoy the local sights and sounds or relaxing on the banks of the river at what is known as “Chiang Rai Beach”. Be sure to take some time to visit the contemporary Buddhist temple of Wat Rong Khun – known as The White Temple.