Thailand’s Of The Beaten Track Report – My Top Suggestions!
Thinking of travelling to Thailand and trying somewhere hidden under the radar! I’ve done the full moon parties and Khao San Rd to death, and I don’t get the same buzz anymore as when I was 22. It’s time to discover new areas that get off the beaten track!
Its no secret Thailand is one of the best holiday destinations in the world, but here’s a few hidden gems for you to discover like Chiang Mai Night Market, Koh wai, Koh Mook, Phraya Nakhon Throne, Sai Tong National Park, Isan, Nakhon Phanom province, Lake Nong Harn, ChangChill elephant sanctuary, Phi Phi Islands, Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, Koh Kradan, Rayong, Trat, Koh Lipe, Ayutthaya Historical Park, Wat Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai, Koh Kood and Koh Mak
Here’s a few more details about these destinations
Chiang Mai Night Market
I find Thai markets a gateway into the local culture, and I try to visit at least one in every city. Chiang Mai has one of the best night markets in the country. You won’t find a ton of tourists here, with the market located in the prehistoric walls of the old city. The atmosphere is pretty lively but chilled compared with Bangkok. There are loads of food vendors offering authentic cuisine if you’re hungry. Also, this is a perfect place for a gift for people back home!
You find Ko Wai near Ko Chang, the eastern side of Thailand, and a hidden tourist spot. Ex-pats and adventure tourists would appreciate the white sands and secluded vibe.
Ko Wai has incredible white-sand and lush green vegetation, creating a vibe around your beautiful surroundings. The island is hugely chilled, with no cars, slow WiFi and crystal-clear water for snorkelling. Most guests are daily visitors or stay a night or two (Couples mainly). Boat trips are also available on the island.
Ko Chang Koh Wai is just a small boat ride away.
You must be wondering why Phuket made the list with literally hundreds of thousands of tourists annually visiting. Phuket is a holding bay for tourists who go to Krabi, Phi Phi or are resort goers on their annual vacation, but one island offers an escape from the hustle and bustle called Koh Yao Yai, just off the Andaman sea. You can reach the island by hopping on a boat which you can arrange from the port.
You can rent a motorbike on the island and cruise the scenic paths with lush vegetation, clean white sand and exotic wildlife. Don’t expect a load of shops and hotels. The island is rural, with small independent restaurants with a different culture than the rest of Thailand. With the island being Muslim/ I would say the south of Thailand becomes more like Malaysia, and you will notice mosques and less nightlife etc…
Koh Mook is another island that’s of the radar; it is the most chilled island on the list, with no party scene, big retail shops and cars. The island has a national park called Chao Mai National Park, with an untouched, fully eco jungle. The island only has a tiny village with local restaurants and shops to gander, away from civilization and tourism.
The island is in touch with nature with palm trees, stunning beaches and large cliffs to explore. The main beach is Sivalai which offers postcard-type pictures. You can also check out the emerald cave on Koh Mook, which has lush green water to swim and a massive 80m cave to explore. Koh Mook is perfect for peace and tranquillity
Phraya Nakhon Throne
You will find a golden throne with Thai history at the bottom of this beautiful cave. The throne is located in Khao Sam Roi Yod National Park, a bit of a hike beyond a mountain where you come to a few sinkholes with a damaged roof. The throne is found inside and was built in 1890 for the visit of King Chulalongkorn. Discovered by Lord Phraya Nakhon just over 200 years ago after a big storm sank his ship. You want to visit early morning when the sun rises with beams of light catching the golden throne, creating a spectacular scene.
Sai Tong National Park
This national park is on the tourist map and is located in Chaiyaphum Province, and an excellent time to visit is between June-August when the wild Siam tulip has blossomed, a site for sore eyes. If you’re a photographer, the flower blends purple and pink with stunning backdrops. You won’t regret the outstanding scenery.
The park is gigantic, with 13,700 hectares of mountains and waterfalls which offer serenity and peace. Some picturesque views will get you some draw-dropping pics, but be careful, as some places can be dangerous.
Isan is the real heartbeat of Thailand, with beautiful rural areas producing much of Thailand’s food. The culture is much more traditional, with conservative Buddhist values and couples starting families younger. If you want to experience the real Thailand Isan offers and compliments proper Thai society.
For tourists, Isan has areas like Korat, Phimai ruins, Nong Khai and Ubon Ratchathani.
Nakhon Phanom province
Just off the beaten track in Northeastern Thailand, you can find ancient temples, stunning nature, mountains, rivers and beautiful paddy fields.
One of the best sights is Lake Nong Harn, an experience like no other. After the rainy season, you get thousands of lotus flowers, which is breathtaking. The site is over 7,500 acres of delight, and if you go between Oct to March, you will experience the lake’s full natural charm.
ChangChill Elephant Sanctuary
If you love wildlife and welfare prevention for these giant animals, this is right up your street. The sanctuary has many positive reviews and runs with the EF’s mission statement against elephant abuse. The tours run with world animal protection to ensure the elephants come first, transcending the elephants walking liberally.
The elephants get the medical and welfare attention they deserve from qualified staff who love these animals.
The area is surrounded by mountains, green bay water, and beautiful countryside – All pluses and reasons to visit here!
Phi Phi Islands
Phi Phi island makes the list with sheer paradise and a certain remoteness that you can’t find in many other places in Thailand. Of course, a bond film was filmed here, and the iconic “The Beach” movie starring Leonardo Di Cappio draws in the sheep tourists, but you can get quiet resorts like the Holiday Inn
The islands host amazing limestone cliffs, white sand and crystal-clear blue water, offering an unforgettable experience. Don’t forget to check out Monkey island and the coral reef systems, where you can get pictures of a lifetime.
The food is always fresh, with the best seafood in Thailand!
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
I’m not into water markets so much as I find them to be a bit OTT, but this market has a bit more of a laid-back charm. But this market has amazing food vendors with local dishes for you to explore their culinary skills on the water.
This is also a spot for artistic people who love painting and photography, with boat taxis taking you to specific locations to catch the area’s beauty.
In the southern parts of Thailand in Trang province, you will find the pretty spectacular park Hat Chao Mai! But just close by, you find a park called Koh Kradan Island, on the beaten track.
The park is close to the sea, with incredible beaches, crystal clear water, fantastic coral reefs, and aquatic life. The area is perfect for snorkelling and chilling, with an easy option for visa extensions if you need to do this.
The Rayong area has a reputation for great seafood for fantastic prices- even the locals say it’s a bargain. Another plus is the fact there’s not many tourists here either, which gives a feel of authentic Thailand.
You can find many restaurants on the beach with bars where you can watch the trawlers coming in with fresh catch to your plate.
If you want to see the real Trat, you must take a boat tour, and for people on the beaten track, one of the best places in Thailand.
Outside Trat, traditional locals cook regional food and sell natural souvenirs like soap if you get a chance, hire a motorbike to get the full experience.
Another Small Thai island that the average joe backpacker typically misses is Koh Lipe, located in southern Thailand near Malaysia. The island has sublime white sands and crystal-clear blue water to relax or snorkel.
In the last few years, Koh Lipe has taken off to a degree but is miles away compared to Koh Samui etc… The whole point of coming to Koh Lipe is to relax and chill with the islands’ three great beaches. Sunset beach, Sunrise beach and Pattaya beach all offer drinks, food and watersports nearby.
Don’t worry about hiring a motorbike; the island is set for walking around and exploring. The island also hosts great 4-star hotels if you want some luxury. The nightlife is also pretty good, with a few bars.
Grab the boat from Pak Bara Pier to get to Koh Lipe, which takes around 90 minutes for 700 baht. You can travel from Malaysia to also Langawi.
Ayutthaya Historical Park
If you’re in Chiang Mai, you should check out Chiang Rai for some real Thai history and the UNESCO massive Buddha with canal routes that have lasted hundreds of years. The area sits on the water and is similar to Holland which offers something different from the rest of Thailand. The area has loads of monasteries and ancient grounds that you must see at Ayutthaya historical park, the old foundations of the kingdom of Siam in the 15th century are a must-see.
Wat Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai
Perhaps the most religious area of Thailand is also the pilgrimage site of Buddhists across the region. The whole space is sacred and holy, which you sense as your walk around the temples and spiritual places. There are many temples in Thailand, but this location stays with you with its prestige and culture.
Koh Kood is located in east Thailand next to Koh Chang and is a hidden gem of an area that picks up tourists yearly. The island is a decent size with a few thousand people with beaches and jungles to explore. The beaches to check out are Klong Chao, Ao Klong Chao and Ao Phrao- all areas have water sports and food vendors.
I recommend renting a motorbike and checking out the waterfalls for a trek.
Koh Mak is a beautiful little island towards the east of Thailand and near Koh Chang and is another hideaway for tourists/ex-pats. The amount of tourists is small even in busy seasons.
Again another island with exceptional beaches, hikes and fresh fish and produce. The wildlife is also incredible, with tropical fish and reptiles.