Thailand, one of the most frequented countries in the whole world due to the delicious food, the friendly people, the (cheap) shopping, and the beautiful beaches all around- perfect for an island getaway or a romantic trip out for newly weds and lovers!
But most people end up going to the same areas, no? Bangkok for shopping, Phuket for the beach, Krabi for island hopping….. but there are so many other locations in Thailand that are underrated, and just as beautiful (if not even more beautiful!) than these spots! Let’s take a look at some of these amazing places you’ll just have to visit after this!
1. Chiang Rai
The more relaxed and quieter neighbour of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai is the main commercial center serving the Golden Triangle border region of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos. Full of history and culture, Chiang Rai retains a strong Lanna identity through the beautiful temples, art, language and music. The food here is spicier than their southern counterpart, and has a lot of natural beauty in the form of its exotic wildlife and hill tribes all ripe for exploring!
The night life and entertainment in Chiang Rai is mostly concentrated at the area around the Clock Tower, but don’t fret as it’s slowly developing its tourist sector! Be sure to check out the famous Wat Rong Khun (White Temple), located about 5km south of Chiang Rai City! You’d be surprised that this famous ‘temple’ isn’t actually a temple. Instead, it is a privately-owned art exhibit in the style of a Buddhist temple!
2. Hua Hin
Just a short ride away from famous Bangkok is Hua Hin, the oldest and most traditional Thai holiday resort that caters to both Thais and foreigners alike! If even the locals flock to Hua Hin to spend their holidays, its got to be pretty special, no? Once a fishing village turned Royal Resort back in the 1920s by King Rama VII, Hua Hin became popular among Siam’s nobility and the upper-class (Hello Thai version of the Hamptons!!), and even has an official royal residence to date!
Despite the luxurious resorts and abundance of golf courses (and the beachfront summer homes of the rich and famous), Hua Hin still maintains its sense of old world charm (and is still a fishing port!), and is perfect for those who wish to laze around the beach or fill their days with water-based activities! If you’re adventurous, be sure to discover the many parks, caves and waterfalls, and be sure to eat the superb seafood cooked Thai-style by the seaside! Yums! Hua Hin also has other attractions typical of Thailand - from temples to markets, you’re sure to find something to while away your time there!
3. Koh Lanta
Located just less than an hour’s boat ride from Krabi is a little slice of heaven where you’ll find several little islands and mile-long beaches untouched and in its most natural of states. Koh Lanta Yai is the most popular of these little islands, and is a perfect location for divers to explore beautiful corals and marine life. Oh and did we mention that Koh Lanta is located at the southern part of Thailand where it is mostly inhabited by Muslims? Which means Halal food is easily available all around! YESS!
The beauty of Koh Lanta is how everything hasn’t fully developed yet, and that things are still slow paced and relaxed. The people are also more laid-back, and despite having full moon parties now and then, the buzz of night life and entertainment is still minor as compared to its Phuket counterpart. So if you’re looking for the perfect (quiet) family getaway, couples retreat or just want to explore the beautiful marine life, Koh Lanta would be the perfect place for you!
4. Koh Lao Liang
Another gorgeous and untouched island to make our list, Koh Lao Liang is the perfect place to experience the breathtaking Andaman Sea scenery without the huge crowds of tourists! It is a part of Mu Ko Phetra National Park, and home to many vertical limestone cliffs that display hues of reds, whites and blues. Climbers from all around travel to Lao Liang just to climb these vertical limestone cliffs instead of having to fight off other climbers in the more popular Ko Phi Phi and Railay peninsula (which is famous for its rock climbing).
Open only during certain seasons (usually November until April, but be sure to check before hand), there’s only one place to stay at this beautiful island- think camping, right on the beach, and activities like snorkeling and sea kayaking and regular seafood barbeques every night! Why only one accommodation on the island? To better preserve the environment, of course! So feel good about protecting nature while spending some time away from the WWW while you’re here! Be sure to visit quick before the horde takes over!
5. Mae Hong Son
Credit: John Shedrick Flickr
A beautiful, mountainous province located in the north west of Thailand, Mae Hong Son has a unique feel to it often described as calming and somewhat charming- strongly influenced by the Shan people from the Shan state of Myanmar. This includes the food, language, culture and even the architecture all around! Mae Hong Son also has many other hill tribes that includes the Hmong, Karen, Long Neck Kayan and so on, and this diversity in culture adds to the warmth of the many markets, festivals and local villages available.
This place is perfect if you’re looking to learn more about the hill tribes and be one with them and the untouched beauty of the province. Experience the true, authentic northern Thai experience when you’re here, and you’ll find yourself feeling at peace and truly relaxed while experiencing life off the beaten path.
Kanchanaburi is the perfect place to go if you’re not only a history buff, but a nature lover as well. It is home to the Burma Railway, also known as the “Death Railway” bridge that was built by Allied prisoners of war (POW) and conscripted Asian laborers as a rail route to Myanmar during the infamous World War II. It's now immortalized as the Bridge over the River Kwai. Travellers come here mainly to explore this infamous bridge and the many museums and historical attractions surrounding the countryside.
Other than the history surrounding this countryside, Kanchanaburi also offers nature at its best, and is known as one of the most beautiful provinces in the country with easy access to its many waterfalls and national parks. Find yourself totally chilled out by the riverside sipping Thai tea if you ever need time away from the city life!
Welcome to the ‘Dawn of Happiness’… or Sukhothai, to be exact. A land of ancient ruins, history and culture- and once the capital of the first kingdom of Siam over 800 years ago! Not exactly a secret to tourists, but still not as widely advertised as its other Thai counterparts, Sukhothai is a premier heritage destination, and a must visit for all travellers out there!
Sukhothai has a number of fine monuments that illustrates the beginning of the Thai culture, and built the foundation in culture and politics for what has become Thailand today. The many ancient sites in Sukhothai earned the Sukhothai Historical Park a UNESCO World Heritage status, and is home to beautiful mountains and waterfalls for those who wish to enjoy nature after exploring the many ruins in this ancient Thai capital. Even if you’re not a history buff, you’re bound to find the ruins truly fascinating during your visit! ?
8. Lampang, North Thailand
Credit: Seba Della on Flickr
One of the few locations Thailand is currently promoting to tourists to visit is Lampang, located about an hour away from Chiang Mai. Overshadowed by what is Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai today, Lampang was once a part of the Lanna Kingdom in the past, and is famous for its many historic wats that still retains its early Burmese influences, the Elephant Conservation Center and the beautiful waterfalls that is off the radar to most tourists who visit the area.
One thing to take note of is that there are no tuk-tuk’s for you to travel with in Lampang, so you’re going to have to rely on horse-drawn carriages instead! Or you can always head into a songthaew which can be hired like a tuk-tuk instead!
So there you have it - 8 underrated places in Thailand you have to visit before they become popular and crowded with tourists! Take a break from the usual spots you always visit and take the road less travelled, for you’re sure to stumble upon hidden gems when you least expect it! Besides, some time away from the hustle and bustle of the city could do us all some good now and then, no??