What else is there to do in this sprawling land filled with tourists, with hidden gems slipped in between? Read on and find both the big tourist spots you must visit the tiny places you’ve never even heard of, or you can even check out a whole book on Thailand and the great places it has to offer! A big thanks to all the bloggers who have opened my eyes to the other side of Thailand!
By Natasha Haley – Meldrums on the Move
Koh Samui is Thailand’s second largest island after Phuket. It lies to the east of the mainland in the Gulf of Thailand, neighboured by Koh Phangan and smaller Koh Tao. Koh Samui offers it all: great nightlife in the popular Chaweng area, beautiful beaches, diving and snorkelling, and much, much more. Besides being a tropical paradise Koh Samui is an amazing island to explore by bike. You can see a lot of the island in one day by renting a bike and following the ring road around the island. Take time to visit mummified monks, secret gardens and blood red swimming pools. Koh Samui’s loop road also offers many viewpoints, great for sunsets and photography buffs. On Koh Samui, you really can have it all…
Sukhothai Historical Park
By Scott and Hayley – International Hot Dish
This park is one of Thailand’s historical gems. Beautifully laid out, easily accessible, and oozing with culture. Many of the buildings are in ruin but the carved religious figures are stunning and still readily recognizable. The history here is jaw-dropping, the sights are mind-blowing, and the photo opportunities are endless.
The park is very large, so hire a tuk-tuk by the hour to take you around. The hourly rate is affordable and your feet will thank you. The park is divided into four sections and a small entrance fee is required at all four. But even with the nominal fees, this site is stunning and worth a full day’s visit.
By Tom – Travel Tom Tom
Despite all the horror stories Koh Tao still is my favourite place to travel in Thailand. I have lived there on and off the last couple years and did my Divemaster training in the beautiful underwater world Koh Tao has to offer. Over the years it definitely got crowded but I totally understand why everyone wants to come to Koh Tao. There are more things to do in Koh Tao besides diving, with great hikes up to fantastic viewpoints and idyllic remote bays. Driving around in Koh Tao on a scooter exploring the island in search for a romantic deserted beach is so much fun and if you want to party on the beach you know where to go and it is always a good night out. Everything is within a couple kilometres drive, you could even do everything on foot. Koh Tao gives me the ultimate island life feeling!
Ayutthaya is Thailand’s little archaeological oasis overloaded with temples, ancient temples monasteries, authentic Thai food and all while only being 2 hours out of the hustling city of Bangkok. A UNESCO world heritage listed city, its worth the visit from neighbouring Bangkok and we highly recommend you visit by train. With a strong history originating back to 1300, Ayutthaya has had its fair share of war, famine and destroyed temples but don’t let that discourage you. With temples that looks similar to Ankor Wat in Cambodia, it’s a photographers delight to wander through the ancient ruins learning what it was like before the Burmese invaded in the 1700’s.
There are plenty of day trips on offer from Bangkok, however, we recommend the DIY tour. Trains depart regularly from Bangkok Railway Station, (unofficially known as Hua Lamphong Station) and stop in Ayutthaya after a scenic route. There are plenty of Tuk Tuk drivers waiting to show you their city. Prices were clearly displayed on a sign for all to see. No need to have strong negotiation skills with set prices. Don’t leave before trying the plentiful Thai food found in any of their restaurants.
By Campbell and Alya – Stingy Nomads
Amphawa is a small village about an hour and a half drive from Bangkok famous for its weekend night market. Amphawa is one of our favourite places in Thailand, why? There are several reasons; first, we like Asian markets, there is always so much to taste and discover. Second, except for the market which is opened at night there are many other things to do and see in the area e.g. visit Wat Bang Koong – a tree temple, get up early in the morning to see Buddhist monks in boats going down Amphawa canal collecting donations or go for a night boat trip to see hundreds of fireflies on the trees along the river. Third, Amphawa is a popular place for locals to come on weekends you can get some “Real Thailand” feeling here.
Talking about food if you’re a seafood lover it’s a real paradise for you the choice is huge! Here you can find everything from king size prawns to horseshoe crab as well as many traditional sweets and shakes. Most tourists visit Amphawa as a day trip from Bangkok, but we’d recommend staying here for a night to wander around its bustling night streets and to enjoy the tranquillity of its mornings.
The Layana Hotel, Koh Lanta
By Susan – Best Bits Worldwide
Welcome to Fantasy Island.” I was sure I heard the General Manager of the Layana Resort say this as he slipped a garland of fragrant jasmine around my neck and handed me my first cocktail of the day. It had been a long haul to finally arrive at this idyllic spot. Our connecting flight landed us into Krabi Airport. Upon entering the Baggage Claim area, we were immediately handed the always appreciated cool towel by a nice gentleman wearing a Layana Resort jacket. The towel was not only ice cold but scented with jasmine – a small taste of the treats that would be coming our way over the next few days. The other holidaymakers were being herded into buses or looking around quizzically for taxis; we were lounging in our own private car that quickly set off for the hour drive toward Koh Lanta pier. As we approached the water, there were about 50 cars waiting to board the next ferry. How wrong I was to assume that we would join the end of the line. We pulled right in front of them all and were led to a private water taxi which sped off leaving the mainland behind. How much more luxurious could this introduction be? Well, in my opinion, anywhere in the world you arrive by boat has that added je ne sais quoi. And by boat, I mean we literally stepped out into the warm Andaman Sea, up the beach to be met by the General Manager who welcomed us to Koh Lanta and The Layana Resort otherwise known as Fantasy Island. How could this not be one of my favourite spots in Thailand?
By Ferna Mae Fernandez – Everywhere with Ferna
Krabi is located in the southern part of Thailand, it’s my favourite place in the country. From taking adventures to just relaxing by the beach, I find it really amusing how the serenity of the town feeds my heart by pure happiness. This town really rocks and I mean massive of things to do like hiking to Khao Ngon Nak or also known as Dragon Crest, beach bum at Railay beach or in Ao Nang. I was also mesmerized by the limestone karst surrounded by the green palms. Climbing 1,237 in Tiger Temple really motivates me to jive in so I could catch the sunset. The town is not as touristy as another place in the south, it actually has a sense of local living for locals still manage to stay on their track. They exposed their local items and creativities at the famous weekend open market in town. I find a very laid back city that soothes my need as a traveller. It is also the best place traversing to different islands like in Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta.
Samut Prakan, Bangkok
By Maria – Travel With Maria
Bangkok’s most stunning temples and museums aren’t only found at the city’s centre. Samut Prakan, an hour away from the city centre, is home to two of Thailand’s most revered sites. First is Erawan Museum, it features a three-headed elephant statue on top of a dome building. The word ‘Erawan’ is the Thai name for Airavata from the Hindu mythology, the holy elephant servant of Indra, god of thunder and war. This statue is 250 tons in weight, 29 metres high, 39 metres long, made of pure green-hued copper and took ten years to finish. Second is Ancient Siam Museum, the world’s largest outdoor museum. Here, you’ll see 210 replicas of the country’s historical sites: chedis, bell towers, pavilions, temple et cetera. Shaped like Thailand, this spot is certified Instagrammable. Both of these are located along Sukhumvit Road and can be visited on a day tour.
By Tarah and Tip – Fit Two Travel
Koh Lanta is the land of wonderful white sandy beaches full of hammocks. Lesser known than Phi Phi or Phuket, Koh Lanta is a hidden gem. With beautiful beaches, protected mangrove, and a national park on the island, Koh Lanta has something for everyone. For now, Koh Lanta remains pretty quiet, with remote, romantic beaches. With a small radius, the island is easy to rent a motorbike and ride around to enjoy all the island has to offer. The island has a slow, mellow way of living, with not a lot of hustle and bustle. With beautiful beachside bungalows and easy access to spectacular diving, Koh Lanta is bound to be a relaxing and enjoyable island.
By Jub – Tiki Touring Kiwi
The ability to arrive in Chiang Mai and within two hours be eating a Thai green curry after organizing an apartment and scooter for a month is one reason Chiang Mai is my favourite place in Southeast Asia.
As a visitor, the equivalent is true for various reasons:
Accommodation check-in processes are easy as the levels of English are good
You can book any tour, class, or journey you want within minutes thanks to an abundance of tour operators competing or price (there is room to negotiate)
You’ll be eating at any one of hundreds of restaurants in the city. In the Old Town, I recommend Blue Diamond (vegetarian)
The city is saturated by tourists, but the Thai people are still smiling all the time, making this one happy and fun city to explore