A guide to offbeat places in Thailand

The mere mention of Thailand evokes images of exotic islands. Also picture perfect beaches. Plus azure blue waters and full moon parties. No wonder this drives travelers to well-trodden places like Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket. Although, Thailand’s real beauty lies beyond the conventional tourist hotspots. If you dig a little deeper, you can discover lesser known places which offer unique and delightful experiences. So, Want to know which are those hidden jewels? Dive into our round-up of the 10 most offbeat places in Thailand. 

Pai

Offbeat Destinations in Thailand

 

The backpacker paradise of northern Thailand, Pai is a scenic village tucked away in the mountains. It’s dripping in lush greenery and fed by numerous waterfalls. Thus, it’s the ideal place to be if you just want to bask in the company of nature. The best thing to do here is explore the countryside and all its natural wonders on a motorbike. And at nights, you can relax with a drink at one of the riverside pubs and mingle with fellow hippies. Since, at night the main streets of Pai fill up with all kind of street food vendors and market stalls.

Here you can enjoy many different varieties of culinary delights as well. And these include Indian, Chinese, Thai, Sushi, fresh fruit smoothies for the health cautious people and a lot of fried delicacies as well. Apart from the food experience, you can do a lot of other things while in Pai. These include visiting it’s waterfalls, spending time in an elephant camp, exploring the hot springs, caves and canyons etc. All this together makes Pai one of the best offbeat places in Thailand.

How to reach

Take a flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. A 4 hour bus ride from Chiang Mai takes you to Pai.

Koh Lipe

Koh Lipe is the exotic island that you have always dreamed about. Milky white beaches, electric blue waters, plush resorts and friendly locals – it ticks all the boxes.  Straddling borders with Malaysia, Koh Lipe is one of the most remote islands in Thailand. And therein lies its appeal. Its waters are unbelievably clear, so you can snorkel just off the shore. When you are not living under water, you can walk through the tiny island and discover charming villages. Thus, it’s location in particular makes it one of the awesome offbeat places in Thailand. 

How to reach

Take a flight directly from Bangkok to Hat Yai.  It’s a 4.5 hour journey from there by van and ferry.

Sukhothai

The best offbeat destinations in Thailand

 

Sukhothai is Thailand’s first capital. And home to tonnes of UNESCO world heritage sites.  With more than 200 historical monuments and architectural ruins sitting inside the Sukhothai Historical park, it’s a paradise for the history buffs. You get to move past charming villages, gentle streams and lush green rice paddies while exploring the ruins. And the best way to do it is on bicycle. Thus, you must add it in your list of offbeat places in Thailand. Apart from the historical park there are several other places to visit in Sukhothai. Particularly interesting are the several cultural tours that are arranged from there.

How to reach

You can reach Sukhothai by bus or train in 7-8 hours from Bangkok or Chiang Mai. You can take a flight also from Bangkok to Sukhothai.

Khao Lak

The best offbeat destinations in Thailand

 

Just a few hours off Phuket, Khao Lak is one of those places where nature and tranquility is always within touching distance. If you feel stranded in the chaos of Phuket, Khao Lak is the perfect escape. Since, with a dreamy combination of rainforests and unspoilt beaches, you get to experience the best of both worlds. Sans the crowd. If you ever get tired of lying on its flour like sand, you can just take a walk through the jungles. Thus, this becomes one of the favorite offbeat places in Thailand is one of the favorites. The surrounding hills along this paradise are home to three different national parks of Thailand. 

There are several islands around Khao Lak that can be easily explored from here. These include Similan Islands, Phang Nag Bay, Surin Islands, Khao Soak and several others. These islands are each unique with respect to their offerings. While you can tent around in Similan Islands within reserved natural spots, in Surin Island you get excellent spot for scuba diving and snorkling. So, don’t forget to plan day trips to these beautiful surrounding islands while in Khao Lak.

How to reach

Khao Lak can be reached from Phuket by road in 2 hours.

Koh Lanta

 

Another one of the offbeat places in Thailand that must not be missed. Koh Lanta is the epitome of a tropical paradise. Serving the perfect cocktail of untouched beaches, sparkling blue waters and lip-smacking food, it is one of those places you just can’t get enough of. Its dive sites are considered to be some of the best in the world.  Needless to say, the first thing you should be doing is plunging into the waters.

On other days, you give in to its mellow ambience and just lounge about its gorgeous beaches. If you are one of the adventurous ones, you can hike through its mangroves or kayak around the island. And the evenings are best spent sipping on your favorite drink while watching the sky change colors.

How to reach

It can be reached from Phuket or Krabi by ferry in 2 hours

Koh Mook

 

Koh Mook is another hidden gem close to Koh Lanta. The island is widely known for the emerald cave. As it is one of the most unique natural wonders out there. Partially submerged in water, you have to swim through the cave to appreciate its true splendor. If you time it well, you can watch the walls of the cave reflecting the color of the waters. And that’s not all. Because, at the other side of the cave lies a beach. Although the island is far removed from tourism. Still, there are plenty of stay options catering to all kinds of travelers. And if you look around a bit, you might even stumble upon some really cool bars.

How to reach

Take a short 45 minutes ferry from Trang or a 4-hour ferry from Krabi to get to Koh Mook

Kanchanaburi

The best offbeat destinations in Thailand

 

Kanchanaburi is the place for nature lovers and history buffs. Its passport to fame is a bridge over the river Kwai. It featured in a movie of the same name. And the bridge was built by Allied POWS (prisoner of war) as a part of the Thai-Burmese railway. Since, many of them lost their lives in the process, earning it the nickname “The death railway”. Thus, these historical sites make it worth the visit. Also, Kanchanaburi is home to the Erawan national park, a land of mind-blowing waterfalls. So, when you are not revisiting history lessons, take a hike through this scenic park and discover its stunning waterfalls. And don’t forget to add Kanchanaburi to your list of offbeat places in Thailand that you can visit.

How to reach

Kanchanaburi is a 2-3 Hour ride from Bangkok. You can either take a cab, bus or train from Bangkok to reach Kanchanaburi.

Phetchaburi

 

Phetchaburi is a sleepy town which is quite popular among Thai locals, but tourists haven’t caught on yet.  Its narrow lanes, ancient temples, old teak shop houses give it a timeless ambience. Throw in some amazing food and beaches and you have the perfect getaway. While you’re here, don’t forget to check out the gigantic cave shrine of Tham Khao Luang. And if you arrive between May to December, you can even spot Bryde’s whales. Actually, almost half of Phetchaburi is covered by dense national Kaeng Krachan National Park. And here lies some of the best hiking trails and camping locations of Thailand. Also, there are some beautiful beaches and waterfalls to enjoy here. Thus, Phetchaburi makes for one of the best offbeat places in Thailand.

How to reach

Take a bus or a train from Bangkok to reach Phetchaburi in 2-3 hours.

Nakhon Ratchasima

The best offbeat destinations in Thailand

 

Nakhon Ratchasima is usually nothing more than a pit stop for travelers heading to Khao Yai national park. But if you dig a little deeper, you will find that it’s a lovely place in its own right. Surrounded by lush green rice paddies and home to the forests of Khao Yai national park, it is a treat for nature lovers. The town’s 1000 year old ruins have an uncanny resemblance to the world famous ruins of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Thus making it a place which must be put in the list of offbeat places in Thailand that must not be missed.

How to reach

Take a bus or a train from Bangkok to reach Nakhon Ratchasima in 4-5 hours.

Koh Kood

One of the last remaining untouched islands of Thailand, Koh Kood is the sort of place you go to disconnect from civilization. Its white sand beaches are perfect to string up a hammock and read that novel you bought. And when you are tired of lolling about in the sands, you can explore the island’s jungle clad interiors, sleepy fishing villages and coconut tree plantations. Or, get a soothing open air Thai massage. Water babies can splash about in its turquoise seas. Or just leisurely kayak around the island. Thus, it makes for one of the perfect offbeat places in Thailand that one can visit.

How to reach

It can be reached from Bangkok by bus and ferry. The total journey duration would be 7 hours. 

Edit: Many of you have asked after this post, how much time it would take to cover all these places in Thailand. Well, it really depends on how much in details you want to explore these places. Here’s a nice guide to plan your Thailand itinerary for you. And here’s a perfect 3 week Thailand itinerary for you to look into.  Coming to your question, assuming if you were visiting all of these places, as well as the cities near these. I would say, it will easily take a month’s time to cover everything, assuming medium to slow pace of travel. And believe me, these are natural wonders. So, you must not rush through them. Rather, give yourself time to soak into the beauty of each one of these places that you choose to visit.

offbeat places in Thailand | Thailand beyond beaches

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76 Responses

  1. Indrani

    Whoa that is extensive! Except Shukhothai I haven’t been to any of the places. How long do you think it will require to see all of these? May be a month is my guess. I spent 3 days in Shukhothai yet wasn’t satisfied.

  2. dextograph

    Great images that show Thailand. I watched a vlog about this country being rich in Nature. I hope we’ll have the luxury to visit these places soon

  3. Milosz Zak

    I would make the trip just for Khao Lak – that beach is simply unreal. After years of travel, the best beach I’ve ever experienced was in the USVI, but if that’s the standard in Thailand, my top pick has a serious contender.

    • Neha

      I would love to know how you liked the place when you go to Khao Lak. Hope it happens soon

  4. Katchutravels (@Katchutravels)

    These are very nice places and images. I loved Khao Lak, Kanchanaburi and Pai. I have not been to any of them. The waterfall in Kanchanaburi shown in your post looks similar to the place where they shot “Kabhi Jo Badal Barse” from Jackpot (which was Erawan Falls)

    • Neha

      Oh..is it. I am not so much into movies so not able to relate. But yes, without doubt each of these places are wonderful. Next time you visit Thailand, do go to some of these

  5. Hetal Kamdar

    Hi Neha, This is an extensive and an lovely info about offbeat places in Thailand. I am planning to visit Thailand this year and this post will definitely be useful to me. Thanks for sharing dear:)

    • Neha

      Wow Hetal..all the very best for your trip. Do share your travel experience once you are back

  6. sumit

    thx for such a lovely article , definitely will bookmark this for some of the interesting destinations that you have mentioned

  7. Nuraini Arsad (Teja)

    There are whales in Thailand ?!?!?! I think maybe it’s time I talk my colleague into organising another Thai getaway for our team… the last one we did was like three years ago! But where?? Kanchanaburi? Petchaburi? Khao Lak? Cool list!

    • Neha

      ha ha… so you would like to go to Thailand just for the whales, and not all these pristine locations ?? I guess every place we visit, still there is something always left unexplored

  8. kate and kris

    We’ve been to lots of these places and I would totally recommend them. We went to Pai several time many years ago and loved it, but I’d heard it was really really touristy now. Perhaps not so much as Phuket and Chiang Mai though.

    • Neha

      hmmm..interesting. Yes, I can understand your point of view. It must have been almost empty when you happened to visit but yes, it is gaining a lot of popularity recently

  9. Lydia Smith

    Phetchaburi is really a dreamy town. Like I used to watch in some Thai surreal movies. Hahaha. But I’ll love to visit this beautiful town. Thailand is a place I’ve seen in movies and pictures, but I bet it’s as great as you’ve mentioned in this post. I’ll like to visit the emerald cave at Koh Mook. It also feels surreal like Phetchaburi. Thanks for the guide, Neha

    • Neha

      Thanks Lydia! Yes, most of these offbeat places in Thailand look very dreamy and out of this world, like right from a fairy tale 🙂

  10. Hang Around The World

    We have a friend who have always invited us to visit Thailand now thank to your post we know why. With your photos you inspired us and we’d love to try your same experience especially the visit at Khao Lak 🙂

    • Neha

      ha ha… you have a friend there.. which means a guide and a home to stay without much hassle..what are you waiting for!!

  11. meanderingjess

    Great list! I had a wonderful stay at Kanchanaburi recently and I can’t wait to go back and see some of the other places you’ve mentioned.

    • Neha

      Great to know that. Do let us know about your experience when you visit some other places from this list

  12. Claire

    Gorgeous places! I have only been to Bangkok….would love to visit the places mentioned in this post. Definitely bookmarking this page for future references 🙂

    • Neha

      Thanks Claire. Hope you will have a wonderful time when you visit some of these offbeat destinations that I have mentioned.

  13. Abhinav Singh

    I am so glad to see someone writing about the offbeat Thailand. Most people stick to cliched destinations. I would like to visit both touristy and offbeat Thailand though. Of all the places you have listed, Koh Mook seems to be my kind of place. It would be adventurous to visit it!

    • Neha

      Hope you visit here soon and I get to hear about your experience Abhinav. To be honest, the picture of Pai reminds me of the beautiful Munnar. And the beaches remind me of Andaman. There is so much similarity 🙂

  14. 197travelstamps

    I spend several months in Bangkok for an exchange semester a few years back and we went to Kanchanaburi quite often on weekends. It is such a relaxing place. I absolutely love it… just renting a motorbike there and driving around the untouched areas… love it!

    • Neha

      Wow..great to know that. You are lucky you were staying so close and got a chance to visit there so often

  15. Followingtherivera

    I didn’t get a chance to visit Koh Lipe when I was there, so I’d love to visit. It’s great to read about more offbeat places in Thailand, there are so many stunning places to see!

    • Neha

      Even I was so delighted to see such a list of offbeat destinations in Thailand that are yet unexplored and beautiful

  16. Milkytravel

    wow, so beautiful! Sukhothai looks like an amazing place to spend a day. if i go to Thailand i will try to find koh Lanta. looks perfect

  17. mapcameratravel1

    This is an amazing place and something that i was looking for long. We want to visit thailand in this year but not really the regular places , so this is much helpful guide for us to refer. bookmarking it for sure:) Keep up the good work.

  18. yogawinetravel

    Thailand is such an amazing country with so many gems on offer. I recently spent a few days in Chiang Mai and was bummed that I missed out on visiting Pai – like you, many people tell me it is a must-visit place. Erawan national park is also very high up on my bucket list!

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