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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77 Responses

  1. Thelittlelai: Beyond limits

    I’ve read a lot of articles about Thailand, and these places are not the usual places I’ve heard of. This is actually very timely, as I’ll be flying to Thailand this Tuesday, and will surely try to visit them, If I get enough time. Chasing caves and waterfalls are both the kind of adventure I always love to experience, and this is just so perfect. Thank you so much for showcasing the other side of Thailand.

    • Neha

      Great to know you are already headed to Thailand. Hope you will have time to go to some of these places. And you will have a wonderful time.

  2. Aditinona

    This is one of the most amazing posts I have read on Thailand, I haven’t come across off beat places mentioned the way you have and I am really grateful to you for sharing this, I have been planning a trip to Thailand and always love covering off beat places, this list is gonna come really handy and I am bookmarking it

    • Neha

      Wish you all the very best for your trip to Thailand. Do let us know how many of these you were able to pay a visit to and how was your experience.

  3. Danica

    Sukothai looks interesting! I should keep this handy for our trip to Thailand hopefully this year. Though, I’m afraid we’ll start with Bangkok first and see if we can go beyond the capital. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Neha

      If you have limited time at hand, I guess it will be better to choose fewer destinations. That way you won’t be rushing around, rather visiting those places properly.

  4. Roneth Politud

    I will visit southeast Asia and I’ve been trying to figure out where to go. I want to visit Thailand and this list is really helpful. Thanks for sharing!

    • Neha

      Thanks Roneth. Great to know about your travel plans. Hope you have a wonderful trip ahead

  5. Sanne Grieten

    I remember my friends who told me that Thailand was sooo touristy when they visited this country. It’s nice to know that there are other places that aren’t that much of tourists.

    • Neha

      When the travel agencies and tourists start giving too much attention to a handful of destinations, they become overly popular and then overly touristy. While there are many lesser known gems of places around these destinations that remain untouched and unknown.

  6. thetravelingmd

    Awesome. Knowing thailand still has some unspoiled spots is really great for travelers who still wants an authentic thai experience without the usual tourist horde.

  7. Yukti

    These offbeat places of Thailand are truly hidden gems. I loved all places as they are less touristy and full of nature. I would love to visit Sukhothai for historical beauty and Khao Lak for nature.

    • Neha

      For sure. Even we love the same kind of places, that’s why we also totally loved each one of these destinations

  8. David

    Oh wow Koh Lipe looks like paradise! I’m trying to plan for a trip to Thailand at some point so this post is really useful. Thanks!

  9. Sophia Grace

    Thailand is full of amazing & beautiful places & these place like Pai, Koh Lipe, Sukhothai & Koh Mook.

    I’ve been at Koh Mook in Oct 2016 & it was unforgettable moments. So I feel really happy when I found Koh Mook in this post !

  10. PENDOWN

    This was very informative post. In fact, I have heard about some of the places for the first time. I would like to add Koh Chang to the list because it was equally offbeat. Among the above mentioned, I think I will love to go to Pai and Kanchanaburi first.

    • Neha

      You definitely would, I bet. All of these are lovely destinations and so close to nature.

  11. ryetalkstotheworld

    I’ve been to Sukhothai! It’s wonderfully historical and does not have the amount of tourists Bangkok has. Pai and Kanchanaburi were places I wanted to visit when I was there last July, but I had a swell time in Chiang Mai that I had to forego other plans.

    • Neha

      See..I knew people who love natural and historical places like us would definitely like these destinations

  12. Sandy N Vyjay

    Thailand is a vibrant country rich in experiences. It offers a wide range of sights and experiences.We were able to just experience a fraction of what it has during our last trip there when we covered Bangkok and Pattaya. But the exotic and off beat places of Thailand are real untouched gems and this post covers some of these stunning places.

    • Neha

      You are right. Thailand has so many exotic places and then they are so scattered across the country, If I were to explore all these places in a row, it would easily take me a month to do the same

  13. misstalkingfeet

    Thailand is endowed with beautiful beaches and sapphire blue waters.If I visit Thailand the top places on my bucket list are Phuket and Krabi as I love beaches.The names of these places seem extremely hard to pronounce but they look extremely off beat and beautiful.Will keep these places in mind for next time when I visit Thailand.

  14. Ami Bhat

    These are some interesting places to beat the regular crowds of Thailand. I loved the sound of Koh Mook and Phetachaburi the most – one being the cave/ water experience and the other heritage. Appeals to the adventure and explorer side of me. Nicely captured.

  15. Malith Fernando

    One amazing country with lots of natural beauty. There is a trend in finding off the beaten destinations in Thailand other than the main tourists hot spots. Your post will give new options to people who visit Thailand. Great tips and keep posting the good stuff.

  16. Marjorie G.

    Thailand is geographically similar with the Philippines. Both countries have wonderful beaches, lagoons, waterfalls, etc. Even so I think I would still be impressed if I ever get to go to Thailand and visit all of the spots that you mentioned here. I am particularly interested with Phetchaburi because of the temple inside the cave. That’s something that we don’t have in my country.

    • Neha

      Great to know that. Even Philippines is high on our bucket list. We are getting curious for that tropical beach feeling in 2018. So, we will check it out next.

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