10 Places in Thailand to Avoid the Crowds
10 Places in Thailand to Avoid the Crowds
With so many backpackers choosing Thailand as their dream destination, it is a good idea to get off the beaten track and see these 10 Places in Thailand to Avoid the Crowds. Forget the tourist traps of Bangkok and Chiang Mai, because the iconic Land of Smiles has plenty more up its sleeve; places still to be touched by the ever-encroaching hand of mass tourism and Chang-fueled parties. Check out this list of the 10 Places in Thailand to Avoid the Crowds, which range from the wild river valleys of the Thai north to the sun-splashed tropical jungles and marine parks of the south…
More than 600 kilometers north of the buzzing metropolitan heart of Bangkok, Nan Province sprawls over the western ridges of the Luang Prabang Range, forming the borderline bulwark of peaks with Laos. One of the country’s less-visited corners, this wild area is famed for its fascinating history, mixed up in tales of Burmese invaders, ancient Sukhothai and the mighty Lan Xang from the east. Today, the undisputed natural piece de resistance is the Doi Phu Kha National Park, where rugged massifs dressed in primeval montane forests spread out on the horizon, rising to a peak at almost 2,000 meters above sea level – a real trekker’s delight!
The Isaan Region is a vast and sprawling slab of north-eastern Thailand that takes much of its bucolic character and backwater charm from the influences of Laos and Cambodia in the east. That means travelers who make a beeline here can expect rustic bamboo villages and sweeping plains of rice paddies. It’s a place where the languages of the old Khmer people twist and turn in the sultry airs, and the beautiful plains of the Khorat Plateau roll on to the horizon. Outdoorsy types will particularly enjoy the gushing waterfalls of the Khao Yai National Park, and the wild elephant herds and sambar deers roaming Phu Kradueng.
Clutching the edge of the Thai Gulf panhandle as it arches into Phetchaburi and Bangkok from the south, the beach resort of Hua Hin has already had its boom – specifically in the 1920s, when King Rama VI first headed here for some summertime R&R. Okay, so there’s still a wealth of five-star hotels and modern resorts lining the pearly-white sand stretches, but these are typically reserved for the well-to-do Thais of the capital. That means foreign travelers enjoy a place firmly off the typical backpacker route through the country, not to mention relatively undeveloped – especially considering those enticing tropical beaches!
Thailand’s least populated district is a soporific spot that languishes in the far-flung corner of the Gulf, just a stone’s throw from where the wild hills of Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountains rise on the coast. A tapestry of swaying coconut palm plantations and bamboo-built fishing hamlets, this is the place to come if you’re in search of empty beaches and secluded coves. Bang Bao Bay is perhaps the top sunbathing spot, while hikers will love delving into the jungle and seeking out the crashing waterfalls of Klong Yai Ki and Klong Chao – perfect for swimming in the company of swinging macaques!
Khao Sam Roi Yot
Beset by a serrated ridge of limestone mountains that lurch over the scintillating blue waters of the Thai Gulf like daggers, the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park has one tropical foot in the brackish backwater swamps of Prachuap Khiri Khan Province and one firmly in the ocean. Inhabited by curious monkeys and marauding gaurs, the territory is also home to the Phraya Nakhon Caves, where royal relics lurk mysteriously in the subterrane. Laem Sala Beach is picture-perfect to boot, while the boardwalk swamp terraces are a fine place for watching flocks of Siberian birds as they move southwards each year!
Even the winding roadways up to the bamboo-clad town of Pai in the hills of Mae Hong Son are breathtakingly beautiful, offering sweeping panoramas of the Northern River Valleys; dressed in dry montane jungles and carved through with more canyons and gorges than you can shake a plate of steaming peanut pad Thai noodles at. What’s more, the far-flung spot is home to clusters of cool off-beat hippie bars, while the surrounding region hosts waterfalls and sculpted mountains, hot springs and winding rivers that glow an orange-pink with the setting sun.
Strung out like a series of glistening pearls in the swells of the Andaman Sea, the Surin Islands are every inch the quintessential tropical paradise. They come fringed with alabaster beaches and dotted with swaying coconut palms, trimmed with verdant mangroves and sparkling with coral reefs so colorful they seem unreal. Situated around 60 kilometers from the popular beach haunts of the Thai west coast, the archipelago is home to the protected Mu Ko Surin Park; a veritable mecca for divers and snorkelers that’s host to endangered sea turtles and sharks aplenty.
Cut-off from the tourist crowds in its own little enclave of the Andaman Coast, tiny little Tonsai hides behind the sheer-cut cliffs and chiseled walls of limestone karsts that pepper the western edge of Thailand. That means it’s a little tricky to get to, requiring either a salt-sprayed journey over the rollers around the headland from Krabi, a lengthy jungle trek, or an arduous cliff clamber from all travelers eager to get in. Once there, you can expect overhanging rocks and caves (popular with adrenaline-seekers and rock climbers), oodles of bamboo cottages in the forest, and one pretty stretch of nearly-empty beach to enjoy!
The epicenter of the Tarutao National Marine Park is a whole load emptier than most all of Thailand’s accessible islands making it one of the 10 Places in Thailand to Avoid the Crowds. It make its home just on the cusp of Malaysian waters, and draws adventure seekers with the promise of old growth rainforest and wilderness campgrounds set under a canopy of waxy coastal palms and primeval vines. An erstwhile penal colony, the island is now mainly inhabited by swinging macaques and monitor lizards, rare lemurs and a kaleidoscope of tropical fish. The backcountry is crisscrossed by marked hiking trails and bike routes too, making this one of the top spots in Thailand to explore on two wheels!
Nakhon Si Thammarat
Glossed over by many a traveler as they make a beeline for the iconic shores of the Thai Gulf and the islands of Koh Samui and Phangan, Nakhon Si Thammarat is one of the last places in the Land of Smiles where the locals still gawp and stare at western visitors (although that’s slowly changing too). Revered by the Thais for it’s pristine and preserved temples, the town is adorned with the likes of the Chedi Phra Baromathat and encircled by the crumbling ramparts raised by the onetime kings of mighty Ayutthaya. Away from the urban streets to the north, and some of the Gulf coast’s least trodden sands emerge, like Nai Phlao and Na Dan.
There are hundreds of places around Thailand to get off the beaten track but these 10 Places in Thailand to Avoid the Crowds are a good place to start.