Thailand is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world. It’s so popular that you might wonder if there still are authentic, unknown places left. Luckily, the answer is yes! Countless Thai islands, beaches, cities, and sights are still relatively undiscovered. In this post, we’ll share our favorite off the beaten track destinations. But, don’t tell anyone, OK?
1. Khanom: Spotting pink dolphins
Have you ever seen pink dolphins? Well, you can in Thailand!
But only in a place where you’d least expect to see them.
The popular island of Koh Samui receives millions of tourists every year. But not many people know that you can spot the rare pink dolphin near the pier on the mainland (Donsak). You can take the long tail boat from Nang Kam Beach and see them with your own eyes, living in their natural habitat.
You can stay in nearby Khanom; a small local beach town.
Click here to read everything about pink dolphins in Thailand and where to see them.
2. Pha Taem National Park: ancient murals
The Pha Taem National Park left a lasting impression on us.
On the border with Laos, we overlooked the mighty Mekong River while standing on a rock high above. The sun was setting slowly as swifts flew around us in all directions. We were all alone; save for four Buddhist monks who were busy meditating on the rock below ours.
It was beautiful and extraordinary. Just like the landscape, the ancient murals and the spectacular rock formations that you can also see in the Pha Taem National Park. So put on those hiking boots and go!
Did you know that the Pha Taem National Park is super easy to reach from Bangkok? Read all about it here!
3. Koh Tarutao: Former prison island
While on a boat trip past the popular islands, we got into a conversation with an English tourist. She wanted to know if there were any beaches in Thailand where you can be completely alone – meaning without any other tourists.
The former prison island of Koh Tarutao is a perfect example. These days it’s an unspoiled National Park, though it used to house more than three thousand inmates. You can go camping or stay the night in a small bungalow on the beach. Thai people prefer not to visit this island for fear of spirits that might be dwelling there. We loved every minute of our stay on Koh Tarutao, however.
Rent a motorbike and explore the island and its white, deserted strips of sand that go on for miles and miles; a truly unique experience and just thirty minutes away from Koh Lipe.
You can travel to Koh Tarutao by speedboat from the Pak Bara pier on the mainland or the neighboring island of Koh Lipe. Make sure you book a beach bungalow on the Ao Molae beach. Also, keep in mind that Koh Tarutao National Park closes during the rainy season from the 15th of May until the 15th of October.
4. Sangkhlaburi: Secret underwater temples
Tucked away in the depths of the jungle, a few hours west of Kanchanaburi, is the small village of Sangkhlaburi.
The mix of cultures, green landscape, and remarkable sights are what make Sangkhlaburi a fascinating, undiscovered place in Thailand. Rent a long tail boat and cross the lake with a local tour guide – who probably won’t speak English.
Due to the construction of a dam some of the temples in the area were flooded – and can now only be visited by boat. A truly unforgettable experience!
5. Koh Yao Yai and Noi: Laid-back islands
Life won’t get much better than it does on the islands of Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi.
Though they have gained somewhat in popularity in the last few years, it’s still relatively peaceful there. The more southern island of Koh Yao Yai boasts stunning, deserted beaches, while Koh Yao Noi offers beautiful and surprisingly green rice fields. Its beaches are lovely, and the views over the horizon are phenomenal.
Both islands are inhabited by a friendly Muslim population who will welcome you with a smile.
6. Mae Hong Son: Green city on the border with Myanmar
Mae Hong Son is a remarkable border town, situated on the northwesternmost point of Thailand, on the border with Myanmar.
Every time we visit Mae Hong Son we’re struck by the atmosphere. It’s a real melting pot of cultures, with excellent restaurants and cute stores on just about every street corner. But the best reason to visit the city is the surrounding area.
Green rice fields, swirling waterfalls, authentic mountain villages, and temples, it’s all there, waiting to be explored. You could even rent a motorbike or a car and take part in the spectacular Mae Hong Son Loop, an 800-kilometer long road trip that will lead you past all of northwestern Thailand’s most beautiful spots!
7. Lampang: Mysterious mountain temples
Lampang is a city brimming with culture, situated near the hugely popular city of Chiang Mai. If you happen to find yourself there, make sure you climb the Wat Chalermprakiat.
Yes, the Wat Chalermprakiat, a temple that, as Thai say, brings you closer to heaven. To get there, you will have to endure riding in the back of a jeep across some ridiculously narrow and steep roads. After that, it’s still a half hour climb until you reach it.
But we promise you it will all be worth it. Being up there – at the top of the mountain and listening to the sound of hundreds of ringing bells – truly is a magical experience!
8. Chiang Dao: Mountains, caves and hot springs
Chiang Dao is another fantastic northern destination.
Only a handful of tourists visit Chiang Dao, usually visiting for a day from Chiang Mai. We recommend staying there for at least a couple days, because there’s just so much you can do and see there! You can go on treks to deserted mountaintops, explore caves with a guide, climb waterfalls and go for a nice relaxing morning bath in the hot springs.
But what stuck with us most about Chiang Dao, was the hospitality of the locals. They are very kind, helpful and honest!
Don’t wait any longer and visit Chiang Dao. These are 9 things to do there!
9. Koh Chang Noi: Getting away from it all
No internet, no resorts, no 7-Elevens and no huge masses of tourists.
Koh Chang Noi is a small-scale destination. To get there, we took the slow boat from Ranong to Koh Chang Noi. The boat was packed with bags of ice, huge parcels of rice, vegetables and live chickens.
The island itself is pretty quiet and low-key. Thes not much to do besides enjoying the sunset and lazing around in a hammock. Things could be worse…
10. Phetchaburi: Amazing temple cave
Are you looking for an undiscovered piece of Thailand near Bangkok that’s also brimming with culture? Phetchaburi it is!
The highlight of this old city is undoubtedly the Khao Luang Cave, where you’ll find dozens of Buddha statues in all shapes and sizes. The reflecting sunlight makes their sight even more impressive. There’s just one downside. The entrance is ‘guarded’ by huge numbers of rather curious monkeys. Although we have heard that there are a lot less monkeys today than before.
Another highlight is Phetchaburi’s Royal Palace. A gorgeous piece of architecture, but make sure you mind your belongings because monkeys make up the rules here! If you’re not affraid of monkeys, Phetchaburi is a great place to linger around for one or two days.
More undiscovered places in Thailand
There are many, many more undiscovered places in Thailand in addition to the ten listed above. What’s more, there are probably places out there that even we haven’t discovered yet. Let us know if you know another undiscovered destination and leave a reply in the comment section below!
Also worth visiting:
- Phu Chi Fah: The most beautiful sunrise in Thailand.
- Phraya Nakhon Cave: A temple cave near Hua Hin.
- Phimai: Ancient temple ruins in the heart of Thailand.
- Chiang Rai province: Ten highlights you have to see.
- Sam Phan Bok: Explore Thailand’s own Grand Canyon.
- Udon Thani: A lake covered with a million lotus flowers (coming soon).