We Indians aren't the best-known travellers. Playing safe, staying at comfortable hotels, not experimenting with cuisines and following the beaten path are just some of the usual traits. Once a while, I believe, all of us should move out of our comfort zone and visit the lesser known destinations. We live but once! Thailand, full of wonder and novelty at each step, is one such country that offers both luxury and adventure. The true beauty of Thailand lies in the less explored places. We bring you a list of eight Thai destinations Indians don’t visit, but should.
If you are weary of crowded and commercialized beaches, but still like the comfort of civilization, give Phuket a miss for Khao Lak. The beaches here are long, beautiful and warm with a background of forested hills. Rock formations, islands, and waterfalls in the jungle are just splendid. Rafflesia, the largest single flower in the world can be found in Khao Sok National Park, only a few kilometers from Khao Lak. The National Park offers great value for money and gives the option of overnight stay in a rain forest guesthouse. The drive itself from Khao Lak to Khao Sok is spectacular.
Koh Lanta is the largest island in Krabi Province. The island is relatively flat and easy to zip around on a motorbike. You will witness a mesmerizing inland with its dense tropical forests, natural mangroves, colourful culture, hospitable people and great eating places. The beaches are exotic and more beautiful than anywhere in Thailand, with long stretches of sun kissed white sand and warm playful waves. If you are an adventurous spirit, go explore Tham Khao Maikaeo, an interesting network of forest caverns and hill tunnels, with narrow passages leading to cathedral sized chambers, full of stalactites and stalagmites. Koh Lanta is famous for its adventure sports and boasts of some of the most stunning coral reefs in the world.
Surat Thani meaning “The City of Good People” was the seat of power of the Indonesian Srivijaya Empire in ancient times and was named so by King Vajiravudh. The city located on the Central Gulf Coast of Southern Thailand brings together the elements of alluring nature with a glittering history of civilization. Sadly, today the city only serves as a getaway to the more popular Gulf Coast islands. The forested mountains and high plateaus of the west descend into low basins that culminate into the eastern coast. The hilly topography has created numerous river basins. Placid dark river waters meet the turquoise ocean to create a stunning effect especially so in the Tapi river basin. Surat Thani has several small restaurants that serve excellent sea food and can compete with the best in Thailand, at much reasonable prices. Visit the local handicrafts village and folklore museum to pick some valuable trinkets, cloth material and historical pieces.
Kanchanaburi's claim to fame is the famous 1957 film by David Lean, “Bridge over the River Kwai”. The “Death Railway” as it is now remembered was built at the cost of the lives of many Prisoners of War. This hair raising tale alone warrants a visit. This grim site, however, is not all that this Thai Province has to offer. Kanchanaburi is a majestic land with dense jungles, pristine waterfalls and mountain caves, making it the explorer’s dream. Far away from the beach lifestyle one typically expects in Thailand, Kanchanaburi has many hidden delights for the adventurous in spirit. Explore the Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary to witness one of the very few remaining virgin forest canopies around the world, photograph the milky azure waters of the picturesque seven tier waterfall at Erawan National Park, relive history at the Hellfire Pass Museum and raft your way on tumultuous waters to the Lawa Cave. Kanchanaburi is the perfect getaway for a mind deadened by mundane everyday life. And while you are there, do not miss the chance of being photographed with unleashed, fully grown tigers at The Tiger Temple.
Nakhon Ratchasima is famous for its agrotourism. The place is also rich in natural beauty and well known for its Khmer culture and history. Lovers of nature would find 112 mammal species and 320 bird species in Khao Yai National Park along with awesome trekking and camping opportunities. Phimai Historical Park is a grand old Khmer historical site. The rectangular structure is intricately carved and has architectural similarities with that of Angkor Wat. Nakhon Ratchasima also locally produces some unique and beautiful handicrafts like the famous Dan Kwian potteries and Mat Mi silk. The Jim Thompson Farm Tour is a wonderful opportunity to witness silkworm rearing, mushroom cultivation and large fields full of colorful flowers.
Sukhothai has an illustrious past that goes a long way back in history. It was established in 1238 AD as the first capital of Thailand and boasts of over a hundred historical sites. This is where the famous Loi Krathong festival originated. During this festival, tiny candles and flowers are released into rivers and waterways as offerings and make for a truly magical visual experience. Sukhothai Historical Park and Si Satchanalai Historical Park are UNESCO World Heritage Sites with ruins of grand monuments set against green mountains, swift flowing rivers and lotus ponds. Sukhothai is also famed for its hand crafted gold reproductions of necklaces, wristlets, bangles, rings and other such trinkets.
One of the most beautiful temple in Thailand, Chiang Rai, located about 5 kilometers from Chiang Mai is relatively lesser known. Ruins of ancient civilizations and Buddhist shrines stand amidst lush natural beauty and exotic wildlife. The Golden Triangle where Burma, Laos and Thailand come together was the hub of opium trade once upon a time. It is the perfect place to unwind, away from the bustling crowds of popular cities like Chiang Mai. Take a mountain hike and find yourself amongst the hill tribes of Thailand. They have still held on to their traditional ways despite the inroads modern civilization has made into Thai lifestyle.
Located strategically on the Bangkok-Chiang Mai Rail route, Ayutthaya is a ruined city that has witnessed a long and rich Siamese history. It has some beautiful temples architectured amazingly in accordance with the age old era. During its flourishing zenith, it rose to become a cosmopolitan center of arts and commerce. The city fell under Burmese invasion in 1767, and was burned down and abandoned. Today the city is a melting pot of Thai arts, culture, history and divine nature. Located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, this once magnificent city boasts of numerous historic temples and palaces of splendid architecture. The Old City of Ayutthaya, the Bang Pa-In Summer Palace and the Wat Chai Wattanaram are just a few of those. The Chao Phraya River served as a trade route in this district and the best way to see Ayutthaya is a relaxing river cruise.
Each of these offbeat destinations are easily accessible from Bangkok. Their relative isolation renders them all the more appealing to travelers who seek to avoid the maddening crowds flocking Thailand's popular destinations. Whether you are a lone backpacker or on a family vacation, try something different this time with our eight unusual destinations. Have a great holiday!
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