With its breathtaking scenery and beautiful beaches, it’s not hard to see why more and more tourists are flocking to Thailand. While the Grand Palace in Bangkok and Phang Nga Bay in Phuket have become popular for very good reason, why not take a chance and venture off the tourist trail? Thailand is full of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered… so long as you know where to look!
The Krabi coast boasts some glorious beaches, including Ao Nang, Ton Sai and Railay, but fewer people know about Hat Noppharat Thara, although it is within walking distance of Ao Nang. It’s an undeveloped beach where you can lounge beneath the shade of the casuarina trees and take in the stunning views of the karst outcrops and array of brightly-coloured fishing boats – both typical of the area. If you feel peckish, head to one of the nearby restaurants for some delicious fresh seafood.
For a different kind of natural beauty, hire a car or take a bus from Krabi town to the Than Bok Khorani National Park, about 45km to the northwest. This wonderful park is well worth visiting for its sea caves, mangrove forests and waterfalls. You can see prehistoric paintings at nearby Tham Phi Hua To Cave, or if you’re more of an adrenalin junkie, kayak around the sea-girt caves and islands in the area.
If you’re an animal lover, a visit to the Patara elephant farm in Chiang Mai is an experience you’ll never forget, not to mention a rare chance to get close to these gentle creatures – the national animals of Thailand. You can even take part in an elephant expedition through the local countryside, exploring hills, forests, waterfalls and farmland.
Alternatively, take a tour to a remote hill tribe village and meet the people who live there, far away from civilisation. This is an amazing opportunity to get a taste of a vastly different way of life. You will also have the chance to buy local handicrafts.
If you truly want to get away from it all, why not try a silent meditation retreat? The monastery of Wat Suan Mokkh, located in a forest in Southern Thailand, offers the opportunity to participate in this spiritually uplifting experience for ten days at the start of each month. Not for the faint-hearted, meditation begins in the early hours of the morning and includes an hour of yoga each day, as well as vegetarian meals and a concrete bed!
Even if it’s just for a day or two, getting off the beaten track in Thailand will give you a whole new perspective on the place and truly enrich your experience. Of course, long haul destinations aren’t always the cheapest to get to, but you might be able to find a good deal on Bangkok flights at a site like Momondo.com. However you get there and whatever you choose to do with your time, any holiday in Thailand is sure to be a truly memorable experience.