Coming to Thailand is an adventure on its own. The culture, the food, the people…everything fits together perfectly, creating an exciting environment for any traveler’s first (or second, or fifth, or tenth) visit to the Land of Smiles. To travel Thailand is to immerse yourself in a new world of endless possibilities.
However, most people follow a classic route and move on to the next place. Terrible choice, buddy. Thailand has much more to offer than big cities and the occasional party – there are national parks, unexplored temples and small towns just waiting to be visited.
Here’s a list of 5 underrated places to visit in Thailand. They’re ideal for any traveler looking to discover sights off the beaten track and stay far away from the crowded tourist traps.
KOH YAO NOI
At some point, Phuket begins to feel a bit overrated. It’s a daily struggle to deal with the madness of crowded beaches and the never-ending presence of vendors selling selfie sticks and chirping wooden frogs. When it all gets too much, it might be time to find an isolated island just an hour away.
Known for its eco-friendly homestay programs, Koh Yao Noi island is a refuge for travelers looking for peace and quiet. It’s so isolated that you’ll have to make sure you come here with enough cash for your stay (there are no ATMs). And, unlike most tourist spots in Thailand, there is only one 7-11 for your snack runs.
To get here, take one of the long-tail boat ferries from Bang Rong Pier with departures at 9:30 AM, 12 noon, and 5 PM. The one-hour journey will include a short stop at Koh Yao Yai before making its way to Koh Yao Noi.
If you’re looking for a laidback beach life where you can spend your time lying on a hammock, kayaking, and snorkeling, casting yourself away to this paradise is the best way to go.
KHAO YAI NATIONAL PARK
Tired of the backpackers of Khao San Road and the busy streets of Bangkok? Taking a trip to Khao Yai National Park to be surrounded by wildlife and nature is what you need. With waterfalls, viewpoints, and lush green sceneries, you’ll be busy for days. (Fun fact: Haew Suwat, the most popular of these waterfalls, was the one Leonardo DiCaprio jumped from in the movie The Beach). And, if you get bored, you can always play spot the gibbon or spot the elephant.
With a car, it’s a 3-hour drive from Bangkok. With public transportation, however, hop on a minibus to Pak Chong and take a songthaew for 40 Baht. As for places to stay, accommodation can be found at the perimeter of the park and camping is also an option.
For more information on touring this park, check out this article: Welcome to the Jungle: The Khao Yai National Park.
SUKHOTHAI HISTORICAL PARK
This is a refreshing change from the usual temple once you have seen what could be your 100th Wat in Thailand. Filled with ruins of the ancient city of Sukhothai, you will be amazed by the arrangement of Buddha figures and stupas amidst the rows of pillars scattered all over the park.
Stay at the Old City Guesthouse, which is right in front of the park entrance. Rent a bike and see the ruins at sunrise when the sunlight brings out their color. Don’t miss Wat Si Chum, where you’ll find a giant seated Buddha image known for its gracefully shaped hand. After your tour, give the famous Sukhothai noodles a go.
Around 2 hours from Bangkok, Kanchanaburi is unfortunately usually sold as a day trip package which includes sedated tigers, elephant rides, and its dark World War II history. It’s basically the king of all toursit traps, but there’s more to this underrated place.
The province of Kanchanaburi is filled with beautiful national parks with impressive waterfalls, a reservoir with crystal waters, and caves. Perhaps the most well-known of these is Erawan National Park, home to the 7-tiered Erawan Waterfall.
To get here, take a bus from the Southern Bus Terminal in Bangkok or take a minibus from Khao San Road. You can also take the train from Thonburi Station.
Phetchabun is filled with unique temples, impressive historical parks, and stunning natural sceneries, yet it rarely comes up as a must-see place in Thailand.
Accessible from Bangkok by bus or train, visit the psychedelic Wat Prathat Phasorkaew, gape at the glitzy Wat Phra Kaeo, walk through the thick forest of the Sap Chomphu Arboretum, and take a dip under the graceful cascades of Hin Ngam Waterfall.
DO YOU KNOW OF ANY UNDERRATED PLACES IN THAILAND?
This sums up our list of underrated places to visit in Thailand. We are sure there are more. Do let us know if you have found a new spot in Thailand by leaving us a comment or sending us a picture.