While there is a very well-trodden backpacker trail in Thailand, with WiFi on every corner, it is still possible to get off-grid and discover unique places and people that will enrich your journey. The best way to do this is to head out into nature, switch off your phone (heaven forbid!) and simply go with the flow. There are tons of National Parks in Thailand so whether you’re in the jungle or on top of a mountain, you have the opportunity to switch off and enjoy the natural world.
A great way to connect with locals or those living an alternative lifestyle is to undertake a WWOOFing experience in the countryside. WWOOFing is basically volunteering on an organic farm which, not only helps save you money while travelling, but also allows you to get back to nature and learn some new skills. Whether you’re tasked with helping out in rice paddies or setting up a small vegetable patch for a local family, you’ll feel like you are connecting with people, the country and Mother Nature in general!
Khao Yai National Park
If you’re a wildlife lover, head out to explore Khao Yai National Park, a natural haven for elephants, bears, gibbons and macaques as well as a whole host of birdlife. Just three hours from Bangkok you couldn’t feel further removed from the hustle and bustle of the city. Spend your days walking and seeking out wildlife both big and small, or why not camp overnight for a real outdoorsy adventure?
The Mindfulness Project
For those searching for a more holistic experience during their Thailand adventure, The Mindfulness Project allows you to take time for yourself while working on a project for the greater good. Based on scientific research by the University of Murcia, the Mindfulness Project aims to transform people, mindsets and the Earth we live on through meditation, yoga, permaculture and the arts. Not only will you meet a great group of people but you’ll be able to get involved in Buddhist ceremonies so you can gain an insight into Thai culture and traditions.
Phu Chi Fa Forest Park
For hikers or those who want an off-grid workout, Phu Chi Fa Forest Park is a great choice. With the park’s eponymous mountain at its heart, this is the perfect place to take a morning hike. Rise up before the sun for your journey to the summit before siting proudly on top of the mountain as you watch the sun come up and the low-lying mist dissolve in the heat of the day.
Thailand is home to many incredible Vipassana Retreats including the 10-day silent meditation retreat at the Suan Mok International Dharma Heritage. Starting at the beginning of every month, this intense 10-day retreat allows you to truly switch off and spend time contemplating your life, values, trip and relationships. The retreat is basic (at best!) but is all about serving the earth, being mindful, switching off and learning about Buddhism.
Take an Island Getaway
While Koh Phangan is known for the epic Full Moon Party, it is also a wonderful place to enjoy the great outdoors and connect with nature. The Sanctuary retreat is much loved by those wanting to get off-grid, with detox programmes, yoga lessons and healing workshops to allow you to rebalance and rejuvenate before getting back to the outside world.
Of course, the main backpacker hotspots are popular for a reason, so hitting Bangkok, Chiang Mai and the islands are a must, but you should try to fit in some off-the-beaten-path experiences too!