Thailand is a beautiful country. There is no doubt about that. We’ve lived here all our life and it still amazes us with its culture, people and of course the food. We even find new places to visit almost every month. When people visit Thailand, the top most visited places are usually Phuket, Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Koh Samui and Krabi . Those are all great but we think you should visit these less known, less-traveled places in Thailand in 2017.
To make it easy for you, we are going to go in an anti-clockwise direction starting from the East – North East – North – Central – South. Here we go!
1. Koh Mak / Koh Kut
Many travelers often go to Koh Chang as it is one of the largest and most developed islands in the Gulf of Thailand. However, just a 10 minute boat journey down South of it is Koh Mak, a smaller and quieter island. Unlike Koh Samet and Koh Chang, Koh Mak has no nightlife. You won’t even find an ATM here. You will however experience pure nature, bliss and a place for relaxation.
For more info, check out the Koh Mak Guide.
Go down even further from Koh Mak and you arrive at an equally, if not, an even more stunning island called Koh Kut (kood). Travelfish even declared it as the best island they’ve ever seen in Thailand and that is saying something.
A beautiful and quaint province in the Eastern part of Thailand. Chanthaburi borders with Cambodia and neighbors Trat, which is where is Koh Mak is. So no reason you can’t make a trip out of it, especially if you’re headed to Bangkok as it comes in the way.
This is one of our favorite provinces as it has everything you would need in a destination. Think beautiful local beaches, lush green mangroves and mountainous national parks coupled with a charming city that is engulfed in fascinating culture and history.
Read our blog post on this absolutely charming province for some tips on what to see and things to do.
3. Sam Phan Bok, Ubon Ratchathani
Literally translated, Sam Phan Bok means 3000 holes and that is exactly what it is. Thousands of holes in the ground, arbitrarily shaped, some even resembling Mickey Mouse, can be seen spread across the land. People also call this place the Grand Canyon of Siam, which is basically a canyon (created) by the Mekong River.
Sam Phan Bok is situated North-East of downtown Ubon Ratchathani in Pho Sai District near the Laos border. The best time to visit the “Grand Canyon” is in the summer (March – June) because when the rains come, the Mekong River rises and covers this entire area. If you go during the rainy season, it’s a complete different experience as you can take a boat on the river or see beautiful waterfalls.
4. Udon Thani
Remember that giant yellow rubber duck that was displayed around the world? Well Udon Thai has one (actually three) of their own imitation at their local park.
If going to take a selfie with the rubber duck isn’t enough for you to visit this city, there is plenty of cultural and historical things to keep you occupied. City shrines, temples and museums are just some of the things you can see in Udon Thani.
As the path-less-taken goes, Chaiyaphum is probably high on the list when it comes to Thailand destinations. There is not much here but after someone shared photos of some stones in the Phu Laenkha National Park and dubbed it “Stonehenge of Thailand” it has gotten quite a bit of popularity. It is called Mor Hin Khao and is quite a natural marvel – or is it?
Recently there was also a longboard downhill competition that was held near Mor Hin Khao. That is pretty cool.
Another destination less-traveled in Thailand – Loei offers interesting festivals, culture, food and a slow-paced lifestyle. If you like nature defined by mist-covered mountains, flower fields and beautiful scenery from the Mekong River, then Loei is the place to go.
7. Phu Tub Berk, Petchabun
Next, we make our way slightly to the North and touch upon Phetchabun. When we visited this province, we hardly saw any foreigners. The province is known for some beautiful mountain scenery, temples atop hills and even camping. In particular, Phu Tub Berk, a local and Thai tourist Mecca for camping (a bit of glamping) is definitely worth visiting this year.
Check out this stunning view on the way to the summit of Phu Tub Berk.
Pai is a small town in the Mae Hong Son Province, near the Myanmar border. It is one of those Northern wonders of Thailand where everyone loves to go. Although quite famous and therefore touristy, it makes our list because 1) we haven’t been there yet and 2) it has some kind of charm that leaves travelers mesmerized.
After reading about Pai, we would recommend to stay off the main touristy spots and avoid “westernized” downtown in exchange for the nature side of the province. Pai canyon, caves, waterfalls, hot springs and stunning viewpoints will be what makes your trip worthwhile.
9. Doi Ang Khang
When we were last in Chiang Mai, we had plans to go to Pai but after a local friend told us to try Doi Ang Khang instead – we did just that. This place stole our hearts away.
Doi Ang Khang is a mountain in the Fang district of Chiang Mai. Mountain covers the Thai-Burmese border and has a charming, laid back vibe to it. The highlights of this place are the cherry blossoms during winter and the cultivation of vegetables and fruits indigenous to the area.
When it comes to Central Thailand, most go to Bangkok, Kanchanaburi or Ayuttaya. This year we say you take a day or two trip to Lopburi and smell the flowers. No, seriously. Lopburi is known for its sunflower fields and if you are interested in that, then definitely visit this quaint province. Note that the fields bloom in November – January.
Other than that, you’ll find ruins, temples and a whole lot of monkeys. In fact Lopburi is also known as the Monkey kingdom where they have an annual Monkey festival. The festival is held in November, which is perfect – that is when the sunflower bloom as well!
11. Prachuap Khiri Khan
Now let’s go down towards the South (west) side. Another province that is less-traveled to by foreigners is Prachuap Khiri Khan. It is also one of those places we really enjoyed visiting.
Although tourists frequent Hua Hin more often, if you go further South, you can experience so much more PKK has to offer. Two renowned national parks in Kui Buri district – Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park and Kui Buri National Park are first and foremost a must-visit. You can learn more about them in our post.
Go even further South and you will come across a sleepy town with a charming vibe. Their beach areas are also gorgeous, in particular Ao Manao, which is protected by the Wing 5 air-force. After relaxing and eating at the beach, climb a nearby mountain for spectacular views.
You can also go to a paradisaical private island called Koh Talu not too far from the Bang Saphan district of the province.
12. Koh Nang Yuan
Just at an arms length from Koh Tao lies one of the most beautiful islands we’ve ever set foot upon. We first saw Koh Nang Yuan in 2015 and as soon as we could, we made a trip out of when we visited Koh Tao.
The highlight of this island is the viewpoint from where you can see a sandbar connecting three tiny islands. If you haven’t visited this place yet, go before it gets overly popular (kind of has already).
13. Khao Sok National Park
Although there is not much to do in Surat Thani and people mostly visit this province as a gateway to Koh Samui/Koh Phangan/Koh Tao, the Khao Sok National park is a must visit. This is truly where adventure meets nature.
Khao Sok is filled with lush green forests, massive limestone rocks, mountains, lakes and wildlife. All the while there are plenty of adventurous things to do here such as hikes and jungle safaris by foot and kayaks.
14. Maya Bay/Phi Phi Islands
Although considered very touristy and in the proximity of Phuket and Krabi, Phi Phi islands and Maya Bay are a must visit for its sheer beauty. The area has been a busy tourist attraction since the move The Beach was filmed here in 1999. We have yet to go here despite our many trips to Phuket or Krabi.
15. Koh Lanta
After reading a post from one of my favorite travel bloggers, Jackson Grove of Journey on Koh Lanta, it had to make this list. Maybe it was all his pictures but it should definitely be on your bucket list of places to visit in Thailand.
The beaches here are less crowded and it is a place you go to either unwind and relax or for amazing adventures. It’s high on our list for this year!
16. Koh Kradan
Next going down a bit further, we find Koh Kradan, a remote and untouched island of which 90% is protected as a national park. It is surely a perfect destination for marine life enthusiasts and adventurers with plenty of and snorkeling and diving opportunities. Coolest thing is that you can also get married underwater in Koh Kradan!
17. Koh Lipe
Even further down South comes a small island called Koh Lipe, which is a typical paradise famous for it’s white sandy beaches and turquoise blue waters. There are 3 main beaches on the island and a few small private ones as well. There are also many nearby islands to explore as well.
There are many ways to get to Koh Lipe. The quickest way is to fly to Had Yai and then take the ferry to Koh Lipe. The other option is a train or bus from Bangkok but that takes a lot of time and ends up (strangely) costing about the same.
We hope you enjoyed this list. How many have you been to and how many are now on your bucketlist? Do you have any other places that should be on the list? Let us know in the comments below.