With its white-sand beaches, fascinating culture, welcoming people and delicious food, it’s no wonder Thailand is one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations. But if you stray away from tourist hotspots like Bangkok, Phuket and Ko Samui, there are plenty of fascinating unknown spots to discover. Here are six of the best:
1, The unknown Angkor: Prasat Hin Phimai
You might think you need to cross the border into Cambodia to see a Khmer temple, but Thailand has its own version of Angkor Wat. In the northeast of the country is Prasat Hin Phimai. It looks just like Angkor but is actually even older, dating back to the end of the 10th century. Hire a bike to explore its temples and sculptures, and climb to the highest point for sunset over the ruins.
2, The island paradise: Koh Mak
South of Ko Chang and near the Cambodian border, Koh Mak is an unspoilt patch of paradise. It’s mostly known for growing coconuts, which means you have the long stretches of palm-fringed beach almost to yourself. You can snorkel right off the beach into clear blue waters, or hire a kayak and head out to discover the even quieter neighbouring islands.
3, The remote hill tribe trek: Nan
In Thailand’s far north, the mountains of Nan Province are home to a large population of hill tribes. Some of them are only found in this province, and it’s the only place you can visit the nomadic Mlabri tribe. The town of Nan itself is a relaxed place full of temples and riverside bars, and don’t miss the stunning peaks of nearby Doi Phu kha National Park.
4, The secret shrine: Khao Luang Cave Temple
Near the town of Phetchaburi is one of Thailand’s most unusual temples. It was founded when King Rama V built a golden Buddha in a cave to honour his ancestors. Since then it’s been joined by 200 other Buddha’s as well as pagodas and shrines. Climb 90 feet down into a series of caverns to be met by sparkling gold, as the statues reflect the light from a hole at the top.
5, The wildlife haven: Ko Tarutao
Close to the border with Malaysia, Ko Tarutao is not your usual Thai island. Its rocky peaks, mangrove swamps and thick jungle are home to wildlife like macaques, lemurs and langurs. It was once used as a prison and has been a location for TV show Survivor, but these days it’s a sleepy enclave. It’s a National Park so don’t expect luxury, but it makes a great adventurous escape.
6, The taste of Myanmar: Ranong
The town of Ranong has always been a visa run hub between Thailand and Myanmar, but it’s now attracting visitors in its own right. Soak in the hot springs, hike the National Parks and try Burmese delicacies at Ruangrat Road market. You can also join a liveaboard boat trip to Myanmar’s untouched Mergui. Archipelago. where you’ll find sharks, manta rays and barracuda.