Not unlike the rest of Asia, Thailand is no longer the hidden holiday destination unseen by the rest of the world. Thailand’s tourist board has recently taken measures to repair natural attractions such as coral reefs which have been damaged by years of tourists taking advantage of the landscape. It is a gap-year destination, a place to go island hopping amongst luxurious resorts. There are temples to visit, monkeys to see and there are hawkers on every street trying to make a buck off unsuspecting tourists.
However, Thailand is not over, and there are a few places which are off the beaten track and are not teeming with tourists. You just have to know where to look, and luckily we’ve done all of the legwork for you.
Here are some of the best destinations and off the beaten path Thailand gems to escape the tourists:
Chiang Mai (but not as you know it)
The food all over Chiang Mai is incredible, however, you need to know where to look to find the authentic street food for when you find that you are over Pad Thai – and that day will come. Due to the relatively isolated nature of Northern Thailand, the coconut milk and fish sauce used in the rest of the country were not originally used in northern Thai cooking. In their place were spicy curries with game or snake, and lots of local plants – easily sourced spices and proteins which came from the earth. For an authentic culinary experience in the north, try laab, a smokey (sometimes raw) mincemeat, offal and blood salad, along with a tomato-based pork dish which is similar to ragu.
If you’ve recently returned from Thailand and you’re craving some culinary treats, but you’re still feeling jet-lagged and exhausted, you might not even have to book a train ticket, as the Thai restaurant scene is growing in the UK and is beginning to offer more than just Pad Thai. Some restaurants in Bristol are on Deliveroo, so the extent of your exercise to retrieve your Thai delights might just mean opening the door.
Amphawa Floating Markets
Some might disagree that Amphawa’s floating markets are a quieter destination. However, you will find fewer foreign tourists at Amphawa than you might at some of Thailand’s other markets, and hiring a boat to reach the island is significantly cheaper too. Here you will find treasures that tourists don’t often buy and some more authentic Thai items which you will not find anywhere else.
It is probably worth noting that unless you speak enough Thai to get by, you might find Amphawa difficult, as there are mainly Thai tourists who frequent the markets. It would be useful to brush up on a few key phrases before you visit and really impress the locals.
Ko Kradan or “Surfboard Island” as it has been dubbed for its shape, is located in the marine national park of Hat Jao Mai. It has a reputation for great beaches where you can enjoy the waters or stretch out on the white sand as well as explore the coconut palms in the national park.
If you enjoy snorkeling, the coral reefs in the crystal clear waters at Koh Kradan are said to be exquisite, and as they are in shallow waters, they make a great attraction for first-time snorkellers. Once you’re finished in the sea, watch the beautiful sunset which is a highlight for those who know about Koh Kradan.
With all the legwork done, what are you waiting for? You could be enjoying the best Thailand has to offer and exploring places off the beaten track very soon.