When it comes to Thailand, most people think they have seen it all! Whether it be exploring the famous Phi Phi or James Bond Islands, kicking back and enjoying a cocktail or two whilst the sunsets over Phuket, or shopping until your hearts content in the country’s capital Bangkok.
There is no doubt that Thailand is a favourite for many travellers, being one of the most visited destinations in South East Asia. But what if we shared with you some lesser known sites? Totally off the tourist radar, we share with you five unique and off the beaten track experiences for your next trip to Thailand!
1. Koh Mak Island
Home to 10,000 palm trees, beautiful pristine beaches, incredible nature and virtually no tourists, Koh Mak is definitely one of Thailand’s best kept secrets. Being the third biggest island in the eastern gulf of Thailand, Koh Mak is privately owned by a small group of families who want to ensure the island follows the ideals of ecotourism. Koh Mak offers plenty of activities which support nature such as hiking and cycling trails, diving and snorkelling activities, as well as laid back cafes overlooking the islands pristine beaches. Sounds like paradise right?
2. Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew (A temple made up of beer!)
Whilst most travellers come to Thailand and witness the intricately made up temples featuring gold, precious stones and jewels, Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew offers something different … a temple made up of thousands and thousands of beer bottles! In 1984, a group of monks grew tired of the rubbish near their area, so to help promote recycling, they encouraged the locals to bring their recycled beer bottles to create this incredibly unique temple complex. If you are a beer lover, this is your kind of temple to visit!
Spend enough time in Northern Thailand and you’ll begin to hear about the small town of Pai, situated in the Mae Hong Soon province a couple of hours out of Chiang Mai. Whilst this destination has become more well known over the last few years, it is definitely worth a mention being known for its lush mountain landscapes, beautiful natural hot springs and waterfalls, its famous Pai canyon and delicious street food stalls and cafes. Be swept away in the town’s natural beauty as you partake in hikes around the area or sit back and relax whilst admiring the stunning scenery. Pai is an incredible destination well worth visiting for those adventure seekers and nature lovers.
4. Erawan waterfalls
Resembling that of Laos famous Kuang Si waterfalls, Erawan waterfalls is essentially similar just without the tourists! Located in the Tenasserim Hills in Kanchanaburi province, Erawan National Park is home to Erawan waterfalls, the most beautiful waterfalls in Thailand! With its several tiers of emerald green ponds, Erawan waterfalls was named after the three-headed white elephant of Hindu mythology, with the top tier of the falls said to resemble the elephant’s head. Visitors often enjoy swimming in the several tiers of the waterfalls or even sitting back and admiring the incredible national park.
5. Lotus Lake
Located in Tambon Chiang Haeo lies the stunning wetlands ablaze with pink lotus flowers known as Lotus Lake. This spectacular site is home to millions of lotus flowers which combines the serenity of a lake with the beauty of a tropical flower garden. Most visitors enjoy hoping on a pontoon boat and exploring the 600 square acre lake. The boat ride often starts by drifting amongst lily pads, murky water and lake grasses before reaching the clear water full of millions of bright pink Lotus Flowers. Lotus lake is definitely off the beaten track and considered one of Thailand’s best kept secrets.
Want to make these experiences yours? Check out our range of Thailand small group tours!
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This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.