Go by bike. Motorbike.
Renting a motorbike is, without fail one of the best ways to see a country. Littered with mountains,
rivers, forests, beaches and jungle (not to mention secret back roads covered in black tarmac), there’s few better places in the world than Thailand to jump on a bike and set off on an intrepid adventure. Starting at Udon Thani and heading along the Mekong River to Khon Kaen, the only thing between you and the clear road may be the odd chicken, water buffalo and parades.
Those looking for ‘real’ Thailand, head to Issan. The Northeast area of Thailand is the least touristy area, and, with that, comes a certain charm lost in more developed areas. The locals rarely speak English, roads aren’t as well paved and it’s more underdeveloped than not, but you shall be immersed into the beauty of paddy fields and small towns with smiling, friendly and curious locals. Issan is for those who enjoy life off the beaten track.
sleep in a tree in BangKoK
A beautiful eco-friendly hotel, The Bangkok Tree House is not accessible by car. And, while the name
may be misleading (the rooms aren’t actually in trees) to find a hotel in the hectic city that is Bangkok that’s rural, calm and peaceful is quite a rare find and, undoubtedly a little secret. After a mile long cycle or walk to get there, your room greets you with views of the rural neighbors morphing into the iconic Bangkok skyline. But, with silence.
a tourist Free temple in a Cave
Anywhere that tour buses don’t go is sure to be somewhere on the ‘can’t miss’ list. Khao Luang Cave in Phetchaburi is at the gateway to the sublime Phra Nakhol Khiri National Park. 90 feet subway is the most beautiful temple littered with nearly 200 Buddhas that catch the light from the cave chamber giving it an ethereal glow that can’t be recreated. It’s other worldly beautiful.
Our tips for getting off the beaten track in Thailand
1. Take the slow route: instead of taking direct flights and trains to the different areas, re-plan your journey to allow yourself stops in towns and regions that you may not have visited otherwise. Every region in Thailand has something to offer if you have the time to break up your trip, slow down and enjoy as much as you can.
2. Pack your dictionary: the more you stray from the tourist spots, the less likely the Thais are to speak English. Fear not, the customary friendliness will still reign supreme so take a deep breath, test your Thai out and you’re guaranteed to reap the rewards.
3. Chiang Mai and its surrounding area is deservedly the Thai trekking capital but don’t be afraid to venture away for an authentic hiking opportunity. We like Nan in the far north for its stunning caves and Umphang for rich greenery and gorgeous waterfalls.
4. Hit the backstreets: Away from the main streets of Thailand’s major cities lie the best markets, unseen temples and restaurants where the locals eat. Wander where your feet lead you and forget your map until you’re ready to head home.
5. Word of mouth is the way to go to uncover Thailand’s hidden gems – Thais who speak English can often give you the inside track on where to go, and other tourists’ experiences can map your own, so get to talking!