There’s a certain loop most travelers take when visiting Thailand: start in Bangkok, fly down to Ko Phi Phi, over to Phuket and then up to Chiang Mai. Most people fall into this path because it poses very few risks and allows you to see the geographical diversity of Thailand.
But few challenges…is that what you really want? Sometimes it’s just so much more satisfying to go a little deeper.
Here are a few of our favorite places:
Sitting on the banks of the Mekong, just across from Vientiane in Laos, Nong Khai has been popular with travellers for years. Its popularity is about more than just its proximity to Vientiane and its bounty of banana pancakes, though. Seduced by its dreamy pink sunsets and sluggish pace of life, many visitors who mean to stay one night end up bedding down for many more.
Krabi’s fairytale limestone formations come to a dramatic climax at Railay (also spelt Rai Leh), the ultimate Andaman gym for rock-climbing fanatics. Monkeys frolic alongside climbers on the gorgeous crags, while down below some of the prettiest beaches in all Thailand are backed by proper jungle.
With steep, jungle-covered peaks, picturesque Ko Chang (Elephant Island; เกาะช้าง) retains its remote and rugged spirit – despite the transformation of parts of it into a package-tour destination. Sweeping bays are sprinkled along the west coast; most have superfine sand, some have pebbles. What it lacks in sand it makes up for in an unlikely combination: accessible wilderness with a thriving party scene.
As is clear, Thailand has a rich, proud culture that varies greatly throughout the country. Stepping away from the most touristy sites will open the doors to more intimate and memorable experiences.
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