Secret Places in Thailand No Tour Operator Will Tell You
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“Travel and Exploration are the secret languages for an inspired soul”
Before I start to explain the reason for writing the above quote, let me grind you through a short brief “Behind the scene”
2019 NYE it was when I and my beau were told that we were the most exciting people in terms of exploring the world and bringing out the places to the front world since our college days, in fact, those places which were never heard of before! This dialogue between us and our friends reminded one thing; since a few years, we have been travelling to conventional destinations more than required while avoiding the real taste of travel and exploration aside.
And this was not how we were a few years back. This night lit up the hunger of traversing unconventionally, for sure. Though Indian states were our major call earlier, it was time for some change!
And after this point of time with some crazy plans, overnight discussions, Thailand became our point of attraction. Easy flights, budget destination, land of Buddhism, a plethora of marvels and a variety of terrains including hills to islands, attracted the mood and our travel strategy.
Some websites scrolled, books checked and maps folded, and the next thing I knew, January end flight tickets were done and we landed ourselves in Bangkok. The real journey was going to begin now.
Framing Hidden Jewels In and Around Bangkok
Sawadee Ka Suvarnabhumi airport! After settling down in the hotel for a few hours, we headed out to see beautiful Old City. Crossed through Grand Palace, Golden Mount, Gallery of Thai history, Wat Phra Kaeo and the grandness of architecture mixed with religious values in a manner like never before, the experience here was totally mindblowing. Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho was truly an ecstatic beauty on its own! Let us tell you some places you might have missed but should include in the itinerary on this vacation.
1. Dusit Park- A complex with Palaces and Temples
Delve in the blend of Art, Culture and Architecture
What to see:
Within the zone of Dusit park, you can embrace King Bhumibol’s museum, Abhishek Dusit throne hall, Lakeside pavilion, Vimanmek mansion, Dusit’s Christian churches, Dusit zoo, Chitrlada Palace and Wat Benchamabophit.
Lying in East side of Chao Phraya river, Dusit park is a perfect blend of genteel architecture, manicured gardens, neighbouring zoo, and the royal touch, to add the cherry on top.
It took one whole day to explore the park before heading back to dinner near the riverside cafe.
Let us also tell you that most of the major attractions get closed by 4 PM, so plan accordingly.
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2. Jim Thompsons House at Old Farang Quarter- An Architectural Masterpiece
Time has polished the gem well.
Ola Farang quarter itself comprises an antique style of buildings, temples, hotels, and customary places never heard before. And in this zone, we found Jim Thompson’s house, best preserved traditional Thai house of Bangkok.
Wow, it is! I wished to stay there for my life where traditional paintings, wooden rooms, antiques, porcelain bowls, green gardens, Buddha’s torso were all compiled so lively, we all can say, Architect Jim has done his own ‘homework’ in a brilliant style.
Opens up between 9.00 AM to 5.00 PM every day, get clicked in royal contemporary style here.
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3. Nonthaburi- Authentic Old Century Province
Live life local style
Approximately 10 km north of Bangkok, the province can be reached by riverboat from Express pier of Bangkok. Being here is like enjoying the life locally while observing places like Royal boathouse, Royal barge museum, Wat Khian temple, Ko Kret island, and Wat Chalerm Phrakiet.
This town also lets one go through attractive craftsmanship of pottery making on one end and detailed style work on its buildings on the other. Moreover, away from the city chaos, enjoy some fresh and colourful fruits at this place.
Know more about some of the best things to do in Phuket.
Framing Extraordinary Beauty of Central Thailand
Once done with places in and around Bangkok, it was our turn to head a little north so as to find what our friends might have missed on their last trip to Thailand.
1. Ayutthaya- Uncover the Ancient Kingdom
Some beautiful secrets need extra exploration!
Approximately 80 km in North from Bangkok, the ancient city has remained largely untouched by most of the travellers. Don’t know why, but I highly recommend this place a visit which was a trading area for adventurers, missionaries, merchants then but now looks no less than a wonderland.
Visit this place if you want to become a fan of the concoction of pagodas, palaces, ruins of historic areas, culture, and art.
The most interesting thing I saw here was a Buddha face which was covered by the tree at Wat Mahathat. Bewildering the beauty, thrilling the look! A totally instagrammable place as well! Here is the list of best places to visit in Thailand which you can add in your list.
2. Kanchanaburi- Observe World War 2 Remains in the midst of nature
A day by River Kwae, peace!
Crossing around 125 km in the west of Bangkok, we landed up in Kanchanaburi.
Popular for remains of World War 2 (steel bridge and war memorials), the town also offered us bamboo rafting along river Kwae, after which we had some shopping at gemstone village.
Spent our evening here in amazing pubs and cafes while enjoying the views of the river on one side.
Check out some of the best activities to do in Thailand perfect for your next adventure.
3. Umphang Province- Home to Thailand’s highest waterfall
Get kissed by Mother Nature
Another side of Thailand emerged in front as we booked a cab for us to Umphang. The roads were just amazing and scenic which came alive with lush green forests and tiny villages nearby, primarily of Karen tribe.
Umphang wildlife sanctuary is one of the places within Thailand that makes the country rich with species of birds, animals and offering activities like river rafting, elephant trekking, hiking to the country’s highest waterfall called Thi Lo Su and what not!
Not even able to pen down the beauty in detail, a must visit for all the nature lovers, sleep peacefully in nearby accommodations and rise up with the chirping of birds next morning.
Check out some of the best tourist attractions to visit in Krabi.
4. UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sukhothai Historical Park- Home to incredible ruins
Dawn of Happiness
A potent reminder of ancient time once again brought us close to this hidden site, honestly, best-preserved location with breathtaking symmetry and insight of art & culture. We felt like being a part of the old empire while walking through the inner city, looking at temples, museums, stucco sculptures, monuments and of course, Buddha images and carvings.
Make sure you reach here between 9 am to 4 pm only.
Moved an hour ahead in the north and caught the glimpse of Si Satchanalai park with extremely amazing environ. If historical beauty is still not settled within, go for this park as well.
To know more about the things to do in Krabi, click here.
Cultural Heartland in Northern Thailand: Explore Differently
Because we were still hungry for another exploration, we decided to drive more towards the north and reached Chiang Mai in about 4 hours, the town famous for 300 temples, shopping, and cuisine.
Close to that, of around 3-hour drive more, the city of Chiang Rai is settled which is not only famous for monuments but also a starting point for a lot of trekkers all, the North region shows a mixture of ancient built-ups and green trails! Amazing, I must say!
1. Doi Suthep- Hike 304 steps to reach the shrine
The Sky high Aspect
Being a part of dense jungles, Doi Suthep is a thickly forested mountain in twin-peaked Doi Suthep-Doi Pui National Park.
At approximately 1601 meters one of the most revered Buddhist shrine is sitting, which is immensely famous not only for religious purposes but also amidst trekkers and bird watchers.
Both of us hiked all those 304 steps, exhausted yet the energy filled up within after observing the lovely panoramic view, temple bells, murals, monuments, and birds which we never saw before. We clicked multiple pictures and shared it then and there with our friends who raised us a thumbs up!
The place opens up between 8.30 am to 11.30 am and after this, 1 -3.30 pm is the second slot.
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2. Doi Inthanon National Park- Attain peace with the highest peak
Peak-a-boo for adorned greenery
The Highest mountain of Thailand is perched with National park, a habitat of distinct flora and fauna. We were so in love with tropical forests that decided to hike up while observing orchids, birds, waterfalls, valleys, and of course the aura which soothed our inner core.
It is advised to take warm clothes as upper areas are somewhat chilly, especially by evening.6.00 AM to 6.00 PM is the timing when the park opens up for the entry.
3. Mekong Villages Tour in Mekong River Valley
Stay close to the Roots
Located on the Cambodian border, Mekong river makes picturesque views while showing unspoiled beauty of the country’s hidden region. On reaching Chiang Khan after an overnight journey, we met locals who guided us about the village tour.
Starting from here, we took the bike tour (after renting it from the guesthouse) towards Pha Baen, Pak Chom, Ban Muang, Wat Hin Mak Peng, Si Chiangmai, and Than Thip falls. This short road trip led us to mesmerizing fishermen town, showed us meditation centre, cathedral, bamboo huts, waterfalls, and their pool and all those things which we could have missed if this thought of exploration didn’t strike the minds.
Check out some of the best things to do in Bangkok to explore the city amazingly.
4. Wat Rang Khun (White Temple), Chiang Rai
Get Pearl Eyed.
Miss anything, but not this attraction! A soothing aura and aligned architecture, showing its reflection in the water body are just here. 13 km in the South of Chiang Rai, this Buddhist temple is a symbol of heaven, to say!
What to do:
As much as the exteriors are charming, interiors have its own aura. All we could do is sit there for hours, understand the depth of messages the building spoke and of course, clicked pictures to show the beauty of this hidden place in the world out there.
The Charm of East Thailand: Reflection of Eyes
As we decided to leave the place, we had the map right in front of our eyes. With its unfolding, we hopped to Pattaya city from Chiang Rai and reached here within an overnight journey. After spending some time here with chilling at various cafes and relishing green Thai curry, we decided to take a drive away to new vistas of Thai life.
Bangkok is famous for the floating market, so check them out here.
1. Chanthaburi- Real ‘Gem’ Town
Gems, Gems everywhere!
Famous for the synonym of ‘city of the moon’, we reached the town within 2 hours drive.
This town is literally rich in gemstones, name any like Ruby, sapphire, peridot or any! From mining to creation to shopping of these stones, this place is perfect.
Not just this, a visit to Church of Immaculate Conception shall be done by explorers as it is the largest cathedral of the country. Alas, we came here in winters, summer visitors can be a part of Maytime fruit festival, usually held in May or June.
2. Ko Samet- Relax your soul
Sail away from all for Ko Samet
This tiny island can be all covered by walk only as it is about 6 km long and 3 km wide, Interesting! We reached here in around 30 minutes by taking a ferry from Ban Phe pier in Rayong province.
To tell you, the interiors of this land are full of dense jungles, trekking trails, and lovely accommodations for those who wish peaceful stay.
Ya, we couldn’t stay here for long but did not miss a calm walk on beaches while sipping coconut water. But it was time to move back to the mainland, so took the ferry back.
Want to try out some treks in Thailand, check them out here.
3. Rayong- City with Thai Fish Sauce
Savor the love of beaches
Before the spark calms off, a drive to Rayong town was just waiting for us. Good beaches must say, seafood snacks, succulent fruits and a site away from crowds of Thailand!
Thai culture can be surely seen as it still has traces of the old king and their settlements. Home to Thai fish sauce, cuisine lovers have awesome culinary treats to grab from here.
There are some amazing resorts in Bangkok that will make your stay wonderful, check them out here.
4. Ko Chang- The island that let one revel in lush green jungles
Embrace the crystals of Ko Chang
Another stop of the east coast, Ko Chang! Took a ferry, this island is the largest of the cluster around and is home to Ko Chang National park along with cliffs, mangroves, clear waters around, waterfall-like than Mayom & Khlong Phlu, resorts, spas, and what not!
What to do:
Yes, we enjoyed fishing, snorkelling, and covered the zone with a rented bike. We decided to stay overnight in a semi-luxurious resort this time and spent quality time in the balcony of our room.
Coming to South of Thailand: Rise Above Beaches
And by now my partner had a beach craving which couldn’t be controlled any longer. We surely had to leave the eastern side and so headed for some corals, mangroves, coconut plantations and some cool breeze of the salty sea. And so we were in Pattaya city the very next day once again.
It was time to head to another destination before our office leaves were done and flight timings were near. So we reached Phuket with a 12-hour journey.
1. Phang Nga Bay Exploration- Get arrested with islands and sea caves
Sail around the Sceneries!
Having breathtaking views, karst scenery, and fascinating caves, the island is approachable from Phuket by a speedboat. Panyi fishing village, a vast network of lagoons at Ko Hong, Tanboke Koranee National park and mangrove plantations could be evitable with a tour around the island. Phang Nga is no doubt among the best places to visit in Phuket where you will find a mesmerizing view of nature.
Moreover, we had options to stay in resorts as well as hotels within the zone, and we, of course, chose standard hotel so as to save our pretty bucks.
After exploring the island, we headed back to Phuket from where our flight to New Delhi was ready.
Breaking Up The Myth
So, it is not that we have completely missed out conventional places during the trip. We definitely did not miss shopping, clubbing, chilling, and relaxing on the beaches, for which Thailand is famous for. It’s just that our focus was more towards looking for something new that others might have missed.
Yet we travelled in a budget-friendly manner. A good number of 15 days it was, that included bus travel within cities, bike rentals, food, and accommodation. We took relaxing massages as well before finishing the trip off and filling shelves with new energy to go back and work again.
And as I told you in the beginning, this journey inspired both of us once again to revive not only our work life but also pushed us to undertake such expeditions more and more in some, or the other coming years.
Why We Absolutely Loved The Tour?
- Meeting locals, tasting home cooked food, traversing between highest to lowest points of the country and travelling with local transport within the region made us feel like we have been there for years.
- Moreover, emotionally connect with natural beauty, architecture and journey that we covered, is something which we can never forget.
This journey was inevitable for us! We hope you explore more of what we did and enlighten the world about the same.