Thailand has become incredibly touristy in many places, and for an authentic view on the country, you will really have to go off the beaten track. Fortunately, Thailand without tourists is never really far away. Take a single bus with only Thai letters from a random provincial capital and you’ll be in places where people are still surprised to meet you. Earlier I wrote about our own adventure, along the Mekong in the north east of Thailand . Here we traveled between Loei’s locals in songthaews to increasingly sleepy villages. I have a few secrets to share with you, and other travelers like to tell you what their favorite, undiscovered piece of Thailand is. This is Thailand off the beaten track.
Sylvia Hendrix did not even discover far from the tourist Kanchanaburi a beautiful undiscovered pearl. A trip in a minibus full of locals brings you to Sangklaburi, a small village on the Burmese border in an hour or 4 from Kanchanaburi. It’s a breathtaking tour. The ride ends at a minibus station. In the center are a few guesthouses and shops. No tourist prullaria to see here, all the usual stuff. Well there is a little 7-eleven.
A downhill walk leads you to the lake. On the lake a few hotels. This lake has ever been created by breaking a dam. There are still temples that have run under water.Over a long high wooden bridge you walk to the Mon people. The friendly people have a small market and wear happy clothes. There are two beautiful Burmese temples and a temple in the jungle, completely grown with the tree roots and a beautiful buddha image. On the lake is a temple where you can go through the canoe when the water is high.
Sangklaburi – Here you will find the authentic Thailand, without tourists * photos: Sylvia Hendrix
With a rented scooter you can explore the area and drive into the mountains, nature is overwhelming. You pass small villages with nice coffee houses until you reach the border. The other road that Sangklaburi is rich leads to a rock with a dilapidated temple on it. From there you have a fantastic view.
The other border here is the more famous 3 pagoda pass. The pagodas are small, but worth a visit.
Like almost anywhere in Thailand, accommodation varies from luxury to luxury, but sleeping in one of the homestays naturally contributes to the local Thailand feeling! Grandma’s Home gets super reviews and seems a very nice choice.
Do you want to do something for the locals or animals? Then consider a stop at Dada childrens home or Baan Unrack animal sanctuary. In both places, your help will be greatly appreciated.
Patty van Houwelingen was like us in the Khao Yai National Park. A park with beautiful nature, waterfalls and above all: lots of wildlife. Elephants, black and blonde gibbons, rhino birds, civet cats, giant squirrels, all kinds of big and hairy insects and so on. Camping in this park is truly an unforgettable experience. Arise with crying gibbons, then walk the jungle with the guide and his machete to search for the above animals. You can also visit the waterfall from the famous movie “The Beach”, the one where they jump from. You can get a bus from Bangkok to Pakchong and from there take a local bus to the park itself or by indicating where you want to go. This is definitely no Thailand without tourists, but compared to other places in Thailand, this park is still quite undiscovered!
You can choose to sleep outside the national park, about 15 kilometers or in the park itself. Do not expect luxury in this case, but the best experience. We even slept in Green Leave guesthouse . Or, like Patty, go camping to experience the best of nature.
Khao Yai is not yet part of the big tourist trail * Elephant photo: Patty van Houwelingen
Recently, I read whole gift stories about the province of Nan, in the far north of Thailand. Especially the areas at the border with Laos are unspoiled and offer beautiful scenery. Here, several mountain tribes still live their lives as they have been doing for many years, and if you can still find Thailand without tourists, it’s here. I would like to rent a scooter or car here and go for adventure. Overnight stays in ‘homestays’. Authentic can not. There are several bus services with Chiang Mai (7 hours) and night buses to Bangkok (10+ hours). Whoever flies flies can do that daily from both cities.
Lilian van Heerwaarden gladly takes you to Doi Saket. A small town east of Chiang Mai, where almost all tourists pass by, because there are no major attractions and there is no nightlife, but this is by no means a sleepy town. Well authentic Thai, with many details you can experience in a relaxed atmosphere. Like the temple on the mountain: Wat Doi Saket, a beautiful temple complex with almost futuristic paintings, and a phenomenal view over rice fields and dams. The cozy weekly market on Tuesday afternoon, with many beautiful products grown by the people themselves and sold with pride. Various hot water sources, ideal for a bike or motorcycle ride. Take the time to chat with the rice farmers on the land, always a success. And overnight in one of the beautiful resorts, or book a nice yoga retreat.Do you like a little bit of vitality? Visit Doi Saket than during the annual village party, as the entire environment expires.
Doi Saket means plenty of nature and local culture near Chiang Mai * photo below: Lilian van Heerwaarden
Martine Aspeslagh was on an island that has not been discovered by mass tourism yet. Far from that even. Just a stone’s throw from busy Koh Lanta, Koh Phi Phi and Krabi you will find Koh Jum. On Koh Jum life is relayed and you still have the beach almost for yourself. A lovely island to explore by scooter, there is little traffic. The vast majority of the population is fishermen and they look forward to watching you in their work. Do not expect wild nightlife, but here and there a nice reggae party.
Accommodations are located on the west coast of the island which has a number of beaches. Ting Rai Beach, Andaman Beach and Golden Pearl Beach are the most popular. Near Ting Rai Beach Ban Ban Bungalow is well-known for basic accommodation with everything you need for a very good price. Koh Jum Relax Beach offers just a little more luxury and some larger houses, right on the beach and still very well priced. If you really want to enjoy the best of its own villa with swimming pool, Koh Pu Villa might not be priced for you and at 65 euros a night. As in many resorts, here are some isolated and a lot of the main beaches.