There’s a lot more to Thailand than Phuket and Chiang Mai. These are some of the most well-known and visited areas, but you’re missing out on a lot of culture and beauty if you don’t check out what’s in between. Here are some of Thailand’s underrated gems to add to your bucket list.
Kanchanaburi is located in central Thailand, about a 4 hour bus ride from Bangkok. The town is most known for the famous Bridge on the River Kwai. You can also visit the nearby Erawan Falls — a beautiful seven-tier waterfall with crystal clear pools and nibbling fish. The hike is long but very rewarding.
Though it was less rowdy than most places in Thailand, the nightlife was one of my favorite parts of Kanchanaburi. The bars had cheap drinks, pool tables, and were blasting 1990’s American pop music.
Koh Chang Ranong
One of the last unspoiled islands in Thailand is Koh Chang Ranong. It is located off the Northern Andaman Coast in the Ranong province. There is another Koh Chang in the Trat province that is much more developed than this one. This is the perfect destination to escape the hotels, malls, traffic, and tourists that usually accompany Thai islands.
We visited during the off-season and in the 5 days we spent there we didn’t see a single other tourist. We got to experience incredible snorkeling, hike through a bamboo forest, and see a whale skeleton that had washed up on the shore.
The beaches of Phuket or Koh Samui are popular for good reason but if you’re looking to escape the crowds look no further than Railay. This beach is only accessible by boat so it’s managed to maintain its chilled out backpacker vibe. There are actually three beaches within walking distance — Railay, Tonsai, and Phra Nang.
Railay is well known for rock climbing and you’ll likely see plenty of climbers scaling the dramatic limestone cliffs. Be sure to check out the princess cave — it’s a cave filled with wooden penises!
Most visitors use Krabi as a jumping off point to other islands in the area but Krabi Town actually has a lot to offer. The best way to see it is to rent a motorbike and go exploring. We set off without a destination in mind and managed to have a beautiful waterfall, a cave temple, and a small local market completely to ourselves. I had no expectations of Krabi Town but this ended up being one of my most memorable days in Thailand.
I wouldn’t consider Pai an “off the beaten track” destination — tons of backpackers have already discovered this relaxed mountain town in Northern Thailand. But I think it’s still worth including as a relaxing getaway from nearby Chiang Mai.
Pai has a lot to offer. Waterfalls, hot springs, canyons, and hills provide stunning natural beauty. The nightly street market offers travelers good deals and unique street food. Local hill tribe women often sell their wares on the streets here.
There’s a lot to do in the areas surrounding Pai rent a motorbike and get out and explore!
Everyone knows about Bangkok so it doesn’t usually come to mind when people think ‘underrated’. I’m going to blow your mind right now and tell you that Khao San Road is not Bangkok. This hot mess of a city is filled to the brim with things to do. I studied abroad for four months in Bangkok and I still didn’t see everything I wanted to see.
This is the city of contrast. You’ll find a Buddhist temple on one street and the red light district on the next. You can buy a $1 pad thai in front of a five star restaurant. There are high end designer malls and endless local markets. I fell absolutely in love with Bangkok and it hurts my soul when people tell me they only spent a day or two there.
Ayutthaya is the former capital of Thailand (formerly Siam), founded in 1350. In the 18th century, the city was burned to the ground by the Burmese and the inhabitants were forced to abandon it. The remains of Ayutthaya are now a UNESCO World Heritage sight and are a must-see. They are located about an hour north of Bangkok, making them a perfect cultural day trip.
Remember to dress conservatively as it is a sacred buddhist sight.
These are just a few of Thailand’s many underrated destinations to add to your trip itinerary. Let me know what you think I missed out on in the comments!