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Eight Amazing Thailand Destinations to Put on Your Radar

When most travelers think of Thailand destinations, the places that often come to mind are Ko Samui, Chiang Mai, or Phuket. In actuality, the land of smiles has a lot more to offer than just these three destinations. LeafCanoer, Kim Fish, recently shared her experiences traveling to Nong Khai in her leaf titled, “A Weekend in Nong Khai.” She describes how there is so much more to explore in Thailand, when you’re willing to go off the beaten path.

Thailand destinations

Like Kim Fish, we believe there is so much more to see in Thailand than just the top three destinations. Here are our picks for eight amazing Thailand destinations that you should put on your radar:

Nong Khai
The city of Nong Khai lies in the north-eastern part of Thailand, along the Mekong River. Since local legend speaks of giant serpents, called nagas, inhagiting the Mekong River, Nong Khai is often known as the Naga City. Nong Khai is also located close to the Laos-Thailand border, and a popular attraction is the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge, which spans the Mekong into Laos.

Isan
The north eastern region of Isan, of which Nong Khai is a part, is worth spending a few days exploring. The region contains 20 provinces, making Isan the largest region in Thailand. The culture of the region is greatly influenced by Thailand’s neighboring country, Laos, and the region is most known for its indigenous folk music and food, which is quite distinct from the more commonly found central Thai cuisine.

Thailand destinations

Kanchanaburi
Moving down to the western part of Thailand, you will find the town of Kanchanaburi, which sits 123 kilometers west of Bangkok. There is a lot of history associated with Kanchanaburi. The town is known as the birthplace of the Buddhist monk, Phrabhavanaviriyakhun. But more notably, it is the site of the Burma Railway, also known as the Death Railway. This railway, which also consists of a bridge, was built under the orders of the Japanese, who controlled the town in 1942.

Krabi
Further south along the western coast is the town of Krabi. Several national parks are found near Krabi, and its proximity to at least 80 smaller islands makes it a popular destination for yachters, scuba divers, and snorklers. Nearby Ko Lanta National Park has a number of well-known diving sites. Kayaking and sailing are also popular activities for visitors to Krabi.

Sukhothai
Another popular historic place to visit is the town of Sukhothai, which was the capital of the first Kingdom of Siam in the 1200s and 1300s. The name Sukhothai means “dawn of happiness” in Sanskrit, and is well worth a visit for its historic temples and monuments. The town has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1991.

Thailand destinations

Koh Lipe
If you’re looking for the perfect island experience, skip Phuket and Ko Samui, and head over to Koh Lipe. Located along the Andaman Coast in southern Thailand, Koh Lipe features beautiful beaches with clear and calm shallow water. It is still relatively unknown among tourists. Sea Gypsies occupy part of the island, so you can get a taste of the sea faring culture that permeates throughout this region.

Ko Chang
If a more remote and rustic experience is more to your liking, then visit the island of Ko Chang, also known as Elephant Island. The second largest island in Thailand, Ko Chang has a wide range of wildlife living on its shores, including snakes, birds, deer, and of course, elephants. Jungle hiking is a popular activity, as well as snorkeling and diving.

Trang Islands
CNN recently named the Trang Islands the next big island-hopping destination for Thailand, and it’s not hard to see why. With crystal clear waters and a number of small resorts popping up throughout the islands, the Trang Islands can be a nice retreat for those wanting to get off the beaten path. Islands within this island chain include Koh Libong, Koh Mook, Koh Kradan, and Koh Ngai.

Thailand destinations

These eight under-the-radar Thailand destinations are the perfect places to have an amazing traveling experience. Since the country is still relatively inexpensive to travel around, you can easily have a world class adventure for a fraction of the price. Travel is about stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new. These Thailand destinations can help you do just that.

Wanting to learn more about Nong Khai and other destinations in Southeast Asia? Download the LeafCanoe app.

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Thailand off the beaten path

Exploring Thailand Off the Beaten Path

The country of Thailand is known for its exotic beaches, delicious food, and thriving culture. Located in the center of the Southeast Asian peninsula, Thailand boasts a booming economy and attracts over 20 million tourists a year. In 2013, Thailand was among the top ten most visited countries, and one of only two Asian countries to have made that list. Tourism to Thailand makes up approximately 6% of the country’s economy. Clearly, Thailand is a popular travel destination, and the success of the country’s tourism industry has only made it easier for tourists to visit Thailand. But there is more to the country than beaches and food. Taking a moment to explore Thailand off the beaten path can open up a whole new side to what the Thai affectionately call “the land of a thousand smiles.”

Thailand off the beaten path
LeafCanoer cmlenny recently posted a leaf about Thailand called “Thailand in 10 Days.” Within the leaf are plenty of suggestions for seeing Thailand off the beaten path. Below are highlights from that leaf. A guide, so to speak, to experiencing a new side of Thailand.

Try the local street food
The best way to learn about a country is to try the local food. Thailand is known to have some of the best street food in the world. From cool fresh fruit to a hot steaming bowl of soup, Thailand’s street food is sure to surprise your senses and taste buds. A word of caution about street food, however. Always make sure your food is clean, and if ordering cooked food, make sure it is served piping hot.

Thailand off the beaten path

Go shopping at night
The seasoned traveler will tell you, one of the best ways to experience the local side of a country is to visit its markets. The Night Bazaar in the city of Chiang Mai is one such market worth visiting. Located near the Ping River, the Night Bazaar is known for selling handicrafts, jewelry, toys and artwork. If shopping at night is not your thing, you can easily check out the daytime markets, especially the floating markets just outside of Bangkok. The most popular floating markets are Khlong Lat Mayom, Damnoen, and Amphawa, all located around the city of Bangkok.

Engage in local beauty customs
One of the popular trends in Thai beauty as of late are fish pedicures. For a small fee, you can dunk your feet in a pool or tub filled with tiny fish. These fish feed off the dead skin on your feet, and after a long soak, you are left with smooth feet, and a feeling of refreshment and relaxation.

Thailand off the beaten path

Seek out the hot springs
Thailand has a number of national parks worth exploring and visiting. Within many of these parks are hot springs, which have become quite popular among the tourist set. After a long day of exploring, a dip in the hot springs is a well deserved reward for the weary traveler.

Meet an elephant
Getting to know the locals can extend beyond just getting to know the people. Animals are also worth getting to know. For a personal meet and greet with elephants, you can head out to the Elephant Nature Park in Northern Thailand. Here, visitors can see an elephant up close and personal, touching it and feeding it, while at the same time learning all about what goes into taking care of an elephant.

Thailand off the beaten path
With so many activities to choose from, it’s hard to pick one that really exemplifies Thailand off the beaten path. In actuality, the best way to explore a new country like Thailand is simply to get out into the country and try new things. In the end, these experiences are what will make your trip memorable and worthwhile.

For more ideas of travel and to read what other LeafCanoers have to say, download the LeafCanoe app.

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