7 Destinations in Thailand That You've Probably Never Heard of Before

7 Destinations in Thailand That You’ve Probably Never Heard of Before

See what lies in Thailand beyond your typical tourist destinations!

A stunning yet affordable destination, Thailand is a hot choice for travellers to go to when planning their vacation. And it’s no wonder — with no lack of activities to do and sights to see, the desire to head to Thailand for a getaway is as real and tangible as can be. Bangkok, Phuket and Krabi are all popular choices. But what should you do if you want to experience something new in Thailand, or just avoid the crowds altogether?

Fret not, there is plenty more that’s waiting to be explored beyond the few common destinations. Here are some hidden yet equally fulfilling places in Thailand that you can head to on your next trip!

What’s more, if you’re flying into Thailand from Singapore from 1 Jul – 30 Sep 2019, you may be eligible for a free airport transfer service*! Wherever you choose to head to in Thailand, this promotion is offered at eight different airports so you are bound to be well taken care of.

Redeem a FREE Airport Transfer

*This promotion is available for the first 800 redemptions and valid for Singaporeans only.

1. Nakhon Ratchasima

Nakhon Ratchasima

Image credit: J. Maughn

Also known as Korat, Nakhon Ratchasima is the third most populous city as well as the biggest province in Thailand. Merely a few hours’ drive from Bangkok, this city has its fair share of attractions to check out. Start at Khao Yai National Park, Thailand’s first ever national park and third largest one. Discover Thailand’s diverse wildlife in this huge grassland, hike on one of the many trails, and admire the waterfalls in this park.

phimai Historical Park

Image credit: Miguel Discart

A visit to Thailand wouldn’t be complete without seeing its gorgeous temples. The Phimai Historical Park in Nakhon Ratchasima is one such spectacular structure. Here’s a fun fact: it was built by Hindu Khmers, despite it being constructed as a Buddhist temple! Reminiscent of Angkor Wat, the ruins of this shrine still proudly display the intricate carvings on its walls.

Wat Ban Rai is yet another famous temple in Nakhon Ratchashima with spectacular architecture and artwork. Known as the Elephant Temple, the colourful shrine sits in the middle of a lake, the water making it more picturesque by reflecting light onto the shrine. With more than 20 million pieces of mosaic, Wat Ban Rai is Asia’s largest ceramic shrine. Flanked by naga statues on either side, you’ll be impressed by how imposing and majestic the temple is!

Wang Nam Khiao

Image credit: Atibordee Kongprepan

Want to see ‘the Switzerland of Thailand’? Due to its lush greenery and quaint houses, Wang Nam Khiao has been dubbed as such, and there really are plenty of scenic fields, beautiful gardens and cosy farmhouses to explore in the area.

Head over to the Flora Park to get some photos of the lavender fields, or visit The Little Garden to catch other vibrant blooms and buy some produce. The Montana Farm in Wang Nam Khiao also offers various activities and opportunities to interact with alpacas, sheep, horses and the like, so there is definitely a lot to see!

Also read: Things to Do in Wang Nam Khiao, the Switzerland of Thailand

Sai Ngam is another place of interest when travelling to Nakhon Ratchasima, due to the fascinating sight of the majestic Banyan trees in the area. The gnarly branches of the fig trees twist around each other to form what seems like a tunnel, making it a perfect spot to rest, while at the same time giving off a slightly chilling vibe. Did you know that the tree in Sai Ngam is already more than 350 years old? Now that’s impressive!

2. Kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi

Image credit: Nee Kung Chi

Kanchanaburi is a definite must-visit for history fanatics, mostly due to it being where the Death Railway is situated. Built by the Empire of Japan during World War II, the railway — now known as River Kwai Bridge — claimed thousands of lives due to the arduous circumstances that the prisoners of war (POWs) were placed under. While the railway is certainly impressive, remember to be careful and keep an eye out for passing trains as the railway itself is still operating!

Kanchanaburi War Cemetery

Image credit: yeowatzup

The Kanchanaburi War Cemetery is also worth a visit. Built as a commemoration for the Japanese POWs, this cemetery is a solemn reminder of the sacrifices they made, and has been well-supported by the public. Keep in mind to be respectful at all times when visiting the area.

Erawan National Park

Image credit: Pixabay

Another national park of note is the Erawan National Park in Kanchanaburi. In Hindu mythology, Erawan is the three-headed white elephant which the park is named after. At the seven-tiered waterfall, the park’s highlight, there are many pools for visitors to swim in.  A hike to the top is highly recommended, where the stream is said to resemble Erawan.

You can even have a picnic by the waterfall as food is allowed at the first tier of Erawan waterfall.

Uttamanusorn Bridge

Image credit: plynoi

The Uttamanusorn Bridge in Kanchanaburi is Thailand’s longest wooden bridge and the second longest in the world! Commonly referred to as the Wooden Mon Bridge or just Mon Bridge built in the 1980s, part of the bridge actually collapsed in 2013, though it has since been restored. Though vehicles are restricted from crossing this 400 metre-long bridge, visitors can still pass through by foot. It’s certainly a novel experience to have while in Thailand!

Wat Tham Sua

Image credit: BANITAtour

With a towering gold Buddha statue, Wat Tham Sua really is a sight to behold. The name of the temple means Tiger Cave temple, not to be confused with the Tiger Cave temple in Krabi! If you have time, visit the nearby temple called Wat Tham Khao Noi as well.

3199 Mountain Camp

Image credit: 3199’ Mountain Camp

Located roughly half-an-hour away from Kanchanaburi’s town centre, you can have a more interesting accommodation experience by going glamping at 3199 Mountain Camp! Find yourself surrounded by the area’s mountain range, and be enthralled by other offerings at the camp, such as live music!

3. Udon Thani

One of the four major cities in the Isaan region, Udon Thani is another hidden gem amongst many Thai cities. You may have heard of or seen photos of its famous Red Lotus Lake! Despite there being a plethora of activities to do here, the city does not see as many tourists as Bangkok and the like, so it’s a great place for getting away from the crowds.

Erawan Cave in Udon Thani contains many wondrous sights, including a fascinating statue of the three-headed elephant Erawan. You can also marvel at the grand golden Buddha statue that’s seemingly overlooking the scenery.

Photographers and Instagram natives may also want to attempt capturing a shot with a single shaft of light shining down into the cave — you know the one — as pictured above!

Phu Foi Lom

Image credit: naturepost

Phu Foi Lom is an ecological park in Udon Thani that hosts plenty of flora and fauna in its perimeters. Those with an interest in ecotourism will love discovering the plants and exotic animals that abound abound in the park, though you may also spot several enigmatic dinosaur figures. Located in the Pan Don Pa Ko National Reserve Park, you can also check out various hiking trails and waterfalls while in the area.

Wish to learn more about the town’s history? Visit the Provincial Museum, where the cultural, historical, archeological and geographical aspects of Udon Thani are laid out on display. The museum’s building was once a school, which may explain its distinct architecture.

Central Plaza

Image credit: KritsadaHr

If you’d like to fit in some shopping on your trip, Central Plaza is in the vicinity. After a day spent absorbing so much culture, a shopping mall might be just what you need to unwind! Thailand is not just popular for their beaches and temples after all, it’s also known for its bargains. This would be the perfect way to end your trip!

4. Koh Phangan

Although Koh Phangan is well-known for its beach parties, it offers a different experience of Thailand that lands itself a spot on this list — and so much more! Since this island is just a short ferry ride from Koh Samui, make sure you capitalise on the free airport transfers provided by Tourism Authority of Thailand, which includes transport from Koh Samui’s International Airport.

Redeem a FREE Airport Transfer

Full Moon Party

Image credit: Per Meistrup

One thing you have to do in Koh Phangan is attend the Full Moon Party! Organised on Haad Rin Beach, the Full Moon Party happens on the nights surrounding a full moon. Stay up from dusk till dawn and have a blast! Just be sure to book your accommodation in advance so you can dance the night away without any worries.

thong sala

Image credit: Manfred Werner

Near Haad Rin is another equally interesting town with amazing beaches. There are many exciting things to do in Thong Sala, with the night market being a highlight you can’t miss. A wide variety of food and handmade Thai crafts can be found at the night market. Beyond the night market, other things to do on Thong Sala include paintball, mountain bikes and even watching Thai boxing matches!

Khao Ra

Image credit: Kyle Pearce

For the most beautiful views of the island, the peak at Khao Ra is the place to go. At 627 metres in altitude, it takes about one to two hours to get to the summit. There, you’ll be treated to amazing views, especially if you visit in the early morning or at sunset. Just make sure to bring lots of water and stay hydrated!

Sail Rock

Image credit: Chaloklum Diving

If you prefer water to land, Sail Rock is a great diving site in Koh Phangan. It is very common to see schools of fish at this diving site, being one of the top diving destinations in Thailand. Sail Rock’s underwater scenery is spectacular, and you can witness it for yourself by going in for a snorkelling session!

5. Nong Khai

Sala Kaew Ku

Image credit: Jpatokal

Separated from Laos by the Mekong River, Nong Khai lies in the northeast of Thailand and is still fairly unfrequented by tourists. Visit Sala Kaew Ku, a nearby park which features many incredible concrete sculptures inspired by Buddhism and Hinduism. 

Wat Pho Chai

Image credit: Ronan Crowley

Be captivated on a visit to Wat Pho Chai! This Buddhist temple with its colourful walls decorated with paintings make for a spectacular scene that attracts visitors from all over. What truly completes the shrine is the bronze and gold Buddha statue in the middle.

Besides Wat Pho Chai, Phra That Chedi is another noteworthy place of worship. Phra That Chedi is in fact a replacement of the sunken Chedi that can still be seen in the Mekong River when the water level is low. Though relatively new, the Phra That Chedi is an impressive stupa to visit. Walk along the riverfront promenade or head to the nearby Tha Sadet Market, an indoor market selling all sorts of trinkets and souvenirs.

6. Phetchaburi

Tham Khao Luang Cave

Image credit: Manoonp

Meaning ‘city of diamonds’, Phetchaburi certainly lives up to its name with all the hidden gems you can find here, such as the Tham Khao Luang Cave. This limestone cave holds a plethora of Buddhist statues amidst the stalactites, making the whole cave a grand sight to behold. Of course, the most mesmerising one has to be the 14 metre-tall statue in the middle of the cave.

Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park

Image credit: Ahoerstemeier

The Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park in Phetchaburi sits atop a hill, and was originally built as a palace — which explains its incredibly majestic architecture. Named after King Mongkut, the royal King Mongkut Palace is located on one of three peaks that the historical park is situated on. The peaks are accessible by cable car, although walking is also an option. On the other peaks sits a chedi called Phra That Chom Phet and the temple Wat Phra Kaew. Whichever peak you head to, magnificent views are guaranteed. Every February, the Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Festival is held, which you can attend to enjoy a fair and beautiful fireworks.

Phra Ram Ratchaniwet Palace

Image credit: Supanut Arunoprayote

Stop by Phra Ram Ratchaniwet Palace — designed by a German architect in the early 20th century — which currently operates as a museum conserved by the Royal Thai Army. You can marvel at the European influence that can be seen in its white columns and baroque patterns.

cha am beach

Image credit: Joe deSousa

Last but not least, Cha-Am beach is known possibly as one of the best beaches in Phetchaburi. Want a beach getaway in Thailand without the crowds? This is your best bet! Besides just chilling by the beach, visitors can rent bicycles, opt for a donkey ride or go jet skiing and banana boat riding — the classics. The gleaming white sand and sparkling crystal waters are guaranteed to be the beach escapade you’re looking for.

7. Lopburi

Phra Narai Ratchaniwet

Image credit: Oatz

Lopburi is an ancient city that has seen plenty throughout history, though the most significant periods would be during King Narai’s reign. His influence can still be felt even today, where many structures built under his rule are still being preserved. One such example is Phra Narai Ratchaniwet or the King Narai Palace. Though it may appear rundown in some areas, the combination of Thai and French architecture is still observable from the ruins. Imagine how the palace may have looked like in its glory days — it will certainly make for an interesting trip!

National Museum

Image credit: Supercarwaar

Travellers can learn more about the city by visiting the National Museum, which has exhibits detailing the pre-history of the Ayutthaya period as well as artifacts from that era. As one of the oldest Thai cities, Lopburi has much to offer in terms of its history.

Phrang Sam Yod

Image credit: Thanate Tan

Of course, no trip to Lopburi is complete without seeing Phrang Sam Yod in person. This ancient Khmer temple is also known as the Monkey Temple due to the huge swarm of macaques that roam the area! In fact, the town celebrates these macaques every November with a buffet festival, during which the monkeys are treated to a feast. Talk about giving them a royal treatment!

Phra Kan Shrine

Image credit: Heinrich Damm

The Phra Kan Shrine in Lopburi is also worth a visit. Located just outside a railway station, this shrine proves easily accessible. There are actually two parts to the shrine — the old section and a new one, due to the different times that each was constructed. Phra Kan Shrine is also often surrounded by macaques, so do take care of your belongings!

There is so much more to explore in Thailand beyond Bangkok, Phuket or Krabi that you don’t have to worry about not having anything to do! Discover these lesser-known destinations and explore new sights of Thailand you’ve never seen before. What’s more, you can avoid the crowds at the same time! For more information, visit the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s official website, as well as their Facebook page!

Also read: Experience the Wonders of the World, Right Here in Thailand!


Brought to you by Tourism Authority of Thailand (Singapore Office).

About Author

Jean Wong
Jean Wong

For someone who's a homebody, Jean sure loves stepping out of her house to travel. When she's not busy exploring quaint towns, she can be found with her nose in a book, sipping on her daily dose of bubble tea.

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