Stunning beaches, grand temples, and some of the most delicious food on the planet, it’s no wonder that hordes of holidaymakers make Thailand their holiday destination every year. There is so much to see in this beautiful country and this alternative guide to the Land of Smiles will take you where the masses don’t go.
Day 1 Canals and Street Food
Get a gentle introduction to the city, by exploring Bangkok’s canals and backwaters and see how the locals have continued to live their lives amidst the modern city that surrounds them.
Afterwards, take the skytrain and have lunch on the street. Look for the places where the locals hang out, if it’s busy then you know it’s good.
Cost: 600-700 Baht (About 20 USD)
Day 2 Koh Kret and Temples
Get on a boat again and go to Koh Kret, a small island in the province of Nonthaburi. Walk or cycle around the island, try your hand at creating your own pottery, visit the many temples on the island, or choose something delicious to eat and sit and gaze out at the river.
Back in Bangkok, visit Wat Po at night and wander around the grounds in the shadows of the illuminated temples and statues.
Pottery costs around 100 Baht (About 3 USD)
Day 3 Unwind on the Upper Southern Gulf
Travel south by train and enjoy the fresh air and beauty as you swap city for countryside. Arrive in Hua Hin, a favourite destination with families and older travellers. A good place to unwind, Hua Hin is only about 3 hours from Bangkok and is popular with locals who come for the weekend.
Image Source: http://suvarnabhumiairport.com/en/popular-destinations/1974/hua-hin-beach
Enjoy a round of golf or horse-riding on the beach. There are many cosmopolitan restaurants and one of the best night markets in Thailand. Climb to the top of Khao Takiab or Khao Hin Lek Fai (Flint Mountain) for stunning views over the city and beaches on either side. It’s a fabulous spot to watch the sunset. Visit the Arts and Crafts Centre to learn about Hua Hin’s past.
Train from Bangkok will cost anywhere between 44-202 Baht
Day 4 Caves and Wildlife
Travel 40 km further south, and visit Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park. Hike or take the boat to enjoy either of the park’s two beaches. Visit the caves and see King Rama V’s meeting hall, and a glittering array of stalactites and stalagmites. If you have the energy, climb to the top of Khao Daeng or Khao Krachon for spectacular views of limestone cliffs or hire a boat for a spot of bird watching.
Phraya Nakhon Cave in Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park
Image Source: Wikipedia Commons(Author: Niels Mickers, CC BY 3.0 nl
Entrance to park costs 200 baht (6USD) for adults and 100 baht (3USD) for children.
Check opening times throughout the year.
Day 5-6 Peace and Tranquility
Visit Prachuap Khiri Khan for absolute tranquility. You will definitely escape the hordes of holidaymakers here. Relax on the beaches, or climb to the top of Khao Chong Krajok for views over towards the Burmese mountains. Watch out for the troop of monkeys who follow you up and down looking for scraps of food.
Ao Noi is a charming little fishing village with colourful boats in the bay, which become stranded on the sand when the tide is out. Cycle to see the sleeping Buddha in the cave temple of Ao Khan Kradai or take a ride out to Wing 5 air force base and go in search of the spectacled langurs that live there.
Cycle hire costs 50-80 baht (2-3USD) per day.
Day 7 National Parks and Walking
Take a train northwards to the overlooked town of Phetchaburi, a working city which sees few tourists, but there is an abundance of things to do. Treat your tastebuds and try one of the scrumptious Thai desserts at one of the city’s hundreds of restaurants. Pick up a brochure from the local tourist office and spend the day hunting for temples. Visit Khao Luang and Khao Bandai-it caves to see impressive stalactites, walls lined with old Buddha statues and a 300 year old tree. Take a cable car or walk up to the old royal palace complex of Khao Wang to see the huge stupa up close and the gold reclining Buddha.
Image Source: http://www.timetravelturtle.com/2013/05/khao-luang-cave-phetchaburi-thailand/
Visit Thailand’s largest national park, Kaeng Krachan, and hike through its forests and grasslands.
Entrance to the park costs 300 baht (9USD) for adults and 200 baht (6USD) for children. Cave entrance costs 100 baht (3 USD) Transport from town costs 150 baht for a round trip (4 USD). Check opening times throughout the year.
This article was contributed to TripDukaan by Gill Morris (www.talkingthailand.co.uk and www.morrisophotography.co.uk )