Thailand is a popular travel destination for its stunning beaches, vibrant cities, and rich culture. However, there are also hidden gems that are worth exploring beyond the typical tourist spots. From secluded islands to off-the-beaten-path mountain escapes, discover some of Thailand’s best-kept secrets for your next adventure with this guide to 12 of Thailand’s best Hidden Gems.
Thailand is known as a honeymoon and holiday hotspot for visitors from all over the world. Boasting some of the most beautiful islands in the world, exciting cities and pristine mountain escapes its popularity is well earned.
And, while destinations such as Phuket, Bangkok and Chiang Mai are well known, there is so much to discover beyond the usual stomping grounds for tourists. These 12 hidden gems offer a chance to combine a fantastic holiday with the thrill of discovering something new in this glorious kingdom. While they may not be as well-known as other destinations, they are no less breathtaking and offer a unique glimpse into Thailand’s diverse culture and natural beauty.
Whether you’re looking for a romantic adventure or just want to explore off the beaten path, our guide to Thailand’s hidden travel gems are sure to give you something extra to remember from your trip to the Land of Smiles!
Off the Beaten Path: 12 Secret Places in Thailand to Visit
This picturesque community allows visitors to explore Lanna-style Buddhist temples, monuments, and museums – even a ceramics museum where you can create your own artwork! Take some time away from the downtown area to climb to Wat Chalermprakiat, a stunning mountain temple with gorgeous, lush views to match. Wash and ride the world’s gentle giants at the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre and spend some time at Chae Son National Park to visit the Chae Son Waterfall and swim in nearby hot springs! Head back in town to the Baan Pan Tai community for a traditional compressed herbal ball massage. Don’t forget to take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage and do some evening shopping at Kad Kon To on Saturday and Sunday nights where you can find food, local clothes, and beautiful work by Thai artisans.
2. Koh Mak
The beaches of the gorgeous Koh Mak island are one of Thailand’s best-kept secrets! Much less populated with the same gorgeous clear waters, the shore of Koh Mak is the perfect place to go windsurfing, kayaking, scuba diving, and snorkelling, or to simply enjoy some time away from the bustle of the touring crowds. Adventuring is easy on this tiny island – rent a scooter or pair of bicycles to ride to the local antique museum (and maybe even find yourself in a pineapple field!). Planning to stay the night and watch the stars? Spend some time relaxing together in an ocean-front bungalow!
We’ve got more incredible islands for two in Thailand here- some you’ve never heard of!
3. Phetchabun, North Thailand
This province boasts beautiful winding roads and scenic viewpoints along the Khao Kho Mountain. Visit the Khao Kho National Park for a view of wild elephants, Asian golden cats, and loris. Or, choose the Nam Nao National Park to take a peek at leopards and tigers and bears – oh my! Once a war-torn community in the 1970s, this beautiful province hosts a weapons museum where you can get up close to the weapons and artillery that remained in the area. Wat Pha Sorn Kaew is a must-see monastery and temple – an impressive feat of modern architecture, the mosaic tiles and style of this temple gives a unique spin on many of the much older temples you’ll find in Thailand. The site’s most striking feature would have to be the ice-white temple itself, representing the traditional five Buddhas who visited the Earth. And of course, be sure to visit the Phetchabun Strawberry Fields to pick your own delicious snack with your sweetheart!
4. Buriram, Northeast Thailand
Are you ready to explore some ruins? The Prasat Hin Phanom Rung temple (also known as Phanom Rung), a Khmer temple built between the 10th and 13th centuries, is an inspiring stop. It is probably the most impressive and significant of the Khmer temples that can be found in all of Thailand – a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva and built on top of a hill which symbolizes Mount Kailash, a holy mountain in Hinduism on top of which Shiva lives. You climb a series of stairs to the top (walking shoes recommended for this one!) and view the well-preserved architecture, relief sculptures, and statues. You can book a spot in advance for a tour. At Prasat Muang Tam, a temple made of brick, sandstone, and laterite, you can peer into the pools while admiring the artistry of the design. Or you can visit Khao Kradong Forest Park for breathtaking views from a suspension bridge and watch volcanic rock float in water! Get ready to see who can handle the spicy Isan food, or look around for some delicious fusion food!
5. Samut Songkhram, Central Thailand
In Samut Songkhram, you’ll want to visit the popular Maeklong Railway Market, where the vendors’ shops lean out across the railway. A few times a day, a train will squeeze through, and the vendors hold back the overhangs of their shop as it goes by! An unforgettable experience will be visiting the “Temple within a Tree,” Wat Bang Kung, where the chapel housing a large Buddha statue is encased entirely inside the roots of a banyan tree! And of course, the Amphawa Floating Market is the perfect place to try local food and is a beautiful location for a romantic evening with the lights reflecting off the water.
6. Mae Hong Son
Mae Hong Son is called the “Switzerland of Thailand,” as it represents a cultural fusion of the Tai Yai ethnic group and Thai people. This province is near Chiang Mai and is full of fascinating places to visit – especially at sunrise and sunset. The Pang Ung reservoir and Yun Lai Peak are well worth waking up early in the morning for to watch the fog over water and mountain range. Take a walk over the bamboo Su Tong Pae Bridge (locals claim a prayer on this bridge guarantees your wish!). Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu, the centre of Mae Hong Son overlooking the valley, or the Suan Son Bor Kaew botanic research centre is the perfect place to experience a romantic sunset. Once the sun goes down, visit the Jong Kham Lake for a beautifully lit display of culture near the Wat Jong Kham temple with its gilded pillars made with golden flakes. Don’t forget the “Mae Hong Son DoiSter CraftStay” tour, which explains the history of the local art!
Looking for a truly romantic spot in Thailand? Experience the history of this emerging tourism city at the King Taksin Shrine (King Taksin freed Thailand) to receive your fortune, visit the old buildings of the river-lined shops and restaurants in the Chanthaboon Waterfront community and the nearby Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception featuring towers 20 meters high. Dip your feet into crystal-clear waters of the Namtok Phlio Waterfall and receive a pedicure from the fish who will nibble at your feet (it tickles!) and watch a plethora of butterflies! Walk the bridge of the Chedi Ban Hua Laem viewpoint to see the 200-year temple sitting on the rocks in the water for a beautiful sunset and visit the Nang Phaya scenic point to hang a love-lock with your favourite person! Remember to try “durian,” the area’s well-known fruit treat!
8. Koh Phayam
A quiet island, Koh Phayam is what many consider to be representative of Thailand before the boom of tourism in the area. Underdeveloped and natural, this island is the perfect place to relax and explore by scooter and dirt road or simply relax on the many beaches. Our favourite place? The southern end of Ao Khao Kwai (“Buffalo Bay”), where you’ll find the most beautiful place to kayak and explore the nearby mangroves! “The Hippie Bar” is the perfect place to stop for a snack and drink and looks like something out of a pirate storybook with it’s “wrecked ship” exterior.
9. Koh Jum
Another perfect stop to escape the bustle of the more crowded tourist areas, Koh Jum features a series of resorts catering to all tastes; you’ll find the more traditional bamboo and thatch structures in the beautiful northern beach of Ao Luboa. Be sure to stop by the village at the southern end of the island for some delicious seafood! Enjoy the fresh air, rustic dirt roads, tropical palm trees, and a scattering of bars playing lots of reggae music on this island – all of which encourage people to enjoy the tropical paradise atmosphere!
10. Trang, South Thailand
Trang is the place to be for a “foodie.” Both the morning and night market in the centre of town is a great place not only to do some shopping but also try amazing street food – don’t forget to try Trang’s famous barbecue pork! Relatively untouched by large groups of tourists year-round, the island is home to the largest group of dugong marine species. You can take part in planting seagrass for the sea cows at the Ban Nam Rap community and visit the Sea Cow Monument in town! And of course, Trang is home to beautiful beaches and tranquil water. Take a boat tour and swim through caves to the secluded shore of Emerald Cave or enjoy snorkelling with colourful fish (bring a little bit of sticky rice to be a favourite among your new aquatic friends!).
Translated to “Dawn of Happiness,” this city is covered in history and ruins, and has been named a UNESCO world Heritage Site. Visit the lush Si Satchanalai Historical Park or the Sukhothai Historical Park to pay your respects at the statue of King Ramkamhaeng before making your way to Wat Mahathat, the ruins of the temple central to the “old” Sukhothai. Head to Wat Sichum – the “Speaking Buddha” – where, hundreds of years ago, soldiers or citizens needing encouraging words would visit this statue, believing Buddha was giving them words of strength as a caring speaker stood behind the statue. Lastly, spend some time at Wat Nang Phaya for gorgeous Sukhothai-style murals (they look like ruins – but up close, the carved designs are breathtaking)!
12. Kanchanaburi, Western Thailand
A place of dark history, beautiful waterfalls, and historic temple caves, Kanchanaburi is the perfect place to explore with your partner. Visit the Giant Rain Tree to see an impressive display of branches and nature or go exploring in the Lawa Cave for an exciting adventure. Experience the memorial to Death Railway (initially connecting Thailand to Mayanmar, over 100,000 died in its construction) as well as the sad stories and beautiful sunsets of Kwai Bridge. Today, Kanchanaburi is filled with light and joy, so be sure to take in the gorgeous terrain with a raft or elephant ride – remember to try the papaya salad! Check out our comprehensive guide to Kanchanaburi and The River Kwai here.
Heading to Thailand with the one you love? Then you’ll want to read our guide. 14-Day Thailand Itinerary: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and the Islands