Welcoming almost 27 million travelers in a year, Thailand is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world, let alone Asia.
They come for the flawless white sand beaches, with shimmering waters that glow in varying effervescent shades of blue and green.
They come for the food, which thrills and surprises with complex textures and flavors.
They come for spirituality to see temples that are completely different from any religious structures that we have at home, which inform a philosophy and a way of life that inspires most that come into contact with it.
While all of these things are typically encountered during a visit to Thailand, many on a return visit fall into the trap of repeating their previous trips to the letter in search of the same excitement they felt the first time they visited the Land of Smiles. Sadly, this often ends in boredom and frustration, leading an existential crisis where they float the crazy theory that there’s nothing worthwhile left to experience in Thailand.
Thankfully, there are many attractions that fly under the radar in this sizable nation, so if the thought of lying on the same beach, doing the same activities, and visiting the same places are filling your head with dread, know that with a little effort, you can have unique experiences in this fabulous country after you have visited all the major destinations and attractions that can be found here.
1) Tiger Cave Temple, near Krabi
While most tourists that visit the Krabi area will be more than happy to confine themselves to Railay or Ao Nang the whole time, getting away from the coast for a part of your stay will allow you to discover places like Krabi Town, a quiet settlement alongside a river studded with karsts, which has an excellent food market at night, and a slow pace of life that will have you under its spell in no time flat!
Just outside of town though is a shiny wat that sits atop of those previously mentioned spires of limestone. After taking a tuk-tuk ride out to the base of the Tiger Cave Temple, ascend the 1,237 steps to the top, where the view steals the show, but for culture fans, it is also enhanced by the presence of a humble yet stunning Buddhist Temple where a tiger once prowled (hence the name).
2) Pai Canyon, near Pai
If your original visit to this sleepy mountain town north of Chiang Mai lasted the couple of days it took to visit the bamboo bar by the river and experience its unique eateries and shops, you missed a lot of what gives this corner of Thailand its appeal. This time, rent a scooter, and explore the surrounding valley, as there are many vistas and attractions to be found throughout this lengthy gap in the foothills of the Himalayas.
One Thailand attraction that the sure of foot should make a point of visiting is Pai Canyon, a narrow series of ridges that plunges more than 50 feet on each side, but has plenty of vantage points for excellent photos, particularly in the height of the dry season.
3) Wat Larn Kuad (Beer Bottle Temple), near Sisaket
If you’re seeking to leave behind all of the stereotypical tourist destinations of Thailand behind to get out onto the beaten track, then traveling to Issan in the countries’ northeast will easily achieve that goal. While the fact that being amidst local Thais who rarely see a foreigner will fill your days with curious encounters, it doesn’t hurt to have some sights to check out along the way.
One of the quirkiest of these is Wat Larn Kuad (aka the Beer Bottle Temple), which can be found outside the provincial town of Sisaket near the Cambodian border. Constructed wholly of Heineken and Chang bottles, this monument to recycling even boasts washrooms and a crematorium that uses beer bottles to form their interiors, a feat that goes to show the breadth of Thai ingenuity and creativity.