Hidden Gems of Bangkok: Off-the-Beaten-Path Destinations

As a small city about an hour drive from Chiang Mai situated amidst the Wang River valley, this place, though not as well-known among tourists, holds remarkable attractions for those exploring Thailand due to its scenic landscapes and historical significance.

1. Lampang – The serene and picturesque ancient city of Thailand

The ancient city of Lampang in northern Thailand boasts numerous ceramic art villages, horse-drawn carriages, and art performances, gradually showcasing its allure. Situated in the north, Lampang is not only dubbed as the new star of Thai tourism with its vibrant ceramic art village, horse-drawn carriages, elephants performing exquisite art like painting, dancing, and football, but it also has many other interesting aspects to attract visitors.

Multi-tiered waterfalls gushing with white foam, mysterious tropical forests, or vast, romantic rice fields await you in the ancient city of Lampang. The shimmering tiered waterfalls, stunning tropical forests, endless lush rice fields create a charmingly beautiful landscape.

A visit to Lampang feels like a journey back in time to a preserved culture and history, offering a tranquil refuge for the soul. Renowned for its lively ceramic art villages, horse-drawn carriages, and elephants performing skilled artistic acts like painting, dancing, and football.

Since the 7th century, Lampang has been part of the ancient Dvaravati Kingdom. From the 11th century, Lampang was occupied by the Khmer Empire, but from the 16th to the 18th century, it was under the rule of Myanmar, thus many temple architectural structures here predominantly reflect the architectural style of neighboring countries, especially temple architectures.

Phrathat Lampang Luang is one of the most sacred and famous temples in Lampang. The temple is situated on a hill with a serene and picturesque mountainous landscape. The highlight of the temple is the large golden stupa located in the central area. Surrounding the large stupa are numerous small Buddha statues arranged on all four sides, and beneath the curved tiled roofs, there are rows of bronze bells occasionally chiming with the gentle breeze. Visiting this place and observing the sky at sunset from a horse-drawn carriage, the most common means of transport, is undoubtedly an unforgettable experience in Lampang.

This ancient land also carries a legend associated with the symbol of a rooster, which is still commonly linked to Lampang. According to the legend, when the Buddha passed through this place, the deity Indra was concerned that the people might not wake up early enough to pay homage to him, so the deity transformed into a rooster to awaken the people in the area. Today, the largest rooster statue is placed in front of the entrance to the Phra That Luang temple, considered as a symbol of Lampang.

Lampang is approximately 600 km north of the capital city, Bangkok, under the preservation and management of the Chiang Mai City Tourism Authority.

The main office of Tham Pha Thai Park is located on Highway 1 and Phaholyothin Road, milestone 667, 65 km from Muang. Chae Son National Park is about 38 km from Lampang on Highway 1252.

2. Koh Chang Elephant Island – Tropical paradise in Thailand

Koh Chang, also known as Elephant Island, is an impressive discovery and resort destination in Thailand with lush mountainous peaks and vast bays. There are many things awaiting exploration here.

Koh Chang, also known as “Elephant Island,” derived its name from its landmass resembling an elephant. It is the third-largest island in Thailand after Phuket and Samui, situated about 300 km east of Bangkok in Trat province, within the Gulf of Thailand near the Cambodia border. The island comprises eight villages, numerous mountain peaks, with the highest at 744 meters.

From lush forested peaks to vast bays, grand waterfalls to vibrant coral reefs, beach huts to luxurious resorts, Koh Chang has an array of attractions for Thai tourists. Despite its development in tourism over the years, the place still retains a remote and wild charm.

Covering an area of approximately 212 square kilometers, 70% of Koh Chang is covered by tropical forests, mountains, and beaches. The highest peak on the island is Khao Salak Phet, standing at 743 meters above sea level, with numerous waterfalls, including the highest and most difficult to access, Klong Neung waterfall.

Koh Chang experiences three main seasons, starting with the cool season from November to February. This is the busiest time for the island, with beautiful blue skies and calm seas. If you don’t mind crowds, this is the ideal time to visit. The hot season follows from March to April. During these months, the temperature remains consistently above 33 degrees Celsius along with high humidity. April and May also mark the common Thai holiday season, so the island’s tourist spots might still be bustling. Particularly during Songkran, the Thai New Year, which takes place from April 13 to 15.

Lastly, there’s the rainy season, starting from late May to October. During these months, the cost of travel and accommodation significantly reduces. Even though the weather is unpredictable, it could still be a great time to visit the island, with a much quieter atmosphere, perfect for relaxation and tranquility.

From Tha Thammachat and Tha Centrepoint, you can reach Koh Chang within 30 to 45 minutes by boat. Alternatively, from Bangkok, you can take a yellow bus to the piers with a journey of about 6 hours, or take a boat from Koh Kood (about 5 hours) or Koh Mak (1 hour). The fastest but also the most expensive option is to fly from Bangkok to Trat.

Moving around the island is relatively easy and straightforward. The primary mode of transportation is a songthaew (taxi service) that runs from the pier, stopping at all beaches along the west coast of the island. You can catch a songthaew all day, but note that prices increase after around 10 PM. Another option is to rent a scooter, with hundreds of places renting scooters at very reasonable prices, around 150 – 250 Baht/24h. You’ll need to present a driver’s license and passport when renting a scooter.

3. Hillside tea village, Ban Rak Thai

Ban Rak Thai, also known as Mae Aw, is a small village nestled in the highest area of Mae Hong Son province, only about 1 km from the Thailand – Myanmar border. This village belongs to the Chinese community, so adults speak only Chinese, while only the younger generations speak Thai. The area is particularly famous for its lush green tea hills.

Surrounded by lush green tea hills intermingled with ancient houses reflecting the typical architecture of the Chinese. With a cool and peaceful climate, Ban Rak Thai provides visitors with a sense of peace and comfort beyond the ordinary. When visiting Thailand, a trip to Ban Rak Thai allows you to stop at a roadside cafe or enjoy a cup of hot tea by the lake to fully appreciate the romantic beauty of the place.

Due to its remote location, the village was less known in the past. However, in recent years, they have started to welcome tourists, mostly Thais.

The breathtaking green mountain scenery with picturesque waterways has turned this place into an incredibly beautiful landscape, attracting visitors for exploration and discovery.

Directions to Ban Rak Thai: To reach the village, you can book a tour or rent a car in Mae Hong Son town. From there, it’s a pleasant and scenic drive to Ban Rak Thai, which takes around 45 minutes to an hour. Additionally, there are minivans available from the main market that go to Ban Rak Thai.

4. Phanom Rung Historical Park (Tỉnh Buriram)

Phanom Rung Historical Park is an ancient Khmer architectural masterpiece with a mysterious beauty that captivates numerous visitors for exploration and discovery.

Situated atop a hill in Buriram town, Buriram Province, Thailand, this is an ancient land preserving Khmer relics, and Phanom Rung Temple itself is the most remarkable and impressive structure. It was built by a nobleman, Narendraditya, during the reign of King Suryavarman II (1112 – 1152).

To reach this site, travelers have to cover over 400 km from the capital city of Bangkok to Buriram Province and then proceed to this historical park. Despite the somewhat challenging journey, this destination will undoubtedly provide you with many memorable experiences.

In Buriram Province, this historical park is a complex of temples within the Phimai historical park, showing signs of deterioration but being well protected. These temples, especially Phanom Rung, were constructed in the 12th century and have endured for thousands of years.

According to legend, Phanom Rung is a royal temple built along the route connecting Phimai and Angkor, bearing cultural and historical values. The temple complex here, made of laterite and sandstone, features pathways entirely made of stone, which is quite remarkable.

Phnom Rung Historical Park was built after Phimai and Angkor Wat. Its construction at a later time allowed it to inherit the magnificence of the two preceding structures, creating a particularly unique mark. Specifically, only Phnom Rung possesses three-sided prasat towers that soar high, with a large antarala porch in the front.

When traveling to Thailand and visiting this temple, you will immediately be impressed by a structure perched atop a hill that was once a 160-meter-high volcano. To reach it, you have to ascend several levels, witnessing a completely red temple that has slightly faded over time.

Phanom Rung Historical Park is one of the beautiful tourist destinations in Buriram, showcasing beautiful, unique, and impressive architecture. If you have the chance to visit the joyful city of Buriram, remember to visit Phanom Rung to admire this beautiful structure and partake in the many distinctive festivals held here.

5. Ancient City of Ayutthaya – A historical site near Bangkok

Thai tourism is often associated with a bustling and colorful Bangkok and a famous Pattaya with beautiful beaches, while Ayutthaya carries a serene, gentle, and nostalgic charm.

Located just about 85km from the capital Bangkok, Ayutthaya was the former capital of Thailand from 1351 to 1767. During its prosperous period, it engaged in bustling trade activities with China, India, Persia, Portugal, among others. Despite undergoing many historical changes, Ayutthaya still retains the golden imprints of its past, showcasing the unique and diverse cultural, culinary, and architectural fusion of Asia and Europe, always attracting visitors seeking exploration and discovery.

Ayutthaya (officially known as Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya) – Located about 85km north of Bangkok, this was the capital of Thailand for 400 years (from the 14th to the 18th century). Recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1991, Ayutthaya, despite being a former ‘capital,’ exudes a tranquil, subdued beauty like a suburban countryside. With a relatively small area, visitors only need about half a day to explore every nook and cranny of Ayutthaya.

Famous Attractions in Ayutthaya

Wat Ratchaburana

This temple’s ruins are the best-preserved within Ayutthaya Historical Park. With a relatively small scale, Wat Ratchaburana was designed in resemblance to the characteristic shape of Mount Meru in India. Particularly unique is the underground tunnel inside the tower leading to a treasure trove of gold and silver, most of which was ‘stolen’ during the war by Myanmar.

Wat Phra Si Sanphet

This site houses the largest royal chedis (funerary towers), built in the 14th century. The distinctive feature lies in the sequence of three enormous stupas (bell-shaped towers). It’s also the iconic symbol you’ll see everywhere in Ayutthaya. These stupas will be a fantastic backdrop for your amazing photos!

Wat Chaiwatthanaram

Built in the traditional Khmer style, similar to the famous Angkor Wat in Cambodia, this temple offers plenty of picturesque corners for great photo opportunities. That’s why it particularly attracts visitors. Wat Chaiwatthanaram consists of a central prang (tower) surrounded by smaller chapels. Watching the sunset over the city from the top of the tower is an unforgettable experience in life.

Source: Compiled from the Internet.

Back to top button