Off the beaten track in Thailand
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost
Most of us like to travel, and the world has become an increasingly smaller place and a lot more accessible. Gone are the days when travel was slow and difficult, and it took days and even weeks to get to your destination by ship or train. Today the world is your oyster, and you can jet off almost anywhere around the globe in no time and at short notice.
Travel guides tell us where to stay, where the shopping bargains are to be found and intimate details on bars, entertainment and even what we should eat at regional restaurants. If you follow their advice to the letter, your entire holiday will be planned in detail with little room for spontaneous moments.
Don’t get me wrong - I am a great believer in researching my trips. It is a big part of the fun of travelling. On the other hand, you take a big gamble if you hope everything will simply fall into place on arrival at your destination. Imagine the disappointment of finding a great museum is closed on the day you wish to visit, or you miss an iconic sight through lack of research.
Guides on travelling in Thailand are brimming with great itineraries but do you want to simply follow the crowds by sticking to the mainstream recipe? Take a leaf from Robert Frost and embrace the road less travelled. Here are some fun ideas for off-the-beaten-path adventures in Thailand.
Bangkok is a not-to-be-missed city with many attractions, including palaces and museums. Then there is the legendary shopping where you can pick up bargains galore. For the more adventurous, there are options. Hire a ‘long boat’ for a few hours and take a trip on the busy Chao Phraya River with every type of vessel from rubber ducks to freighters. Ask your boatman to take you to a floating market where fresh food is on sale from the bobbing boats. Then stop for lunch at a local cafe on one of the many canals. Many of the houses are accessible only by canal, and you will see locals bathing and washing clothes in their daily routines.
Enquire about a day cooking course followed by dinner in a private home. You will be introduced to unusual ingredients, and in no time, a feast will be prepared and joyfully shared with the whole family. Chances are you will make friends for life in Thailand.
Explore the back streets for street food markets. Meat and fish are displayed on beds of ice, and the food is cooked right in front of you. Some sign language is required, and in no time you have a delicious snack. The freshly squeezed juices are out of this world and include some strange but tasty fruit.
Why not head for the forests in the north of the country. An alternative way to travel is on the local train, which is a 13-hour journey through beautiful countryside. This is a great way to see villages, farms and rural life. Some overnight trains have sleeper facilities, but my money is on a daylight journey. Once at your destination there are great hikes in the forests and local operators will take you on an exhilarating ride down a river on a bamboo raft.
Phuket is on most agendas, but you can avoid the crowds of Patong Beach by staying out of town. My suggestion is the Best Western Premier Bangtao Beach Resort surrounded by trees and a quiet beach. The shopping and nightlife of Patong are just a short taxi ride away.
There are many small islands to be discovered, and you can hire a longboat to take you out for a day of snorkelling and hiking. Another fun outing is a day of kayaking around uninhabited islands with caves sporting stalactites – the operator includes lunch and all your equipment.
For a much more secluded stay head one hour from Phuket up the west coast to Khaolak which is less well known and blissfully quiet. The beaches are pristine, and there are great hikes in the area. The X10 Khaolak Resort is set in a small forest of trees, and you can walk for hours along the almost deserted beaches.
Thailand is full of off the beaten track surprises you get there and write your own exciting journal of experiences. Contact us to find out more about your next Thailand holiday package.