Thailand remains one of the world’s most popular travel destinations. In fact, the Bangkok Post reports that 41 million tourists are expected in 2019, surpassing last year’s record of 38 million. With these statistics, it’s easy to feel as though every inch of Thailand has been explored ten times over.
However, what’s so magical about Thailand is that there’s always something new just waiting to be explored. Here are some suggestions for those who are looking to explore Thailand sans the crowds:
Indulge in less popular Thai food
Thai cuisine has so much more to offer than just pad thai. Bo.lan is one of the world’s 50 best restaurants, where chef Duangporn Songvisava is dedicated to elevating authentic Thai cuisine. Her focus on fresh ingredients and traditional home cooking results in unique meals you’ll be thinking about for days.
There’s a Chinatown in almost every major city, but Bangkok’s own has the advantage of being the largest in the world. While there are some great eats, gorgeous temples, and lively bars, Bangkok Chinatown also boasts well-curated museums and exhibitions. Don’t miss this opportunity to get a bit of history during your trip!
See the Sai Ngam tree grove
Sai Ngam is known for its banyan tree grove, which is equal parts spooky and stunning. The knotted trees span over 1,000 meters and provide ample shade from the harsh sun. Locals believe that banyan trees house ancient spirits, offering flower garlands at nearby spirit houses.
Watch a Muay Thai match
Muay Thai, Thailand’s national sport, is a high-octane combat sport that is exciting to watch. But that’s not all — it is also a grand occasion when it comes to betting. ExpatBets notes that the Gambling Act of 1935 was made to ban the practice of betting, but Muay Thai is so popular that you can still bet at registered venues. Of course, this should still be done responsibly, as the government has strict rules against gambling addiction. Despite this, card games also remain popular, and you can find people playing throughout the city streets.
Go scuba-diving at Koh Tao
You may be traveling to Thailand for a beach getaway, but you can also take it up a notch and go scuba diving! Koh Tao is home to sparkling green water and amazing biodiversity. If you’re lucky, you can even go swimming with whale sharks. Stay a few days so you can truly kick back and relax.
Admire the White Temple
Located in Chiang Rai, the White Temple looks like something straight out of a postcard. The White Temple is one of Thailand’s most stunning sites, with the intricate architecture contrasting the modern paintings housed inside. The white color is meant to represent Buddha’s purity.
Admire the Sukhothai
This UNESCO World Heritage site is the place to go if you want to trace the origins of Thai architecture, as this was the capital of the Kingdom of Siam for two centuries. Spend some time biking around Sukhothai and really immerse yourself in this ancient city.
Shop at the Maeklong Railway Market
Locals go here for fresh produce, but what makes Maeklong truly special is that a train runs through the market six times a day. There’s nothing like watching seasoned vendors pull their wares into safety within a span of seconds, only to lay everything out again once the train has passed.
Peruse art galleries
Bangkok has no shortage of art galleries, but Nova Contemporary specializes in contemporary art from both Thai and international artists. Plus, the place is headed by Sutima Sucharitakul, who has worked for New York City’s Met Museum and the MoMa.
Spend time at Sala Keoku
You can find Buddhist sculptures in this park that are unlike any other you’ve seen. The sculptures here center on life and death within Buddhist belief, with snakes and skeletons as common features. Revered Buddhist monk Luang Pu started this park, and his remains are preserved for display at a nearby shrine.