Rethink: Thailand

Get grinning in the Land of Smiles, with Nick Boulos six lesser-known treats

Monday 07 March 2016 10:22

Thailand has become a must on every traveller’s list, from the steaming street- food stalls of Bangkok and hilltribes of the north to the island paradises of the south. But it’s still possible to lose the crowds…

Thailand’s own Angkor Wat

There’s a reason why the temples of Phimai – around three hours from Bangkok to the northeast – may look strangely familiar. Many believe this impressive Khmer complex, built in the 11th and 12th centuries, became the inspiration for world-famous Angkor Wat in neighbouring Cambodia. Tour the Buddhist ruins with barely a fraction of the visitors that descend on its headline-grabbing cousin.

A visit to Nan

Not your grandmother, but a relatively untouched settlement in northern Thailand. Like the better known Chiang Mai, Nan has hiking trails that take in traditional communities, plus caves and waterfalls.

Beautiful Koh Mak

A small but perfectly-formed island on the east of the Gulf of Thailand, close to the Cambodian border, Koh Mak remains relatively untouched by the commercialism on some of the country’s better-known islands. The perfect place to kick back and escape the 21st century.

Going underground

Go subterranean at Phra Nakhol Khiri National Park and discover a secret temple. Khao Luang Cave is a surreal spectacle with 200-plus Buddhist statues illuminated by the ethereal glow of sunlight as it drifts through the cavernous chamber.

A bridge too far

Head to central Thailand to see one of the world’s largest wooden bridges in Sangkhlaburi. The handmade Saphan Mon measures 440m and was badly damaged by torrential rain in 2013 but has since been repaired.

Bangkok’s island retreat

Follow the Chao Phraya River north from the capital for around 20 kilometres and you’ll reach the bite-sized and car-free island of Koh Kret, which dates back to 1722 and is famous for its pottery created by the Mon people. Visit the market and explore the surrounding villages and temples. Perfect for escaping the bustle of Bangkok.

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