Forget Bangkok: Here's Where the Local Thais Secretly Travel354
BY Dr. Theodore Bennet (Professor Bear)

Forget Bangkok: Here's Where the Local Thais Secretly Travel

You've set your heart on traveling to every corner of tempting Thailand 🧐; still, you need to get off the beaten track and see some of the country's most beautiful places that aren't on the regular backpacking route.

We all know that Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) is a vibrant and exciting city, but for many Thai people, it's not the only destination worth visiting in their own country 🧑‍🎓

Asian Woman Wearing Thai Dress Costume Traditional According Thai Culture Pha Dok Siew Waterfall Chiang Mai Thailand

From ancient temples and traditional night markets to secluded beaches and picturesque mountains, there are countless hidden attractions and off-the-beaten-path destinations in Thailand that are loved by locals but often overlooked by tourists 💯

These spots offer a more authentic and unique experience and provide a glimpse into this fascinating country's rich culture and history 📜 So, forget Bangkok and join us to discover where the local Thais secretly travel.



Why Locals Choose Other Places To Visit

Asian Woman Wearing Vietnam Culture Traditional Strawberry Garden Doi Ang Khang Chiang Mai Thailand

Locals in Thailand may avoid Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) when traveling within the country for various reasons 🧑‍🎓 Some of the reasons may include:



Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, and locals may find it overwhelming and stressful to navigate 🤔



Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) is known for its heavy traffic and air pollution, which can be a health concern for locals 📜



Compared to other destinations in Thailand, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) can be pretty expensive, and locals may find it less affordable to visit 🧐



Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) is a popular destination for tourists, and locals may find it less appealing because it is geared towards foreigners and may not offer as many opportunities to experience local culture 💯



Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) is home to many shopping centers and other popular facilities with tourists, but locals may find them over-commercialized 📜


Preference for Less-Crowded Destinations

Locals may prefer to visit less-crowded destinations to experience more authentic local culture and have a more peaceful and relaxing vacation 🧐 As a result; locals may opt to visit other destinations in Thailand, such as Chiang Mai, Pai, and the islands in the Gulf of Thailand.

🧑‍🎓 Quick Trivia!

The most popular time for locals to travel in Thailand is during the country's long holidays, such as Songkran, New Year, and Christmas.


Top Tourist Destinations in Thailand

Tourist Sitting Phu Sub Lek Viewpoint Sunset Lopburi Thailand

Many destinations in Thailand, including Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok), have become so popular that they're always crowded 🧐 But there are plenty more off-the-beaten-path places that are almost less crowded and truly worth it. From urban experiences to immersive trips with local communities, visitors will head off to such wonderful destinations for an authentic glimpse of the land of smiles 📜

You can escape the crowd, pollution, and dust in the capital and go out to relax and breathe fresh air in these places 💯 Many local Thais like to travel to popular tourist destinations within Thailand, such as Phuket, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, and Krabi, for their beautiful beaches and natural scenery. They also enjoy visiting historical and cultural sites such as Ayutthaya, Sukhothai, and the ancient city of Lopburi 🧐 Other popular destinations for local Thais include Pattaya, Hua Hin, and Koh Samui.

Three Woman Tourists Friends Travel around Khao Sok National Park Vacation Thailand Sailing Asian Boat Lake Sunny Day with Amazing View

If you are looking for Thailand's hidden gems where the locals often travel and where you can enjoy all of its attractions free of crowds or in a unique way, I will get it all covered now 🧑‍🎓


Beautiful Towns and Villages of Thailand 


Low Angle Shot Beautiful Sanctuary Truth Pattaya Thailand

Pattaya is located on the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand, and it is renowned as one of the most popular tourist destinations in Thailand, about 165 kilometers southeast of Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) 🤔 It is known for its beaches, nightlife, and shopping, and the city attracts millions of visitors yearly.


  • Getting there:
    • By Plane: The nearest airport is U-Tapao International Airport is about 30-40 minutes away from Pattaya. Taxis and minibusses are available at the airport to take you to Pattaya.

    • By Bus: There are a number of regular bus services from Bangkok's Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekamai) to Pattaya. The journey takes about 2 hours.

    • By Train: Unfortunately, there are no direct train services to Pattaya, but you can take a train to Bangkok and then take a bus or taxi to Pattaya.


  • Getting Around:
    • Tuk-tuks and motorbike taxis are popular ways to get around Pattaya but can be expensive.

    • Songthaews (shared pick-up trucks) are another option, and they are relatively cheap.

    • Taxis and rental cars are also available.


  • Accommodation:
    • Pattaya has accommodations that suit any budget, from budget guesthouses to luxury resorts.

    • Popular areas for accommodation include Pattaya Beach Road, Jomtien Beach, and Naklua.


  • Things to do:
    • Pattaya Beach
      The main attraction in Pattaya is its beaches, and Pattaya Beach is the most popular. You can sunbathe, swim, or enjoy water sports such as jet skiing, parasailing, and windsurfing.

    • Walking Street
      The Walking Street is the main entertainment area in Pattaya and is famous for its nightlife and bars.

    • Pattaya View Point
      This viewpoint offers a panoramic view of the city and is a great place to watch the sunset.

    • Nong Nooch Tropical Garden
      Nong Nooch Tropical Garden is a large botanical garden featuring various gardens, a lake, and a cultural show.

    • Sanctuary of Truth
      Sanctuary of Truth is a large, stunning wooden temple that features intricate carvings and sculptures.

    • Pattaya Floating Market
      This market features vendors selling souvenirs and local products.


  • Food:
    • Pattaya offers a wide range of food options, including Thai street food, seafood, and international cuisine.

    • Popular local dishes include Tom Yum Kung (spicy shrimp soup), Pad Thai (stir-fried rice noodles), and Mango Sticky Rice (a dessert made with glutinous rice and sweet mango).

    • Pattaya is known for its nightlife and shopping options, including the Central Festival Pattaya Beach, Pattaya Floating Market, and Pattaya Night Bazaar.



Chiang Mai

Loving Couple Takes Beautiful Evening with Flashlights near Lake

Chiang Mai is the unofficial capital of Northern Thailand, sometimes nicknamed the ‘Rose of the North.’ It is a city in northern Thailand known for its rich culture, history, and temples 🤔 Moreover, it is one of the most popular destinations for digital nomads and travelers interested in experiencing traditional Thai culture. 

Additionally, it is famous for its night market, artisans, and food 🧑‍🎓 The relatively low cost of living in Chiang Mai compared to other major cities in Thailand, good infrastructure, and a large ex-pat community make it a preferred destination for long-term travelers. 


  • Things to do:
    • Mountains surround the city, home to many temples, including Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chedi Luang. It also offers different outdoor activities like hiking, rock climbing, and elephant trekking. 


  • Accommodation:
    • Regarding accommodation, Chiang Mai has many options, from luxury resorts to budget-friendly guesthouses. It is also known for being a major center of Thai massage.




Mountain Road Green Trees from Pai Thailand

Many local travelers fall in love with the bohemian town of Pai, located in a lush green valley surrounded by rice fields, mountains, waterfalls, hot springs, and canyons 🤔 Pai is a small town in northern Thailand in the Mae Hong Son province, known for its natural beauty. 

In recent years, the town has become a hotspot for backpacker nightlife, and there’s also an active live music scene in Pai Village, which attracts not only local music lovers but also international musicians alike 🧐


  • Things to do:
    • The most interesting thing to do in Pai is to hire a motorbike or bicycle to travel the stunning countryside around the town 💯 Within a short time; you can get away from the touristy center and experience the intriguing back roads to hill tribe villages and stunning mountain vistas.

Chiang Rai

Couple Visit White Temple Chiang Rai Thailand Wat Rong Khun Northern Thailand

If you aren't interested in the noise and traffic of Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok), you may prefer the quieter town of Chiang Rai, a city in northern Thailand located in the Chiang Rai Province 📜 It is the provincial capital and the Golden Triangle region's commercial center, known for its opium production.

The city is another popular tourist destination due to its proximity to natural attractions such as the Mekong River and the mountains of the Doi Tung and Doi Luang Chiang Dao ranges 🧐 The city is also home to the Juxtaposing Black House, many temples, museums, and the famous White Temple, designed and built by the Thai artist and architect, named "Chalermchai Kositpipat." The temple is known for its unique, modern design and intricate glass mosaics. 


  • Sightseeing and things to do:
    • Chiang Rai is known for its night markets, hill-tribe villages, and outdoor activities such as trekking, elephant riding, and rafting. Chiang Rai has some hill tribe villages which trek in the area. They offer homestays, and you can learn more about the history of these indigenous communities by visiting there.



Chiang Dao

Woman Tourist Taking Photo Doi Luang Chiang Dao Mountains Chiang Mai Thailand

Chiang Dao is a real hidden gem just two hours north of Chiang Mai. This tiny but beautiful village is famed for nature and bird watching 💯 Most locals climb the imposing Doi Chiang Dao for a physical challenge and amazing views of the surrounding countryside. 


  • Things to do:
    • If you like to experience something less exhausting, you can visit Chiang Dao cave and temple, a 12km chamber with impressive stalagmites and stalactites 📜 In addition; there are so many hot springs in the area for a taste of relaxation in the heart of nature.



Mae Hong Son

Ban Rak Thai Village Mae Hong Son Province Thailand

You’ll find Mae Hong Son just three hours by road West from Pai towards the Burmese border💯 It is one of the favorite spots of travel among local travelers, located on a gorgeous lake, and some hotels and a fun local market open each night. 

It has a real, local feel and none of the tacky nightlife of Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) 🤔 Most importantly, Mae Hong Son comprises hill tribe villages, cave temples, waterfalls, and its highlight wonderful bamboo bridge. You can hire a motorbike and explore to your heart’s content finding empty mountain roads and places that foreigners rarely visit 📜




Phayao Thailand Jan 01 2020 Naga Statue Phayao Lake Kwan Phayao with Blue Sky Background

If you take a bus or a motorbike to head East from Chiang Mai, you will come across the beautiful lakeside town of Phayao. It is perfect if you’re looking for an authentic slice of Thai life 🧐 To be highlighted, Phayao is a great weekend getaway for Thai locals. Plenty of fish restaurants are around the lake, where local families enjoy a fishy feast at lunchtime! In addition, Phayao abounds with national Parks, caves, and waterfalls 💯




Landscape Mountain with Sunset Nan Thailand

Nan is known for its mountainous terrain, traditional culture, and historical sites. The province is located on the Nan River's banks and is bordered by Laos to the north and east 🤔 The province also has a rich history and culture, particularly in the traditional Lanna art and architecture, that can be seen in the temples, traditional houses, and the traditional hand-woven textile 💯


  • Sightseeing and attractions:
    • The Nan province attracts many local tourists to its temples, including Wat Phumin and Wat Phra That Khao Noi, important religious and cultural sites. Nan is also home to several hill-tribe villages, where visitors can learn about the local people's traditional life and customs.



Experience Historical Wonders in Thailand


Young Girl Ayutthaya Historical Park Wat Chaiwatthanaram Buddhist Temple Thailand

If you’re looking for an experience of ancient Thai history and culture, Thailand has its former Siamese capital, Ayutthaya 📜 In Ayutthaya; you will take a cycle or just a walk to its historic temples and ancient kingdoms. 

The city is well known for its many historical and architectural sites, including the Ayutthaya Historical Park. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site 💯 The park also contains the ruins of many ancient temples and palaces, including Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Wat Mahathat, and Wat Ratchaburana. These ruins are considered the best-preserved examples of the Ayutthaya period of Thai history. 

The city is also known for its beautiful Buddhist monasteries and stupas scattered throughout the city 🤔 In addition, the city also offers a rich cultural experience with traditional Thai dance, music, and food.


Thai Retro Train Kanchanaburi Thailand

Kanchanaburi is a province in western Thailand, about 130 kilometers west of Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) 🧐 The province is known for its natural wonder and historical sites, including the famous "Death Railway" and the Bridge over the River Kwai

The Death Railway was built during World War II by prisoners of war and forced laborers and is now one of the most famous tourist destinations 🧑‍🎓 The Bridge over the River Kwai symbolizes the suffering and sacrifice of those who died during the railway construction.

The Kanchanaburi province is also known for its scenic waterfalls, such as Erawan Falls and the Sai Yok Noi Waterfall, and its picturesque national parks, including the Sai Yok National Park and the Erawan National Park 📜 Additionally, Kanchanaburi is also home to the War Cemetery and the JEATH War Museum, which pay tribute to the prisoners of war (POW) who died during the construction of the Death Railway.




Mon Bridge Sangklaburi Kanchanaburi Thailand Attractions Traditional Way Life

Sangkhlaburi is a little-visited tranquil town with fantastic scenery and fascinating cultural diversity 🧐 It is known for its diverse ethnic population, including Karen, Mon, and Thai-Chinese communities, and its scenic location on the banks of the Mae Klong River.

The town is also home to the longest wooden bridge in Thailand, the Mon Bridge, which spans the river and connects Sangkhlaburi to the nearby Mon village of Ban Rim Moei 💯 The area around Sangkhlaburi is popular with tourists for its natural beauty, including waterfalls, caves, and hiking trails, as well as its stunning bridges, boat tours, cultural and historical attractions, such as the Wat Wang Wiwekaram temple and the Three Pagodas Pass, which is near Kanchanburi as well.



Beautiful Beach Sides and Islands 


Young Beautiful Woman Traveling Thailand Summer Vacation Casual Style Sunglasses Hat Cotton Skirt T Shirt Smiling Happy Adventures

Phuket is a beautiful and breathtaking island in the Andaman Sea in southern Thailand. It is the largest island in Thailand and is a famous tourist destination known for its beautiful beaches, clear waters, and vibrant nightlife 🧐 

Phuket has a diverse range of activities to offer, such as swimming, snorkeling, diving, and water sports. The island also has a rich cultural heritage, with many historic temples and shrines to visit 🧐 Phuket Town, the island's main city, is known for its well-preserved Sino-Portuguese architecture and lively street markets. Visitors can enjoy the island's many restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and shopping venues.



Koh Chang

Aerial View Koh Ngam Koh Chang Trat Thailand South East Asia

Koh Chang is a part of the Koh Chang Marine National Park and is the second largest island in Thailand after Phuket. Koh Chang is ideal if you love beautiful beaches, clear waters, and lush jungles 💯 The island is another popular spot for tourists seeking a more laid-back and natural experience than other more developed tourist destinations in Thailand. 

The island offers different exciting activities like swimming, snorkeling, diving, and kayaking. There are also plenty of wonderful beach bars, restaurants, and nightlife options 📜 Additionally, nature lovers have various trekking, elephant riding, and bird-watching opportunities. 

Most importantly, you can hire a scooter and travel through the undeveloped East of the island 🤔 Then you can enjoy deserted red sandy beaches and a local way of life. It’s a world away from the busy Bangkok!



Koh Kood 

Tropical Island Koh Kood Koh Kut Thailand Swing Beach Men Women

You can reach Koh Kood within just a two-hour boat ride from Koh Chang, and it is renowned as a must-see island for all tourists 📜 If you visit this island, you will experience nature with deserted beaches and many mangrove forests. Most importantly, Koh Kood has empty roads, which are great for exploring by motorbike.

The island is less developed than other tourist destinations in Thailand, making it a popular spot for those seeking a more relaxed and peaceful experience and a truly off-the-beaten-track paradise! 🧑‍🎓



Koh Si Chang

Cottage Si Chang Island Thailand

Koh Si Chang is another small island in Thailand where you can truly escape the crowds and enjoy an off-the-beaten-track island experience 💯 Locals enjoy and are addicted to the crystal clear waters, sandy beaches, and beautiful nature on the island. 




Beautiful Girl Sitting Boat James Bond Island Phang Nga Thailand

Krabi is famous for its limestone karst scenery which is located in Southern Thailand. Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta, Koh Ngai, and Koh Jum are well-known islands you can see here 🧑‍🎓 In addition, you will explore the mainland beaches of Railay and Ton Sai, as Krabi is also home to Krabi Town. This large market town serves as a transport hub for the other destinations in the province.

To be highlighted, you should visit Krabi during your Thailand tour as it is rich with island hopping, rock climbing, boat trips, snorkeling, diving, or just beach bumming 💯 The area also has hot springs, caves, mangrove forests, and temples that are well worth exploring. Picture postcard scenes are guaranteed!



Koh Lanta

Koh Lanta Thailand Luxury Beach Chairs by Swimming Pool Luxury Hotel Thailand

Koh Lanta is a stunningly beautiful island that is rich with beaches, excellent diving spots, and great restaurants, and most importantly, it has a national park at its southernmost tip 🤔 Koh Lanta offers a great blend of chilled-out island vibes, a low-key party scene, a local charm and possibly the best beaches in Thailand!

It is rich with local travelers' favorite destinations, from Tiger Cave to Khlong Chak Waterfall and a trip north to Lanta Noi to escape tourists completely. If you're looking for beaches, the best ones can be found on the South West coast of Lanta Yai island 🧐 There are plenty of smaller islands off the coast of Koh Lanta which you can visit by longtail boat and even stay the night if you're searching for that intimate castaway island feel 💯



A Vibrant Nightlife in Thailand

Beautiful Man Background Night Illumination Asia

Thailand is known for its vibrant nightlife, with various options for different preferences. Some popular nightlife destinations in Thailand instead of Bangkok include Pattaya and Phuket 📜 In addition to them, Chiang Mai and Koh Phangan are also popular for their nightlife scene.


Koh Phangan 

Sunset Koh Phangan Island Thailand Full Colors

Did you know about the most famous beach party in the world? Yes, it is the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan. So, it attracts thousands of backpackers each month to experience this wonderful occasion 🤔 However, parties aren’t the only thing the island is renowned for; it is still home to beautiful beaches, jungle-clad scenery, and crystal-clear waters.



Koh Tao

Beach Sea Koh Tao Thailand

The turtle-shaped island of Koh Tao is the most popular and cheapest place for backpackers to get certified to dive in Thailand 💯 In addition to its most famous diving schools,  Koh Tao has a lively nightlife, a variety of restaurants and cafes, beautiful beaches, and great snorkeling locations.



National Parks in Thailand 

Thailand is home to many beautiful national parks, each with unique features and attractions 🧐 So, here are some most popular national parks in Thailand:


Khao Yai National Park

Tourist Travelers with Backpack Travel Waterfall Khao Yai National Park Thailand Unesco World Heritage Area Tourist Trekking Waterfall Tropical Forest during Holiday Holiday Activities

Khao Yai National Park is in the Sankamphaeng Range, Thailand's first national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site 💯 It is known for its diverse wildlife, including elephants, gibbons, and hornbills, as well as its beautiful waterfalls and scenic hiking trails.



Doi Inthanon National Park

Landmark Pagoda Doi Inthanon with Mist Fog during Sunset Timeat Chiang Mai Thailand

Doi Inthanon is the country's highest mountain and a popular spot for trekking and birdwatching 🧐 It is also home to two stupas dedicated to the King and Queen of Thailand.



Erawan National Park

Waterfall Erawan National Park Kanchanaburi Thailand

It is famous for the Erawan Waterfall, a seven-tiered waterfall, and the beautiful limestone cliffs, caves, and blue pools 📜



Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park

Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park Outdoor Landscape

Located in the Gulf of Thailand, Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park is known for its beautiful beaches, limestone cliffs, and a large number of bird species 💯



Tarutao National Park

Stone Arch Scenic Kho Khai near Tarutao National Marine Park Satunthailand

You can visit the Tarutao National Park in the Andaman Sea, and most importantly, it is known for its beautiful beaches, clear waters, and diverse marine life.


Khao Sok National Park

Couple Longtail Boat Visiting Khao Sok National Park Phangnga Thailand Khao Sok National Park

It is known for its beautiful rainforests, limestone cliffs, and Cheow Lan Lake, the park's major attraction 🤔 These are just a few of Thailand's 147 national parks, each offering a unique experience and the opportunity to explore the country's natural beauty.



Forget Bangkok and Go to Where the Local Thais Secretly Travel!

Two Happy Women Traveler Temple Thailand

Avoiding crowded cities like Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) when traveling in Thailand can allow you to experience more authentic local culture 💯

You can visit smaller towns and villages to see traditional ways of life, taste authentic local food, and meet friendly locals who are more than truly happy to share their culture with visitors 📜 Additionally, these lesser-known places tend to be less touristy and more affordable, allowing you to stretch your budget further 🤔


  • The opportunity to experience more authentic and local culture: Smaller towns and villages tend to be more traditional, and visitors can see firsthand how locals live and experience their culture through food, festivals, and customs 

  • The chance to meet friendly locals: In less touristy destinations, locals tend to be more welcoming and open to interacting with visitors.

  • More affordable prices: Lesser-known destinations tend to be less expensive, allowing travelers to stretch their budgets further.

  • To escape the hustle and bustle: Crowded cities can be overwhelming, and avoiding them can provide a much-needed break from the noise and chaos.

  • An opportunity to discover hidden gems: By avoiding more popular tourist destinations, travelers have the chance to discover lesser-known but equally beautiful and interesting places.


Forget Bangkok Here's where The Local Thais Secretly Travel


🧑‍🎓 Vocabulary Time!

: inexpensive; reasonably priced


: in the middle of; amid


a momentary or partial view


: a person who travels from different places to find fresh and better pasture


: being calm, or the quality or state of being tranquil



Written by
Dr. Theodore Bennet (Professor Bear)

Hi! I'm Dr. Theodore Bennet (Professor Bear), your scholarly travel companion who brings history to life with immersive tours and expert guides. With a Ph.D. in History and years of travel writing experience, I offer authoritative insights for unforgettable journeys.


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