Hi guys! I’m Pierrick – a French guy who has been living in Bangkok for the past six years. Welcome to my blog on the hidden gems of Thailand. I have always loved to travel, and recently decided to do travel photography full time and help other amateurs make a life out of it. I just finished my first book about my Thailand travels called: “Photography Guide to Thailand”. It’s a 418 page e-book with the best spots for photography in every region.
I consider Thailand to be my second home. It’s so beautiful in terms of landscapes, so rich in terms of culture, so vibrant in terms of nightlife and so delicious in terms of food. This combination makes it the perfect place to live for an expat like myself. I have traveled extensively through the country and have realized that each part offers something special. During my most recent trips, I have fallen in love with Krabi province and its surroundings.
As I have engaged more in drone photography, I learned just how many hidden gems are located in this province: islands, beaches, temples, limestone mountains and the secret spots that you can only find by flying a drone high in the sky. I have visited Krabi several times now and still feel like there are so many more worlds to discover. Although it’s quite well known, and wouldn’t fall under the category of a hidden gem, I simply love it.
For travelers who want to experience the authentic side to this captivating Southeast Asian country, I can recommend the following hidden gems of Thailand that you should experience – whether it be your first visit or your tenth. Each one is different in regards to landscapes, culture, adventures and food. But they all reveal a unique aspect to Thailand that you won’t necessarily find in tourist hotspots like Bangkok, Phuket or Koh Samui.
10 Hidden Gems of Thailand
1. Samut Prakan Ancient City
The Ancient City isn’t frequented often by tourists but it’s full of culture. It’s one of the world’s largest open-air museums with many temples and palaces. Despite the fact that some are models, it doesn’t make them any less impressive. Many are originals which were transported from other areas. Each exhibition is divided into sections that represent the provinces. As you explore, it’s like traveling through the whole country at once.
2. Koh Lipe
Koh Lipe is one of my favorite islands in all of Thailand. You can easily walk around it, you have the most spectacular beaches for sunrise and sunset, there are hundreds of longtail boats docked in the water, the beach bars are really cool and there are hardly any tourists around if you avoid the high season. December to March is the busiest time here. I recommend going in November, or April or May, to enjoy nice weather without hordes of visitors.
3. Koh Mak & Koh Kham
Both of these islands in the Trat province are not known at all, as they are situated by the more famous Koh Chang and Koh Kood. However if you want to be in the presence of untouched nature without any tourists around, I suggest going. Koh Kham is located a stone’s throw away from Koh Mak and you have perfect postcard beaches here. Koh Mak also has its share of pristine beaches as well as a cool bar on the water – Blue Pearl.
Phetchaburi is one of my favorite places for drone photography. The salt farms are incredibly colorful and there are hundreds of kilometers of villages, estuaries and temples to check out. It borders Myanmar and you can visit this central province on your journey south. Don’t forget too that the largest national park in Thailand can be found here – Kaeng Krachan. It covers nearly half of the province and offers epic rainforest hikes.
5. Mae Hong Son Loop
I did Mae Hong Son Loop by car this year and it was so rewarding. Although it’s reasonably famous, I took my time to explore it and did the loop in seven days as opposed to the usual four. So I found some of the best hidden gems of Thailand in Mae Hong Son: majestic waterfalls, mountain viewpoints, rice terraces, elephant hotels (I recommend Chai Lai Orchid), and the highlight was the sunrise over the Ban Rak Thai lake.
6. Nan & Phrae
I love the laid back atmosphere that permeates both of these provinces. It seems like this is what Thailand was like 50 years ago. The locals live a simple life and they welcome you with open arms. Nan is starting to land on the radar of travelers, as an increasing number of Instagrammers and content creators are showcasing its accommodations – from basic homestays to glamping sites that are nestled idyllically in nature.
7. Phang Nga Bay
As I mentioned before, Krabi is my favorite region for drone photography and in the wider area you can locate this stunning destination called Ao Phang Nga National Park (Phang Nga Bay). Samet Nangshe Viewpoint is the dreamy vista you have probably seen all over Instagram and the vibe is just as breathtaking as the photos look. Another Insta-famous place near Phang Nga Bay is Ko Panyi – the floating village perfect for drone photos.
8. Koh Muk
Another favorite Thai island of mine with even fewer tourists than Koh Lipe. The locals are so nice and welcoming, the beaches are literally paradisiacal, and some places you can visit by longtail boat such as the enchanting Emerald Cave and Koh Kradan. It’s located in the Andaman Sea right off the mainland in the Trang province, a little further south from Krabi. The only way to get to Koh Muk is of course by taking a short boat ride.
Kanchanaburi is a leisurely two and a half hour journey from Bangkok, and you can arrive by train if you please. The train ride is said to be one of the most pleasant public transport trips in all of Thailand. Two of my favorite places to visit in Kanchanaburi are Mon Bridge for a sunset picnic and Huai Mae Khamin Waterfall which is much less visited than Erawan Falls (in Erawan National Park), but for me it’s even more beautiful – a hidden gem.
10. Khao Sok National Park
Khao Sok is one of my favorite destinations in Thailand. I have been there four times now and I keep getting drawn back there. I recommend spending the night on the lake, and enjoying the super calm sunset and sunrise from your floating bungalow. You are immersed in nature, and it’s a paradise for photo-lovers and aerial photographers. The dense jungle and towering limestone karst formations that surround you are magnificent.
Tips to Experience the Hidden Gems of Thailand
The best food in Thailand isn’t to be found in expensive restaurants but rather on the streets or in the markets. When in Chiang Mai, you have to eat Khao Soi – and it’s best tried at the night market. For places to stay, I’m not a big fan of giant 5-star resorts. I prefer the airbnbs and small local hotels. My favorite accommodations in Thailand are: Baan Lek Villa in Chanthaburi, SALA Phuket, and Lala Mukha and Braya Villa in Koh Yao Yai.
Additionally, I also suggest learning a few words in Thai. Showing that you are interested in their culture is a big plus. Sometimes if they believe you speak the language, and think you live here, they won’t overcharge you. Learn how to say “no chili” in Thai because if you ask for “not spicy” it will still kill your mouth. Of course, avoid the super touristy destinations in Thailand if you can. There is so much more to see than Patong in Phuket.