Thailand: 5 places off the tourist map
As jade green waters lap against sandy white beaches, the fame of the famed Thailand attracts more and more tourists. While tourists abound Phuket and Bangkok, Ku Sumai and Krabi holding their peace are relatively unexplored gems. TravelScapes lists five places to visit in Thailand before the masses take over.
One of the last bastions of remote Thai islands, Ko kut is idyllic with soft powdery sand massaging the spaces between toes. Frothy lipped clear water washes coconut palm-lined beaches. City dwellers beware as the island is largely bereft of most urban trappings be it snazzy nightclubs or swanky bars. In exchange, come lazy afternoons on hammocks and an unending supply of fresh coconut water. Water seems to be the universal theme as snorkelling and kayaking are the main activities on the island. A little snobbish in its elite quiet, it is not without reason that Ko Kut has oft been referred to as the perfect Thai island.
KHAO SOK NATIONAL PARK
Midway between the Gulf and Andaman coasts, lies what many believe is the world’s oldest rainforest, at a 160 million years. Something out of a Hollywood fantasy film, Thailand’s rainiest spot hosts drizzle sprayed greenery, which shelters creatures big and small. Large mammals to smaller animals, all have their secret hideaways. Adorning the landscape are giant flowers with a diameter of around two and a half feet. As the rains claim their season, out come the boars and the bears, the gaurs and gibbons as well as wild elephants and lone tigers, amongst others. Limestone karsts crane their necks, lording over thick rain-soaked foliage and waterfalls follow various paces down rocky surfaces all one needs to do is choose a dirt trail and follow it into a magic flecked, mystical world.
That the island’s old Malay name literally translated as, “Long Beach Island” bears testimony to the promise it holds. An erstwhile haunt of Scandanavian backpackers, Lanta enjoyed a secluded anonymity for long as the spotlight was on Phuket and Kho Phi Phi. However the miles long streches of sandy beaches have since found their admirers in mostly mid range to luxury Europeans. The mostly flat island has inland mountains blanketed by a thick shroud of green.Then there are the protected mangrove forests and an unspoilt national park.
A culture as rich as the topography made up of nomadic sea dwellers and Chinese- Malay muslim communities, of stilted houses, of an east coast that away from the touristy west hosting shrimp farms, fishing villages and a historical town. Here is where real Thailand still lives — breathing and un-touristy-ised.
Sometimes in the haste of reaching the destination, one misses out on the journey. Such is the fate of Surat Thani, ‘The city of good people.” Mostly a passageway into the more desired islands of the Golf Coast, it has much to offer those who care to pause. The seat of the ancient Indonesian Srivijaya Empire, the city today is a regular working Thai city with a rich taperstry of nature, culture and remanants of history.
The west coast is plateaus and forest covered hills that slope down to low river basins of the eastern coast creating river basins that with much spectualarity melt into the ocean. As eyes are satiated, the palate is wooed by the numerous sea-food restaurants at par with the finest in Thailand albeit considerably cheaper. Get a cultural fix and some trinklets at the local handicrafts village and folklore museum. For those interested, there is a spattering of colourful Chinese temples.
A must stop for the lovers of all things cultural, Phetchaburi is a liberal sprinkling of temples and palaces, is flanked by jungles that enshrine cave shrines and the province has its share of beaches. The best part is the fact that it is laid back and not a touristy United Nations, with different nationalities jostling for shoulder space. There is relieving sleepiness in the relaxed markets and teak shops that rest below the owners’ residence and water front temples.
A chronicle of history, the sleepy provincial town has lived through the Khmer, Sukhothai and Ayothaya kingdoms. Called ‘living Ayothaya’ by many, it retains counterparts of many of the relics that are now lost to Ayothaya.
About Red Apple Travel
Red Apple Travel Group is one of the best ways to explore Thailand’s best known as well as some quieter destinations. The company offers the best facilities and personalised service, while unobtrusively allowing them to immerse themselves in the beauty of this land of multi-hued seas, emerald forests and a multi-hued culture.