Secret places in Thailand – do they still exist? Thailand, with its amazing locales, friendly hospitality and good value, draws millions of travelers every year, most of which flock to its most beautiful places.
Escaping the tourist tourist crowds can be difficult – that sleepy town or deserted beach can be hard to find if you don’t know where to look. Thanks to our local expertise, we know all the secret Thai islands and quaint little villages where you can find some solitude.
Our list below features 10 of the best secret spots, including paradise islands, lush mountain towns, ancient Khmer ruins and even prehistoric sites.
Thailand’s secret Andaman island: Koh Phayam
Andaman seas, quiet beaches, a car-free policy – Koh Phayam, an hour off the coast of Ranong, enjoys a laidback bohemian ambience.
You won’t find those wow-factor white-sand coral bays of the more famous islands, but you will get the wide, windswept, 3-kilometer Ao Yao beach where you can surf or fish.
Phayam is also known for its family-style hospitality, inexpensive high-quality food and a warm, artsy vibe. Be sure to check out the ‘shipwrecked’ Hippy Bar if you go.
Thailand’s secret northern getaway: Chiang Kham
Chiang Kham offers scenic, crowd-free countryside up in Thailand’s far north.
On the lush, mountainous border of Laos, you’ll find Phu Sang National Park, home to rare plants and animals, limestone caves and a picturesque waterfall.
There are also a number of beautiful temples in Chiang Kham worth visiting, and a museum where you can learn about the culture of the resident ethnic Tai Lue population, whose colorful woven fabrics decorate the town.
Thailand’s secret castaway island: Koh Jum
Also known as Koh Pu, Koh Jum is a quiet island of rubber tree plantations and nigh-deserted bays.
Its Muslim population keeps development lowkey, so there’s little more to do here than swim, relax and forget about the rest of the world – you can really feel like a castaway.
Located in Phang Nga Bay, a long-tail boat ride from Krabi Pier, you’re surrounded by limestone rock formations and the bay’s famous emerald seas.
It’s a paradise island without the people, and with plenty of little bays and beaches to explore.
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Thailand’s secret paradise beaches: Koh Kood
It’s a fairly large island, but most of it is dense, mountainous virgin forest, with a western coastline that gives you one picture-perfect beach after another.
There are long distances between each beach, and the farther away from the pier you go, the more secret spots you’ll find.
Hop on a motorcycle and spend your days hopping from beach to perfect beach.
Thailand’s secret Stonehenge: Chaiyaphum
Chaiyaphum is a grab-bag of curious attractions.
First there’s Mor Hin Khao – nicknamed Stonehenge – natural sandstone formations with an otherworldly quality. There’s the field of krachiao (Thai tulips) that blooms in the wet season.
Then there’s ancient Prang Khru, the ruins of a 13th-century Khmer temple.
Last but not least, travel two hours to the north and you’ll be at Phu Wiang Dinosaur Museum with its fossils, caves and dinosaur footprints.
Thailand’s secret island with secrets: Koh Panak
This secret island has its own secrets – hidden caves and inland seas concealed in its craggy limestone landscape.
Some beaches are only accessible by climbing or kayaking, making Koh Phanak perfect for those with a sense of adventure.
The island is undeveloped so you can’t stay there overnight, but you can hire your own boat or take a private tour. It’s a great day out for families who like to embark on their own island discoveries.
Thailand’s secret Khmer ruins: Phanom Rung
Did you know that Thailand has its own Angkor Wat? Phanom Rung, near the Cambodian border, only 55 kilometers from the Banteay Chhmar temple complex, is home to a 10th-century Angkorian temple site.
You can explore both Hindu and Buddhist architecture, as the temple was converted from a Hindu shrine to Shiva to a Buddhist temple – just like Angkor Wat.
On 13th April every year, the sun shines through all 15 portals in the main temple, a mystical, magical sight.
Thailand’s secret eco-town: Loei
This Northeastern Thai province is most famous for the Phi Ta Khon festival with its crazy painted masks… and not much else goes on there, making it perfect for travelers who want to get off the beaten track.
Sitting on the border with Laos, Loei offers stunning mountain scenery (Phu Kradung is a must), lush flower fields and the gently meandering Mekong.
Escape the crowds, eat spicy Isaan food, drink craft beer and just idle away your time.
Thailand’s secret luxury island: Koh Yao Noi
Just a 30-minute boat ride from Phuket, the idyllic Koh Yao Noi benefits from all the natural charm of Phang Nga Bay, without the crowds.
Lowkey and laidback, most of the resorts here are upscale and the party scene is blissfully non-existent. If you want to be spoiled in an unspoiled paradise, Koh Yao Noi gives you a truly exclusive Thai island experience.
Thailand’s secret Isaan getaway: Nong Khai
Just across the Mekong from Vientiane, unassuming Nong Khai offers temples, river cruises, the oddball Wat Sala Kaew Ku sculpture park and the ‘spring roll capital’ of Thailand, Si Chiang Mai.
While many travelers pass through Nong Khai on their way to Laos, it’s well worth its own trip, if only to immerse yourself in Northeastern Thai – ‘Isaan’ – culture.
Eat somtum and kao niaow (sticky rice), listen to molam music and explore a part of Thailand that’s often overlooked.
Escaping the crowds in Thailand is not too hard to do, if you know where to go.
Our Travel Specialists and tour guides live in Thailand, so we have insider knowledge of Thailand’s secret places, whether that’s a tropical island ‘hidden’ right next to Phuket or an ancient temple site hours from the nearest airport.
To find your own secret place in Thailand, ask us about a tour that takes you off the beaten path.