When one talks about Thailand‘s attractions, it’s deficient if we don’t mention small towns. These places attract many tourists due to its peaceful atmosphere.
The white sand of Karon beach squeaks under your feet. This two-mile beach can be found about 19 km (12 miles) from Phuket city and not too far from the world-famous Patong Beach. You won’t find resorts claiming any of the sand here as private property, so there is more beach space per capita than almost anywhere else in Phuket. The beach is lined with homes and then there is a street. Across the street, you’ll find all sort of accommodations from mega-resorts to hostels. You’ll see a lot of Russian signage in the swirling streets of town amongst the T-shirt and food vendors.
The thick rainforest of Kaeng Krachan National Park surrounds this city that borders Myanmar. Phetchaburi is not too far from Bangkok, but you are unlikely to see throngs of tourists. Instead, you’ll see groups of Thai students on day trips learning about their own culture as Phetchaburi is one of the most historic and cultured towns in the nation. You can still see the traces of the Khmer, Sukhothai and Ayuthaya kingdoms with many artifacts still intact even through a violent history. The city stays sleepy at night allowing you full energy to enjoy the Gulf of Thailand and the hiking trails of the rainforest during the day.
Hiding in the jungle three hours north of Bangkok is one of Thailand’s oldest cities — Lopburi. The city came to life during the Dvaravati period between the 6th and 10th centuries. The ancient architecture of the Khmer and Ayuthaya empires can still be seen in the Old Town part of the city. That’s where you’ll spend most of your time because Lopburi is famous for the mischevious and massive colony of crab-eating macaque monkeys that live in the ruins of Old Town. You can even spend a day at the monkey adventure park buying food to feed to your feisty friends. The city is also surrounded by sunflower fields and caves ready for exploration.
Backpackers looking to escape the fever pace of life in Bangkok come here for the riverside peace. Movie lovers flock to Kanchanaburi to catch a glimpse of the actual bridge over the River Kwai. Kanchanaburi’s chill riverside vibe belies a dark past when the occupying Japanese used American and other Allied POW’s to construct a railway to Burma (now Myanmar). Museums and monuments dedicated to this history dot the small town, often called the center of Thailand’s Wild West.
Pai is populated by local rastas, Western hippies and Muslims. This thriving tourist town north of Chang Mai is nestled in a picturesque valley crowned with waterfalls and hiking trails. A large mosque in the center of town stands as the largest building and the main drag is lined with guesthouses. The burgenoning tourism industry still hasn’t ruined the serenity of the natural surrounding. Nearby Huai Nam Dang National Park, Pai Canyon and the WWII Memorial Bridge make Pai the perfect jumping point to North Thailand adventures.
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