Anyone who has been to Thailand will know it’s one of the most vibrant, beautiful and relaxing places on earth. It’s also one of the most touristy. And if you go in peak season, many of the top spots such as Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta, and Bangkok’s Khao San area will be heaving with young Europeans in Chang vests and neon face paint. I’ve heard many backpackers say ‘I don’t like Thailand, it’s too touristy’ but like with any country, there are of course places to go which don’t see as many foreigners, and still hold that local, laid back feel Thailand does so well – even in high season! Here are 5 of my favourite off the beaten track destinations in Thailand, and how to reach them from some hot spots.

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1. Erawan Waterfalls

Located within easy reach of Kanchanaburi, or a slightly longer journey from Bangkok, Erawan Waterfalls offer that turquoise water bliss which you might be craving after spending some time in the capital. The waterfalls are located inside Erawan National Park, and although they are popular with locals, they are a little too far from Bangkok to make them too popular with tourists. While it’s not the easiest journey from Bangkok, when you arrive, you will be greeted by stunning pools perfect for swimming and seven tiers of waterfalls which make a great hike up to the top.

How to get there: From Bangkok, you’ll first need to take a bus to Kanchanaburi from either the Sai Tai Mai (southern) or  Mo chit (northern) bus stations. From Kanchanaburi you can then change to the bus heading inside Erawan National Park, which will drop you off at the bottom of the trek to the waterfalls. You can also stay in Kanchanaburi town or in the accommodations inside national park.

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2. Wednesday market, Pai

Pai is a favourite with backpackers, but it still has a quiet, secluded feel, particularly if you stay along the river in a wooden bungalow. There are amazing hot springs only a motorbike ride away, and views which will keep you occupied for days. However, one of my favourite things to do in Pai is visit the weekly Wednesday market just outside of the main town. This market is not for tourists, rather, it attracts many local hill tribes in their traditional dress and stalls full of spices, fabrics, and day-to-day appliances. There are also a couple of great second hand stalls for any vintage lovers.

How to get thereYou can walk or take a motorbike or bicycle from Pai town, turn left before the police station and follow the road to the covered market. It runs from 5am-noon every Wednesday.

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3. Koh Muk

Whenever anyone asks me what my favourite island in Thailand is, I always instantly answer Koh Muk. This place was heaven to me, a quiet, car free haven where I lived in a tent on the beach, swam in turquoise waters backed with giant cliffs and snorkelled in some of the most colourful waters I have ever seen. Koh Muk is a tiny island in the trio of Trang Islands, full of forests, local villages and only a scattering of restaurants and resorts. The main attraction here is the ‘Emerald Cave’, which attracts tourist boats from bigger islands like Koh Lanta. However, if you stay on the island you can visit early in the morning, ensuring you’re the first person in the unique surroundings of the cave.

How to get there: Koh Muk is easily reached from Trang town on a bus and boat combo ticket which can be bought from one of the hotels in Trang. You can also reach Koh Muk by boat from Koh Lanta which takes just over 2 hours but is a glorious trip.

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4. Trang Town

If you’re on your way to one of the Trang Islands, Trang town is well worth an overnight stop for its fantastic night market. Trang’s night market, located right by the railway station is primarily dedicated to Thai food, and there’s a huge array of things on offer for you to try. There’s also a number of handicraft stalls and a great atmosphere.

How to get there: Trang has a train station which has overnight trains from Bangkok, Chumpton, Surat Thani, and Hat Yai. It is also well served by bus from all over the southern region.

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5. Huay Tung Tao Lake, Chiang Mai

It seems almost everyone who visits the city of Chiang Mai falls in love with it. I love Chiang Mai for it’s food, night markets and the atmosphere within the city walls. But Chiang Mai is even more special because of the nature which surrounds it. For me, a perfect city is one which offers the chance to easily escape, and Chaing Mai has some beautiful escapes right on it’s doorstop.

My favourite of these is the Huay Tung Tao Lake, a 30 minute motorbike ride from the city centre, and one of the most stunning spots in Northern Thailand. The lake is surrounded by small beaches, some floating restaurants and a backdrop of mountains. It’s the perfect place to spend a day away from the city, grab a picnic and enjoy swimming, sunbathing and exploring the surroundings.

How to get there: The easiest way to reach the lake is by motorbike or bicycle, but it would also be possible to hire a taxi.

Do you have any favourite off the beaten track spots in Thailand? We’d love to hear them! Let us know in the comments below.

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5 Places to get Off the Beaten Track in Thailand