How To Enjoy Thailand Without Visiting The Beach

When you think of Thailand, I bet one of the first things that come to your mind are long, white sandy beaches and those beautiful long-tail boats with colorful cloths tied to the front.

You would be forgiven to think that life is a beach in Thailand, but there is so much more to the country than the beach.

In Thailand, we had some of our most memorable experiences inland, and while a visit to the beach is almost compulsory when visiting Thailand, I really think a trip inland is a must, and then I don’t mean a short visit to Bangkok.

Some people choose to take one of those great Thailand tours which takes them all over the country without them having to worry about a thing, but if you’re in for something more challenging and if you want to choose your own schedule, I would suggest doing it alone.

We chose to travel through Central and Northern Thailand by train and bus, and while we saw far from every place, here are a few places we recommend which are ”off the beach radar” and still easy to reach:

LopBuri

This place is often overlooked because it doesn’t have any huge attraction, but there is something about this town which I really think deserves a night or two.

The place is overrun with crazy fun monkeys, and it’s pretty interesting to see how instead of finding a way of ”getting rid” of the monkeys they have chosen to play by their rules and put bars over their houses and windows to avoid the monkeys from coming inside their homes.

The vibe here is relaxed, the people are friendly, and everything is a lot cheaper than elsewhere in Thailand.

Sukhothai

Sukhothai has the most fascinating and beautiful historical park in the country, and it’s easy to get stuck there for a while.

Many people would recommend Ayutthaya, which is also a nice place and very close to Bangkok.

It’s great fun during one of the many festivals there, but if there is nothing special going on at the time you travel, skip that and choose Sukhothai instead.

It’s more beautiful and personally I think everything there was better, from the accommodation and food to experiences.

Chiang Mai

People fall in love with Chiang Mai for different reasons – some like the cooler climate, others the extrordinary food, or the cheap accommodation.

Chiang Mai is a great place to base yourself in and take small day trips to surrounding villages and towns.

There are tons of activities and tours to choose from, like cheap cooking courses, zip line adventures and Elephant camps, but also just hiring a scooter and driving around the outskirts is a great option.

Chiang Mai is also famous for its abundance of temples. If there is any place in Thailand where you can get “templed out”, it’s here.

From here you can find buses to Chiang Rai, Pai, Lampang and even Mae Hong Son, which are other interesting and fun places to visit.

These are just a few places away from the beaches in Thailand that are worth exploring, but you could spend months in Thailand exploring villages and cities without ever even see the water.

Which are a few of your favorite places to visit away from the beach in Thailand?

12 Responses to How To Enjoy Thailand Without Visiting The Beach

  1. Thai Visa Advice September 7, 2011 at 6:41 am #

    Spot on.  I’ve been to Thailand five times (and I’ve been living in Chiang Mai for three months now) and I’ve not once been to the beach.  I’ve nothing against sun, sea and sand, but for me this is the real Thailand up here in and around CM.

    • Sofia - As We Travel September 7, 2011 at 3:48 pm #

      Chiang Mai and the area around is a beautiful place, I can see why you’ve stayed there for 3 months!

  2. Warren Talbot September 7, 2011 at 7:10 am #

    Thank you guys for the great information. We’re heading to Chiang Mai for the 1st time in October and are planning to stay at least 6 months. Your post has us even more excited about the trip and the opportunities in front of us.

    • Sofia - As We Travel September 7, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

      Oh that sounds lovely, I think you guys are going to love it there – there is always something to keep you busy.

  3. Anonymous September 7, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

    This is a great post, thanks for sharing. Thailand has so much to offer beyond the beach, you are right.  Chiang Mai is a particularly beautiful and fascinating city. 

    • Sofia - As We Travel September 7, 2011 at 3:50 pm #

      Glad you like it, yeah there is so much to see and do in Thailand that you would miss if you only stick to the beaches.

  4. Mark035 September 7, 2011 at 5:58 pm #

    This is some valuable advice! I usually spend my winter holidays at the Christmas
    Market in Brussels
    but this year I feel like somewhere a bit warmer! how is Thailand at Christmas time?

  5. mamamia September 7, 2011 at 4:07 pm #

    I’ve fallen in love with Thailand after two visits.  And I’ve been fortunate to see both the interior and coast.  But when posed with the question, “If you could choose to live anywhere in Thailand, it would be….”, my answer is always Chiang Mai.  I can’t wait to return.   Seems to be a common theme – people fall for this great city.

  6. Debbie @ European Travelista September 7, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

    I haven’t been to Thailand but LopBuri and its monkeys sounds very interesting!  The other areas sound equally inviting.

  7. Ruth September 9, 2011 at 2:51 am #

    Sofia,
    This article is so true.  When I visited Thailand, I didn’t go to the beach and had an amazing time.  Sukhothai and Chinag Mai are full of sights and activities.  I can also recommend Ayutthaya, Chiang Rai and the Golden Triangle and the area around the River Kwai.  If you are intereste din the rich history of the country (or on some adventure options), the areas not necessarily close to the beach are ideal.

  8. Kieu - GQ trippin September 13, 2011 at 5:15 am #

    We’ve only been to Bangkok. Haven’t heard of LopBuri, but we love monkeys! So we’ll probably have to put it on our list next time we’re back in Thailand.

  9. Anonymous September 13, 2011 at 11:53 am #

    Noted for December! Although it takes a lot to pull me away from a beach :D