Lesser known “Beautiful Thailand”

By | Category: Travel destinations

Thailand is more than Phuket

The Tourist Authority of Thailand has launched a marketing campaign called Beautiful Thailand to attract more visitors to the country. But the older promotion they used, Amazing Thailand, is more apt. Why?
Because, according to the authority, international arrivals to Thailand in 2011 would probably be up by over 20% to just under 20 million people. And this is a year when floods had affected 59 provinces and disrupted tourism. Even if tourism areas haven’t been that affected, the news stories must have put some people off from travelling there. If it did, it hardly is noticeable overall. What is it about this country that makes it so resilient? Have visitors short memories? Is the country so alluring? Is the tourist board just doing a very good job?
Whatever the answer, Thailand just goes from strength to strength. Beach destinations such as Phuket, Koh Samui and Pattaya are top choices for tourists visiting Thailand as is the old city of Chiang Mai so what other destinations in the country should you consider? Here are just four
Later this month, Ben Fogle will lead a diving exploration there and in March, Charley Boorman will be exploring Koh Kood by land and taking off around the island by bike. We can expect to see the TV programmes later in the year. Koh Kood is near the Cambodian border and, like much of Thailand, would probably be considered a winter destination for us. As yet, it attracts fewer numbers than say Phuket but after the TV series that might change. It has many beaches and the snorkelling is lauded by affecionados because of the clear waters. It offers more than beaches because the island is quite large so trekking in the forests and swimming in the waters at the base of the Klong Chao Waterfall attract.
Koh Lanta is another island, this time of the south coast which has appealed to Scandinavian visitors over the last couple of decades but not yet to us. Like Koh Kood, this is also a beach destination, and requires some effort to get to. Now, more developed than Koh Kood, it has a variety of accommodation types. It’s other attraction is that it is within a group of 52 other islands so if you fancy somewhere quieter…
In Hua Hin , there is the King’s summer palace – Klai Kangwon- which is open to the public. Whilst this resort, a favourite for over eighty years, attracts lots of visitors most are Thais. It is even linked to Bangkok by railway making it even more surprising that more of us don’t visit it. In some years it is similar to Biarritz in France where the well-to-do once went for the summer breaks. Except that here, Thais still do for the beaches, the water sports and the golf for, it is said, nearby is the largest concentration of golf courses in the country.
Ko Sichang is an island about seventy miles from Bangkok and about an hour away from Pattaya. Despite this it remains pretty much undeveloped. No five star properties here. Once the location of a summer royal palace, the ruins can still be visited that is if you tire of the beach, the fishing and the water. The biggest attraction though is Saan Chao Pho Khao Yai, or Shrine of the Father Spirit of the Great Hill which draws Chinese tourists around new year. That is really the only busy period.
So although the new plan from the tourist board is for an increase in the numbers of tourists, there are still plenty of places that are not well-known to travellers from here and just as many that remain largely undiscovered.


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image courtsey of Tourist Authority of Thailand

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