Thailand is a stunning country that a lot of people have visited and always want to go back to. Nestled in the corner of southeast Asia, Thailand is a land filled with culture, great food, stunning jungles, pristine beaches, and lots more and thus it makes sense why it’s so popular.
This popularity also makes Thailand a busy place full of tourists and one of the best ways to enjoy the country is to focus on spending time at the hidden gems in Thailand, with tourists or not.
Join me as we take a look at all the best hidden gems in Thailand you’d do well to see while you’re in this stunning country.
Koh Tarutao is one of my favorite hidden gems in Thailand as it’s quite far off the beaten path and you’re likely to have it almost to yourself.
Koh Tarutao is an island that sits in Southern Thailand right next to the Thai border with Malaysia. It’s the fourth largest island in Thailand and it’s also a national park, meaning that most of the island is undeveloped.
It’s known as the pirate island as it was a prison in the 1930s with moats full of sharks and crocs that made escape almost impossible. During WWII the island was cut off from supplies and the prisoners and prison staff joined forces to become pirates for survival.
While there, you can either camp or stay in basic bungalows and enjoy the numerous hiking trails through the jungle, see all the wildlife, enjoy the empty white-sand beaches, and snorkel with the abundant marine life.
Kod Kood is another hidden gem in Thailand that is about as far away from Thailand as you can get. That’s right, just like Koh Tarutao, Koh Kood is right on the border of Thailand but with Cambodia instead of Malaysia.
Koh Kood is actually one of Thailand’s bigger islands but because of its remote location, it’s also very sparsely populated with just 2000 people living on it. Being at the end of the tourist trail also means Koh Kood is quite a chilled island to hang out on without any crowds.
There is no public transport on the island and no cars either so you’ll need to rent a scooter to get around. There are a few bars and restaurants, lots of stunning waterfalls, great jungle hikes, and some amazing beaches to hang out at and snorkel from too.
While on the island you can stay at some of the lovely resorts there or there is a campsite if you’re really traveling on a budget. If you want to have your own little slice of paradise, then Koh Kood is a great island to head to.
Another great hidden gem in Thailand is Sukhothai, a region about 300 miles north of Bangkok and it’s an amazing insight into the history of Thailand. Sukhothai was actually the capital of Thailand, then Siam, during the 13th and 14th centuries, and today you can see the ancient ruins of it all at the Sukhothai Historical Park.
The Sukhothai Historical Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is home to more than 190 ruins that will simply take your breath away. The ruins are perfectly preserved and they literally transport you back in time to the old capital of Siam.
I must warn you, the Sukhothai Historical Park is very popular with tourists but it’s also huge so you will never struggle to find a peaceful spot. If you want a break from other travelers, go on a trip to Si Satchanalai with a tour guide to discover another medieval city that was part of the capital.
Si Satchanalai is not as well preserved but barely anyone makes the trip there so you can enjoy the ancient ruins in peace without any distractions.
Koh Mook is an off-the-beaten-track hidden gem of Thailand that not too many people make it to and it’s the ideal spot to go to if you want to get away from the touristic vibes.
Sitting way down in the south of Thailand, Koh Mook has no cars, no parties, and no big supermarkets, it’s about as genuine as Thailand can be. Most of the island is taken up by Chao Mai National Park which is home to a protected jungle that is fantastic for hiking in.
You’ll find just one small village on this island with super friendly locals and, of course, the coastline around Koh Mook is stunning with jungle-covered cliffs that dive into the sea, white-sand beaches, and amazing marine life to snorkel with.
There is actually a hidden gem in Thailand on the hidden gem island of Koh Mook and it’s called the emerald cave. The emerald cave is a sinkhole with a collapsed roof that has allowed light into the cave and allowed jungle to grow in it.
You can only access it via a 100-meter tunnel from the sea which you can either swim through or wait for low tide and walk/crawl through. Once you’re through the tunnel you’ll be met with a secret emerald lagoon, a white sand beach, and a pristine jungle.
Mae Hong Son is a region in northwest Thailand that is a real hidden gem and is known as the Switzerland of Thailand for its pine forests and cold alpine mountain weather.
Not many people make the trip to Mae Hong Son and thus you will experience a slice of Thailand that hasn’t been changed by the hordes of tourists in other places. You’ll see local traditions and people living as normal here and it’s very refreshing.
You’ll find quite a few hill tribes in Mae Hong Son and if you love hiking it’s a region you should definitely go to. There is nothing quite as peaceful as hiking around this beautiful mountainous region and through all the pine forests.
One of the hidden gems in the region is Pang Oung lake right on the border with Myanmar. This lake is incredibly beautiful with deep blue alpine waters and every morning it’s covered with a body of mist and it’s worth getting up early to hop onto a bamboo raft and paddle around in it.
Another hidden gem in the Mae Hong Son region is Phrathat Doi Kongmu a Burmese-Esq monastery that has amazing views over the city below. It’s quite a trek to get up there but it’s very much worth it.
Koh Yao Yai is a great hidden gem in Thailand to know about, especially if you intend to spend any time around Phuket.
Phuket is about as touristy as Thailand can be – the white-sand beaches are packed with people all day long, getting served at a restaurant isn’t easy, and even the queue for a bar can be frustrating. This is probably not the idea of a paradise holiday you had in mind, is it?
Luckily with a bit of planning, you can escape the tourist hub of Phuket and get away from it all by hopping on a boat to the nearby hidden gem island of Koh Yao Yai. Koh Yao Yai is an island that has very few resorts and thus very few tourists which means the beaches are pretty much empty, the vibes are chilled, and it’s a delight to explore on a scooter or by foot.
All the restaurants are family-owned, serving local cuisine in a very laid-back fashion. You’ll see quite a lot of wildlife around Koh Yao Yai too including monkeys, crabs, and monitor lizards that you just wouldn’t see in Phuket.
A hidden gem in Thailand that you have probably heard of is the city and region of Chiang Rai that sits in north Thailand bordering both Laos and Myanmar.
You have probably heard of it but have you ever met someone who has been there? Most tourists have every intention of making it there but tend to get caught up in Chiang Mai or the beaches of the south.
Chiang Rai is quite an incredible place to visit as it’s home to a ton of stunning Buddhist temples, the famous Mae Kok River, and the hiking in the hills nearby is to die for.
While in Chiang Rai you should go and see Wat Rong Khun, a brilliantly white Buddhist temple that is something out of a fairytale. A trip down the Mae Kok River is another great thing to do as you will get to take in all the local scenes and you can even hang out on the banks which form sandy beaches.
Phetchabun is another hidden gem in Thailand that is a bit off the beaten track that most people don’t know about or make it to. Set in the middle of Thailand, Phetchabun is home to stunning natural landscapes with mountains, lakes, and many beautiful national parks.
It’s not just the natural surroundings that make Phetchabun a hidden gem, it’s also that it’s home to some amazing temples, some of the best in Thailand. If there is one temple you should visit it’s Thailand Wat Pha Sorn Kaew, or the ‘Temple built on a high glass cliff’.
While in Phetchabun you’ll also experience the true side of Thai rural culture and if you’re coming from busy Bangkok then this will be a huge breath of fresh air.
Koh Lanta is a great place to run to when you want to enjoy Thai island life without a lot of other people around, hence why it’s made the hidden gem list. It’s not that Koh Lanta is undiscovered, everyone knows about it but for some reason, not too many people make it there.
The island of Koh Lanta is in the Krabi province of Thailand and is extremely easy to get to and what awaits you is the Thai paradise you have probably dreamed of. The island is surrounded by coral reefs and mangroves, has beautiful empty white-sand beaches, and the interior is covered in lush rainforest.
Koh Lanta is starting to get more popular but it’s not too popular yet. You can still find little parts of the island to have to yourself and you have the added bonus of being able to be at a semi-busy bar or restaurant which makes a nice vibe.
If you are looking for a hidden gem in Thailand that will spark some romance then the tiny island of Koh Wai is the place to be. Koh Wai is an island off the region of Trat, very close to the Cambodian border and it’s just 3 km long by 1 km wide, making it a lovely little place to explore in a very chilled manner.
The island is home to lagoons, mangroves, lovely beaches, and it’s very much lacking in tourists with very few places to stay. If you’re looking for a big slice of peace in Thailand, go to Koh Wai.
Now, Koh Phangan is not a hidden gem in Thailand, everyone knows about this island thanks to its Full Moon Parties that happen every month but there is a hidden gem on the island. If you head north to the village of Chaloklum aka Chaloklaam, you’ll find a very peaceful part of the island.
In Chaloklum, the locals outnumber the foreigners, the vibe is a cultural and peaceful one, and you still have wonderful beaches and jungles to explore.
Our final hidden gem in Thailand is Koh Kradan, another tiny island where you can escape to and enjoy the real paradise Thailand has to offer, again without the crowds.
You’ll find Koh Kradan quite far offshore of the Trang province and inside the Hat Chao Mai national park and it’s almost deserted. There are barely any roads along this 2.5-mile long island and very few people too, you’ll find just a few resorts along with stunning beaches, jungles, mangroves, and more.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!