9 terrific trips that reveal a surprising side of Thailand

Think you know Thailand? These original and often active tours are guaranteed to introduce you to a whole different side of this perennial travel favourite

5 mins

1: Rainforest and reef – the best of natural Thailand

Limestone karsts in Khao Sok National Park (Dreamstime)
Limestone karsts in Khao Sok National Park (Dreamstime)

Get back to nature on this nine-day tour that will whisk you away from the humid tangle of Bangkok and plunge you deep into the real jungle of Khao Sok National Park and the magical reefs of Koh Tao. 

You’ll explore pristine forests, swim in lakes and raft a wild Thai river before ‘retiring’ to the white sandy beaches of Koh Samui and reefs of Koh Tao.

Each activity is guaranteed to introduce you to the nature and wildlife of Thailand. You’ll visit coral caves on bamboo boats and picnic beside glorious waterfalls. There's also the chance to enjoy authentic food in jungle huts and fresh seafood at beachside restaurants. This is Thailand as it was meant to be experienced.

Who: Buffalo Tours

When: Flexible dates throughout 2017

How long: 9 days

How much: From £844 (exc. flights)

2: Insider Thailand – a new take on an old classic

Herbal massage compresses in Thailand (Dreamstime)
Herbal massage compresses in Thailand (Dreamstime)

You’ve done Thailand on a budget. Now, it’s time to do it in style. This leisurely-paced tour focuses on delivering experiences, rather than sights, comfort over convenience.

On arrival, you’ll be treated to a traditional Thai Massage before heading off on authentic street food tour of the Thai capital. Then, it’s time to head north to Chang Rai and the Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp and Resort, an unforgettable lodge overlooking Loas and Myanmar. 

Finally, you'll head to Krabi, where you’ll kayak through Than Bokkharani National Park, a beautiful area just off the coast, dotted with rocky limestone outcrops with hidden caves, soft sand beaches and jungle-clad islands.

These are hand picked experiences and you’ll stay exceptional lodges and luxurious resorts. It’s Thailand, but not as you know it.

Who: Selective Asia

When: Flexible departures throughout 2017

How long: 11 days

How much: £2,834 (inc. flights)

3: Get active in Northern Thailand

Sukhothai's Historical Park (Dreamstime)
Sukhothai's Historical Park (Dreamstime)

Like to get the most out of your travels? This Northern Thai adventure is designed for the active traveller who likes to live every moment to the full.

You’ll visit the Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital to witness the incredible work being done there, cycle through Sukhothai's Historical Park, and zip through the canopies at Flight of the Gibbon.

Finally, it’s a sleeper train ride back to the capital, haggling with hawkers and practicing your awesome new Thai language skills with your fellow passengers.

Who: Gecko Adventures

When: 9 Apr, 11 May, 11, 25 Jun, 2, 9, 23 Jul, 6, 20 Aug & 3 Sep 2017

How long: 8 days

How much: From £395 (exc. flights)

4: Discover Thailand’s southern pearls

Lakeside raft houses on Cheow Lan Lake, Khao Sok National Park (Dreamstime)
Lakeside raft houses on Cheow Lan Lake, Khao Sok National Park (Dreamstime)

The south of Thailand is quite unlike the rest of Thailand and this tour is designed to immerse you in its wild, natural heart. You'll discover small but friendly local villages as you venture off-the-beaten-track, cross an enchanting emerald lake and meet the wild animals of Khao Sok Park. You’ll even visit the Hua Hin Vineyard and sample Thai wine.

Of course, any visit to the south would not be complete without a few relaxing days at one of the idyllic beaches that line the coast here. Welcome to Phangna Bay, the perfect end to this exotic escape.

Who: Evaneos

When: Flexible dates throughout 2017

How long: 10 days

How much: From £1,380 (exc. flights)

5: Ayutthaya dreaming

Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon in Ayutthaya (Dreamstime)
Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon in Ayutthaya (Dreamstime)

Take time out to experience Ayutthaya, a World Heritage-listed wonder near the border of Burma. Accompanied by a knowledgeable local guide, you will explore timeworn temples and bell-shaped chedis, and marvel at the intricately carved relics of Thailand’s golden era.

You will also get the chance to learn more about the region's more recent history in nearby Kanchanaburi. Home to the infamous Bridge over the River Kwai, a visit to the Hellfire Pass museum gives you the chance to pay tribute to the POWs who perished while building the infamous railway here. 

Delve further into World War II history on a visit to the War Museum and Allied Cemetery before this historical sojourn completes the loop back in Bangkok.

Who: Intrepid

When: Regular dates throughout 2017

How long: 3 days

How much: From £352

6: Cycle from Bangkok to Phuket

Cycling in Thailand (Dreamstime)
Cycling in Thailand (Dreamstime)

This is a tropical road biking holiday like no other, eight days of cycling along a spectacular coast, dotted with limestone karsts and gorgeous white sand beaches.

It won’t be easy. You’ll be expected to ride 100 kilometres a day in often hot and humid conditions. The rewards, however, are immense: amazing scenery, a huge sense of achievement and a comfortable bed in a beach resort every single night.

Who: KE Adventure Travels

When: 21 Jul, 11 Aug, 15 Sep, 20 Oct, 17 Nov & 8 Dec 2017

How long: 11 days

How much: From £1,695 (exc. flights)

7: West Coast dive adventure

Snorkelling at Poda Beach in Krabi (Dreamstime)
Snorkelling at Poda Beach in Krabi (Dreamstime)

You’ve seen Thailand from land, but perhaps you should consider a totally different perspective, exploring the country from under the sea. Explore the most famous dive sites of Thailand on a liveaboard. It offers all the comfort of a dive resort, but with a different tropical location everyday.

You’ll spend six days exploring the Similan and Surin islands, including the colourful Richelieu Rock, Thailand's best site for whale shark encounters. If manta rays are your thing, you’ll love Koh Bon. 

The boat departs Phuket on a Tuesday throughout the diving season, giving you ample opportunity to sample the local scene there before and after your trip.

Who: Dive Worldwide

When: Nov - Apr

How long: 16 days

How much: From £2,045 (exc. flights)

8: Real food adventure in Thailand

Floating market in Thailand (Dreamstime)
Floating market in Thailand (Dreamstime)

This full-flavoured, five senses tour will take you straight to the heart of Thailand, through its stomach. Exploring bustling markets, learning culinary tricks from the locals and sampling exotic fruits. you’ll experience and gain an understanding of the fresh aromas and rich spices that make Thai food a favourite around the world.

Learn the trick behind making palm sugar, dodge the passing train in the Mae Glong railway market and slurp noodles with locals in Bangkok. You'll also get the opportunity to cook jungle curry in Kanchanaburi, enjoy home cooking as guest of honour with a family in Chiang Mai and sit down to a Khantohk feast. Just expected to come home carrying a few extra pounds.

Who: Intrepid

When: Monthly departures throughout 2017

How long: 8 days

How much: From £688 (exc. flights)

9: Ride the Thai-Burma Railway

Thai-Burma railway near the River Kwai (Dreamstime)
Thai-Burma railway near the River Kwai (Dreamstime)

This is an unique opportunity to step back in time on an extraordinary journey along the Thai-Burma Railway from Yangon to Bangkok, paying your respect to the men who gave their lives in such terrible circumstances to build it.

You’ll visit historic cemeteries, where thousands of names are inscribed into local memorials, and ride along a section of the track past the River Kwai. Among the tales of horror, you’ll hear others of courage, survival and kindness that will restore your faith in humanity.

Along the way, you’ll also witness a land of beautiful lakes and waterfalls, and explore some of Burma’s most important temples.

Who: Peregrine

When: 2 Nov, 2017

How long: 13 days

How much: £1,510

Main image: Moken children in Thailand (Dreamstime)

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