Getting To Know The Lesser-Known Side Of Thailand

12 May 2016

Splashing through calm turquoise waters towards a horizon with nothing but a palm tree-lined beach watching over you. It’s what dreams are made of… it’s what many, many people’s dreams are made of. It’s been a city slicker’s fantasy for centuries to escape civilisation and find yourself washed up along the shores of a deserted tropical island. So it comes as no surprise that Thailand has become a holiday destination for hordes of travellers seeking a flop-and-drop escape. With a land mass larger than Spain, there is a lot more to Thailand than beaches.

Flight Centre sent Instagrammers Matt Cherubino and Tim Clark on a 10-day journey from Phuket to Bangkok to photograph the highlights they experienced in the six Thai provinces between the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand.

Man swimming in an infinity pool within The Shore at Katathani resort in Phuket How's the serenity? Your own infinity pool at a Pool Villa at The Shore at Katathani.

Phuket province

Thirty minutes south of Phuket Town is Kata and Kata Noi beach, which are some of Phuket’s most southerly beaches. The further south you travel in Phuket province, the less development there is, leaving more space for empty beaches and forests. This is where you will find some great boutique, 5-star accommodation options. Picture your own private bungalow hidden among the forest overlooking a practically empty beach. And, oh yes, you can’t forget the infinity pool. So beautiful, even just the sight of one in a photo conjures up chemicals within the body preparing you for relaxation.

We recommend staying in a Pool Villa at The Shore at Katathani. This 5-star boutique bungalow-style hotel offers guests their own infinity pool that overlooks Kata Noi beach.

A man snorkels underwater in the Similian Islands, an archipelago in Phang Nga, Thailand "It's better down where it's wetter, under the sea"

Phang Nga province

Two hours north of Phuket by boat is the Similian Islands, an archipelago that boasts some of Thailand’s clearest waters and the greatest profusion of reef fish. During some times of the year it is common to spot whale sharks and manta rays in these waters, however when Matt and Tim travelled here in late February, the only marine life spotted was bright, colourful streams of parrotfish. The Similian Islands is easily accessible by boat from Phuket between November to May.

Further north is southern Thailand’s largest stretch of primary rainforest and the world’s oldest evergreen forest, Khao Sok National Park. The diversity of species living in Khao Sok could well compete with the biodiversity of the Amazon. There are wild elephants, gibbons, tapirs, Malayan sun bears and clouded leopards, just to name a few. This is where the wild things are and the only place you will find yourself in good hands in this neck of the woods is Elephant Hills Rainforest Camp. With a small, luxury rainforest campsite and 20 floating tents on Cheow Larn Lake that are only accessible by boat, this is one of the best places to experience Thailand’s indigenous habitat.

The Rayvadee Krabi resort has The Grotto, a beachside cave restaurant The Grotto cave restaurant is an unique experience at the Rayvadee Krabi resort.

Krabi province

Phra Nang, Tonsai and Railay are three stunning beaches that make up the Railay peninsula and are only accessible by boat or if you’re staying at one of the resorts. The towering limestone karsts are set back in tropical forests, revealing beach caves that were once underwater and now used as fine dining dens.There are a number of small island archipelagos within Krabi province, all made up of limestone karsts overgrown with vegetation, pockets of beaches and underwater caves.

We recommend a stay at the Rayavadee, which is a 5-star resort set among the forest that meets Railay and Phra Nang beaches, and dinner at The Grotto, set in the beach cave of Phra Nang.

A view of Phi Phi Island from a longboat in the sea Phi Phi Island is ideal for diving and snorkelling.

If you’re after an island with expansive beaches, then Koh Phi Phi is among the most popular. While parts of Ton Sai are overdeveloped, there are still many coves and beaches around the island that are much more secluded. If you’d rather go off the beaten track, there are the five tiny islands of Koh Hai Yai. There is only one small beach among them, but the incredibly clear waters and marine life make this the perfect location for snorkelling and sailing.


More of Matt and Tim's holiday experiences in Thailand:

To infinity pool and beyond. Ultimate Phuket Luxury: The Shore At Katathani

Total seclusion = total bliss. Rayavadee Krabi Is Your New Happy Place


Phraya Nakhon Cave is one of Thailand's lesser-known cave temples Within Phraya Nakhon Cave is one of Thailand's lesser-known cave temples.

Prachuap Khiri Khan province

Khao Sam Roi Yot means ‘mountain with three hundred peaks’ and refers to the countless limestone karsts along the Gulf of Thailand. The area is also home to Thailand’s largest freshwater mangrove forests where thousands of lotus reeds grow. A special find within the area is Phraya Nakhon Cave, best visited in the morning when the light floods through two sinkholes and illuminates the temple. It’s one of Thailand’s less crowded cave temples so it’s well worth a visit.

Tourist are escorted in a narrow boat along the canals of the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Immerse yourself in the culture and traditions of the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market on the canals outside Bangkok.

Ratchaburi

A real gem to visit on the way to Bangkok is the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, which is best visited in the early morning. Every day, hundreds of vendors jump in their boats and float along selling everything from colourful fruits and vegetables to sizzling satay sticks.

A panoramic shot of the Bangkok cityscape at sunset Take a look at Bangkok through a rose-coloured sunset.

Bangkok

Wat Arun is Bangkok’s most famous temple and home to the Emerald Buddha. It is undergoing extensive renovations at the moment, so you can visit but can’t climb the tower. If all else fails, you’re sure to find a good perch to watch the sunset with a cocktail among the countless sky and rooftop bars in Bangkok.

Matt Cherubino and Tim Clark travelled to Thailand on behalf of Flight Centre Australia with Singapore Airlines and were guests of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, The Shore at Katathani, Rayavadee Krabi and Elephant Hills Rainforest Camp.
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Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to Thailand.

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Millie Yervantian

Millie is a Social Media Specialist who has travelled to more than 30 countries. When she travels she likes to dive straight into the deep-end and experience a destination as the locals do. Art, history, food, gardens and natural landscapes are what she seeks out on her journeys.