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Discovering Thailand Off the Beaten Path

With David Messiha

Just a few years ago people didn’t perceive Thailand as a striking travel destination; currently Thailand is among the most popular tourist destinations in the world. What makes this possible? The answer is simple, it’s versatility.

In a single day you can experience a rock climbing expedition, water rafting, a cooking class and a shopping trip.

When Thai Airways began international flights in 1960, Thailand had fewer than a hundred thousand visitors a year. Currently, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the Kingdom receives 22 million visitors a year.

For starters, consider a few excursions off the beaten path that aren’t on the typical tourist’s agenda.

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Explore Chiang Mai – 

Allow yourself to be captivated by nature’s most powerful creature, at “Patara” elephant farm in Chiang Mai, where you can fall in love with the sincerity, loyalty and gentleness of those magnificent elephants. 

Elephants have played an important role in Thai culture, and there is no better place than Thailand to get up close and personal with them.

Upon trekking through the hills and forests of Chiang Mai whether it’s on an elephant expedition or hiking trail, take in your surroundings as you pass  mountainous  hills, local farms with fresh produce, and waterfalls within a stone’s throw.

Head to a local hill tribe village to experience the local way of life among the Karen, Hmong, Akha, Mien and Lisu, who live in small village encampments away from civilization. On a typical visit you can purchase local handicrafts and hand-knit material.

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Reach new peaks in Krabi – 

There is no better place to take your rock climbing skills to new heights than “Ao Nang”  surrounded by amazing limestone cliffs and sandy beaches; climbers from around the globe are stunned by the beautiful scenery of brilliant white beaches and emerald seas.

“Rai Le” beach peninsula has a spectacular stretch of coastal cliffs and is considered Thailand’s most developed rock climbing spot. If you are new to the game, you can make use of the English speaking guides who are there to assist.

Spice up your trip with a Thai cooking class – 

Thai cuisine is undisputedly popular. That in itself has made Thailand one of the world’s top culinary hotspots. Each region of Thailand has its own distinctive culinary dish along with special herbs and spices. If you would like to explore the world of authentic Thai cuisine, there are many culinary schools offering classes at competitive rates.  The “Baipai” cooking school, for example, offers a complete hands-on cooking class experience along with free transportation to and from your hotel.

Take the plunge at the Emerald Cave – 

The Emerald cave known as “Tham Morakot” cave is the most impressive attraction in “Trang” a province in the South of Thailand comprised of an archipelago of 46 islands.  To visit Tham Morakot, visitors can swim or use small inflatable boats to get into the cave.

The entrance passage to the cave is small and is only accessible during low tide. Once inside visitors can see the emerald color produced by the sun’s reflection. The cave extends for 80 meters, the other end of the cave opens up to a pristine white sandy beach surrounded by high mountainous cliffs.