Tropical, beautiful, vibrant, cultural, colourful are all words we use or can be used to describe this beautiful country some of us are lucky enough to call home.
Thailand draws every kind to its shores from backpackers to honeymooners, the super-rich to the intrepid traveler and all in between…I’ll leave it up to you to picture the in-betweeners and while the big-hitting Islands and metropolis that is Bangkok are on most travelers’ radar there are many more things to see and do in possibly the most diverse corner of south-east Asia.
Like most others, I love the madness of Bangkok and appreciate the beauty of island life especially in South Thailand. However, many who visit only ever get to see a fraction of what Thailand really has to offer.
From the ancient culture of the north to the pristine white beaches of the south and all that’s in the middle Thailand really has so much to see and do.
One thing that surprise me when I first travelled this amazing country was its greenery and countryside, lush hills and green mountains many of which are home to traditional villages and tribes in northern Thailand – guided trips to these communities, in which traditional clothing is worn and dialects are spoken, give a glimpse into Thailand’s famous hill tribe culture.
Its easy to forget as Thailand generally evokes images of cosmopolitan sleepless cities, sandy beaches and temples. However much of the country is overlooked and it shouldn’t be, especially if you’re out for a little adventure.
Amazing Thailand and other such initiatives are starting to focus on, let’s say, the greener side of the country. After all Thailand is a country of many farmers, famous for its rice, silk and food products the world over.
Here are a couple of places you may have visited already, but, if you haven’t, well you should!
Wang Nam Khiao
Sometimes referred to as the Switzerland of Thailand, Wang Nam Khiao is a stunning mountain town in the southern part of the Nakhon Ratchasima province.
The name Wang Nam Khiao translates roughly as the castle (or palace) of green water; don’t expect to see any castles or green water though! It is said that the name arose based on being able to see the vibrant green reflections of the trees in the area’s clear waters.
Lush greenery and rich green mountain ranges, gardens, waterfalls natural views and quirky attractions, this peaceful mountain town is slowly transforming into an alluring destination for travelers. Vineyards sit near waterfalls, flower fields, and quirky farms, and there are glorious views around almost every corner.
The area is also known for having some of the freshest air in all of Thailand and is the perfect place to enjoy a range of outdoor activities, nature and scenery.
Ban Rak Thai Village (Love Thai Village) is found in Mae Hong Son Province and it is the last settlement before the Thai-Myanmar border.
Nestled in the mountains, there’s a lake next to the village and local homes are built from clay and rice straw with decorative Chinese-style features. Tea plantations give a boost to the local economy and the village has a unique vibe.
The village itself was settled by former Kuo Min Tang (Nationalist) fighters from Yunnan Province, China, after the Communist takeover of China.
Many signs are in Chinese, and much of the population speaks a heavily accented version of Mandarin Chinese.
Only 44km from Mae Hong Son but a world away in feel, Ban Rak Thai (also known as Mae Aw)’s peeling mud walls and tiny tea shops seem out of place amid the pine forests of Doi Pan. Home to around 1,000 people of mostly Chinese descent, the village is known for its tea.
By Paul Johnson