The current virus outbreak should be used as an opportunity to explore the other corners of the Land of Smiles.
The dread of Covid-19 looms over the globe, but there is no reason to be locked up indoors and miss out on the many sun-drenched, tropical ramparts that Thailand is famous for. Six smart stops – most of them unsung but equally beautiful as their popular counterparts – will replenish one’s need for beachside romps minus contemplating the ever increasing quarantine rules after an overseas romp.
Nobody wants to spend their holidays locked inside their hotel rooms, or their cruise cabins for that matter. The solution for our need to travel and explore would then be to look within our nation’s borders rather than overseas. The best place to enjoy Thailand, hence, is away from the masses and international destinations, into, perhaps, the mysterious sprawling province of Ubon Ratchathani. Home to Pha Taem National Park, whose stony walls carry prehistoric art, Ubod Ratchathni found at the Northeast of Thailand, celebrating the spectacular waterfalls of Huai Sai Yai, and the decadent view of the Grand Canyon.
A road trip from Bangkok, Chaiyaphum takes pride in its remarkable tableau, a grand monolith of mountains and a breathtaking plateau, gorgeously lined with dense forests. During the rainy season, Dok Krachiao becomes a serene hideaway, with dazzling waterfalls that cascade from its lofty heights with a romantic whimsy. The mountain ranges are nothing less than photographic, and its collection of national parks – Sai Throng, Pa Hin Ngam, and Phu Laen, all possess striking rock formations that will make one wonder if a giant hand placed it all there.
Loei is veiled with a haunting fog, credited to its cool temperature and a grand parade of trees that decorate its mountains with vibrant green colour. From Loei Airport, head straight to Phu Kradung just before sunset, where the light beams over the pastoral fields. The town of Chiang Khan is bejewelled with rocks of many colours, hiding under the tides of the river. Shop around the hundred-year-old buildings in its vintage street while savouring its local delicacies.
Phuket, a holiday favourite, brims with a strong tourist influence that is evident in its architecture, amusement, and of course, gastronomic indulgences. Located in the south, the island is reached through its own airport and revels in its extensive beaches and vibrant nightlife.
Bordering Malaysia, Satun runs along the coast of Andaman, blessed with more than 100 islands that allure with their beaches and breath-taking landscapes. Koh Lipe and Koh Tarutao, helmed for their pristine vistas, are not to be missed. Take pleasure in its laidback atmosphere and idyllic spots, quite unbothered by the unrest that still ripples in the south.
Accessed via Samui International Airport, Surat Thani’s Koh Samui is a piece of paradise embedded in the Gulf of Thailand. Lush, green islands in varying masses create the otherworldly landscape, made more beautiful with its private resorts and white beaches.
Snorkel into the deep to gaze at its sparkling coral reefs, enjoy culinary treats in the nearby islands, or take photos of the wildly shaped rock formations in Hat Lamai.
In the face of a potential pandemic, travelling becomes limited. Thailand however is as jovial as its honey-like atmosphere, giving avid wanderlusts no reason to refrain from a nature-inspired jaunt inside its tropical terrain. ◼
© This article was first published online in Feb 2020 – World Travel Magazine.
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