A Thailand overland holiday is the perfect way to get to know this beguiling country. Thailand has long been a favourite of backpackers: it’s not hard to see why. From the lush, remote hills of the north, through ancient temples and cities, down to the heart-stopping beaches of the south: Thailand ticks all the travel boxes.
Thailand overlanders often start their journey in Bangkok. This huge, sprawling city can be a frustrating, traffic-choked tourist trap, but it has an energy all of its own. The city has some spectacular sights, such as the Grand Palace, but it is a place to stay and absorb Thai culture more than anything.
Don’t head straight to the beaches from Bangkok. Travel north and explore the country away from the tourist crowds. Ancient cities such as Ayutthaya and Sukhothai have temple complexes that will give you a glimpse into Thai history – cycling around Ayutthaya is a great experience. Or you can visit the the infamous bridge over the River Kwai in the Kanchanaburi province and either kayak or cycle along the river.
Further north, the city of Chiang Mai lies in the cool of the hills, with palaces, canals and a laid-back traveller vibe. It’s well-known throughout the world as one of the best tourist destinations around, but still retains its authentic feel. From there, head up into the remote hill tribe area, where you can hike, climb, raft and get to know ancient tribal people.
After all that, you’ll want to chill out for a while. Head back down south to the beaches. Think white sand and clear water, backed by lush green forests. Places like Koh Samui and Phuket are busy and westernised, Koh Phi Phi and Koh Phangan less so but firmly on the trail.
Don’t forget to try the scuba diving while in the Islands. Koh Tao is popular and you may can dive with whale sharks in April and May, but most islands will offer lessons and day dives. Koh Lipe is also a good dive destination and less explored due to its relative remoteness.
Stay off the beaten track if you want to see the area as it should be seen: there are still plenty of hidden gems lurking among the tourist traps. Take a boat from Krabi to Railay and you can enjoy incredible rock climbing and beautiful beaches. Go one stop further to Lao liang and you can camp under the palm trees.
A Thailand overland trip is the perfect way to get to know the Land of Smiles on its own terms. It is also a true multi activity holidays as there is so much to do