Monday, January 6, 2014

Thailand Hot Spots

You've done Phuket and Samui, have scaled the cliffs in Krabi and tramped the steamy streets of Bangkok. So where to next? Thailand has a wealth of beautiful islands, mountain towns and hidden treasures, just waiting to be explored. Here are three of the hottest new destinations in the Land of Smiles which I'll certainly attempt to hit in 2014...

Koh Lipe
Blinding white sand, turquoise water, a chilled atmosphere - sounds blissful, right? Koh Lipe - meaning Paper Island in the local Sea Gypsy language - is located near the Malaysian border in the extreme south of Thailand. Small and flat, you can literally walk anywhere on the island, with the main attraction being the three main beaches, which are peppered with low key resorts, bars and restaurants and of course offer great snorkelling, diving and kayaking. The island is accessed from Pak Bara pier in Thailand, or from Langkawi to the south in Malaysia. Sea Gypsies (or the Chao Lay people) still live on the island, making a living from fishing and tourism.

Touted as the "new Pai", Nan is a haven for travellers wanting to explore the northern hill tribe culture of Thailand in peace and tranquility. Located in a verdant valley not far from Luang Prabang (on the Laos side of the Mekong), it's a great place to go trekking or rafting, while the riverside town is a lovely, quiet place just to hang out and soak up the atmosphere.

Bueng Kan
Every year around October, something strange occurs along the Mekong River that creates a natural border between Laos and Thailand ... strange fireballs, ranging from sparkles to basketball-sized explosions, rise from the depth of the river, creating a natural lightshow. Locals say these are caused by a mythical snake that dwells in the river called a Naga, celebrating the time when the Buddha returned from his trip to visit his mother at the end of Buddhist lent. The centre of fireball activity is the province of Buang Kan, where the river is at its deepest. Temples in this district are dedicated to the snake god, with Wat Aa Hong Silawas said to be the best places to view fireball activity during the annual festival (also celebrated in Nong Kai province). Other attractions in the region include mountains, temples and waterfalls.

Pics: Tourism Authority of Thailand

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