As beautiful as it is here, there are possibly a few places to avoid in Thailand. Places may look fantastic in pictures but the reality might be quite different. The land of smiles is almost 2000 km long and borders 4 other countries. There are so many lovely places to visit and explore, yet most people still end up going to the same places and following the same routes. Here is my list of 7 places you might want to consider taking off of your travel itinerary if you are looking for a more authentic Thailand. You have traveled so far to come here, don’t waste your journey, travel a little further and discover a different Thailand.
Phuket was once a paradise, but this is a long time ago. Don’t get me wrong there are stil many beautiful corners here, but they are only corners. In-between there is a hustling, bustling, and quickly developing urban area. There is so much traffic now that they are building tunnels to ease the traffic. Also it has become very western orientated, and so the prices are high. For me this is one of the main places to avoid in Thailand.
The more remote beaches in the north-west and east are quieter than the south/west. Though in the South there are also still some nice beaches like Kata and Ao Sane. Though you must ask yourself is it worth it coming here just for just a small corner of paradise?, when you could be staying at a “real” paradise? Is it worth coming here just to get that instagram picture of you at Phrom Thep Cape?
If your thing is staying at over-westernized places, excessive parties, lots of shopping possibilities, attraction parks, and sex tourism. Then this is the place for you. Though if you want to experience a true paradise or a more authentic Thailand. Then there are many other great options that will appreciate your visit more.
This is a town very popular with middle aged and overweight men from all corners of the world. The reason for this, it is the central hub for sex-tourism in Thailand. Of course like all places in the world there are many sides to all places.
Even Pattaya has a lovely country side, beaches, many great tourist attractions, friendly locals, family activities, temples and markets. Though given the choice, do you really want to spend your holiday in a place where seeing a 60 year old foreign man walking along the beach hand in hand with a 12 year old local boy or girl, and it is normal?. So for this reason alone it is for me among the places to avoid in Thailand.
Hua Hin has been developing a lot in recent years. It has mainly become a popular town for westerners to retire at. There are many condos by the sea, a local sailing club, horseback riding and some good golf can be played here. So this is a paradise for the wealthy and the yuppies.
However Hua Hin is much quieter than Phuket and Pattaya. There are beautiful beaches nearby, temples, markets, small villages toward Myanmar, and nature to be discovered. Its not bad place to visit, just not a fantastic place to visit depending on what you are looking for.
Pai is set in a lovely place. A small town surrounded by rice fields, plantations, jungle, mountains, caves and waterfalls. Once it truly was a backpackers paradise. Now like all places that have become famous, have become over-westernized, and saturated by tourism. To find some decent local food I had to wander quite a bit from the central part of town.
However my feeling for Pai is mixed, yes it has gotten developed, nevertheless it still has charm compared to some of the other places on this list. If you stay in a bungalow on the outskirts of town and rent a bike, there is much to do and see here. Like visiting the Tham Lod caves or going on a trek in the surrounding mountains. There is indeed something for almost everyone here; you can party, meet travelers, enjoy nature, great organic food, and you can practice meditation and Yoga here too.
There are 2 Koh Chang’s in Thailand, one is near Ranong and the other near the Cambodian border. In this list Im talking about the latter. The first time I set my foot on this island was way back in 2003, back then it truly was a paradise. There was only one 7/11 was on the island and Bang Bao in the south really was a fisherman village.
Now Koh Chang has become quite developed. It is not a all bad place to go, there are still nice parts, especially on the east side. If you come in the rain season it still can be quite beautiful and idyllic. Though if given the choice, there are places very close to here, which are much nicer to visit. In the same archipelago you can find islands like, Koh Kood, Koh Maak and Koh Whai that are “real paradises” still.
Another island like Phuket that once was a “real” paradise. Now it too has become overdeveloped and over-westernized. Koh Samui has an airport, car ferries and high-speed ferries that bring people to the island all day.
Also Samui still has many nice places, waterfalls, and beaches to relax at. Though if you stay on the ferry a little longer you could stay at Koh Phangan or Koh Tao, where you can find quieter and more beautiful beaches. The islands are also developed, but not as much as Koh Samui.
Koh Phi Phi
Koh Phi Phi is probably Thailand most famous Island. From the sky and sea it simply looks stunning. The perfect place to take your selfie, but is it the perfect place to spend your holiday?. The main part of the island is now covered with concrete, buildings several stories high, there is a MacDonalds, Burger King, and many 7/11’s. If you like to party it is a great place for this now too.
To make any kind of activity you have to rent a kayak, rent a longtail boat, or join a tour. There a few walks you can take, but otherwise there is not much for the independent traveler.
If you stay at the northern part of the island it is still very nice. There are bays like Ao Lo Lana and Ao Lo Bakao. These are lovely places to spend a few days. Though staying here, means you are more or less stuck there with only a few restaurants and very basic shopping options. To get to the main town is a long trek or kayak trip.
Around the island there is a lot of boat traffic. Everything from large ferries to speed boats, long-tail boats, and private boats. They come from all sides and stop at all beaches. Tourist siege the island from Koh Lanta, Phuket, Krabi, and Phi Phi itself. If you really must see Phi Phi island, then visit from Krabi or from Koh Lanta on a day trip. Otherwise this is also one of the places to avoid in Thailand if you are looking for a more authentic and laid-back island.
where should I go then?
There are many great options for traveling and holiday in Thailand. Instead of going to Phuket, stay in Krabi. If you want to stay on an island around Krabi, stay on Koh Lanta instead of Phi Phi. Rather than Koh Samui stay in the north of Koh Phangan or on the east side of Koh Tao, like Tanote Bay. Instead of staying on Koh Chang, stay on nearby Koh Kood, or stay on Koh Phayam. If you want to experience awesome nature, then visit Mae Hong Son or Chiang Dao in the north or Khao Sok north of Phuket. If you want to stay in a Thai town but also to have access to deserted beaches, then visit Chumphon instead of Hua Hin.
Discover more places in our blog: Best islands to visit in Thailand
23 January, 2020 @ 12:21
So basically avoid Thailand
2 February, 2020 @ 16:03
No, definitely not, Its a great country with lovely people and food. All Im saying is avoid the tourist traps. Its a very big country with wonderful places. Tourist traps like these there are in every country.
3 April, 2020 @ 18:52
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22 May, 2020 @ 15:43
Thank you Brian!!!
23 April, 2020 @ 12:25
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24 May, 2020 @ 08:59
FYI the photo you have labelled as Bangbao in Koh Chang was taken from the deck of my guesthouse in Klong Prao. 🙂
31 May, 2020 @ 11:13
The Photo is not labeled??? I know thats Klong Prao, just mention Bangbao in the text….How is Klong Prao these days, nice spot!
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7 September, 2021 @ 15:00
This is absolute nonsense and what’s more utterly baseless, don’t believe a word of it. Hua Hin, Pai, Koh Phi Phi are all beautiful places. Samui can also be fun and Koh Chang is absolutely sublime; the best island in Thailand
15 February, 2023 @ 17:36
You didnt read properly, i never said that they were not beautiful, or that they were not fun. Simply there are more authentic and less touristic places than the mentioned. i lived 14 years in Thailand, I worked In Koh Chang, Koh Tao, Krabi and Phi Phi. Yes they are beautiful, however they are not as beautiful as they use to be. There is more traffic, more comercial, etc. Thats all.
30 October, 2021 @ 16:04
Unfortunately some of this is way off the mark so it makes me doubt the rest.
Koh Tao aka “Murder island” is one of the central areas for organised crime in all of Thailand.
The families there rule the neighbouring islands Koh Phangan and Koh Samui.
The amount of murdered tourists and “Thaicides” where people (especially men) suddenly get the urge to get blitzed on whiskey & crack,learn to undress,hog tie themselves and throw themselves off the 23rd floor or hang themselves.
Nice article,extremely naive.
Check Koh Tao Murder island on You Tube.
15 February, 2023 @ 17:32
more people get murdered in New York or many other places, however its stil not called murder city. A Thai friend of mine got killed playing cards on Koh Tao, sad story. However know this it is stil a great place, as long as you dont mix with the wrong people like anywhere or do illegal things, you will be ok.
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15 February, 2023 @ 17:29
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11 December, 2022 @ 13:59
I had seen a british or maybe american backpacker got assaulted by 4 vile thai gangs at patpong market’s pub while i was walking home to bts skytrain back in year 2016. I went there just to buy cigarettes and of course I would never dare go into any pubs and gogo bars. It was a very dangerous place filled with criminal bouncers and teen gangs who can break your nose and give skull fracture for whatever reason as unprovoked attack. Sometimes it could also be racially motivated attacks against farangs or white people simply because they are wealthier or they are more intelligent and they come from more developed country. When i reached this pub or gogo bar that seemed to be run by thai mafia or gangs and pimps, a western backpacker tourist had fell down with his glasses fell off his face after he exited the door then he was saying something but a big bouncer man who seemed to dress like taxi driver but i’m not sure if he is a taxi driver, was kicking victim’s forehead with his shoe while 3 thai teen gangs were kicking him on his side. I don’t know how he fell but I think either he was pushed from behind by a teen gang or being punched from behind his head. He looked nervous and kinda stunned on the floor with his 2 hands on the floor preventing his heavy backpack bag from pushing him down further. The gangs were using his heavy backpack to their advantage to easily put him on the floor so he cannot easily get back up while they were kicking him and he was kinda fat too but not muscular with beard. The sadistic 3 thai teen gangs were smiling and laughing while they were kicking him as if they were enjoying suffering of a white man except for the bouncer big man who did not smile but looked serious and angry. They seemed to have Chucky-like mindset (refered to killer doll chucky movie). They are cowards because they need their gang friends to attack 1 western backpacker so it was not 1 to 1 combat. They are also crazy if they assumed that their clients are going to pay them at that high price and not arguing and also expected that clients will know that they will get beaten by gangs who are waiting for them outside the door if they refuse to pay. Nobody in their sane mind would make that assumptions so it is not the fault of any of these scammed victims or unfortunate clients. If I know that there is dangerous gang outside ready to beat me then I would definitely either pay the extortion or call 1155 tourism police inside bathroom without letting them know if possible and wait for tourism police to arrive. I wanted to help but I know that i risk to be the next victim too and I cannot really stop them from attacking him either. For the first time ever, I felt powerless due to being outnumbered even though i had always been a tough guy. To be honest, I wish i had a gun or at least a knife to protect myself including him but it is illegal to carry gun in public places even if it can save our life. Knife would not be enough in a gang attack like this one i guess. After walking 40 meters away, I could hear a small scream but I don’t know if its coming from him. If its coming from him then it means that maybe his nose got broken and he was in pain. I don’t really know his condition because I just walked past the scene. I wish that i could take a video but i would also be risking myself. However, i bet that there is a cctv camera in that area. I also think that police is benefiting from foreigners being attacked because this is also how they make money through bribery. I bet that he would still be alive and report to police later but I don’t think that the police would do much even if they arrest these criminals. Even worse is that the mafia would bribe police with money they got from the victim who was threatened by this attack if he does not pay to give early release to these gangs and to give them better prison cell to live in so they might stay in prison for just weeks or 1 month only. HORRIBLE! EXTREMELY DANGEROUS! I do not recommend backpackers traveling to thailand especially if they wanted to go to these illegal places where tourist were scammed with high price and assaulted like this. I think that he was assaulted for not paying the bill of scammer’s insane price. They might stop kicking him if he says “ok ok i will pay, take it easy” but some other cases are much more worse because it was just revenge attack or racially motivated attack against white people without having to do with bill payment or maybe they just wanted victim to pay in blood instead. These illegal businesses should have been shut down long time ago but they bribed police so they are still open today. I’m glad that Covid19 had taught them a lesson like Karma and thai tourism is in decline. I think that Thailand is even more dangerous now than 20 to 30 years ago but sadly many tourists do not know about this and never learn ugly lessons from other tourists who got attacked like this.
Best islands to visit in Thailand - Awesome Asia Travel
16 February, 2023 @ 18:22
[…] When you have flown 10-35 hours to come to Thailand dreaming of tranquil tropical islands with spectacular scenery. Hoping to lie in a hammock between two trees sipping from your fruit-shake or beer listening to your favorite tunes. Then you need to look a little further and travel a little longer. Found out more in which places to avoid in our blog 7 places to avoid in Thailand. […]