13 magical places you won’t believe are actually in Thailand

Repeat visitors to Thailand may be well-versed in Chiang Mai’s coffee culture, or the best places to chill out in Bangkok (that don’t involve shopping.) But did you know that the country is full of wondrous landscapes? From national parks to newly discovered natural phenomena, it’s time to peel yourself away from the screen and wander around. Have a look:

1. Maple Leaves, Phu Kradueng, Loei 

The scene of falling maple leaves at Tham Yai Waterfall in Phu Kradueng National Park looks more like something out of a Japanese movie. Your only chance to catch it is at the start of winter in November. Phu Kradueng is one hour’s drive from Loei.


2. Pha Chor, Chiang Mai 

The 30-meter high soil pillars of Pha Chor are believed to be the result of the Ping River shifting course many years ago. These strange-patterned cliffs may look like an alien landscape, but they’re only a 1.5-hour drive from Chiang Mai. 

Chaingmai Thailandddd

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3. Snow Rocks, Chonburi

This was just an average rock mine until a teenager snapped a few photos and posted them to social media in October. Since going viral, the place has become a hit with tourists unwilling to stump up the cash for a real snow trip to Japan. Located near Khiri Junction in Chonburi, a 1.5-hour drive from Bangkok. Note: The mountain is located on private property.

A photo posted by MARINE. (@marinezq9) on



4. Bo Kaeo Pine Tree Garden, Mae Hong Son 

This pine tree garden sprouted to life in the 1960s as part of an experimental project by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation to find the right trees for reforestation efforts up North. It’s been compared to Korea’s famous Nami Island (AKA the setting for far too many Korean drama series). Around two hours’ drive from Chiang Mai.

• Inner peace • “The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.” -Hubert H. Humphrey, Jr.

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#pineforest #seaofmist #suansonborkaew #adayinthailand #naturestagram #ALongwayLove

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5. Wat Chalermprakiat Prachomklao Rachanusorn, Lampang

Built in 2004 to mark the 200th anniversary of King Rama 4, these mountaintop golden pagodas look like something out of Chinese folklore. The 1-hour trek to the top is more than worth it. It’s situated a 3-hour drive from Chiang Mai in Chaehom district of Lampang.

A photo posted by Sutthana Phaothai (@sutthana8983) on


6. Had Hong, Ubon Ratchathani 

These desert-like sand dunes sitting next to the Mekong River only appear during the dry season from Jan-May. The sunset, in particular, is a glorious time to visit. Close to Samphanbok (see below), it’s a two-hour drive from Ubon Ratchathani.

A photo posted by RAMIDA (@emmyramida) on

Jan 23, 2015 at 12:55am PST



7. Samphanbok, Ubon Ratchathani

Dubbed the Grand Canyon of Thailand, Samphanbok (literally “3,000 Holes”) is best visited in the dry season when water levels are at their lowest. It’s a 2-hour drive from Ubon Ratchathani. 

A photo posted by Karn Jewsakun (@karn_jewsakun) on

You can’t leave without shooting this Mickey Mouse-shaped hole. 

A photo posted by viewfinder (@backhitch) on


8. Pang Ung, Mae Hon Son

When the first rays of light break through the morning mist, it’s easy to forget you’re in Thailand. This Royal Projects reservoir lined with pine trees is sometimes referred to as the Switzerland of Thailand. It’s a 1-hour drive from Mae Hong Son.

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A photo posted by Cream (@cream_meng) on


9. Baan Rak Thai, Mae Hong Son

This Myanmar-Thailand border village was settled by former Nationalist fighters from Yunnan Province after the Communist takeover of China. This little slice of Shangri La is best enjoyed with a cup of locally grown tea as the mist rises over the lake.

A photo posted by Little Prince (@little_prince_2) on


A photo posted by Kanomsaly Shinnawung (@salyshin) on

Looking for a place to stay? Try the Chinese cottages at Lee Wine Ruk Thai Resort (3 Moo 6 Moo Ban Rak Thai, 089-552-9650, 089-262-1335).

A photo posted by Yada New (@msyada_) on


10. Doi Mon Jong, Chiang Mai 

Its height of 1,929 meters makes Doi Mon Chong one of the top 10 peaks in Thailand. Unlike other mountains, though, this one resembles rolling grasslands. Omkoi district is four hours’ drive from Chiang Mai.

A photo posted by Thanathorn Suwannamai (@tts_13) on


11.Tulip fields, Chiang Rai

No, it’s not the Netherlands. These tulips are the star attraction of Chiang Rai Flower Festival and Music in the Park held at Suan Tung and Khome Park, through Jan 31, 2016.

A photo posted by Por (@poryaa) on


12. Emerald Pool, Krabi

This underground thermal stream in Klong Thom district is a stunning emerald color. The temperature of the pool is consistently 30-50 degrees Celsius. About 1-hour drive from Krabi.

Into the jungle #natural #pool #cristal #blue #emerald #wild #krabi #thailand #happy

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13. Phu Pa Poh, Loei 

Situated in a wildlife conservation area in a Nong Hin district, this peak has been nicknamed the Mt. Fuji of Loei for its flat peak. About 1.5 hours’ drive from Loei.