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