panorama destination

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Travel Off the Beaten Track: Minor Cities Become Major Attractions
03 July 2024 | Written by Chris Alexander

In the post-pandemic era, travellers in Thailand are increasingly looking for destinations away from the crowds and off the beaten track. A new trend, recently identified by the Agoda travel platform, shows that previously unsung cities are now beginning to enjoy their time in the limelight.  

The interest in these locations is both a reflection of travellers’ desire to ‘dig deeper’ into Thailand’s diverse offerings, and the product of official campaigns and collaborations encouraging them to do so. “Teaming up with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to spotlight these destinations is clearly working well, as shown by their growing attraction,” says Pierre Honne, the Thailand Country Director at Agoda. “Agoda is thrilled to contribute to TAT’s initiative to show off the cultural, historical, and scenic highlights of Thailand’s lesser-known cities.” 

Topping the list of lesser-known locations making a name for themselves is Chanthaburi in the east of Thailand, situated on the banks of a river that gives the town its name. The capital of Chanthaburi Province and the Mueang Chanthaburi District, the town is home to popular attractions such as Namtok Phlio National Park, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Wat Khao Sukim temple and the picturesque Chantaboon Waterfront Community. Visitors here find a rewarding mix of culture, history and natural beauty.  

In second place on Agoda’s list is Nakhon Si Thammarat; a city located just over 600 km south of Bangkok, on the east coast of the Malay Peninsula. Here, travellers can go dolphin spotting and snorkelling at Pig Island or hire out a red dragon yacht for the day and explore the nearby islands. Khanom Beach is a secluded spot for sunbathing, while the Nakhon Si Thammarat National Museum offers a fascinating day out for families. At weekends, the city comes to life with the Saturday night market, which sells a wide range of local street foods. 

In third place, Nakhon Nayok has seen the most impressive growth in interest in recent times, with its volume of online searches doubling in little over a year. Located conveniently close to Bangkok, the city and its surrounding province is home to various tourist attractions, including Khao Yai – Thailand’s oldest National Park. Lovers of the great outdoors can enjoy a range of white-water rafting excursions, hiking to waterfalls and bicycle tours.   

Other in-demand destinations include Ratchaburi and Chiang Rai. These charming cities off the beaten track have seen a 23% increase in searches compared to last year, which is indicative of their growing reputation and the changing trends among travellers. Overall, the most popular Thai cities for international travellers are Chiang Rai, Udon Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Chanthaburi and Trang. In years to come, as travellers continue searching for unique and enriching experiences, a few more hidden gems may soon find themselves on this list.