From reefs to rainforests to mountain peaks, Thailand’s landscape is wondrous and flourishing – and Thais are rediscovering the natural beauty of their own backyard this Green Season.
With more than 70 percent of Thais polled planning to travel more frequently to rural destinations that are less popular with tourists, and 72 percent saying it’s important they contribute to the local economy when they travel*, socially and environmentally conscious travel is clearly high on the local travel agenda.
From treehouses and cabins, to hillside escapes and riverside retreats, Thais are trading in their urban homes for lush rural retreats. Here are global travel platform Airbnb’s five top nature destinations across Thailand to explore this Green Season.
1. Nakhon Ratchasima
Just a few hours drive from Bangkok, Nakhon Ratchasima makes for a perfect getaway from the city with friends and family. Known for its clean fresh air, mountainous terrain and scenic waterfalls; the beautiful destination is a top draw for adventurous hikers and cyclists. For a more leisurely visit, cafe hopping and exploring the local eateries and markets are great ways to enjoy the slower pace of life and unique local culture.
Located by a stream and with a market and waterfalls nearby, Casa Pasayen is a spacious pet-friendly stay for those travelling with their furballs. Baan Si Khaw Country Home offers chic minimalist interiors and gorgeous views of the surrounding mountain vistas, while Pakchong Cottage is an ideal escape for a peaceful getaway, surrounded by acres of greenery and with Pakchong market just 5km away.
2. Mae Hong Son
The small town of Mae Hong Son is the gateway to a province bursting with natural surprises, including the district of Pai which is renowned for its colourful creative community and off-the-beaten-track adventures. Get back to nature with the pet-friendly Re-wild House where guests can enjoy yoga and explore the nearby hot springs. Or head just outside Pai’s centre to River Pai Cottage, which is surrounded by greenscapes and has views along the Pai River. Alternatively, the rice paddy views and nearby stream make this cozy two-storey house in the small village of Maehi an idyllic stay from which to appreciate nature and recharge the mind and body.
3. Phang Nga
One of southern Thailand’s largest provinces, Phang Nga offers a wide range of natural landscapes and can be easily reached from airports in neighbouring Phuket and Krabi. Famed for the Khao Lak coastal area and iconic Phang Nga Bay with its stunning limestone karts and “hongs”, travellers who venture inland will be rewarded with little-visited waterfalls, evergreen forests and a vast array of flora of fauna.
While appreciating nature, enjoy a slice of the local life with Khanittha Homestay which is located in a small fishing village with a backdrop of mangrove forests to explore. If it’s the island life you prefer, combine white-sand beaches, local life and forest trails with a stay at Villa Aria or The Waterhouse on Koh Yao Noi.
4. Ubon Ratchathani
With the Mekong and Mun rivers running through the province, Ubon Ratchathani’s natural landscape has been shaped over centuries by water. From Pha Taem Cave with wall paintings that date back over 3,000 years, to natural wonders such as Sam Phan Bok, Haad Chom Dao and Phun Nang Kha Hom, to waterfalls dotted across the province, Ubon Ratchathani offers plentiful surprises for the nature explorer. Immerse yourself in local life at Homestay Art-isane, or The Tiger’s Nest: Nature Home where guests can enjoy tie-dyeing, mushroom picking, rice growing and more. Alternatively, stay at the Island House, a unique cottage on a small island surrounded by a 17-acre garden ripe for exploring by bicycle.
5. Chiang Mai
Known for its historic city centre and vibrant creative Niman neighbourhood, Chiang Mai also has vast expanses of nature to explore just outside the city and all across the province. A short flight from Bangkok and you can be surrounded by some of the country’s tallest mountains such as Doi Inthanon and Doi Suthep, and experience unique Lanna hill tribe culture and delicious northern cuisine.
Combine culture and nature with this hand-crafted teak house on the foothills of Doi Suthep, or this Japanese-Lanna local woodhouse located outside the city centre. Designed with recycled wood and bamboo, 84 Y’s Thai Style House is located in a local village and is a great base to explore the surrounding forests.
For more ideas on a getaway this Green Season, check out Airbnb Categories and search exclusively for incredible National Parks, Treehouses and Countryside stays.
*”Rebuilding tourism in Asia-Pacific: A more conscious travel?” is a report commissioned by Airbnb and produced by Economist Impact.