Natural beauty and Thailand go hand in hand.
Whether you’re on the grimy streets of Bangkok or up in the mountains of Chiang Mai, there’s always something in your eyeline that will remind you of this country’s incredible grace and bloom.
However, there are some spots in the Kingdom where the views hit peak sublimity. Places where you look around and feel so overwhelmed to be in the presence of such beauty that all you can muster is a quiet, “wow”.
Places like these can be found all over Thailand — and arguably are that much more special when you manage to find them on your own.
We’ve picked out a few to give you a headstart.
1. Phu Lang Ka
Phu Lang Ka is a remote, rural forest park found in the Phi Pan Nam mountain range in Chiang Kam District. The altitude allows for some incredible views over the mist-laden land below — get up early for the sunrise to experience the famous ‘sea of fog’ — and a handful of limestone outcroppings.
Up the mountain are the gorgeously colourful Indian Rhododendrons, while the summit on the day of the full moon is said to be wrapped in a white aura nicknamed the Fin Cha Bo (Angel Shrine). On clear days, you should be able to see out to Laos.
This is a long way from the established Thailand tourist trail and certainly an area to ‘get back to basics’.
2. Sunset Beach, Koh Lipe
Sunset Beach — locally known as Hat Pramong — is the bay on the west side of Koh Lipe which plays host to, you guessed it, some incredible sunsets. Although Koh Lipe is undoubtedly a popular island, Sunset Beach — in comparison to its counterpart, Sunrise Beach — is quiet and relaxing.
The sunset isn’t the only attraction here; the fine white sand and cerulean blue waters all contribute to the idyllic tropical paradise setting. The bay is framed by thick, lush jungle on the island’s interior.
3. Doi Inthanon
Despite being the tallest mountain in Thailand at 2,565 metres and part of the Himalayan range, Doi Inthanon is well known for not really having much of a view at its tallest point. Unless you count a long row of tourists queueing for a selfie at the marker of ‘Highest Spot in Thailand’ to be a view…
But there is a fantastic view during the ascent up the mountain, if you choose to take an excursion into Doi Inthanon national park. As well as a beautiful hike and a handful of waterfalls, you’ll come across the twin pagodas built to commemorate the 60th birthday of HM King Bhumibol in 1987 and the 60th birthday of HM Queen Sirikit in 1992.
4. Khao Luk Chang Bat Cave
Nakhon Ratchasima Province
One of the most incredible sights to behold in Khao Yai National Park belongs to the Khao Luk Chang Bat Cave. Seemingly not affiliated with Batman, the cave is thought to be home to an incredible 3 million bats.
While the cave itself is often included in many hikes around the national park, the best point to experience the bats is just outside at sunset. During this time, hundreds of thousands of bats will swarm out the cave for their nightly hunt.
The clear skies of Khao Yai provide the perfect canvas for the myriad of bats, whose huge number creates incredible, shifting shapes and patterns in the sky. Observers have compared the sight to a huge school of fish, or even a coiling snake.
5. Phromthep Cape
Probably the best place to catch a sunset in Phuket is at Phromthep Cape — the only problem is that everyone else knows that too. At around 6pm every day, cars and coach tours will start to pull up at the island’s most southern tip for an obligatory sunset selfie.
While most people will simply gather at the top of the cape, only a few will venture out and down to the end of the promontory. It can be a relatively demanding hike and can get pretty rough during monsoon season, so do take care. This way, however, you’ll get to see the ‘true’ end of Phuket, and avoid the bulk of the tourists.
Earlier in the day sees less tourists too, while the area is more or less deserted once the sun has gone down.
6. Doi Hua Mot
For those seeking natural beauty off the tourist trail, you can’t really go wrong in Tak. This western province is home to at least four national parks, as well as mountains, temples, hot wells, rivers and two wildlife sanctuaries.
Within the Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary is the mountain of Doi Hua Mot — an unusual looking limestone landform, without any large trees but carpeted in greasses and flower. This is another spot to experience a sea of mist at sunrise, while the view over Umphang village is spectacular at any hour.
7. An Thong National Marine Park
Surat Thani Province
Out to the west of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan is the incredible An Thong National Marine Park — a 42-island archipelago consisting of limestone karsts, turquoise waters and fine white sand beaches. The snorkelling and diving opportunities here are incredible thanks to the lagoons, caves and swimthroughs of these particular island forms.
You won’t be surprised that the tropical paradise setting inspired Alex Garland to write The Beach.
The views all around the marine park are nothing short of spectacular, but the best all-encompassing sights of the park can be had from Koh Wua Talap island.
8. Moon Bar
Views over Bangkok are two-a-penny thanks to the plethora of trendy rooftop bars that have popped up in recent years, but our favourite definitely has to come from Moon Bar at the Banyan Tree hotel on Sathorn.
Perched on the 61st floor, incredible views go on for miles over the city, including the central business district and beautiful Lumpini Park. Needless to say, while Bangkok is the perfect subject to gaze over at any hour, the excitement notches up a level at sunset and twilight.
9. Mae Sariang
Mae Hong Son
Such a wonderful view! #maesariang#maehongsorn#jomthongtemple#travelling#relax#sunset
A photo posted by @ploypyapy on
Almost directly at the Burmese border is the beautiful riverside town of Mae Sariang — a quieter alternative than Pai and even Mae Hong Son for those seeking the Northern Thailand experience.
The views here are arguably one of the most true and authentic windows into rural Thailand in the country — huge paddy fields and waterfalls sit alongside the imposing mountains and hill tribe settlements that have spilled over from Myanmar. The Yuam river flows through the town.
Development is practically nil. Just outside the town is Mae U Kho, which in November every year turns to gold as the Dok Bua Tong flower comes into bloom.
10. Khao Daeng, Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park
Prachuap Khiri Khan Province
Khao Daeng is a limestone mountain known as the Red Mountain, which is part of the Khao Sam Roi Yot Marine National Park. 157 metres up that mountain — which requires a steep and relatively tough hike — is a viewpoint which offers sublime views over the Gulf of Thailand, Burmese mountains and the rest of the national marine park.
The viewpoint is around 700-metres from the park headquarters and enjoys unparalleled 360° visibility over its surrounds. Birds and monkeys are also at home here.
11. Bridge Over The River Kwai
One of the most defining images of historic Thailand, and certainly the Second World War, is the evocative Bridge Over The River Kwai — a wooden trestle viaduct — which was part of the notorious Death Railway, where Allied PoWs and Asian Romusha were impelled to labour under horrific conditions by the Japanese army. It’s thought that over 100,000 workers died during the construction period.
The bridge is found over the Khwae Yai river and has been continually immortalised in film, literature and art. Many tourists visit Kanchanaburi and the railway, to take pictures of the bridge and educate themselves in the museum. Some even choose to kayak down the river and take their pictures from there.
12. Khao Sok National Park
Surat Thani Province
Khao Sok is one of Thailand’s most exquisite national parks, abundant in such scenes of national beauty that all the views captured in its 739 square metres could be worth a position on this list.
It’s really got it all in terms of landscape, flora and fauna: wild and rare animals roam the dense tropical rainforest and tropical evergreen forest — the oldest in the world — while an unimaginable number of birds flock around the limestone cliffs and peeling waterfalls.
Khao Sok is home to 48 species of mammal, 311 bird, and countless insects, reptiles and amphibians. Just a few include the Thai Black Tarantula, Jewel Beetle, Monocled Cobra, Reticulated Python, Crested Serpent Eagle, Grey-Breasted Spider Hunter, Clouded Leopard and Malayan Sun Bear.
13. Khao Chong Krachok
Prachuap Khiri Khan Province
Another lovely spot in Prachuap Khiri Khan is the small mountain of Khao Chong Krachok. 396 steps lead to its summit where there’s a solitary monastery, which holds a replica of the Buddha’s footprint and other relics. HM King Bhumibol attended here in 1958 to plant a Bodhi Tree.
As well as the sacred delights of Wat Thamikaran, the mountain is also home to a number of monkeys, who will get up close and personal, possibly even stealing your possessions. It’s worth it for the lovely views, however!
What’s your favourite view in Thailand?