It's rainy season in Thailand, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't go. In fact, it's a great excuse to skip your usual go-to's and try some new towns and new experiences. Most of the Andaman beaches will be washed out, but you can still go white water rafting, wine tasting and more. Here's where to go.
This town is an easy drive from Bangkok to Khao Yai, taking 2-3 hours, and with the low season in full swing, you can get massive discounts on rooms and, when it rains, stay in and enjoy the romantic views of the misty mountains from your room.
Yellow Submarine Coffee Tank
Granmonte Asoke Valley
What to do:
Sip wine and listen to the rain fall at Granmonte Asoke Valley
, the multi-award-winning vineyard led by Nikki Lohitnavy, Thailand's first female winemaker and a recent appearance in Forbes's inaugural Asia 30 under 30 list. They offer wine tasting programs and farm tours from $12, but we recommend going for a wine and dine package which starts at $37 at lunch or dinner. This season’s must-tries are 2015 Verdelho, which just won a silver medal from the prestigious Decanter World Wine Awards 2016, and the NV Cremant Extra Brut, which won a consolation prize from the same event. To absorb some culture, visit Khao Yai Art Museum
, which exhibits the vast contemporary arts collection of businessman Pongchai Chindasook. Architecture hunters will also want to stop by the quaint cottages and cafe of Birder’s Lodge
(+66 (0) 44-300-185) and the industrial-chic Yellow Submarine Coffee Tank
(+66 (0) 96-981-0682) near the entrance of Khao Yai National Park
, where the waterfalls are in full flow.
Nhapha Khao Yai Resort
Where to stay: Granmonte Guesthouse
(+66 (0) 84-904-1944, +66 (0) 81-622-6662) is offering 40% discounts on weekdays ($121 from $193), but we also like the look of the weekend Wine & Dine package ($335 per couple), which gets you one night in a deluxe room, two bottles of wine plus Thai or Western lunch, dinner and breakfast, from now until Sep 30. Nature lovers may want to book a room at the newly-opened Nhapha Khao Yai Resort
(+66 (0) 93-636-9999), whose rooms are carved out of a disused quarry. Room rates are $308 for a villa and $462 for a grand villa. They offer 20% discount weekdays.
Well-known to adverturous Thais, this rivertown is gorgeous and mostly undiscovered by foreigners. The sleepy border town near Myanmar is best visited in the rainy season, when a full Khao Lam Dam means lots of fun water-based activities. You can drive there in under six hours, or you can be heroic and catch a bus ($5) or train ($1-5) from Bangkok's Thonburi station to Kanchanaburi, then continue with a connecting VIP bus or van to Sangkhlaburi for $7.
Uttama Nusorn Bridge credit by Go Beyond Asia
Bamboo rafting tour Credit Go Beyond Asia
What to do:
For some white-water rafting, choose from either the Songkalia
or Ranti rivers
which both flow into Khao Laem Dam. The former offers both tubing and inflatable boat rafts with the rapids reaching difficulty levels of 3-4. The latter offers milder bamboo rafting on level 2-3 rapids. Try Samprasob Adventure
(+66 (0) 34-595-050). Other highlights include visiting submerged temples and walking on Uttama Nusorn Bridge
, the longest wooden bridge in Thailand to Mon village. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit Wiwekaram Temple
, home to the gorgeous golden Buddha Gaya pagoda.
Lakehouse by Go Beyond Asia Credit Go Beyond Asia
Where to stay: Go Beyond Asia
(+66 (0) 2-630-9371) offers a five-day tour staying at its lake house for $559 per person, which leaves from Bangkok. The two-level floating accommodation is the perfect spot to laze on a tube or kayak through caves and submerged temples. On board there’s a small restaurant and a bar with daily happy hours. Over the five days, the house moves to different parts of the lake offering amazing sunset views plus rafting and trekking tours to nearby villages. For a more budget option, there’s Ponnatee Resort
(+66 (0) 34-595-134), which offers shorter packages like a three-day-two-night stay at $154 per person including food, room and rafting tour.
Nakhon Si Thammarat
Monsoon season isn’t kind to the Andaman Sea, but the Gulf of Thailand is arguably at its finest, and Nakhon Si Thammarat is top of the must-visit list. There are direct flights from Bangkok to Nakhon Si Thammarat daily. Thai Lion Air offers the best rates from $54 while AirAsia is $61 and Nok Air is $107.
Pancake Rock Credit Danupol Vatcharasint
Pink dolphin at Khanom Credit Alongkot Vatcharasint
What to do:
Newly-founded national park Hat Khanom–Mu Ko Thale Tai
is home to stunning coral reefs and pink dolphins. Jun-Aug is the best time to catch this rare species due to low rainfall and clear waters. Take a day tour, which starts in the early morning when the dolphins approach fishermen's boats to feed on the small, unwanted fish. Stop by nearby Koh Nui
, unique for its natural fresh-water well. Afterwards, check out Khao Puppa
, whose curious limestone formations similar to those in Punakaiki, New Zealand, have earned it the nickname Pancake Rocks. Other marine attractions include diving spots at Koh Tan
, Koh Rab
and Koh Matsum
. Try Nakhon Si Grand Tour
(+66 (0) 80-233-3322), which charges $29 for a dolphin day tour and $76 for a diving tour. Now is also good time to visit the area's waterfalls, the best of which are Krungching
, Ai Khiao
Krungching Waterfall Credit Will Anderson
Where to stay: Aava Resort & Spa
(+66 (0) 75-300-310) offers rooms starting from $162 for a deluxe bungalow up to $424 for a poolside villa. Go budget at Alongkot Beach Resort Khanom
(+66 (0) 75-529119) where rooms start at $54.
Located in the westernmost part of the Isaan region, mountainous and relatively cool Petchabun can be visited year-round. It’s just welcomed a new resort that’s like something in the European highlands, while neighboring Phitsanulok province has plenty of rainy season activities to thrill adrenaline junkies. Located around 360km from Bangkok, Phetchabun or Phitsanulok make for an easy drive or bus trip from the Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit 2).
Phutubberk Credit TAT Phitsanulok
Khek River Credit TAT Phitsanulok
What to do: Phitsanulok is home to some of the finest white-water rafting in Thailand, along the Khek River from Jul-Oct. Flowing through Thung Salaeng Luang National Park, the river consists of 13-18 rapids at a difficulty level of 3-5. The 10km course takes three hours to complete and most resorts in the area offer rafting day trips. Meanwhile in Petchabun, you can go rappelling at the 30-meter-high Wang Tum Waterfall (Khaokho Explorer, +66 (0) 89-894-9211, +66 (0) 81-985-2676). Phutubberk, Petchabun’s renowned winter mountain destination, is actually at its most beautiful at this time of year, when it’s surrounded by even more mist. You don’t need to be religious to admire the unusual beauty of Wat Phra That Pha Son Kaew, a golden pagoda surrounded by lush mountains.
Wat Phra That Pha Son Kaew Credit TAT Phitsanulok
Where to stay
: Book a stay at the newly-opened Blue Sky Resort Khao Kho
(+66 (0) 2-247-7310-11), an English country-evoking resort whose 30-rai garden features lots of seasonal plants, a giant maze, a vintage coffee shop and an alfresco vintage outdoor area. Rates start from $97 (weekday) to $116 (weekend) for deluxe rooms. In Phitsanulok, try Wanathara Health Resort and Spa
(+66 (0) 55-293-411-4), which offers rooms right by the Khek River at $64 on weekdays and $68 on weekend, inclusive of rafting tour.
Though Chiang Mai still gets most of the attention, this neighboring province draws people in with its slower pace of life and manicured farms, which are at their greenest this time of year. AirAsia, Bangkok Airways, Thai and a bunch of other airlines fly to Chiang Rai, though there's a layover in Bangkok, so you may as well spend a day or two in the city and get a domestic flight. Thai Lion Air
offers the cheapest rates at the moment at $72, while full-service Bangkok Airways
is $127 for a round-trip.
Choui Fong Tea
What to do:
Your first stop must be Choui Fong Tea
(+66 (0) 53-771-563), arguably Thailand’s most stunning tea-house thanks to a modern-tropical design from Bangkok-based firm Idin Architects and a location that overlooks the plantation. The one-year-old Sawanbondin Farm
is also winning hearts with its organic concept and clay workshops which start at B150 per hour. Here, you can also stroll around and pick up vegetables to cook up in your own meal. Cafe-cum-resort Ryokan Cafe
(+66 (0) 81-868-3010) is another beautiful stop thanks to its traditional Japanese-style rooms. In mid-July, visitors here will witness a vast field of yellow sun hemp, which will be ploughed in order to grow organic Japanese rice (you can also help with this in September). For something to set the pulse racing, Singha Park
(+66 (0) 91-576-0374) just welcomed a new zipline station overlooking the picturesque tea and flower plantations, where you can also find Barn House Pizzeria
Where to stay: Sawanbondin Farm offers rooms at $20-$24 per night while Ryokan Cafe is $174 per night with futons and tatami mats. Kick back on the terrace overlooking the rice fields, reminiscent of rural Japan, or enjoy an alfresco rock bathtub with piping hot Japanese mineral water.