The best small towns in Thailand

Lamphun, photo by swifant on Flickr

Thailand’s big cities, like Bangkok or Chiang Mai are great tourist destinations because they are a bustle of activity that rarely stops for even a moment, and night and day there is something to keep you busy, whether it is sightseeing, exploring or enjoying the nightlife. There are many strange and wonderful things to see in cities like this, but urban life in Thailand can also be more serene and relaxing than that, without actually becoming boring. Small town life has its interesting experiences, like walking down a quiet street, enjoying the sunset, praying at a temple without rubbing shoulders with anyone. Here are some of the best small towns in Thailand where you can spend a quiet holiday.

Lamphun

Lamphunis a small town in Northern Thailand that has been around for more than 1,400 years, and whose early history is shrouded in legends. This peaceful town on the banks of the Kuang River has a delightfully rural atmosphere, spiced up by the presence of many ancient historical sites. Although Lamphun is rather small, there is no shortage of things to do. If you don’t mind an outing, visit the nearby Luang Pha Waing Cave, the largest caves in Thailand.

Pai, Mae Hong Son Province

Pai, photo by mattmangum on Flickr

The small town of Pai is one of the most popular stops on the Mae Hong Son Loop, a route that circles around the scenic Mae Hong Son province. Although Pai is a fairly well known tourist destination, it is a relatively quiet place and very friendly. There is a lively backpacker scene in town, so there is a large variety of cheap accommodation to be had. Although there are no attractions to speak of in town, people travel to Pai to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere are the various attractions near it, like hot springs and various waterfalls. Elephant treks, tubing, rafting and zip lining are popular with visitors to Pai.

Chiang Rai

Chiang Mai is the capital of Chiang Rai province, yet by many standards it is still a small town. However, Chiang Rai has a nice collection of attractions, and it is the perfect holiday destination if you want to explore more of the province. There are several very interesting wats in Chiang Rai, as well as a considerable number of museums that vary from Hill Tribe history and crafts to Chinese culture. River cruises on Kok River are a good pastime in Chiang Rai, there are several hot springs and waterfalls nearby, and some very good opportunities for rock climbing.

Mae Sai

Chiang Rai, photo by duhangst

Mae Sai is not just a gateway town to Myanmar, although many of those who come here end up making day trips over the border. Mae Sai has quite a few attractions of its own. There are several quaint markets in town where you can load up on souvenirs, as well as a beautiful wat and a small Burmese temple. Do check out the giant scorpion statue too!

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