Your bucket list destinations for 2023
15th December 2022
Thailand is not short of stunning scenery – all those white sand beaches lapped by cerulean waters and lush tropical vegetation are certainly a feast for the eyes. To appreciate the spectacular landscapes from a new perspective, consider paying a visit to one (or more!) of these fantastic viewpoints, some affording views of misty mountains marching towards the horizon; some overlooking dazzling coastlines. Some are remote, some quite accessible. But all are really special because of the panorama spread before you when you reach the top.
This remote Phayao Province village in northern Thailand is not the place for a sumptuous night of comfort and spoiling yourself, but the basic lodgings are worth booking for the amazing views. Plan to arrive in good time for sunset, and you won’t be disappointed. Long panoramas take in undulating green hills and distant mountains. Set the alarm for an early start to catch the sunrise – possibly even more impressive than sunset as you gaze over a verdant valley wreathed in mist and dotted with karst outcrops that pierce through the foggy blanket that settles down in the lowest areas. The whole scene is framed by mountains covered in dense vegetation. It’s a fabulous view of a remote corner of Asia and the views are dazzling.
Around 90 minutes by road from Chiang Mai, the Doi Inthanon National Park is named after Thailand’s highest mountain, contained within its 482 square kilometres and known as ‘The Roof of Thailand’ for its awesome views across the foothills from the 2,565 metre peak. There is actually a sealed road that goes almost the whole way up to the summit to access the Two Chedis pagodas, but for a leg-stretch you can hike the last stretch to the top for the fabulous views. Another scenic footpath lower down is the Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail, just 2.5km long but with spectacular views. The cloud forest cloaking the mountains is dotted with scenic waterfalls and rich in wildlife – 400 species of birds and 1,500 species of butterflies for starters.
A stunning view awaits when you make the trip to the Lom Sak Cliffs in Phu Kradueng National Park, located in north central Thailand. Brilliant for hiking and stunning scenery, this National Park is a great place to unwind after some serious sightseeing. It’s best to allow a couple of days to do the park justice and take your time drinking in the views. The most scenic stretch of trail is the cliff path which leads around 10km from the campsite to the Lom Sak Cliffs. The views are great all the way along, and spectacular from the cliffs where you can see for miles on a clear day.
Another great spot to watch the sun coming up overlooks Phang Nga Bay on the mainland not too far from Phuket, facing east for the best angle on the sunrise. The panorama is breathtaking, taking in the mangroves behind the shoreline and the bay beyond, peppered with karst islands which make a beautiful subject for photographers, especially when the camera is positioned to catch the sun coming up between the islands. Although the viewpoint is quite a tricky and winding 25 kilometre drive from the bridge connecting Phuket to the mainland, it is a popular spot for sunrise, so make sure you arrive by around half an hour before sunrise to get a good spot. The viewpoint is also a good place for stargazing as the light pollution is minimal.
Krabi is a popular destination on the west coast of the Thai peninsula known for its epic landscapes and blissful beaches. For a new perspective on this famous destination, consider hiking the trail up to one of the best viewpoints in Thailand, Khao Ngon Nak. The trail begins at the end of Tubkaek Beach before heading around 4 kilometres uphill through the woods, and it’s best to go early so you can get back down before the heat and humidity build up. Wear sturdy shoes as the route is rough in places, and don’t forget to take water and snacks because the heat and exertion can be very draining even on this short trail. A couple of viewpoints are located on the route and make good places to rest, but allow plenty of time to enjoy the awesome views from the top, which encompass a rippling green landscape, the sea beyond and a chain of islands in the distance.
A fifteen minute boat trip takes you from Kho Tao to the tiny island of Koh Nang Yuan which is known for its dreamy beaches and tropical beauty. Unless you are staying on the island itself, you can only spend the day (10am to 5pm) there. Most visitors come to swim and snorkel in the stunning clear waters or lounge on the white sand beaches, but there is a great viewpoint to discover as well. The path to the viewpoint is simple and only takes 15 minutes, offering a view over a small conical island joined to the main island by a narrow strip of bone-white sand. One of the most enticing things about this view is the ability to see all the incredible colours of the sea down below.
Chiang Rai province is tucked up against the border with Laos in the far north of Thailand, where the remote viewpoint of Phu Chi Fa is found. The location right in the east of the province makes it an off the beaten track destination, but it’s considered one of the finest views in Thailand. Seeing the panorama at sunrise is the unmissable moment, so consider making the trip from Chang Rai the day before and staying overnight near the viewpoint at Phu Chi Fa. The sunrise view from up high across a layer of fog with mountains and hills peeking through is something really special, but be aware that it is a popular destination with domestic tourists and can get very busy – though still worth it.
The easternmost point in Thailand is the destination to head for if you want to be the first to see the sunrise. Pha Chana Dai is actually the name of a cliff which stands at around 450 metres above sea level, overlooking the border of Thailand and Laos, which is marked by the river Mekong. The viewpoint cliff is located inside the Pha Taem National Park, a forested plateau of rock which ends abruptly at the cliffs which drop away to the Mekong valley. Once you have seen the beautiful colours of sunrise reflected on the Mekong waters, take the trail down to the base of the cliffs where many examples of ancient rock art illustrate life in the region a couple of millennia ago.
Make it happen
Thailand’s epic beauty can be appreciated all the more from these viewpoints, each offering jaw-dropping vistas for photographers, romantics and nature lovers alike. They are far flung around the country though, so why not enlist the help of our trusted local experts to work out your perfect itinerary? Send them a few details on our brief enquiry form to get started. To speak to someone in the TravelLocal office please call +44 (0)117 325 7898.