Path Through the Rice FieldsThailand is known for having one of the smoothest tourist operations in Southeast Asia. Although this is appealing for a sense of ease, to those looking for off the beaten path travel it can be difficult to find somewhere beautifully undiscovered and equally as inspiring without ending up in total wilderness.

The best way to find these hidden treasures is to culminate advice given from a variety of sources. These stunning hideaways are often discovered accidentally rather than sought out during a hardcore mission; that’s what makes them truly beautiful.

And what better way to start than with a helping hand. Firstly, a little advice on venturing into the unknown in Thailand:

1. Plan your zone

Don’t plan to explore everywhere in a short space of time. With a country as large as Thailand, this leaves you undoubtedly having to follow the tourist trails in order to pack it all in. The best thing to do is to choose a certain area, perhaps one less well known, and prepare to explore this place over a significant time period.

Thailand comprises of a series of provinces, each with their own little something to offer. If you’re looking for mountains and waterfalls, head North; if you’re more of a beach person, had to the islands; if you fancy wildlife teeming jungle, perhaps the middle is the place for you. Try to be adventurous though; look at some of the less well know provinces. There is so much to offer going off the beaten path in Kanchanaburi, or Trat or Mae Hong Son, but very few people think to take a peek at what’s hiding there.

2. Listen to locals

Local people in the rural areas of Thailand often don’t speak great English. However, those with a few words to share often bear great advice and can offer warnings of where to stay away from. In such a fragile country, you can end up lost, abandoned or in danger if these warnings aren’t adhered to. You’ll often find with the aid of a map, local people can point out shortcuts, and the roads to stay away from. Unlike ignorant sight-seers such as us, they’re often very much aware of dangerous roads and unpredictable areas. Learning a little bit of Thai before you go can help you significantly when communicating with locals, if you’re language savvy, it’s worth learning a few basic Thai phrases.

Locals will also be able to find great places for you visit and can be a fountain of knowledge in explaining the significance of such sites. Stopping at the odd roadside eatery can turn your plan on its head. Not only will these local people serve you food like you’ve never tasted, they’ll also point you in the direction of things which are interesting to them.

3. Be prepared for anything

Firstly the weather is a real issue for people travelling off the beaten track in Thailand. Just because it’s hailed as being warm, driving on motorbike in the pouring rain with wind can be a cold and painful journey if you’re not prepared. Make sure you pack light waterproof clothing, sunglasses, sun screen etc. If you’re uncomfortable by the time you arrive somewhere, exploring will be the last thing on your mind compared to a warm bed and a rest.

Additionally, you need to make sure you’re thinking ahead of the game. If you’re traveling by vehicle, fill up whenever you can because you may not have the opportunity again if you’re half way through the jungle.

On the same note, beware of what’s around you and be prepared for it. Having shots such as rabies, tetanus and hepatitis B are essential when travelling off the beaten track. If someone gets hurt, having the correct shots could save their lives. And with wild animals and unknown entities ahead, the chance of injury is considerably higher and needs to be borne in mind.

4. Happiness equals reality divided by expectation

It’s not easy to find buried treasure in Thailand. It’s there, but with so much ground to cover, you may have to slog away to find the gold. With so much land to cover and unpredictable weather, you may have you spirits dampened from time to time. Not every Thai person will be willing to help you and not everything you’ve planned will come into fruition. In a developing country, that should be expected but it can be frustrating.

However, getting your hopes up too high about certain things will only leave you more disappointed and unhappy. Additionally, by blinding yourself with goals, you may not see some of the other beautiful secrets lying by the wayside. Take opportunities as they come and understand that each set back is usually followed by you discovering something you never even expected.

When pursuing off the beaten path travel you need to remember that it’s about the journey, not just the destination; it’s all about enjoying the act of exploring, not just reveling in what you find.