Bangkok is an extremely cool city to explore and while we recommend taking the time to discover everything it offers, there are also some pretty epic day trips to take while on vacation. Located just hours away from the city are National Parks to explore, islands to visit, open-air museums to get lost in and history to discover. We encourage you to step off the well trodden path that many tourists travel and explore the amazing regions that surround this wonderful city. Read on for our top picks for the 10 coolest day trips from Bangkok.
10. Samut Songkhram
Arriving here by car only takes about an hour, or take a passenger van or the train in order to reach this small province that is not as well known as the others around it. Make sure to head to the Khlon Khon district along the coastline to visit the swimming monkeys, it is easy to hire a boat to take you there and once you have arrived be prepared for the hundreds of monkeys that swim out to greet you, just make sure to pick up some bananas for them before you head out. Also here is the Amphawa Floating Market, an evening market that operates Friday to Sunday and provides visitors with a more authentic feel than other larger more touristy markets. The Market on the Railway is something to check out as stalls are either on or alongside the train tracks, and when the train comes through eight times a day, the stalls pick themselves up out of the way.
9. Khao Yai National Park
It was established at Thailand’s first national park in 1962 and is located about 100 miles from Bangkok, making it a little far for a day trip but absolutely worth it. Hiring a driver to get there gives you the most flexibility but buses are also available from Victory Monument. The national park is home to high peaks which offer incredible birding opportunities, cooler temperatures and the chance to see a variety of wildlife. Some 200 elephants call this park home and if visitors are lucky enough they will have the chance to see them as they gather around the roadside salt licks. Other mammals here include tigers, leopards, bear, various gibbons and macaques and some large and rather scary pythons. One of the best ways to get around the park once you are here is to rent a car or motorbike from Pak Chong and spend the night in the park, if you don’t have your own vehicle it is easy to hitchhike as well.
8. Ancient Siam
This open-air museum south of Bangkok is one of the largest open-air museums in the world and features replicas of Thailand’s most important historical sites. This is perhaps the best place to come if you don’t have a whole lot of time to visit all of Thailand. There are a wealth of architectural styles, shops and important figures depicted here. Although most of the buildings are replicas there are also real buildings that have been rescued from demolition and placed here instead. Rent a bike or golf cart to get around the area as it is quite large. The models are impressive, detailed and large enough to walk in and tour around. This authentic museum focuses on showing visitors famous buildings, temples and people, all within a serene village like feel.
7. Ayuthaya Historic Park
Up until 1767 Ayuthaya was actually Thailand’s capital city but is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is loaded with impressive ruins, beautiful temples and loads of ancient history. The temples here are absolutely magnificent and make sure to check out the Viharn Phra Mongkol Bophit, the palace that resembles the Grand Palace of Bangkok. Inside the temple you will find one of the largest sculptures of Buddha in all of Thailand. Also worth checking out here is the area known as the Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol, where hundreds of Buddha statues are located and buildings are wrapped in colorful fabrics. Getting here is easy, either by bus, taxi or joining a tour group. Visitors to the historic park should consider either renting a bicycle, car with driver or tuk-tuk in order to get around as there is about 15 square kilometers of ground to cover.
Most visitors who come to this province, located just a bus ride away from Bangkok, come for the Bridge Over the River Kwai, a bridge that was the start of the infamous World War II Death Railway to Burma. In fact pretty much all of the sites here have something to do with WWII making it the perfect place for any history buff. The Thailand-Burma Railway Centre gives visitors a great introduction of the Death Railway and its history, as well as there are two war cemeteries to visit. The most popular is the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery where 7,000 POW’s were laid to rest after giving their life for the construction of the Death Railway. There are also many notable temples located throughout the province. In the northwest visitors will find waterfalls, caves, lakes and breathtaking scenery.
5. Nakhon Pathom
Just an hour away from Bangkok is possibly the oldest city in Thailand, the historic town of Nakhon Pathom. Take a train or bus to the site and prepare to spend an entire day exploring the sites and indulging in the delicious food. Here visitors will find the world’s tallest stupa, Phra Pathom Chedi that towers over 120m tall. It also claims to be Thailand’s oldest Buddhist temple and dates back to the 6th century AD. Although you cannot enter into the stupa, visitors can marvel at the inner courtyard and admire the giant golden Buddha on the southern side. The famous temple for the god of darkness is also located here. Wat Srisathong is often visited by worshipers who offer up eight black offerings including black jelly, black rice and black pudding. Seeing the blessing here to repel bad luck is most common.
4. Sampran Riverside
Formerly known as Rose Garden Riverside, this family-run property is a place where visitors can come to experience the authentic Thai way of life. Besides the absolutely breathtaking rose gardens there are a number of activities to enjoy here. The Thai village cultural show and elephant demonstration is a favorite among visitors and highlights include sword fighting, bamboo dancing and a Thai wedding ceremony. Other tours that can be booked here include an organic farm tour by boat, traditional Thai cooking lessons and an arts and crafts workshop at the authentic Thai village. The three restaurants on-site provide delicious and fresh choices for lunch and dinner and offer a variety of cuisine options. If you have limited time in Thailand, this is the perfect day trip from Bangkok to get a feel for the true culture.
3. Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
It is the country’s most famous floating market and located just 50 miles from Bangkok. Although nowadays the vendors sell more souvenirs than goods bought by locals, it is a good example of how commerce used to be in Thailand. This buzzing market is best in the early mornings before the crowds arrive and the intense heat starts. To get there, hire a boat from any pier that lines the Th Sukhaphiban 1, the land route to the floating market area. Sellers arrive to this market in the wee hours of the morning, with boats loaded with exotic fruits and colorful flowers; a scene that has been widely photographed by photographers all over the world. It is well worth it to hire the boat to explore the nearby more peaceful canals once you are through the market, to gain appreciation of how the locals live.
2. Ko Kret
It is arguably Bangkok’s easiest green getaway, an artificial island that was the result of a canal being dug nearly 300 years ago. This island also happens to be home to one of Thailand’s oldest settlement of Mon people. Getting around the island is easy as a walking path runs around the entire island and only takes a few hours to complete. The main temple on the island, Wat Poramaiyikawat, is decorated in Italian marble and is a focal point of the small Mon community. The museum located next to it display interesting items such as crystal ware, religious object and exhibits of local pottery. Ko Kret is known for its hand-thrown terracotta pots and throughout the island visitors will see both abandoned kilns and working pottery centers. Order an iced coffee from just about any street vendor and expect to receive a small pot as a souvenir.
1. Koh Larn
In just over 2 short hours you can escape the hustle and bustle of the lively city of Bangkok and be on the island of Koh Larn soaking up the sun. There are six main beaches to visit on the island and a handful of smaller more deserted ones, with Tawaen Beach being the busiest and biggest, with tons of activities and restaurants. A smaller and quieter beach is Samae Beach which offers everything you need but with a more peaceful vibe. If you are into water sports there is plenty to do including parasailing and jet skiing. Renting a motorbike is the best way to explore the island as you take in the mountainous region full of lush green vegetation. For most travelers the best part about visiting the island of Koh Larn is grabbing a cocktail, some fresh seafood and relaxing on the beautiful beaches. Just make sure to check the times for the last bus that leaves the island or you will be stuck there overnight at one of the pricier resorts.