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Bangkok is an incredible city full of both modern and traditional examples of Thai culture. While the city is a must-see item on every traveler’s list, sometimes it’s good to take a break from the traffic and heat.
The area surrounding Bangkok is full of hidden treasures that make for a perfect day trip or overnight getaway. This article describes some of our personal favorites.
From national parks to peaceful islands and historic cities, there are plenty of interesting places within easy access of Bangkok. Some of the best places near Bangkok are around 3-5 hours away, but they are worth the effort of getting there.
Khao Yi National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the 3rd largest national park in Thailand. It contains one of Thailand's largest monsoon forests and is famous for its diverse wildlife.
While trekking through the park visitors can catch glimpses of elephants, bears, leopards, Asian deer, otters, and many of the 300 migratory birds that call Khao Yi their home.
During the day, visitors can trek to two famous waterfalls, Haew Suwat and Haew Narok, or take in the beauty of the forest around them. The park also offers guided night safaris, during which visitors can see some of the resident nocturnal animals.
We suggest spending at least two days at Khao Yi, to take full advantage of everything the park offers.
Getting there. Khao Yi can be reached in 3 hours by private car or in 4-5 hours by bus.
Damnoen Saduak is one of the most popular floating markets in the Bangkok area and it's easy to see why. The market has existed for over 100 years and is packed with history and vibrancy that visitors adore.
The 32-kilometer-long canal is filled with wooden boats overflowing with colorful food and souvenirs. Here, visitors can buy keepsakes and gifts, eat some delicious food, and take in the atmosphere of this ancient Thai tradition. It’s also a great place to practice your bartering skills.
Getting there. The market can be reached in 2 to 3 hours by cab or private car.
Ayutthaya was the ancient capital of Siam from 1350 to 1767, when it was invaded by the Burmese. Once the country's grandest city, today, it is still impressive but in a different way. Ayutthaya is now known for its large expanse of breathtaking and picturesque ruins.
Many visitors see Ayutthaya via a day-trip, but it is also possible to stay overnight, to make time to explore the entire area. A great way to explore the ancient city and crumbling monuments is by renting a bicycle.
Getting there. Take a minibus or car to reach Ayutthaya within an hour, or take a train from Hualamphong Railway Station for a more scenic 2-hour journey through the countryside.
Kanchanaburi is a small town on the outskirts of Bangkok which is the perfect place if you love history. The town is renowned for being the location of the real Bridge Over the River Kwai and for inspiring the French novel and war film of the same name.
This famous bridge is part of the infamous "Death Railway" which was constructed by Allied POWs during WWII.
Once you've spent your day visiting the historical sites, you can get close to nature by exploring the beautiful Erawan National Park, famous for its breathtaking seven-tiered waterfall.
Getting there. The most popular way to get to Kanchanaburi is by bus or train. Buses and mini-buses often depart from Thonburi Station and can take anywhere from 2-5 hours, depending on traffic. There are two trains to Kanchanaburi every day and they take around 3 hours.
While Thailand is full of bustling and beautiful markets, the Maeklong Railway Market might be one of the most unique and exciting.
What makes this market so interesting is that the railway is in the center of the market and many shopkeepers actually set up their stands on the tracks. Every time a train comes through, shopkeepers pick up their stalls and move to the side until it passes.
Maeklong Railway Market is a great place to shop, but also to find a place to sit and watch, as locals prepare several times a day for a train to pass through.
Getting there. Maeklong can be reached in 1.5 to 2 hours by bus or train.
If you're in Bangkok and wanting to reach a beautiful beach quickly, then Koh Samet is the perfect place. With white sandy beaches and turquoise waters, Koh Samet is a great place for relaxing and catching some sun.
Or if you’re the type of person who doesn't like lying in the sun, Koh Samet also has a thriving nightlife, with many tours and much beach equipment to keep you busy.
Getting there. First, take a 4-hour bus ride from Bangkok and then take a 40-minute ferry from Ban Phe Pier. If you take a private car, you can reach the pier in 3 hours.
Hua Hin, 4 hours southwest of Bangkok, is one of the country's most popular beaches, due to its long stretch of white sand, exciting markets, fancy resorts, and thriving nightlife.
It is highly developed and commercial, very easy to reach from Bangkok, and provides a great opportunity to try out some seafood or get out on a golf course.
The town is very busy on the weekends, so if you are visiting at that time it is important to make your reservations in advance.
Getting there. Take a bus or train to reach Hua Hin in 3 to 4 hours. Trains are sometimes more convenient, because there are no transfers and you arrive in the center of the city.
Only 30 kilometers outside Bangkok, the Ancient City is perfect for visitors who only have an afternoon to spare but still want to spend some time away from the city.
The Ancient City is an open-air museum shaped like Thailand and showcasing many important Thai architectural wonders including temples, palaces, and ruins of ancient cities. The replicas in the Ancient City are precise in detail and are built to be 1/3 the size of the original structures.
It’s a great place for fun photos and also for a nice walk through the beautifully kept grounds of the museum.
Getting there. Take the Skytrain to On Nut Station. Then you can easily switch to a taxi and tell the driver you want to visit the Ancient City or Muang Boran. You can take a taxi the whole way, but many times the Skytrain is faster, because it avoids the city traffic.
Phetchaburi is a small town a few hours outside Bangkok famous for its beautiful temples, palaces, and natural wonders. Although it is a popular destination among Thai travelers, this town is largely undiscovered by foreign travelers, making it even more fun to explore.
While you are there you can visit the narrow waterways, riverside markets, old teak shop-houses, and just take in the peaceful atmosphere of this relaxed temple town.
Getting there. Phetchaburi can be reached in 2 to 3 hours by bus or train from Bangkok.
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