Bangkok is full of things to do, and plenty of travellers spend a week or more in the Thai capital without running out of activities. It need not be expensive, either – in fact there’s plenty to be seen for free – and within the city’s limits there are fantastic hotels and hostels to stay in, and restaurants, floating markets, night markets and more to keep the whole family happy. All the same, sometimes you just want to get out of the hustle and bustle – and that’s where this collection of easy day trips from Bangkok comes in handy.
Thailand’s ancient capital is within easy reach of Bangkok – a bargain train ride will get you there in around an hour for just 20 baht. Explore countless temples, including the famous Wat Mahatat with its Buddha head entwined in a banyan tree. Though the city is relatively compact, some of the temples are just beyond walking distance and so many choose to explore on a cheap-to-rent bicycle. Make time for a feast on Ayutthaya’s signature supersize river prawns.
Even without leaving Bangkok’s boundaries, you can easily spend a relaxed couple of hours wandering the old market at Hua Takhe that shows off a slice of the capital from a bygone era that’s increasingly hard to track down. Stick your head around the door of an old, no longer trading barber’s shop that the owners’ son has kept open as a kind of museum, take in the murals painted by local students who participate in the ad-hoc art market, and then sip on coffee at the canal-side Na Lat Krabang and another nameless joint next door. To get here, take the Airport Rail Link to Lat Krabang station or a mainline train to Hua Takhe station, then hail a motorbike taxi to Lat Krabang Soi 17; alternatively, take a taxi the whole from downtown for around 300 baht.
Many choose to spend a few days in the popular royal seaside resort town of Hua Hin – and it’s easy to see why – but it’s just about do-able as a day trip. Take an early bus or train from Bangkok and arrive in time to dip your toes in the sea along the white-sand beach, and take in the views from Khao Takiab mountain at the southern end of Hua Hin beach. Wander the reminiscent Plearn Wan vintage market, and of course make time for a great value fresh seafood feast over the squid piers. Grab a few snaps of the town’s famous railway station, too – it’s a beautiful piece of architecture that is an attraction in its own right.
Just on the outer edge of day-trip possibilities, Kanchanaburi certainly isn’t short of attractions that could convince you to make your stay a little longer. Erawan National Park is famous for its seven-tiered waterfalls, while the WW2-era Death Railway line from Kanchanaburi to Nam Tok takes you over the infamous Bridge over the River Kwai and through some simply stunning landscapes. The war cemeteries in Kanchanaburi town are a sombre and humbling experience for many visitors, and even more so is Hellfire Pass, some way out of town, one of the most gruelling parts of the Death Railway’s construction where many prisoners of war perished. A weekend-only excursion train leaves early from Bangkok and gets you to and from Kanchanaburi in a day, taking in many of the popular sights – alternatively, if you fancy making a night of it then pack a good book and enjoy the rustic simplicity of kicking back in a hammock next to a riverside raft house.
Famous for Amphawa floating market, Mae Klong (also known as Samut Songkhram) is Thailand’s smallest province but packs in the punches in terms of attractions. The see-it-to-believe-it Talat Lom Hup ‘railway market’ is a popular spot to watch eight trains a day pass right through the middle of a busy market, which was here before the railway came along and along the middle of which the track was built. Vendors leave many of their goods right on the tracks as they press themselves up against the walls to avoid the wrath of the passing carriages, and then carry on as if nothing has happened once it’s on its way. Just up the road is Wat Bang Kung, a temple which has become totally enveloped in an age-old banyan tree – another sight that’s incredible to take in.
Which are your favourite day trips from Bangkok? Let us know in the comments!