Where to visit in western Thailand

Go BackGo back
Updated: March 26, 2019

Western Thailand is often a bit of an afterthought in visitors’ minds, bundled in alongside the more clearly defined central, northern, eastern and southern regions. But a number of Thai provinces don’t quite fit that neat method of dividing up the country, jutting out as they do towards the border with Myanmar. That’s not to say they’re not worth visiting – in fact, Thailand’s western provinces include a few hotspots that attract hordes of tourists every year, along with a number of quieter hideaways that you might just have to yourself.

Are you also visiting Bangkok while you’re in Thailand? Make the most of your time in the capital, and get to the heart of Thailand’s culture, food and sightseeing with one of our expert-led tours or experiences!

Kanchanaburi

Erawan National Park in Kanchanaburi, Thailand - photo by Eli Duke

Among western Thailand’s most visited destinations, Kanchanaburi is full of tourism attractions  from sobering prisoner-of-war cemeteries and evidence of World War Two’s Death Railway (like the Bridge Over the River Kwai itself and the even more evocative Hellfire Pass) to more light-hearted escapes like the seven-tiered Erawan waterfalls.

Kanchanaburi is only a couple of hours north-west of Bangkok and, for a more pleasant and memorable journey, it’s easily reached by train from the capitals Thonburi railway station. Hiding yourself away with a book and a hammock on a picturesque rafthouse along the River Khwae is a fabulous way to spend a weekend of seclusion in Kanchanaburi, whether you do it from the touristy Maenam Khwae Road in Kanchanaburi city itself or instead opt for one of the truly secluded and undeniably stunning out-of-town spots.

Kanchanaburi is also a notoriously inexpensive place to holiday, with everything from its dirt-cheap accommodation options to bars selling shots of local (branded) whisky for as little as 10 baht plotting to keep you in the province for longer than you had planned.

How to get to Kanchanaburi from Bangkok

There are frequent minivan and air-conditioned bus departures for Kanchanaburi from Bangkok’s northern Mo Chit terminal and southern Sai Tai Mai terminal. Alternatively, take one of the two daily departures by local, fan-cooled train from Bangkok’s Thonburi railway station (note that non-Thais are charged a flat rate of 100 baht for the journey on this route, while the fare for Thai nationals between Thonburi and Kanchanaburi is 25 baht). On weekends, you can also catch an excursion train to Kanchanaburi that leaves in the early morning from Bangkok’s main Hualamphong railway station. It returns the same evening, but you can easily skip the return leg if you’re planning on spending a few nights in Kanchanaburi.

Sangkhlaburi

The wooden bridge in Sangkhlaburi, Thailand - photo by Chris Wotton

Also located in Kanchanaburi province, but much further out to the remote west and just 12km from the border with Myanmar, Sangkhlaburi is a stunning, secluded and culturally diverse outpost of a town that is best known for its photogenic wooden bridge – the longest handmade bridge of its kind in Thailand – that stretches over the area’s enormous man-made lake.

As much as anything, Sangkhlaburi is the kind of place perfect for just hanging out, kicking back and relaxing for a few days – or potentially slightly longer than anticipated. But there are also stunning Buddhist temples like Wat Wang Wiwekaram to discover close by, while taking a boat ride out across the famous lake gives you the chance to discover the remains of old Sangkhlaburi town, sunken to create a dam. The village of Mon settlers, on the opposite side of the bridge from Sangkhlaburi proper, is also worth a visit.

How to get to Sangkhlaburi from Bangkok

From Kanchanaburi city’s main bus terminal, minivans, air-conditioned buses and local fan-cooled buses make regular daily trips to Sangkhlaburi. The trip takes around three and a half to four hours. There are also two daily direct buses from Bangkok’s Mo Chit bus terminal to Sangkhlaburi, taking around seven hours.

Phetchaburi

Cha-am beach in Phetchaburi province, Thailand - photo by Joe deSousa

Though it’s still further north than Hua Hin or Prachuap Kiri Khan proper, Phetchaburi province is arguably the point on your journey from Bangkok that you begin to get a taste for the flavours of southern Thailand, as the landscape begins to transform and the vibe slowly changes.

Phetchaburi is a low-key, non-touristy and historically significant city and province, and also one that’s great for foodies – it has a strong food game going on all round, but it’s especially famous for its collection of sweet treats like kanom mor gaeng custard-based dessert and khao dtang crispy pork-based crackers.

The hilltop royal palace of Khao Wang, officially known as Phra Nakhon Kiri Historical Park, is among Phetchaburi’s most picturesque attractions and definitely worth a visit, while beaches like Had Chao Samran (and even Cha-am, towards the south of the province) mean Phetchaburi also delivers for beach-lovers.

How to get to Phetchaburi from Bangkok

13 trains run from Bangkok’s Hualamphong station to Phetchaburi each day, with a journey time of around four to five hours. Buses and minivans run from both the northern Mo Chit and southern Sai Tai Mai terminals in Bangkok to Phetchaburi, taking around three hours.

Hua Hin

Hua Hin train station in Hua Hin, Thailand - photo by Uwe Schwarzbach

Though it’s often grouped together with provinces in southern Thailand, the resort town of Hua Hin – and indeed the rest of Prachuap Kiri Khan province, of which it forms a part – is both geographically more connected to and has more in common with the country’s western region than the true southern provinces further down the coastline.

Hua Hin is a favourite getaway for Bangkokians looking to escape the capital for the weekend without having to contend with a lengthy drive. There are glorious white-sand beaches, impressive views from the likes of Khao Takiab mountain, and a delicious array of inexpensive seafood and other Thai food to enjoy, as well as a growing scene of trendy and high-quality coffee shops.

Hua Hin is also well equipped with a diverse hotel scene, so it’s easy to find somewhere comfortable to stay that suits your budget.

How to get to Hua Hin from Bangkok

The road journey from Bangkok to Hua Hin takes around four hours; buses and minivans depart at regular intervals throughout the day from Bangkok’s southern Sai Tai Mai terminal. The train from Bangkok’s Hualamphong Station is also a pleasant way to make the journey – there are 13 departures throughout the day, and the ride takes between four and five hours. Hua Hin also has an airport, but currently there are only regular flights to and from Kuala Lumpur with AirAsia.

Ratchaburi

Damnoen Saduak floating market in Ratchaburi, near Bangkok, Thailand - photo by Walter Lim

Ratchaburi is most famous for being home to Damnoen Saduak floating market, but it’s a province that’s also worth visiting for other reasons (which is just as well, because Damnoen Saduak is about the last floating market we would recommend).

Wat Khao Chongpran temple is worth a visit for a sight of the cave next to it, from where thousands of bats pour out into the sky around dusk every evening – looking like a stream of smoke as they do, it’s just the sight to behold.

Elsewhere, Suan Pheung district is another popular part of Ratchaburi, with natural attractions like hot springs alongside a range of theme-park-style attractions and accommodation options like sheep farms and resorts designed to imitate the Greek landscape – in other words, the kind of things you’ll find either impressive or just outright strange.

How to get to Ratchaburi from Bangkok

The train makes for a convenient way to get from Bangkok to Ratchaburi, with 13 daily departures taking between two and two and a half hours. Alternatively, buses and minivans depart regularly from Bangkok’s southern Sai Tai Mai terminal and take around an hour and a half.

Tak

Mae Sot in Tak, Thailand - photo by Ken Marshall

Often thought of as a northern Thai province, Tak is in fact geographically better associated with the country’s western region, nestled up against the Burmese border as it is and given that it isn’t quite as far up north as neighbouring provinces like Mae Hong Son.

There’s admittedly not heaps going on in the provincial capital itself, but it’s nevertheless an interesting spot that will appeal to those looking to knock off a few lesser-visited Thai provinces. Given it’s decidedly low-key nature, Tak city is also a great place to settle in and simply relax for a while.

For something more invigorating and culturally immersive, Mae Sot city an hour or so further out towards the Burmese border is a bustling melting pot that’s also a great place for eating, while there are temples to see in the city itself and temples, waterfalls and more within close enough distance to render them easily reached on a day trip.

How to get to Tak from Bangkok

Buses depart for Tak regularly throughout the day from the northern Mo Chit terminal in Bangkok, and take around seven hours. Alternatively, make the five-to-nine-hour journey by train from Bangkok’s Hualamphong station to Phitsanulok (or fly there in around an hour with AirAsia, Lion Air or Nok Air from Bangkok’s Don Muang airport) and then take one of the regular bus or minivan departures for the remaining 90-minute journey to Tak. Finally, Bangkok Airways flies from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport to Sukhothai in around an hour and 20 minutes, from where it’s about a 90-minute minivan or bus ride to Tak with regular departures.

Expique tours and experiences to make the most of your time in Bangkok

At Expique, we’re experts at showing you the unique parts of Bangkok that most tours don’t take you to – and which you probably won’t discover on your own. Joining one of our tours or experiences (or having us create a custom tour for you) is a great way to make the most of your time in Bangkok and ensure you leave with a memorable experience.

Essential information for your visit to Bangkok

Are you visiting Bangkok? Take a look at our expert recommendations for:

Where are your favourite spots in western Thailand? Let us know in the comments!

Photos by Eli Duke; Chris Wotton; Joe deSousa; Uwe Schwarzbach; Walter Lim; Ken Marshall

Categories: Thailand

Share this article:


Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


About Expique
Expique is an award winning experience operator based in Bangkok. We aim to show guests the uniqueness and beauty of Bangkok and the Thai Culture. Our experiences include tuk tuk tours, food tours, walking tours, cooking classes and market experiences.
Experiences You May Like:
Local Historical Walk
Where East Meets West
Family Focused Bangkok Adventure
Family Canal and Tuk Tuk Adventure
Afternoon Snacks & Markets Walk
Snacks, Markets and More
Quick Thai Cooking Class
Cook & Eat: The 1-Hour

Discover More About Bangkok

In our "Bangkok Guide" we share tons of resources to help you get to know the city better

Our Bangkok Guide

Talk to our team today to discuss custom tours

We'd like to hear from you! Contact Us

Experience Bangkok
with Expique!