While the Thai capital is overflowing with sights that could easily keep you busy for an entire week, if you need to escape the urban bustle for a day then there are no shortage of options. From soaking up the region’s ancient architecture to exploring its natural beauty and wildlife to immersing yourself in the Chao Phraya River’s island cultures, here are six of the top day trips from Bangkok.
1. Ayuthaya Historical Park
Situated 85 kilometres to the north of Bangkok, the former ancient capital of Siam at Ayutthaya makes an ideal day trip from Bangkok for those wanting to soak up a little history. Established in 1350, its strategic location on a trade route between China, India, and the Malay archipelago saw it flourish with elaborate temples and palaces and by the early 18th century was one of the world’s largest cities. While it was invaded by Burmese raiders in 1767 and large areas burned to the ground, its ruins are today protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wander its ancient monasteries, prangs, and immense Buddha statues which scatter the landscape, then slowly cruise back to Bangkok along the Chao Phraya River.
2. Khao Yai National Park
If you get an early start, then the magnificent Khao Yai National Park which lies 160 kilometres from Bangkok can be visited on a long day trip. It’s the oldest of Thailand’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, home to a diverse array of wildlife that includes Asian elephants and tigers which can be spotted on guided nature trails. High watchtowers scatter the park where you can get an elevated view and bird watchers have the chance to glimpse some of its more than 300 species.
3. Nakhon Pathom
Just an hour from Thai capital lies one of the oldest cities in the country, Nakhon Pathon, easily visited on a day trip from Bangkok. It’s renowned as home to the tallest Buddhist monument in the world, Phra Pathom Chedi, as well as its very own royal palace. After soaking up its landmarks, take the time to sample some of Nakhon Pathom’s famous dishes, including ‘khao larm’ which combines sticky rice with black beans, and delicious locally-grown tropical fruits.
4. Bang Kachao
Nestled into an oxbow in the Chao Phraya River, Bang Kachao is a lush rural escape amidst the surrounding concrete jungle. It’s just a short ferry ride south of central Bangkok but feels a world away, crisscrossed with canals that can be explored on foot or by bicycle and swathed in coconut orchards. Bang Kachao has been dubbed the “lungs of Bangkok” for its greenery, fruit and vegetable gardens, with its Bang Nam Phueng weekend floating market a particularly popular time to visit and sample the local delicacies on offer.
5. Samut Songkhram
Situated 70 kilometres to the southwest of Bangkok, Thailand’s smallest province makes an ideal day trip from the bustling capital. The Mae Klong River weaves through its heart, flanked by agricultural fields, and meander into a series of surrounding waterways and canals lined with century-old wooden houses. The Amphawa Floating Market is a highlight, with a more authentic feel than Damnoen Saduak, and featuring an enticing range of fresh and cooked foods from its canal-side vendors. Take a long-tail boat tour to explore not only the market but the surrounding fruit orchards and Buddhist temples, including the famed Wat Bang Koong which is partially enveloped by a huge tree.
6. Ko Kret
This riverine island in the Chao Phraya River is situated just 20 kilometres from the city centre and one of the most popular day trips from Bangkok. It was created when a canal was dug to shorten the boat journey to the ancient capital of Ayutthaya and has remained an enclave of Mon culture, with the ethnic group first settling in the mid-18th century. Visit its elegant temples where Mon chanting can be heard, see traditional pottery crafted in its workshops, and sample Mon food at its riverside weekend market.