Exciting as Bangkok is, there’s more to Thailand than the cosmopolitan capital. If you’re trying to avoid the tourist crowd but still wanting to see the beauty of Thailand in all its glory, here are short getaways just outside Bangkok that are calling your name! Think nature excursions, romantic beaches, Instagram-worthy themed concepts and much more.
Drive Time: 2 hours from Bangkok to Pattaya
Pattaya is home to a lively shopping scene, beaches, and booming nightlife. Sandy beaches, water sports & seafood await at Koh Lan (Coral Island). Art and architecture lovers must check out The Sanctuary Of Truth, a magnificent wooden castle by the sea, paying homage to the ancient Thai carpenter-style era. Nature enthusiasts would enjoy the 600-acred Nong Nooch Tropical Garden. Apart from the plenty of flora and fauna, the park also boasts statues and cultural shows.
Complete the trip with A La Campagne, a European-style mini-village complete with a tea room, restaurants and patisserie, farm activities, and lots of photo opportunities. Definitely, one that will make everyone on Instagram jealous!
Drive Time: 1 hour from Bangkok to Ayutthaya
The ancient capital of Thailand, Ayutthaya is one for folks who are interested in culture and heritage. Doused in century old history, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is a hotspot for tourists who come from all over the world, to see the remnants of a once powerful Kingdom of Siam. Amongst the list of temples to visit includes Wat Chaiwatthanaram, a Buddhist temple overlooking the Chao Phraya River and the beautiful ground gardens. The Wat Mahathat is gorgeous in its own way, with intricate Buddha carvings, nestled between the tree roots at the site.
Next up, the Wat Phanan Choeng is famous for its enormous gold seated Buddha statue, considered to be one of the most beautiful in the country. Complete the day with a ride on one of the river boats to take in the monastery in beautiful tranquil setting.
Drive Time: 2 hours and 30 mins from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi
Already Hollywood famous, Kanchanaburi needs no introduction. Best known through Bridge Over the River Kwai, a movie in 1957, the sombre destination is steeped in the grueling history of the Death Railway. Relive the history at the railway, which earned its name from the sheer number of lives lost during its construction. The Erawan National Park comes a close second when discussing the iconic destination in Kanchanaburi. The nature lover’s dream features Erawan Falls, a waterfall that cascades down seven tiers, many caves, and wildlife like deers and elephants.
For an adrenaline rush, Khao Phu Mai Daeng Mountain is the perfect place. At an elevation of 560 meters, the destination is known for its Big Wall Rock Trip, where guests spend the night sleeping on a stretcher hanging off the face of the cliff – secured by ropes 180 meters above the ground! Truly a once in a lifetime experience.
Drive Time: Two hours from Bangkok to Rayong
On the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand, Rayong is lined with a beautiful coastline and a natural scenery. Today synonymous with Koh Samet, the beach with fine white sands is decked with wooden bridges and lounges to rest your feet. Just as famous as its beaches, the province is known for its food. For the best and freshest seafood at affordable prices, head on to the Ban Phe Market.
Hit the Mangrove Research Centre and the Skyview Tower for an afternoon complete with joyous bicycle rides on wooden pathways. The nature preserve is a re-forested area of a previously denuded coastal mangrove forest. The land has been re-established to make way for the incubation of marine life, including many species of fish, crabs, and shrimps. One for those who believe in eco-tourism.
Drive Time: 1 hour from Bangkok to Ratchaburi
If you haven’t been to a floating marketing in Thailand, now’s the time. Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Ratchaburi is frequented by both locals and foreigners. Whether you’re looking to buy souvenirs or sink your teeth into some delicious Mango Sticky Rice, the possibilities are endless. The Bo Khlueng Hot Stream is a popular hotspot in Ratchaburi. A natural hot stream with a temperature of between 50-68 degrees Celsius, the water is believed to be full of minerals that are good for the skin.
Not too far off from the hot stream is Namtok Kao Chan Waterfall. Surrounded by a peaceful and gorgeous natural enclave of greenery, the beautiful waterfall consists of 9 cascades. A destination that’s well-suited for a nature hike, visitors willing to hike up about 4.8 kilometres, can reach the highest point in three to four hours.
Drive Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes from Bangkok to Chonburi
Lined with beaches, Chonburi is best known for the city of Pattaya, but there’s lots more to discover in the region. Perfect for a family trip, the Grand Canyon Chonburi is a landscape that demands exploration. Think a scenic site with a hole in an evergreen cliff, filled with water. Not far away is the Snow Mountain, a hill made up of grey pebbles and rocks, perfect for a photoshoot. Next, experience the Flight of the Gibbon, an adrenaline-fueled zip line adventure in the middle of a rainforest. Made for families and friends, think of an action-packed adventure where you see the rainforest through new heights, zooming through the zip-lines.
Drive Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes from Bangkok to Hua Hin
A favorite amongst Thai locals, Hua Hin is a beachside town with a relaxed surroundings. Here, the Cicada Market makes it on everybody’s travel list – think bargain and street food galore, theatre performances, and live music. Apart from the multiple beach activities in the city, Seen Space Hua Hin introduces a concept of Eat, Lay, Play and Relax – all in one location! Walk in and you won’t realise time fly by as you window shop through the best fashion apparels and home décor, and eat your favourite bites while spectating the all-day entertainment laid out for you.
A 45-minute drive south of Hua Hin, Phraya Nakhon Cave is one for those who love a good challenge. Discovered 200 years ago and located inside the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, prepare for the 1,410-feet hike up steep steps to the cave. It’s totally worth it when you see the small pavilion at the cave bathed in a majestic sun glow.
Drive Time: 3 hours from Bangkok to Khao Yai
We can’t mention Khao Yai without bringing up Khao Yai National Park. Covering more than 2,000 square kilometres of area, there’s plenty to do here – Evergreen forests, mountains, loads of hiking and biking trails, birdwatching, as well as many waterfalls. The Alcidini Winery, a boutique family-run estate, is also nearby. Grown in Thailand, delve into the flavours of the Shiraz and Muscat Blue grape varieties here. Besides wine-tastings, nibble on macadamia and chestnuts while taking in the 360 panoramic view.
Primo Piazza is also a concept worth visiting, mimicking the streets of Italy with stunning replicas of its architecture. As you storm the grounds adorned with cafes, restaurants and retail stores, make your way to the farm area to get up close and personal with alpacas, merinos, and donkeys.
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This article was first written in July 2022 and updated in November 2022.