The capital of Thailand is one of the most visited cities in the world and for good reason. While Bangkok’s fascinating sights and smells continue to draw crowds, sometimes we long for something different at the end of a road less travelled. Nam Cheah takes us through four of the best day trips you can go on when you’re looking to journey beyond the confines of the busy metropolis, just for the day.
Bangkok is a favourite destination for many, known for its delicious street food, vibrant markets, and ornate temples. The capital of Thailand is a sprawling metropolis, roughly split into its historic old town with the royal palace and a modern downtown brimming with malls. Beyond that, there are numerous day trip options for visitors both old and new who seek to venture out. From ancient capital ruins to bustling floating markets, here are four best day trips from Bangkok for your next trip:
A must for history and culture lover, Ayutthaya was the capital of the second kingdom of Thailand from 1350 to 1767. It was a prosperous kingdom with good relations to foreign countries. It flourished with art, libraries, and many grand temples dedicated to Theravada Buddhism, heavily influenced by Hinduism. However, most of it was destroyed during the Second Burmese War in the late 18th century. Nowadays, the ruins are protected and restored to a certain degree inside the historical park. You can visit Ayutthaya’s many ruins easily on a day trip since it is just over an hour north of Bangkok. The most famous among them is Wat Mahathat (a former monastery temple with Buddha heads in the tree), the royal temple Wat Phra Si Sanphet (considered to be the holiest), and Wat Phanan Choeng (which survived the war unscratched).
When people think of a seaside escape from Bangkok, Pattaya is the first to spring to mind. Unbeknownst to most, the city of Bangkok has a five-kilometre-long coastline in the district of Bang Khun Thian. It is 45 minutes away from the city and quiet during weekdays, making it a good option to get away from the crowds. Teeming with seafood restaurants, it’s much cheaper than those in the city and with fresher catch, too. From roadside huts to riverside terraces, some restaurants even have boats that can take you out to the sea via small rivers and canals. The area is also home to salt farms, shrimp farms, and mangrove forests. The neighbouring district of Samut Sakhon is a good addition to the trip. It is home to the Wat Phanthai Norasing Temple, built around the execution pole of a general. He was killed due to a law that decree those who damaged the king’s ship were to be executed. His willingness to die for the law made him popular with the locals and the temple is now famous for wish-granting and receives many offerings. There’s also a red bridge nearby that gives a sweeping view of the sea and even to Pattaya and further south on a clear day. On your way out, be sure to stop by one of the many local markets such as the Burmese market, named after the biggest ethnic group in the area.
Floating markets have been an integral part of the life of the Thai even before the founding of Bangkok. It served as a way for people to trade goods, back when roads were scarce. While the majority of Bangkok’s canals and waterways are now used as a method of transport, you can still find many floating markets within easy reach of the city. The most famous is arguably the Damnoen Saduak. It’s an hour and a half from Bangkok and runs daily from early morning until noon. While its popularity means that it’s quite commercialised and often crowded, it also guarantees plenty of activity on the water with long-tail boats brimming with fruits, flowers, and food bumping along ones filled with tourists. So fill up on mini coconut pancakes, boat noodles, or fresh grilled seafood, and shop for novelty T-shirts and souvenirs along the waterway. For a quieter choice, head to Amphawa Floating Market, which is a little further away. It has cheaper food and shopping on offer, and at night the fireflies can be spotted in the nearby canals. The easiest way to visit either of the floating markets is by joining a tour, but you can also take a bus from Siam BTS Station for Damnoen Saduak and Pinklao Bus Station for Amphawa.
Often dubbed as the green lung of Bangkok, the Sri Nakhon Khuewn Khan Park is located on an island in the middle of the Chao Phraya River. The island is spread over 19 square kilometres of land and used to be farmlands and orchards. The Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan Park is one of the former orchards, opened in 1997, with many cycling paths and quaint wooden bridges spanning over lakes and ponds. The park itself is 100 acres, and opens from 5 am until 7 pm daily. If you are up for more than just the park, there are also nine temples dotted around the island, reachable on feet as well as bicycles. It’s also a good place for bird watching, though do remember to pack some sunscreen and mosquito repellent. The island even has its very own floating market—Talad Nam Peung floating market—which is more of a local’s affair. The park is reachable via a ferry by Wat Bangna Nok, which only costs ฿4 and is 50 minutes from the city centre.