Destinations Magazine

Bangkok Day Trips: Escaping the City

By Allanmwilson @BoutiqueBangkok

It has been over 7 years now since I first moved to Bangkok, yet I am still relatively clueless when it comes to the day-trips from Bangkok. Which is partly to do with laziness, I guess, but it is also a reflection on just how many Bangkok Day Tours are available. And like I did when sharing the lesser-known islands of Thailand, I have again recruited the help of Thai-friendly bloggers, to pull together a rather comprehensive list sharing the various day trips from Bangkok. All which can be reached via different transport options, such as buses, taxis, trains, minivans, or group tours. However, I do normally just hire a driver for the more hurried trips to make it easier (it's normally around 3,000 - 4000 Baht per day). As, to be fair, we have covered a fair few of these attractions, and I will also bulk out the list with some of our own lesser-known attractions and experiences along the way. Anyway, these are the best Bangkok Day Tours. Enjoy.

Bangkok Day Trips: Escaping the City
Bangkok Day Trips: Escaping the City

By Patrick Horsfield of Adventographer: One of the best ways to explore Bangkok is on the water. They don't call the city 'Asia's Venice' for nothing. In fact, the Chao Phraya River is arguably the city's most important thoroughfare and acts as a busy transportation route shuttling people, goods and cargo from place to place around Bangkok. This city lives on its waterways and there's no better way to experience that than with a river cruise. The normally bustling metropolis of Bangkok rarely feels as calm and serene as it does aboard an evening cruise along the Chao Phraya. The sights of Bangkok's most popular attractions glowing, lit up in the evening sky all while enjoying some gourmet Thai cuisine and entertainment makes for an amazing afternoon and evening in the capital.

By Christine Rogador of The Travelling Pinoys: Ayutthaya Historical Park is a UNESCO heritage site located in Ayutthaya city - a former Siamese capital known for its splendour past until Burmese army razed it in 1767. This park is known for its ruins characterized by reliquary towers, beautiful monasteries and spectacular temples. If you are into history and architecture, Ayutthaya is worth a day trip from Bangkok. Only 1.5 hours away from the Thai capital, you can reach Ayutthaya by train, bus, private transport or one of those group tours offered in Bangkok by local operators. The cheapest way to get to Ayutthaya is by train from Bangkok Hualamphong Station. Third class train tickets can only cost between 15-20 Baht while second class tickets are between 250-350 baht. The only difference between these tickets classes is the AC. But with the windows open in third class, you don't really need an AC.

By Kathy Marris of 50 Shades of Age: Damnoen Saduak Floating Markets are just over an hour's drive outside Bangkok. Our tour bus took us to a pier to hop onto a decorated long-tail boat that was waiting to take us to the market. The boat motors down the narrow canals, where there are small wooden houses on stilts fringing the banks where you get a brief glimpse of life on the river. The journey takes around 20 minutes and it's great to enjoy the peace before the hectic pace of the market. The most famous floating market in Thailand can feel a little commercialised and overcrowded but if you walk further, you will find food-sellers, who not only look more photogenic, but also have some far tastier goods. Unlike most of the other floating markets, the popularity of Damnoen Saduak attracts many fruit sellers rowing their boats along the narrow canals, and there is plenty of tasty food to try along the docks, from freshly-made mini coconut pancakes to boat noodles in their rich meaty broth. We hired another small boat with a local elderly Thai woman at the helm, who was not only physically fit enough to row 4 passengers through the markets, but was as feisty as hell! I wouldn't dare cross her! She rowed us around the floating markets stopping at different market stalls who try to push their wares into your face. The colour and vibrancy of these markets are an experience like no other.

By Elaine and Dave of Show Them the Globe: As well as being one of the largest fresh seafood markets in Thailand, Maeklong is famous for the trains which pass through the market. The narrow market is split by a railway track lined with flowers, fish, vegetables and spices and protected by awnings which shade the market goods from the blistering Thai sunshine. Vendors, locals and tourists weave their way along the track selling their wares, picking up supplies and sightseeing. Six times daily, a warning siren sounds to announce the imminent passing of a train. Stallholders rush to raise their awnings but the goods which line the railway track are perfectly placed to allow the trains to pass without disruption. The market comes to a standstill as the train arrives, its horn blasting to warn overzealous tourists to move out of the way. As soon as it passes the umbrellas are pulled down and it's back to business as usual until the next train arrives! Maeklong Market is located 90 minutes south-west of Bangkok. It's accessible by public transport (train or minivan), taxi or a tour which usually combines Maeklong and the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.

Found along Bangkok's Chao Phraya River, Koh Kret is an island foremost famous for its unique Mon pottery heritage, brought by settled refugees who had fled their homelands in Burma. After settling on the island the refugees traded in terracotta-ware jugs and bowls, and you can still see clay pot spinning, as well as various museums and exhibits on the island. As traditional teak homes continue to house the old unused kilns, and terracotta wares are found almost everywhere around the island, where even the river banks are occasionally strewn with broken pieces of terracotta-ware. Koh Kret is also a relatively small island, easily covered on foot or by cheap bicycle rental, and a "Circle Route" navigates through scenes of old pottery houses, unlikely rural landscapes, and traditional teak homes. Although most of the main attractions are found close to the arrival pier. It should cost around 200 Baht to reach the island by taxi, from most central Bangkok areas, before a short river crossing to the island. Or a better option may be to take the MRT underground travelling to the Bang Sue station then forwarding by taxi from there. Our full guide to Koh Kret here.

Bangkok Day Trips: Escaping the City

Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market

By Nat from Love and Road: Bangkok is famous for the Floating Markets, and there are many of them spread all over the city. Some are more famous and touristy, others still remain quiet and packed only with locals. I have done both and my recommendation for the perfect day trips from Bangkok is a visit to Khlong Lat Mayom, a local floating market that it's still a hidden gem. The market opens only on Saturdays and Sundays, from 9 am to 5 pm, and my suggestion is to go there before midday. The floating market is located at Bangkok outskirts, and to get there is a bit tricky. You can take a combination of buses or BTS + Bus, but it would take up to 2 hours to arrive there. The other options are to take a taxi to the market, hire a private driver or go on a tour. I chose a tour, ' The Authentic Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market and Learn to Make Home-Cooked Pad Thai ' with TakeMeTour, and it was one of the highlights of our 6 months trip in Thailand. The Local Expert that will take you to the floating market as a local friend, explaining about the food, the dishes, the culture and much more. It was a day packed with colours, flavours, blessings and unforgettable memories. We visited the Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market, a Buddhist Temple and flower farm nearby, went for a longtail boat ride, tried local snacks and bought food for our late lunch at the guide's grandma house. There, the lovely grandma taught me how to cook Pad Thai and we had a feast. If you are looking for what to do in Bangkok for first time , a visit to Khlong Lat Mayom must be on your travel list!

Taling Chan is found just thirty minutes from central Bangkok (150 Baht taxi) and it is a market which remains relatively unknown to tourists due to tour operators pushing the more profitable floating markets e.g. Damnoen Saduak. Meaning, unlike the more touristic options, Taling Chan is more relaxed and local, with more food than I could dream of. The street leading to Taling Chan is lined with stalls selling food on more food, and there is a park area next to it set up with picnic tables, where locals snack on Thai foods, and drink beers and whiskys, and live Thai music acts occasionally join the park stage. However the actual Taling Chan Floating Market is small, as it is more of a floating riverside eating area, than a floating market. Although there are occasional tourist boats which tour the surrounding khlongs (canals). Meanwhile kids feed fish and turtles in the surrounding rivers, and the rest of us sit at the floating promenade, stuffing our faces with favourite riverside foods. Taling Chan is perfect for me. Full details here.

Eoin of Dolly's Quest: A trip to Wat Bang Phra temple is more of an experience than a sightseeing exercise. It is one of only a few places in Thailand in which you can receive a blessed Sak Yant tattoo from a Buddhist monk. The tattoo styles themselves are available throughout Thailand, however, the ceremony that makes them so special is only possible in a few locations. The tattoos are engraved into the skin with a metal spike or bamboo, accompanying this are scared prayers/chants carries out by the monks. It is almost always done at the base of the neck. Both the location and design are left up to the monk. The temple is very similar to many other Buddhist temples you will come across throughout south-east Asia, just without the special tattooing taking place inside. Payment is made by an offering of flowers, cigarettes and incense. The oddness of this simply adds to the atmosphere and uniqueness of the experience. To reach Wat Bang Phra is quite easy. It is located roughly 40 minutes from Bangkok and can be reached by public bus or taxi depending on the number in your group.

By Ruben of the Gamin Traveler: One of our favourite day trips from Bangkok is Don Wai Floating Market. To get to Don Wai, we rode a taxi and it took us 30 minutes driving from Khao San Road in Bangkok. Once you reach Don Wai, you have to wait for the boat departure. We bought the ticket and we visited the local market where you can buy food to bring to the boat. The place is very local and you can eat and buy almost everything. We just bought food for the boat ride. The boat ride in the floating market lasts one hour. Aboard, you can feed fishes, see temples and houses. The tour is very local and we barely saw foreigners. The explanations were in Thai and we couldn´t understand anything but finally, we managed to ask locals to translate for us. The place was very peaceful and now it's our favourite floating market in Thailand.

Koh Larn would be the nearest island to Bangkok, or at least the most accessible for tourists, where it is located just off the shores of Pattaya city. And it is easy enough to visit Koh Larn on a day-trip from Bangkok, as it takes in-and-around 3 hours each way, but I would personally give it an overnight stay. To reach the island it takes just under 2 hours to reach the Pattaya pier (Bali Hai Pier), found only a stone's throw from the notorious 'Walking Street', then it takes around 15 minutes to reach the island by speedboat. Or 45 minutes by passenger ferry. The island is then relatively small, meaning you can easily navigate the main beaches by foot, or to speed up the journey, there are also cheap motorbike taxis. The main beach on Koh Larn would be Tawaen Beach, which is also where most of the hotels are found if planning to stay the night ( hotels on booking.com).

By Elisa from World in Paris: The bridge over River Kwai, famous for the British-American film with the same title, is located in Western Thailand. The area is well-connected to the capital city and direct buses cover the distance between Bangkok and Kanchanaburi in only two hours. The River Kwai bridge was part of the "Death Railway", built by the Japanese army during the Second World War to connect Kanchanaburi (Thailand) with Rangoon in Myanmar. The railway was built by around 61,000 allied prisoners of war (POW) and at least 200,000 Asian forced labourers. It is estimated that a third of the allied prisoners died and during the construction of the railway, due to the hard-working conditions imposed by the Japanese and tropical diseases like cholera or dysentery. After completion, the bridge was bombed by the allied forces and repaired again by the labourers several times. The River Kwai bridge can be visited during day trips from Bangkok but if you are a history buff and you are especially interested in the Second World War, you will want to spend at least one night on site to explore all the places related to the Death Railway ( our full guide to Kanchanaburi here).

By Mike of 197 Travel Stamps: The beautiful Erawan Waterfalls are located near the town of Kanchanaburi west of Bangkok and can easily be visited on a day trip. To get there independently, you can either hop on a train from Thonburi Station in Bangkok and take a scenic 2.5-hour ride through the Thai countryside or take a minibus from Victory Monument. Once you are in Kanchanaburi, you can jump on another short minibus ride to Erawan National Park. The falls are located a short walk away from the parking lot. Make sure to bring proper footwear. The jungle soil can get slippery, especially after rainfall. The falls themselves consist of seven tiers. The lower three tiers are easily accessible and also most popular with visitors. If you decide to venture further uphill, to tier five, six and seven, you will be rewarded with a more pristine and relaxing nature experience.

By Gábor Kovács of Surfing the Planet: Lopburi (also written as Lop Buri) is very laid back historic city that can be accessed on a day trip while you are visiting Bangkok. Lopburi has several important historical monuments of Khmer history. The best-known landmark in town is the Phra Prang Sam Yot, an ancient Khmer temple from the 12 th century. This monument is often referred to as the monkey temple because of the hundreds of macaques that hang around in this area. Monkeys are omnipresent in Lopburi, even most hotels have fenced windows to avoid monkeys entering your rooms. There are other interesting ruins in Lopburi such as Ban Wichayen, where envoys and ambassadors lived a few centuries ago or the ruins of Phra Narai Ratchaniwet, also known as the King's Palace that was once the second capital of the Ayutthaya Kingdom and represents an interesting mix of Khmer and French architecture. Although there are trains from Bangkok to Lopburi, the trip can take quite long (over 3.5 hours), therefore, we recommend you to take a minivan from Mo Chit in Bangkok, which will take you to Lopburi in 2.5 hours. ( Our Lopburi Guide here).

By Stephanie of History Fan Girl: One of the most uncommon, but incredibly beautiful day trips from Bangkok is to go to Sukhothai. It's a little bit more difficult to reach as a day trip, but so worth it! Since this UNESCO site and ancient Thai capital is a five-hour bus ride from both Bangkok and Chiang May, most people think that they need to set aside at least two days to enjoy it. However, there are budget flights from Bangkok that leave at 7 am and you can catch a flight back to Bangkok that night and be back in the city by 7:30 pm. The flights are about an hour and fifteen minutes each way, and the cost is 3880 Thai Baht, which is currently about $116 USD. Thus, for about the price of a really nice organized tour, you can get to Sukhothai and back. Once you're there, you can explore the ancient Thai ruins. Reminiscent of Angkor and Ayutthaya. I preferred Sukhothai for its quiet beauty and lack of other tourists. While there were some tourists, there were never crowds like you see in most ancient Southeast Asian cities. The highlight for me was Wat Mahatat, which like the similarly named Wat Mahatat temple in Bangkok, was the home of a Buddha relic during the city's heyday. To get around you can rent a bike, hop on the tuk-tuk tours, or walk. I preferred to walk, because it's a small enough area that you can really see everything on foot.


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