Bangkok is a huge city that offers endless options to the visitor. If you love large cities in Southeast Asia, even during its hottest months -April and May, in the case of Bangkok-, when you get drenched in sweat the moment you step on the street, and if you don’t mind sitting in a plastic chair in an alley to devour a noodle soup, then Bangkok will fascinate you.
You can spend endless days discovering its corners, as every corner in Bangkok hides a whole world full of stories.
Here you can find:
But despite so many things to discover in Bangkok, there are also several interesting destinations in its surroundings that can be easily visited on day trips.
Here I bring you a list of my Top day trips from Bangkok to make the most of your time in the capital of Thailand.
Top day trips from Bangkok, by a local resident
✅ Ayutthaya, the Ancient Capital of Siam
Distance: 80 kms Ideal for: First trip to Thailand
Why do we recommend a day trip to Ayutthaya?
Ayutthaya is an essential when talking about top day trips from Bangkok. Everyone traveling to Thailand should include Ayutthaya in their itinerary, as it is one of the main historical places in the country and is only 80 kilometers from Bangkok.
Your international flight would have landed in Ayutthaya had it not been for the Burmese who ravaged the city in 1767, in one of the many wars they fought with the Siamese, forcing what was left of the Siamese army to build a new capital, Krungthep -the Thai name for Bangkok-, further south the Chao Phraya River.
There is no doubt that Ayutthaya was one of the most important cities of its time, although we do not know the exact number of inhabitants it had at its peak. Today, Ayutthaya is a small city without much importance beyond the beautiful ruins that are preserved, scattered within the modern city and mixed with the new buildings. The ruins of Ayutthaya are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
► More information on Ayutthaya.
► Interested in a private Tour to Ayutthaya going back by cruise? Contact us.
✅ Floating Markets
Distance: 90 kms Ideal for: First trip to Thailand
One of the most anticipated activities for many tourists to Thailand, who dream of riding aboard a small boat through a floating market, surrounded by local people in their daily purchase of fresh vegetables and fruits. Unfortunately this idyllic postcard imagery no longer exists. Floating markets are no longer a meeting and trade place for locals, but have become simple tourist attractions. Not surprising considering that the canals and rivers that were once the main means of transportation in the kingdom of Siam have been replaced by roads and highways.
Which one is the most recommended floating market from Bangkok?
Anyway, I don’t want to discourage anyone from visiting them. I still like them, especially the weekend floating market of Amphawa, which I’ve been many times. The most famous is Damnoen Saduak, open every morning 365 days a year, and whose image appears in all travel agencies (sometimes in a photo from the early 90s). It would certainly disappear if foreign tourists stopped coming tomorrow, since Thais hardly ever visit. Despite this, it is a fun half-day excursion that allows to get an idea of what these markets were like in their heyday. It is also the favorite excursion of the tour guides, since there’s plenty of snacks and Thai desserts, something that Thais enjoy like no one else.
Distance: 130 kms Ideal for: World War II History Lovers
Kanchanaburi is a Thai town about 130 kilometers west of Bangkok, which can be visited as a day trip combined with Damnoen Saduak floating market or, even better, stay a few nights in Kanchanaburi to explore the area and visit other nearby places such as the Erawan National Park or Elephant’s World.
The city of the World War II
Kanchanaburi is famous for its role in World War II, although Thailand was not actively involved in that war. In their quest to conquer all of Asia, the Japanese managed to control Thailand after some skirmishes with the Thai army. Local politicians, knowing they had no resources to oppose the Imperial Japanese Army, allowed the Japanese to enter the country and roam freely. The Japanese brought in thousands of POWs, many of them Westerners, who had been captured in other Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia, a Dutch colony at that time. These prisoners were forced to build a train track to connect Bangkok with Burma, also occupied by the Japanese, in order to transport materials to the Japanese armies that were trying to invade India, a British colony at that time.
And so the famous bridge over the River Kwai was built. The bridge, which many tourists visit on a daily basis, is located in the center of Kanchanaburi. In addition to the bridge, you can also visit one of the various museums recounting the WWII events that occurred here, as well as the cemeteries of Western prisoners of war who perished as a result of exploitation and mistreatment by the Japanese army.
► More about Kanchanaburi history and travel tips.
► Tour to Damnoen Saduak floating market and Kanchanaburi: Contact us.
✅ Bang Krachao, Bangkok’s Green Lung
Distance: 20 kms Ideal for: Those looking for something alternative
If you look at Bangkok on Google Maps you will see that there is a large area of the city, on the river and somewhat secluded, which is almost completely green. That is Bang Krachao. It is a forest area with only a few roads and several paths, with a very popular weekendmarket and a large park. This entire area is ideal for cycling and is a good, very alternative and little-known excursion for those looking unique, non-tourist experiences.
✅ Koh Kred island, in Chao Phraya river
Distance: 40 kms Ideal for: Those looking for something alternative
Koh Kred is a small man-made island in the Chao Phraya River, north of Bangkok. The island has a narrow circular road which is ideal for cycling, and has traditionally been inhabited by people of the Mon ethnic group.
Koh Kred, like Bang Krachan, is a good place to visit on weekends, when there is a market and has a more lively atmosphere, although you can go any day. Both destinations are recommended for those who already know well the most famous places in the area and are looking for something alternative, or for those who like to explore lesser known destinations.
Distance: 155 kms Ideal for: See a cool beach in a very touristy place
Pattaya is famous for being the main sex tourism destination in Thailand. Its ‘Walking Street’ is lined with gogo bars, with hundreds of girls who dance half naked and approach the costumers for a drink -from which they receive commission-, or to get them involved in more expensive deals.
Old photos of Pattaya from 30 years ago don’t resemble much what the city looks like today. The small coastal town of yesteryear and its beautiful beach have become a tourist city with a mediocre beach by all Thai standards. Still, Pattaya is fine for a weekend, and the huge accommodation offer means it’s easy to find a good hotel at a bargain price.
Koh Larn is the best Island near Bangkok
Also, from Pattaya you can visit the island of Koh Larn. A small island with pretty cool beaches although, of course, crowded with tourists due to its proximity to Pattaya. Anyway, Koh Larn’s beache are probably the best that can be visited on a day trip from Bangkok. However, it is recommended to stay at least one night in Pattaya or Koh Larn.
And Sai Kaew is the best costal beach near Bangkok
In case you are looking for a nice beach not far from Bangkok that you can reach without taking any boats, have a look at the beautiful Sai Kaew Beach.
✅ Hua Hin, a large coastal town
Distance: 190 kms Ideal for: Enjoying a coastal town
Hua Hin is the main beach destination where people from Bangkok go to on weekends. It is a fairly large town with a wide range of hotels and excellent restaurants mainly specialized in seafood. Hua Hin is somewhat far away, about 3-4 hours from Bangkok, so it is advisable to spend at least one night there. A return trip in one day is possible, but you will have to leave very early. If you spend more than one day there, you may consider visiting Sam Rot Yod National Park.
Distance: 175 kms Ideal for: Learning about elephants in a respectful way
Elephant’s World elephant camp is an elephant rescue and recovery center. An NGO that can be visited in one or several days (they accept volunteers, although paying). In the one-day visit, you will prepare the elephants’ food, feed and bathe them in the river, as well as learn a lot about them and their needs.
Elephant’s World is just past Kanchanaburi, a bit far from Bangkok, but you can go back and forth in one day if you feel like it. The experience is worth it. It costs about 2500 THB per person, lunch included. To this you must add private transport, which costs about 4000 THB per van (9 seats).
Distance: 110 kms Ideal for: Knowing a beach town without tourists
Bang Saen is a beach town relatively close to Bangkok. The truth is that its beach is not particularly pretty, and that’s the reason why you will hardly find foreign tourists. The town is basically a destination for Thais who want to eat seafood with friends and family, sit under an umbrella on a lounger on the sand and enjoy the sea views. Again, Bang Saen is recommended for those who already know the main destinations, or really want to experience the more local Thailand.
✅ Thai Wake Park, something different
Distance: 60 kms Ideal for: Doing an alternative activity
This option is somewhat different from the rest. Thai Wake Park is a wakeboarding park, a place to practice water skiing pulled by a cable. The park has 3 lakes, and one of them is for beginners, so you can enjoy it even if you have never practiced this sport before. The park is an hour from Bangkok and is somewhat difficult to reach, so better check your GPS.
Distance: 190 kms Ideal for: Anyone looking for real jungle
Khao Yai National Park is one of the largest and most impressive in the country. We recommend that you spend at least one night there, ideally in one of the bungalows within the park, but if you don’t have that much time it is also possible to visit it on a day trip from Bangkok.
In that case, you need to leave Bangkok very early in the morning, so you can start hiking through the jungle around 10 am. We recommend taking at least one excursion through the forest for 2 or 3 hours. Don’t forget to bring good hiking shoes!
We have one of the most complete articles for you visit to Khao Yai