As much as we love Bangkok and its beautiful chaos, it’s always nice to get out of the city from time to time. Weekend escapes are a nice way to renew the amount of fresh air in our lungs, experience a bit of nature or learn some of the Thai ancient culture that is already not available in its modern and fast-paced capital. If you are looking for weekend escapes around Bangkok, stay tuned to this article to discover more!
Travelling in the countryside has always its advantages, for instance the unique people you meet on the way…
If it’s nature what you are looking for, a great option is the Khao Yai National Park, three hours northeast of Bangkok in the beautiful and peaceful Isaan province, the first national park established by the government and second largest in the country. You can get buses from Mo Chit station to Korat and get out at Pak Chong, the nearest town, and there’s also minibuses to Pak Chong from Bangkok’s Victory Monument. The fees to enter the park are 40 bahts for Thai nationals and 400 bahts for foreigners, but while inside you will be able to trek in a lush-green tropical rainforest, spot different animals including gibbons, dears, elephants, crocodiles, bears and leopards, more than 300 species of birds and even enjoy some waterfalls such as the Haew Suwat.
If, in other hand, what you want is beach, have a look on Hua Hin for some days relaxing on the coast in this beach resort popular with Thai people, more chilled than the other near Bangkok destinations such as Pattaya. The quickest way to get there is taking a bus from Sai Tai Mai terminal or minibuses from Mo Chit, Tai Mai, and Rangsit, but we highly recommend taking the train from Hua Lamphong or Bang Sue railway stations, it’s around five hours but quite a nice journey (and as a bonus you will be able to arrive at the prettiest station in the whole country, a recovered wooden house that before belonged to a royal palace). Then you can enjoy a three kilometres clean white-sand beach, a very safe sea to swim, relaxed atmosphere suitable for everyone including families and young children, plenty of water sports such as kiteboarding or fishing trips, plus activities like karting, cycling tours and even a large jazz festival happening one time per year.
Fairytale-like railway station at Hua Hin.
If it’s history and culture what you want to experience, head north for around one and half hour to the Ayutthaya Historical Park (bus available on MoChit bus station, trains on Hualamphong Railway Station and even boat cruises are a viable option) and discover the second capital of the old Siam kingdom after Sukhothai. Founded in 1350 and having been an important trading city until 1767 when the Burmese destroyed most of it, around 1700 was even the largest city in the world with around one million inhabitants. Ayutthaya is actually an island on the crossing point of three different rivers, having many ruins and old temples to visit, such as Wat Phra Si Sanphet, the largest one, and also the Ayutthaya Historical Study Centre, a museum worthy for learning more about this ancient kingdom and its capital, and even the Ayothaya Floating Market for grab something to eat in a more traditional and cool way.
Other interesting historical city filled with old ruins to explore is Lop Buri, located two hours north of Bangkok and being one of the oldest cities in Thailand (reachable by buses from Mo Chit Bus Station to Saraburi town, where you can easily catch a bus to Ayutthaya). Some interesting ruins to see are Ban Vichayen, Phra Kahn Shrine, and King Narai’s Palace, all around the old downtown where you will also find what this city is famous for: lots of monkeys! They occupied some vacant buildings and temples, being almost the kings of the city in these days. You can feed them and take some nice pictures, just be careful because they can steal and do some sneaky pranks at you 🙂
Lazy monkeys with too much time in their hands.
Other interesting destination, with a great mix of history, nature and laid-back atmosphere is Kanchanaburi, located around two and half hours west of Bangkok and reachable by buses departing from Southern Bus Terminal or trains from the Thonburi Train Station. Besides its chilled-out riverside scenery, you can visit the famous bridge over the River Kwai, built by the Japanese during the Second World War with prisoners of war and Asian slaves for what is called the Death Railway to Burma. Also part of one of those classic movies from Hollywood, probably the most famous whistle in cinema history. You can visit some museums about that period such as the Thailand-Burma Railway Centre or a memorial in a passage excavated in rock by hand to give away to the Death Railway, named the Hellfire Pass. Besides you will have plenty of national parks around to breath some fresh air, for instance the Erawan park and its beautiful waterfalls, the Srinakarind National Park or the Tham Than Lot National Park and its elephant sanctuaries. Also famous in this region is the Wat Pa Luang Ta Bua, known as the Tiger Temple, but we highly advise you not to promote the feeding of drugs to the animals just in order to have a photo with a sedated baby tiger in your lap… Besides this highly unethical tourist attraction, we couldn’t recommend more Kanchanaburi for your weekend escape!
Hope you got some inspirations for some days relaxing around Bangkok, have a look on CamboTicket website for options on how to get there from Phnom Penh. And in case you have other recommendations of places to go not far from the Thai capital let us know!