The best day trips from Bangkok
“One night in Bangkok,” declares the hit 80s song of the same name, “and the world’s your oyster.” Truth be told, you could spend a lifetime hunting for pearls in Thailand’s capital and still have more oysters to shuck—no sense in removing all of them from the water.
Indeed, Bangkok is as much about digging in as it is getting out: Both its geography and its history make it a perfect hub for day trips, whether you’re seeking culture, cuisine, the countryside, or all three. The best part about these Bangkok road trips? You can still get back to the city in time for night, whether you’re craving bivalves or the go-go boys of Silom Soi 4.
Thailand's least-typical island
Ask most Thai people about floating markets and you’ll hear the same thing: Although the markets were once an important part of local culture, they now exist mostly for tourists.
While it’s doubtful that the markets at Amphawa, in Samut Songkhram province, are any more authentic than some of the ones closer to Bangkok’s core, they seem to fool even Thais, who make up most of the visitors here. After exploring the market on foot or out on the water, enjoy a fresh seafood dinner cooked on one of the many boats that dock along its shores each night.
GET THERE: Grab a minibus from the stand at Exit 4 of the Victory Monument BTS station. One-way journey time 90 minutes, cost 90 THB.
Thailand's least-typical island
If you Google the phrase “Thai island,” you get images of swaying palm trees, sugar-white sands and turquoise waters. Koh Kret not only jettisons traditional island imagery, but also bests them in convenience—it’s one of the easiest day trips from Bangkok.
Scenery, to be sure, is just one unique element of Koh Kret, a manmade island in the Chao Phraya river just north of Bangkok. Most notably, the island is home to a large group of Thailand’s Mon minority, whose intricate pottery is the star attraction here. If you play your cards right, you can even try your hand at it!
GET THERE: Ride the Chao Phraya Express boat to its terminus at Nonthaburi, then get a taxi to Wat Sanam Nuea pier and ride the ferry to Koh Kret. One-way journey time 90-120 minutes, cost ~200 THB.
Nakhon Pathom's colossal Chedi
Phra Pathom Chedi stretches more than 120 meters into the air, but even if you’re not a size queen, there’s still reason to rejoice when you choose Nakhon Pathom as your Bangkok day trip. Most notable among these is Sanam Chandra, a palace that fuses European and Siamese design traditions, built by Thai King Rama VI in the early 20th century.
It’s easy to spend hours circling the chedi, admiring it from every angle, but take a break and fuel up on street snacks in the bustling market of nearby Soi Roftai.
GET THERE: Take one of the twice-daily, Kanchanaburi-bound trains from Bangkok’s Thonburi railway station to Nakhon Pathom station. One-way journey time 80 minutes, cost 100 THB.
Big Buddhas and cave temples in Ratchaburi
Ratchaburi province sits just two hours southwest of Bangkok, but the scenery is more akin the limestone karsts of Phuket or Krabi in Thailand’s deep south. As is the case with Thailand in general, beauty here is more than skin-deep—or earth-deep, as it were.
After admiring conspicuous treasures such as Wat Nong Hoi, a hilltop Buddha that rises hundreds of meters above the pristine countryside, pay a visit to one of region’s unique—but, be warned, kitschy—cave temples.
(TIP: Shirk the crowded cave temples near Ratchaburi’s town centre for off-the-beaten-path Wat Tham Surika, which you’ll need to access by hiring a song theaw pick-up truck.)
GET THERE: Trains leave Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong station several times per day. One-way journey time 120 minutes, cost 220 THB.
Where to stay in Bangkok
The five-star Sofitel So Bangkok not only offers stunning views of Bangkok’s skyline and the city’s lush Lumphini Park, but positions you ideally for exploring everything the Thai capital has to offer, its myriad day trip options notwithstanding.
Koh Kret | Photo: Robert Schrader
Nakhon Prathom | Photo: Robert Schrader