The city of Bangkok has plenty to offer tourists, but you shouldn't miss out on going a little bit outside of town, to visit World Heritage Sites, trace the history of the Second World War or relax on a beautiful tropical island.
Ayutthaya; A World Heritage city with over 400 temples
This World Heritage City is the closest of Thailand’s historical sites to Bangkok. It only takes about an hour to get there, so it is a popular destination for travelers who don’t have much time. With good planning, you can visit all of the famous temples within a day,
If you wish to absorb the richness of Ayutthaya a bit more, an overnight stay is highly recommended, to soak up the atmosphere at dusk, and on into the night. Of more than 400 temples, some are not mentioned in most guidebooks but are nonetheless worth visiting. For example, at Wat Phra Ngam Klong Sa Bua the setting sun sends golden rays through the trees, creating the appearance of a portal to another time. Wat Phraya Man’s early 18th Century architecture is unique, and Wat Thammikarat has extremely rare antique lion stuccos. Surrounding villages contain many more old temples, reflecting the wealth of this area that once served Thailand’s old capital.
Koh Samet; An island for fun.
Koh Samet is an island situated in Rayong Province. It’s an easy trip to get there from Bangkok, by car, minibus or coach, and one can hop on a speedboat to zip over the water to this magical place. Those who love the sound of waves lapping white sand beaches, crystal clear seawater and blue sky keep coming back to this island.
Koh Samet has it all, from comfortable accommodation to dining on the beautiful beaches, and from natural beauty to nightlife. You don’t need to go as far as southern Thailand to get all this. Koh Samet has become a popular weekend destination with something for everyone – there’s even a gay beach!
The Death Railway; Follow the history of World War II
Although the history of this railway line is macabre, this does not deter flocks of visitors coming to experience the train ride to Kanchanaburi for themselves.
The railway was built by prisoners of war in 1941 and the lives of tens of thousands of men were lost here. For many, a visit to the railway is a way to honor the lives that were lost, while learning more about the darker history of this part of Thailand. A visit to the ‘Death Railway’ is always a thought-provoking and unforgettable experience.
State Railway of Thailand arrange a dedicated return train trip from Bangkok to Sai Yok Waterfall, Kanchanaburi Province (via the historic Death Railway) every Saturday, Sunday and on public holidays. For more information call 1690 http://www.railway.co.th
Hua Hin, a seaside resort town for Bangkokians.
Whenever there is a long holiday weekend, no matter the season, Hua Hin, in Prachuap Khiri Khan Province, is one of the first names that come to mind for residents of Bangkok.
This colourful seaside town on the Gulf of Thailand prides itself on being a top resort town catering to all kinds of tourists. Some people want to come and experience nature or simply relax by the beach, while others come to Hua Hin for the excitement of the town’s attractions and entertainment. You can stay at a 5-star hotel or sleep in a guest house that costs very little, and fancy restaurants rub shoulders with traditional food stalls. Hua Hin is truly a place where the atmosphere of a quaint seaside town mixes with the modern city vibe.
Damnoen Saduak and Amphawa floating markets, legendary floating market for Thailand tourism
The number of floating markets in Thailand is increasing each year, as they have proved very popular with tourists. When it comes to choosing which one to go to, though, you should head for one of the old, traditional markets for an authentic experience.
One of these legendary floating markets is in Ratchaburi Province, not far south of Bangkok. Damnoen Saduak Floating Market has existed since the reign of the King Rama V (over a hundred years). The boats on the canal carry and sell various produce, including fruits and vegetables from vendors’ own gardens. It was this floating market that established the idea of floating markets as tourist attractions.
Damnoen Saduak Market is busy from morning until noon, so if you want to spend a full day at a floating market, it’s better to go to Samut Songkhram Province for the Amphawa Floating Market. This market is more than half a century old and, despite having fewer boats than Damnoen Saduak, the vibrance and colour of community life along the Mae Klong River - and nearby attractions – easily make up for it. There is homestay-style accommodation, as well as luxurious resorts to choose from if you wish to stay overnight and witness the market stirring to life in the early morning. The busiest times are Friday and Saturday evenings, and Sunday during the day time.)