Bangkok is a bustling metropolis, with an energy level that is unparalleled in all of Thailand. Whether you love it or hate it, the madness of this city eventually grows on you. There are times, though, when you want to just escape this chaotic mess and look for a pleasant change.

Luckily, there are tons of beautiful places beyond Bangkok’s periphery to suit your taste. Whether you want to party hard, find solitude in the jungles, visit architectural ruins, or get a dose of World War history, you are spoilt for choice.
So, take your pick from these amazing places near Bangkok, and get that much-needed break from the city.

1. Pattaya

Pattaya

How to get there: Take a bus or cab from Bangkok to reach Pattaya in 2 hours.

The poster boy of nightlife in Thailand, Pattaya needs no introduction. Wildly popular for its infamous party streets (Walking Street, anyone?) and sleazy bars, Pattaya is the favourite haunt of those looking for debauchery. Pattaya is also the adventure capital of Thailand.

From high adrenaline activities like skydiving and bungee jumping to underwater adventures like scuba diving and snorkelling, Pattaya has every known adventure in the book. With its island tours, cultural attractions and kids-themed parks, it’s not uncommon to find families strolling along the streets of Pattaya.

2. Hua Hin

Hua Hin

How to get there: Take a bus or train from Bangkok to reach Hua Hin in 3-4 hours

Hua Hin is a beach destination, with pristine white sand beaches, lively bars, thriving markets, tasty street food, and sprawling upscale resorts. Needless to say, it’s highly commercial, with the crowd from Bangkok landing in droves on the weekends – not to mention the growing number of expats who now call it home.

Being a bustling town with a wide choice of seafood, attractions and tours to choose from, it’s an easy and comfortable drive from Bangkok for those who wish to do some beach-hopping.

3. Koh Samet

Koh Samet

How to get there: Take a 4-5 hour bus ride from Bangkok and 40-minute ferry from Ban Phe Pier

Looking for an idyllic island life without travelling all the way to Phuket? Don’t worry – Koh Samet is a mere 3-hour drive from Bangkok. Koh Samet has everything that makes for a fun-filled retreat – turquoise blue waters, crescent-shaped white sand beaches, plenty of watersports, and a thriving nightlife.

On weekends, it’s packed to the core, so if you are planning to head there for a getaway, make sure to book your stay in advance.

 

4. Khao Yai National Park

Khao Yai National Park

How to get there: Can be reached by bus or train from Bangkok in 4-5 hours.

Khao Yai is Thailand’s third-largest national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s one of the largest remaining monsoon forests and home to large mammals like elephants, bears, leopards, barking deer, otters and gibbons. Following the most common trails, you can even spot the park’s only crocodile.

Rich in its wildlife diversity, there are around 300 resident and migratory birds soaring over the park and reptiles crawling on the surface. No wonder then that this park is incredibly popular with tourists.

5. Kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi

How to get there: Take a cab, bus or train from Bangkok to reach Kanchanaburi in 2-3 hours

Kanchanaburi is a town history buffs would find to their liking. It’s most famous for a bridge over River Kwai, spawning an epic war movie of the same name. The bridge was constructed by Allied POWs as part of the Burmese railway, also called the “Death Railway”.

These remnants of history make Kanchanaburi worth a visit. But there is more to this place than just history. Kanchanaburi is also home to beautiful national parks, like the Erawan National Park, well-known for its stunning seven-tiered waterfall. Hiking to this waterfall is a must to experience its true wonders. Dig deeper into this town to find lush green jungles, hidden caves and charming riverside villages.

6. Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya

How to get there: Take a bus or minivan from Bangkok to reach Ayutthaya in an hour.

Step back in time at Ayutthaya, once a prosperous capital of Thailand and one of Asia’s grandest cities. Now, it’s a city of ruins, serving as a grim reminder of its heydays. The city’s temples and palace ruins are a big draw for travellers and there’s no better way to explore these architectural marvels than on a bike.

Though Ayutthaya can be done as a day trip from Bangkok, it has more ruins than any other place in Thailand. So, ensure you stay a few days to absorb all that it has to offer.

7. Phetchaburi

Phetchaburi

How to get there: Take a bus or a train from Bangkok to reach Phetchaburi in 2-3 hours.

Phetchaburi is a sleepy town with exquisite temples, palaces, age-old teak shophouses and surrounded by jungle-clad mountains. Its narrow lanes and waterways lend a timeless ambience to this town. Throw in great food, beaches and history, and you have a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok.

Phetchaburi is popular among Thai locals (foreigners haven’t caught on to it yet), so experience it before it gets mainstream. While you’re there, make sure you head to the unbelievably massive cave shrine of Tham Khao Luang. If you arrive between May and December, you can even spot Bryde’s whales in the nearby coastal areas of Baan Laem and Bang Tabun.

8. Wang Takhrai Waterfall

Wang Takhrai Waterfall

How to get there: Take a cab or bus from Bangkok to reach in 2-3 hours.

An escape into the lap of nature, Wang Takhrai is a lesser-known waterfall, a mere two hours from Bangkok. It’s not a massive waterfall, but more like a series of freshwater rapids gushing through the lush green forest. You can swim in the waterfall, hire an inflatable tube from the national park and lounge about as the gentle stream carries you, or camp overnight in the park.

9. Tung Prong Thong

Tung Prong thong

How to get there:  Take a cab from Bangkok to reach here in 3 hours.

Tung Prong Thong, meaning ‘golden field’ in Thai, got its name from a species of mangrove that produces yellow and green leaves and, when the sun shines on them, makes them glitter like gold. From various viewpoints, you can get a 360-degree view of this vast expanse of yellow. A wooden walkway has been built through the forest to allow visitors to experience the mangroves from close quarters. Take a break from the concrete jungles of Bangkok, and go for a long walk through this serene woodland.

 

10. Nakhon Ratchasima

Nakhon Rathchasima

How to get there: Take a bus or train from Bangkok to reach Nakhon Ratchasima in 4-5 hours.

Nakhon Ratchasima is the largest province in Thailand, and is usually a pit stop for travellers wanting to explore the nearby Khao Yai National Park. Although a world away from the Westernisation of Bangkok, Nakhon Ratchasima, commonly known as Khorat, now has fancy cafes, plush hotels and malls.

The town is blessed with lush green rice paddies, the jungles of Khao Yai National Park, and impressive 1,000-year-old ruins that bear a striking resemblance to the ones at the world-famous Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Keep an open mind, and you will find that it’s a charming destination in its own right.

11. Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
How to get there: Can be reached from Bangkok by cab in 2-3 hours.

This cacophony of sights, sounds and smells is Thailand’s most popular floating market, regularly featured in travel magazines. You can hire a longtail boat and paddle along with hundreds of boats selling colourful fruits & vegetables, funky souvenirs and lip-smacking street food here. This is the place to observe locals go about their daily business. The floating market can be super crowded, so ensure that you reach there by early morning.

12. Maeklong Railway Market

Maeklong Railway Market

How to get there: Take a bus or train from Bangkok to reach there in 1.5 to 2 hours

Ever imagined a railway train passing through the middle of a market and shopkeepers wrapping up their stalls to make way for it? There is actually a market like that in Thailand, known as the Maeklong Railway Market. It’s quite popular among tourists, and videos of this market went viral on the internet. It has all the makings of a typical Thai market with the added wonder of a train passing through it several times a day. It’s a unique and impressive market that has to be seen to be believed.

13. Wat Phra Pathom Chedi

Wat Phra Pathom Chedi

How to get there: Take a bus or train from Bangkok to reach in 1-2 hours

Wat Phra Pathom Chedi, meaning the ‘First Stupa’, is the tallest stupa in the world, at a towering 127 metres from base to tip. The Chedi is built on a site where Buddhism was believed to have been introduced in Thailand for the first time. It’s also one of the oldest Buddhist sites in South-East Asia, with historians pegging it at 675 AD. The stupa is surrounded by four shrines, each holding an image of the Buddha in different postures.

The massive golden standing and reclining Buddhas are sure to make your jaw drop with their imposing size. The temple draws tourists from all over the world and, if you make it during the festival held in November, you can visit the sacred inner chamber (the only time you are allowed to do so).