Thai escape: Top 5 things to do outside Bangkok
Just beyond Thailand’s busy capital you'll find ancient cities, beach resorts and national parks. Here are five places you shouldn't miss.
Discover a kingdom of culture
Once one of the largest cities in the world, cultured Ayutthaya remains home to beautiful architecture such as temples, monasteries and reliquaries. Wat Ratchaburana has a crypt you can enter (watch for bats) and Wat Phra Si Sanphet offers a good vantage point. The best sites are in the Ayutthaya Historical Park, easily explored by bike. Get there via train (about an hour and a half) from Bangkok Main Railway Station or take a leisurely river boat.
2. Hua Hin:
Hua Hin is one of Thailand’s most popular beach areas with plenty of restaurants offering seafood feasts. For a more laid-back experience, nearby Cha-Am is less flashy and more local. Away from the beach, you can go mountain biking or visit Monsoon Valley Vineyard. Nearby Vana Nava Water Park offers rides and slides. Buses take about three and a half hours and depart regularly from Bangkok’s Sai Tai Mai terminal.
3. Khao Yai:
Have a wild encounter
Khao Yai, established in 1962, was Thailand’s first national park. Visitors can see wildlife including macaques, barking deer, hornbill birds, otters and elephants. Rent camping sites, see scenic waterfalls or hike through the park. Book a tour or take a bus to Pak Chong from Bangkok’s Mo-Chit terminal, then a mini-bus or taxi (about three and a half hours all up).
4. Dok Krai:
Get a burst of adrenaline
Take a break by going wakeboarding. The folk at Otzki Wake Camp, one and a half hours from Bangkok, suggest a stay in one of their six lakeside bungalows as a wellness retreat. Pay per night or purchase a package that might include meals, bed, wakeboarding, yoga, paddleboarding or massages.
Buff up your WWII knowledge
History buffs should head to Kanchanaburi, the site of the infamous Death Railway built by Allied POWs during WWII. Parts of the main bridge (over the River Kwai) are intact, and the Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum and Walking Trail offers insight into the conflict. Trains depart twice daily from Bangkok’s Thonburi train Station.