What are the best places to visit near Bangkok?
You would be surprised at the diversity of destinations to visit near Bangkok. It’s actually not just an endless sprawling city as some may think.
Whether you want to explore a waterfall in the jungle, sunbake on a pristine island beach, immerse yourself in a bustling market, or a make a historical trip wandering through ancient temples, we’ve got you covered.
The following places which I suggest to visit near Bangkok are all within about three hours from the city. That’s the distance of a one-way trip mind you, so some may be better with an overnight stay too. The only exception here is Koh Chang, which is a little further again and best visited with 3 days or more available.
Throughout the article, I have also included links for the best transport options to get to each destination. You can also find small tour operators in Bangkok which cover many of these destinations as one-day trips, but in doing so you limit your travel flexibility.
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- Markets – Local and Lively
- Waterfalls – Your Jungle Escape
- Islands – Sunseekers Paradise
- Other Cities Near Bangkok
Markets – Local and Lively
Markets are such a key aspect of Thailand’s culture. They are far more than a place to buy everyday goods, rather they are a place for locals and tourists to socialise and eat. Here are a few of my favourite markets around Bangkok, including of course a couple of those oh so iconic floating markets! (I’ve included so many more markets in my huge Bangkok travel guide too).
1. Maeklong Railway Market
The Maeklong Railway Market is one of the most unique places to visit near Bangkok. Imagine a busy market sprawled all over the train tracks. Suddenly a train sounds its horn and the market literally folds up in front of you within seconds. After the train passes, it becomes a market again.
The best thing is that this market is open every day, with long opening hours. The Maeklong Railway Market is located in the neighbouring province of Samut Songkhram. You can get there easily with a minivan, or take the more adventurous route by train.
Get there – minivans depart Mochit Bus Terminal (tickets and timetable). Tickets start at 120 THB (USD 4) per person. This direct trip takes about 1hr 40min one way.
2. Amphawa Floating Market
Samut Songkhram’s Amphawa Floating Market is the largest floating market near Bangkok. It is also located close by the Maeklong Railway Market and makes for a great addition to your day trip.
Bangkok is built around the water, therefore, floating markets have become one of the iconic attractions to visit. Expect to see vendors selling all sorts of goods from small wooden boats such as; noodles, barbecued seafood, pad thai, souvenirs, fresh fruits, and much more.
The Amphawa Floating Market is only open on weekends. It is generally fairly busy with Thai tourists many of whom are visiting from Bangkok. Expect a busy, crowded, but fun market atmosphere.
Get there – minivans depart Sai Tai Kao Bus Terminal (tickets and timetable). Tickets start at 150 THB (USD 5) per person. This direct trip takes about 1hr 40min one way.
3. Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market
The Khlong Lat Mayom floating market is actually in the province of Bangkok, but just down the road from the Nonthaburi border. It takes over an hour to get to the market, so it is more of a day trip. This market has a more local vibe than the Amphawa floating market, and I’d say there is way more food available here.
Explore the Khlong Lat Mayom floating market and the surrounding area by foot until you run out of pathways to follow. To see more of the Taling Chan district I suggest hopping on a longtail boat tour. Trips last for just over an hour and are a great way to see the traditional lifestyle by the canals.
I’ve included more detail on this and other markets in my Bangkok Travel Guide.
Get there – take the BTS Skytrain to Banga Wa station. From there you will need to get a taxi direct to the market.
Waterfalls – Your Jungle Escape
Waterfalls are one of the most stunning aspects of Thailand’s nature, and yes, there’s a handful of these beautiful waterfalls near Bangkok for you to explore too! Go wander through the forest, take a dip in the cool water, or take a shower under a waterfall just as nature intended. What more could you want?
4. Erawan Falls National Park
Without a doubt, this is one of my favourite places to visit near Bangkok for a nature escape. Throughout my years living in Bangkok, I’ve visited the Erawan Falls more than ten times! The Erawan Falls are located in the Erawan National Park in Kanchanaburi. I’ve also listed them as one of Thailand’s five must-see waterfalls. Do you agree?
The freshwater stream flows all year round, however, it’s best to visit around the beginning and the end of the rainy season. The park sometimes closes in the middle of the rainy season due to torrential rain. In the dry season, the pools will still contain water but the flow may be just a trickle.
The Erawan Falls can be visited as a really long one day trip from Bangkok. Find out how to get from Bangkok to Erawan National Park. With many other attractions around Kanchanaburi such as the Bridge Over the River Kwai and the Saiyok Raft Houses, it is also good to do this as a two day one night trip from Bangkok.
Get there – minivans depart Mochit Bus Terminal (tickets and timetable). Tickets start at 220 THB (USD 7) per person. This direct trip takes about 3hrs one way.
5. Wang Takhrai Waterfall
Wang Takhrai Waterfall is another great waterfall near Bangkok. Wang Takhrai is located in the nearby province of Nakhon Nayok. It is just 2 hours from Bangkok, but hardly known to tourists.
Wang Takhrai Waterfall is actually a series of rapids flowing through the forest. The water is deep enough for a swim all year round. You can also hire an inflatable tube at the national park to cruise down the river with. It’s like a relaxed version of tubing in Vang Vieng.
If you want to hang around a little longer, then you can inquire about the campsites and bungalows in the national park. An overnight stay here is the perfect nature escape from Bangkok.
Get there – you will need your own private transport to get to Wang Takhrai Waterfall. I suggest hiring a car in Bangkok or getting a taxi driver for the day.
6. Haew Suwat Waterfall
Haew Suwat is a big waterfall located deep in the Khao Yai National Park. It was actually the filming location used in the movie The Beach. I suggest visiting this waterfall as part of a broader day trip to the national park. There are some great jungle trails in the areas which are well worth exploring.
If you want to spend a night in nature near Bangkok then I suggest considering camping in the national park. There are a couple of campgrounds in the area.
Get there – the best way to get here is with a small tour group from Bangkok, the drivers will know the location for the waterfall.
Islands – Sunseekers Paradise
You’d be forgiven for thinking that all the good islands are in the far south of Thailand. Let me tell you now, Koh Phangan, Phuket, and Koh Lanta are not the only Thai islands! In fact, there are some epic islands near Bangkok to explore too. Here are just a couple of them…
7. Koh Chang Island
Koh Chang is located just a few hours from Bangkok off the coast of Trat Province, that’s the last province as you head east towards Cambodia. Koh Chang is definitely one of the islands to visit near Bangkok if you have at least 3 days available. I wouldn’t visit for a shorter trip though.
Koh Chang offers loads of outdoor activities such as hiking to a waterfall, snorkelling and scuba diving or just relaxing on the beach. To extend your adventure try island hopping to the smaller islands like Koh Wai and Koh Mak, or even cross over to Koh Mook. There’s plenty of boats which depart from the southern end of the island.
Looking for a party vibe? make sure you head down to Lonely Beach where you will find Reggae Bars, beach parties, cheap hostels, and lots of restaurants.
Get there – the minivan departs Ekkamai Bus Terminal (tickets and timetable). Tickets start at 450 THB (USD 9) per person which includes the Tuk Tuk transfer to the pier and the ferry ticket. This trip takes about 7.5 hrs one way.
8. Koh Samae San
Koh Samae San is one of my favourite islands near Bangkok for a quick day trip. It is located just 1.5km off the coast of Rayong which is reached by a short ferry trip. The island is managed by the Thai Navy so National Park rules apply; entry fees, no drinking alcohol, no littering, etc…
There are no hotels or resorts on Koh Samae San, so you won’t be able to stay here overnight. There are, however, some amazing white sandy beaches, great snorkelling spots, and perfectly clear water for swimming.
Get there – it is best to get a bus or van from Ekkamai bus station in Bangkok to Pattaya, then catch a taxi to Koh Samae San pier.
9. Koh Larn
Koh Larn is located just off the coast of Pattaya, about 2hrs drive from Bangkok. It is pretty much the closest island to Bangkok worth visiting (apart from those in the Chao Praya River). Check out Tawaen Beach on the north coast, and Tien Beach on the west coast. If you want to spend a night on Koh Larn, your best option is the east coast, where you will find lots of budget and boutique hotels.
Get there – minivans depart Mochit Bus Terminal (tickets and timetable). Tickets start at 190 THB (USD 6) per person. This trip takes about 2hrs one way. You need to take a songtaew from the minivan station to Pattaya South Wharf, then hop on the ferry to Koh Larn. The ferry to Koh Larn costs 30 THB per person and takes about 30 minutes.
10. Koh Kret
This is one of the closest islands near Bangkok, but it’s not what you expect. Koh Kret is actually a man-made island in The Chao Praya River.
The island is inhabited by people of the Mon ethnicity, similar to those you’ll find in Sangkhlaburi. There is a traditional pottery village where you can buy some authentic handmade crafts really cheap. The village is mixed in with community small farms and some nature along the water. It really feels like a throwback to an early day Bangkok.
After exploring the island be sure to drop into the local microbrewery for some of the best beers around Bangkok. You will find this, and loads of other local things to do in Bangkok in my huge city guide.
Get there – catch the Chao Praya Express from Saphan Taksin Pier to Nonthaburi Pier, then get a taxi to Koh Kret Pier. The journey takes about 1hr one way.
Other Cities Near Bangkok
There are a few cities near Bangkok in the surrounding provinces which I suggest visiting. Each has its own vibe, and you will quickly realise that Bangkok is not home to everyone in Thailand.
11. Ayutthaya – Ancient City
A trip to Thailand would not be complete without visiting the Ayutthaya Historical Park. This is one of the main historical places to visit near Bangkok. Ayutthaya was founded in 1350 and later become the ancient capital city of Thailand (then known as Siam). By the year 1700 is was apparently the largest city in the world.
There are countless temples all around Ayutthaya, which are open every day. The most iconic temples to visit include; Wat Ratchaburana, Wat Phra Matathat, Wat Phra Si Sanphet. if you love the temples in Ayutthaya, then you must check out these 12 temples in Bangkok too!
Getting to Ayutthaya is easy by train, minivan or bus and takes about 1 to 1.5hrs each way. With trains being as slow as they are in Thailand the minivan is the quicker option. It is also possible to get to Ayutthaya by boat however it takes much longer and needs to be organized in advance as a tour.
Get there – minivans depart Mochit Bus Terminal (tickets and timetable). Tickets start at 90 THB (USD 3) per person. This direct trip takes about 2hrs one way.
12. Kanchanaburi – Death Railway
Kanchanaburi has the most World War 2 History you will find near Bangkok and in all of Thailand. Prisoners of War captured by the Japanese were forced into slave labour to build what is now known as the Death Railway. It consists of a number of sites including the Bridge Over the River Kwai, Hellfire Pass, and other sections of track.
The best starting place to visit these sites is Kanchanaburi, but also possible in a one day trip from Bangkok.
Get there – minivans depart Mochit Bus Terminal (tickets and timetable). Tickets start at 150 THB (USD 5) per person. This direct trip takes about 3hrs one way.
13. Hua Hin – Beaches
Hua Hin is located southwest of Bangkok along the highway which heads towards the islands in Surat Thani. You will find long sandy beaches and lots of great local food here. The beaches in Hua Hin are regarded as some of the best in Southeast Asia for windsurfing, so whether you’re a pro or just want to get started, then you better make a trip here.
Hua Hin is more developed than the smaller islands in southern and eastern Thailand. Expect to find lots of large hotels along the beach, and smaller hostels a few streets back in town.
Get there – buses and minivans depart regularly from Ekkamai Bus Station and take about 3hrs for a one-way trip. Alternatively, trains depart from Hua Lampong and take about 4hrs for a one-way trip.
14. Rayong – Thung Prong Thong Mangrove Forest
A mangrove forest might not be top on your list of places to visit near Bangkok, however, this one is worth it. The golden Thung Prong Thong Mangrove forest covers a massive 2,400 acres along the coast of Rayong province.
Explore the coastal biodiversity along the extensive stretch of elevated wooden boardwalks. While the most popular sight is the sprawling golden mangrove forest, expect to see animals including crabs and rare wetland birds. To explore further into the wetland you can also hop on board a 20-minute longtail boat ride near the entrance of the park.
Get there – you will need your own private transport to get to Thung Prong Thong. I suggest hiring a car in Bangkok for the day.
Planning a trip to Bangkok
When planning a trip to these destinations be sure to check my guide on the best time to visit Bangkok. This will run you through all the months of the year explaining the rainy season, the dry season, the peak tourist season, and major Thai festivals to be aware of.
For a quick stint in the city, be sure to check out my article on the top 11 things to do in Bangkok. You will love the rooftop bars and markets I’ve included here, it’s an awesome quick intro. However, to really get the most out of Bangkok you should also consider downloading my detailed Bangkok Travel Guide where I have compiled loads of useful information so that you really enjoy this city as much as possible.
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