What are the Best Places to Visit Near Bangkok?
Bangkok is a sprawling city of busy streets, chaotic traffic, densely built skyscrapers, and home to over 11 million people. To the newcomer, it might seem like a quick escape from the city is almost impossible. However, dig a little deeper and you will be surprised by how many amazing places you can visit near Bangkok.
Perhaps you want to shower under a waterfall, sunbake on an island, get lost in a busy local market, or wander through the ancient Thai temples. Whichever type of adventure you want, there is an option near Bangkok for you!
The following places which I suggest visiting near Bangkok are within 3 hours (one-way) of the city. Some of these destinations are better visited with an overnight stay, I’ll let you know which they are. The only exception here is Koh Chang which takes about 5 hours to get to, so I recommend visiting with 3+ days available.
If you are planning to use Bangkok as a base, then you should definitely check out the latest promotions for Ibis Styles Hotel in Phrakanong. It’s a pretty awesome deal for under USD 50 per night. We stay there every time since moving away from Thailand a few years ago.
Throughout the article, I’ve included useful links to the best transport for each destination. You can also find tours in Bangkok which visit many of these destinations as one-day trips, however, remember that tours limit your flexibility to explore and relax.
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- Markets Near Bangkok
- Waterfalls Near Bangkok
- Islands Near Bangkok
- Other Cities Near Bangkok
Markets Near Bangkok
Markets are a key aspect of Thailand’s culture. Now you might think that markets are all about shopping, however, there is much more to it than that! The locals see markets as a place to socialize, eat, drink, explore, and relax. Perhaps the most important part for Thai people is eating, there is usually lots of food available.
There are so many different types of markets around Bangkok. From floating markets to train markets to night markets, the opportunities seem endless. Here are a few of my personal favorite markets which I’m sure you will love exploring.
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, then suddenly a train sounds its horn and within seconds the market folds up in front of you. After the train has passed through the market, the stalls unfold and everything goes back to business as usual. Crazy right?
Here you will find lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, and seafood for sale. The vendors are not pushy like some of the more touristy markets in Bangkok. No tacky souvenirs here, just a nice local vibe.
The Maeklong Railway Market operates 7 days a week, with really long opening hours. The market is located Samut Songkhram, that’s the province neighboring Bangkok on the west. 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. The trip takes about 1hr 40min one way.
2. Amphawa Floating Market
The Amphawa Floating Market in Samut Songkhram is the largest and most popular floating market near Bangkok. It is also located just down the road from the Maeklong Railway Market making it a super easy to combine the two for a great day trip from Bangkok.
Hundreds of years ago all of Bangkok was built around canals. Over time many of the canals were filled in but some of these amazing floating markets survived, most of them on the outskirts of Bangkok where land wasn’t in such high demand. In these floating markets, you will find hundreds of small boat shops selling all things from Pad Thai to grilled seafood, to souvenirs, fresh fruits, and so much more.
The Amphawa Floating Market is only open on weekends. It is usually quite busy with many Thai tourists 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 located in Bangkok’s far northern district called Taling Chan. It takes over an hour to get here, so it’s more of a day trip. There are far fewer people and so much more food available here than at Amphawa Floating Market. (This is my Number 1 floating market near Bangkok). Attention all foodies!
First, have lunch in the Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market while sitting by the canal. One of the local dishes is called “Boat Noodles” a bowl of rice noodles in pig’s blood soup, it tastes better than it sounds. After lunch, continue walking around the canals by following the narrow boardwalks.
I highly recommend exploring more of Taling Chan with a longtail boat trip. These trips run for just over an hour and are a great way to see the traditional lifestyle by the canals.
Get there – take the BTS Skytrain to Bang Wa station, then hop in a taxi to the market for about 150 THB (USD5).
Waterfalls Near Bangkok
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
The Erawan Falls are, without a doubt, one of my favorite places to visit near Bangkok for a nature escape. During my years living in Bangkok, I’ve visited the Erawan Falls more than ten times!
The Erawan Falls are part of the Erawan National Park which is located in the province of Kanchanaburi. I’ve actually listed it as one of Thailand’s five must-see waterfalls. Do you agree?
The freshwater stream flows all year but it’s best to visit during the wet season (April to October). The park has been known to close in the middle of the wet season due to heavy rain. In the dry season, the pools contain water but the stream might not be much more than a trickle.
The Erawan Falls can be visited as a really long one day trip from Bangkok, however, with many other attractions in nearby Kanchanaburi, it is worth spending a couple of nights here. Some other notable attractions in Kanchanaburi include the Bridge Over the River Kwai, Hellfire Pass, and the Saiyok Raft Houses – stunning bungalows floating on the River Kwai.
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 located in the nearby province of Nakhon Nayok. Unlike the popular Erawan Falls or Saiyok Falls in Kanchanaburi, the Wang Takhrai Waterall is hardly known to western tourists.
Wang Takhrai isn’t a tall waterfall, but more like a series of rapids which flow through the beautiful leafy forest. The water is deep enough to swim in all year round, both wet and dry seasons are perfect for a visit. You can hire an inflatable tube in the national park and gently cruise down the river staring up at the forest. The experience is like tubing in Vang Vieng but without the raging parties or tourists.
Want to hang around and enjoy the serenity a little longer? Inquire about the campsites, tents, and bungalows at the national park headquarters An overnight stay here is the perfect two day nature escape from Bangkok.
Get there – you will need private transport to get to Wang Takhrai Waterfall. Hire a car in Bangkok or charter a taxi driver for the day. The trip takes about 2hrs one way.
6. Haew Suwat Waterfall (Khao Yai National Park)
Haew Suwat is a huge waterfall located deep in the Khao Yai National Park, one of the closest national parks to Bangkok, and the third-largest in all of Thailand. Haew Suwat Waterfall was actually one of the filming locations for the movie The Beach.
It is best to visit Haew Suwat Waterfall as part of a bigger trip to Khao Yai National Park. There are lots of jungle hiking trails in Khao Yai NP which are amazing to explore. The national park is also home to many large mammals like elephants, bears, leopards, barking deer, otters, and gibbons.
For a nature escape near Bangkok, try camping in Khao Yai National Park and go for a morning swim under the waterfall. There are also lots of guesthouses in the nearby district of Pak Chong, which is right by the northern entrance of the national park.
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 Near Bangkok
So you think that all the Thai islands are located far away in the south? Well, I’m about to blow your mind. Koh Phangan, Phuket, and Koh Lanta are not the only Thai islands! There are actually lots of amazing islands near Bangkok which you need to know about too!
I’ve only included three islands here; Koh Chang, Koh Samae San, and Koh Larn. If you head a little further east from Koh Chang you can also visit Koh Mak and Koh Kood (which is probably my favorite Thai island).
7. Koh Chang Island
Koh Chang is an amazing tropical island located just a few hours from Bangkok off the coast of Trat. That’s the last province as you head east to Cambodia. Note: it is best to visit Koh Chang if you have at least 3 days available.
Koh Chang has loads of outdoor activities such as hiking trails, waterfalls, snorkeling, scuba diving, incredible mountain lookouts, or just relaxing on the beach. You can even go island hopping to beautiful places like Koh Wai, Koh Mak, and Koh Kood. There’s plenty of boats which depart from the southern end of the island at Bang Bao Pier.
Looking for a party vibe? Make sure you visit 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 favorite 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 realize 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 labor 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 your trip be sure to check the best time to visit Bangkok. This article runs you through all the months of the year explaining the rainy season, the dry season, the peak tourist season, and major Thai festivals.
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, it’s a great crash course.
To really get the most out of Bangkok you should also consider my detailed Bangkok Travel Guide. I have compiled tons of useful information to help you understand the city area by area, use public transport effectively, and truly explore like a local.
Discover Bangkok like a local.
Bars, Markets, Temples, Food and more