One of Ayuthaya's most iconic sights
If you ever need a break from the chaotic streets of Bangkok, or if its temples and history leave you wanting more, head outside the city and explore different sides of Thailand. By car, taxi, bus or train, these are the places to explore from the capital:
Capital of Thailand until 1767, Ayuthaya (or Ayutthaya) is one of Asia’s most impressive ancient cities and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its main attractions are ruined and restored temples, and European-style architecture left behind by Portuguese, French, British and Dutch settlers. It has a rather rural vibe, and is a great place to savor traditional Thai food. Located about 70km (43 miles) north of Bangkok, it can be visited on a day trip, but you should allow two days to experience it all.
Most temples and museums close at 4 or 5pm, so arrive early in the morning if you’re visiting on a day trip. If you’re staying overnight (couples often do, as the city can be quite romantic at night), take a look at your hotel choices: Ayuthaya hotels
How to go from Bangkok to Ayuthaya: Minivans depart from Victory Monument (once every hour, between 5:30am and 9pm), but a taxi or ridesharing may be more convenient and is surprisingly affordable. It takes about one hour to reach Ayuthaya, depending on traffic.
No visit to Bangkok is complete without experiencing one of the several floating markets, but all of them are located outside the city. The most famous is 100km (62 miles) away, and is therefore the most touristy. That’s the Damnoen Saduak, which is most conveniently seen on a tour.
Read more about the floating markets close to Bangkok.
Believed to be Thailand’s oldest, this historic city is located one hour from Bangkok, or some 67km (42 miles) away. It’s home to the tallest Buddhist temple in the world (the Phra Pathom Chedi), and is accessible by train or bus. The temple houses a large standing Buddha image, which has turned it into one of Thailand’s most important pilgrimage sites.
Southeast of the temple is the Phra Pathom Chedi National Museum, presenting an interesting collection of ancient artifacts.
WHERE TO GO AFTER BANGKOK
Phi Phi Islands
The Phi Phi (pronounced “PP”) islands are Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Ley. They’re part of a national park and famous for their stunning scenery. Phi Phi Don is home to a number of resorts, while Phi Phi Ley remains uninhabited but is visited by many tourist boats throughout the day.
Phi Phi Don is also home to the famous “Monkey Beach,” which, as the name indicates, is the habitat of monkeys which welcome human visitors throughout the day. It’s also a popular snorkelling spot.
The Phi Phis have some of Thailand’s most beautiful beaches and some of the country’s best resorts. They’re naturally popular with couples but also with families. The most recommended are Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi CoCo Beach Resort, Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort, Phi Phi The Beach Resort, and the Holiday Inn Resort Phi Phi Island.
One of Thailand’s most famous and most developed destinations, Phuket is best reached by plane from Bangkok, but there are also bus services (which take 12 to 14 hours, so they’re not really recommended). The flight takes just one hour, so this is a very popular destination before or after a visit to the capital. The international airport is approximately 45 minutes from most of the beaches. The most crowded is Patong, offering natural beauty and nightlife, while Nai Harn is the best choice for surfers, but almost anywhere on the island you’ll find some of Thailand’s best beaches.
The recommended hotels are the Amari Phuket, the Renaissance Phuket Resort & Spa, and the adult-only The Shore At Katathani.
Buses and overnight trains take you from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, northern Thailand’s largest city, but it’s much more convenient to fly. Buses take about 10 hours, trains about 14 (through beautiful countryside), and flights just 1 hour and 15 minutes. Like Bangkok, it’s home to dozens of temples and great shopping opportunities, but in a much smaller and more laid-back area. Some of the unique attractions include visits to tribal villages on the hills nearby and to an elephant sanctuary.
Organized Day Trips
Save time, money, and the trouble of figuring out how to get around the attractions in and around Bangkok by joining an organized tour .