A top tourist destination and the Backpacker’s party capital, Bangkok is known for it’s vibrant street life and cultural offerings as well as it’s infamous red-light districts, traditional Thai massages, Pad Thai and traffic! From temples to tequila shots, Bangkok is a bustling city that has everything to offer. To get the most out of this sprawling city, day trips are a must with sensational surprises only a short distance away from this ‘east-meets-west’ metropolis.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market –
Most people will have heard of this Thai treasure before stepping foot on the airplane. Though it is becoming increasingly touristy, it is still worth a trip to this busy and brilliant floating market with boats bursting with fresh produce. You’ll get photo-opportunities you’ve only dreamed of before and a hefty amount of street food (or in this case canal food). There’s a reason so many tourists flock to this unusual organic experience and as a result, package tours are easy to come by and worth the guidance you receive.
Huan Hin –
For those wishing to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, Huan Hin offers peace and tranquillity (for the most part) in the form of an old fishing village. Due to ties with Thai royalty, Huan Hin has managed to retain it’s quaint atmosphere and the beauty of its pale sand beaches. Suan Son Pradipat beach stays quiet and clean during the week and is great for swimming with the water reaching a good depth unlike some Thai beaches. For those not wanting to while away the hours on a sandy beach, the Hutsadin Elephant Foundation is an experience you’ll never forget. Essentially a hospital for ill-treated elephants of all ages, the foundation relies on donations to keep up its good work. It’s located only a few minutes outside of Huan Hin and if you ring ahead they’ll send a taxi to pick you up! Once there you can enjoy a little show from the youngest elephant (who is healthy), go for a trek with the older elephants or give them a shower – getting up close and personal with such regal creatures is a once in a lifetime opportunity and it is clear the staff hold a deep affection for their big, beautiful patients.
To get to grips with what Bangkok was before the tourist boom, the ex-capital ThonBuri is the place to go. Located on the western banks of the Chao Phraya River, ThonBuri is known for its Khlongs or canals. Some of the wider, more accessible canals have welcomed the overspill of tourists from central Bangkok however the narrower waterways still retain an authentic Thai charm removed from western influence and the seediness of the red-light districts. You can choose to explore the canals on a tourist package tour or hire a hang yao or narrow boat complete with your own driver who can show you the hidden gems along the canal passages.
Pattaya and Koh Larn –
Pattaya is the coastal destination for visitors of all ages when in Thailand. Well-known for it’s party atmosphere, golf-courses and beautiful beaches, many people spend the majority of their time here as opposed to Bangkok. It’s less than two hours from Bangkok and well worth the trip if you’re looking for a beach party or two. From Pattaya you can head to Koh Larn from the Bali Hai Pier. Koh Larn, also known as Coral island, is the typical paradise island; lined with white sand and turquoise sea that holds an impressive coral reef. The party starts along its idyllic shores with restaurants, beach bars and people watching a plenty. Beaches get busy on weekends, so if you’re looking to share your piece of paradise with a few interesting characters and a couple of drinks, Koh Larn is for you.
For the big kids as well as the little kids, DreamWorld is an amusement park with four different interconnected parks based on four different dream worlds. With the scenic Love Garden and more than 30 rides, DreamWorld is the perfect mix of relaxation and excitement that creates the best family days out. It’s less than an hour out of the city and great value package tours are available to save you paying over the odds for taxis. The parks have great photo-opportunities and facilities, even having a KFC on sight for those who aren’t lovers of Thai food. The grounds are usually impeccably clean and now they even boast a snow town; at -8 degrees Celsius you may want to wrap up before you start making snow angels! Other parts of the park include the Seven Wonders of the World and Fairy-tale Land. Open from 10am-5pm, you’ll want to get here early and avoid the crowds.
River Cruise –
Whether taken during the day or at night, a river cruise is a great way to see Bangkok from a different perspective, whether on a clear sunny day or with the bright lights of Bangkok’s nightlife twinkling across the river.
You have the option to take a day cruise that allows you to stop off at few of the 365 temples in Bangkok and these tend to finish at the Grand Palace (which can get quite crowded) – one way or return journeys are available. For a hop-on, hop-off style tour prices can start at as little as 150Baht per person however be aware that some boats don’t have a hop-on, hop-off option and passengers have a limited amount of time to see the attractions before having to get back on the boat. Dinner cruises are a more romantic option, taking up an evening as opposed to the day. Sights such as the Grand Palace and Wat Arun can be seen lit up from the deck while there is live entertainment and a sit down meal on board – you can essentially do your sight-seeing without leaving your seat or glass of wine!