It’s the end of the year and the New Year holiday is right on our doorstep.
This time of the year is ripe for traveling and most people have already booked their tickets out of Bangkok.
But what about the rest of us?
What with the high-season flight prices and a backed-up slew of work hanging over from Christmas, there are a few of us poor souls still in Sukhumvit with no plans.
What are we to do?
Well, don’t fret; I have a few suggestions that make for some amazing, closer to home, destinations and give you a chance to escape the craziness of Sukhumvit and maybe even wider Bangkok.
Did you know that Bangkok has a few island-like spots right in its backyard?
I’m not talking about beaches of Pattaya or Koh Samet; rather, a set of lush-green lands situated on the Chao Phraya River.
These are the two you should visit:
A short day trip from Bangkok, Bang Krachao is located on the Chao Phraya River in Samut Prakan province. It’s the section of land where the river bends around like a horseshoe. You can actually see it in the map below.
To get here, you’ll need to take a taxi to Klong Toei pier, where you can catch a canal boat to cross the river. Alternatively, you can also make your way to Bang Na pier and take the ferry across from there.
Once there, you can rent bicycles for as little as ฿40 for the entire day. This is the perfect way to explore everything here – lush green forests, mangroves, delicious food, a botanical garden and a floating market.
If biking isn’t your thing, you can also rent motorbikes or hire a motorcycle taxi to take you around.
Make sure to find your way to the Bangkok Tree House, an eco-friendly resort, while you’re here.
Quite similar to Bang Krachao, Ko Kret is another artificial island in the Chao Phraya River. This one is a bit further out of the city but has its own unique charm, making a trip here really worthwhile.
Ko Kret is in Nonthaburi province and can be accessed by a ferry from Pak Kret pier. To get there, you can take bus #166 from Victory Monument, or a taxi.
Here you can also rent bicycles as soon as you arrive giving you an opportunity to ride through the scenic forest and rice fields whilst marveling at some of the beautiful temples spread across the island. Ko Kret is well known for its OTOP products (products made under the One Tambon One Product stimulus program) and pottery. It also has a thriving weekend market.
You’ll also come across some cute, local coffee shops along the way so there’s always a reason to take a break from all that bike-riding. You’ll find the experience here educational, cultural and not to mention healthy from all that cycling!
Well, only if you don’t over indulge on their famous fried foods and sweet drinks…
If you’re prepared to venture slightly beyond the city’s borders, the following destinations make for a great long day out or weekend overnighter.
Just over 80km north of Bangkok is the ancient capital of Thailand. Once a glorious kingdom, it is now a city of ruins after the Burmese razed it to the ground in 1767. The ruins, palaces and temples of the city are a spectacular reminder of Thailand’s legacy and a must-see for anyone interested in historical and religious architecture.
You can drive to Ayutthaya or take the bus from Mo Chit, train from Hua Lamphong or minivan from Victory Monument. The latter is generally considered the quickest and is reasonably priced for less than ฿100 one-way. Once you’ve arrived, explore the city on bike or by tuk tuk.
Great for: history and culture
Around 3 hours north of Bangkok is Khao Yai – a lush green and mountainous landscape that features a massive national park, wildlife, nature trails, waterfalls and vineyards. This is a great destination for adventurous locals and intrepid travelers alike.
Just make sure you’re careful around the elephants at the national park – they’ve been attacking passing motorists lately!
Great for: adventure, camping, nature
Similar to Khao Yai in terms of landscape but with a slightly busier and modern atmosphere, Kanchanburi is another beautiful place to visit.
Located in the western region of Thailand, it takes about 2 to 3 hours to get here from Bangkok. Here you will also encounter some amazing scenery, waterfalls and the famous and history-laden Bridge over the River Kwai.
The provincial town is treasured for its natural, cultural and historical attractions, which are a refreshing change from the hectic scene of Bangkok.
There are plenty of ways to explore Kanchanaburi, the most exciting probably being by kayak!
Great for: adventure, culture, history, nature
Just Keep Driving
If you love the thrill of roadtripping through open roads and beautiful countryside, these further flung destinations should be right up your alley.
Driving up north to Chiang Mai for some amazing adventures, cultural exposure and relatively pleasant, cooler weather should be on your to-do list if it isn’t already.
I know this is what I’m doing this year.
If you don’t fancy the drive, you could just take a 1 hour flight. Either way, it will be worth it because there is just so much to see and experience in Chiang Mai – everything from temples and hill tribes to beautiful waterfalls and the highest point in Thailand, Doi Inthanon.
We’ve mostly looked at the getaways to the north of Bangkok. But what about the south?
We all know the amazing beach destinations like Phuket, Krabi, Koh Samui, Phangan and Tao but it might be a good idea to give Khao Lak a visit if you fancy the beautiful bays without the hordes of tourists.
Lak’s white-sand beaches on the northern Andaman sea are the perfect location for a peaceful break with natural attractions in abundance: cliffs, mangroves, valleys and rolling hills.
Although it’s a pretty grueling 11 to 12 hour drive, you could choose to fly down to Phuket instead, hiring a car for the final hour drive.
Will you be escaping Sukhumvit this year? If so, where are you headed?